Freecycle vs Freegle

I’ve used Freecycle/Freegle to pass on quite a few unwanted items. Freecycle is the original network, but in 2009 a number of Freecycle groups migrated to Yahoo and elsewhere and renamed themselves ‘Freegle’, in protest at restrictions imposed on them. New moderators were found for the groups on the Freecycle site, so now there are two systems running in parallel. I haven’t done a detailed comparison of Freecycle and Freegle but they seem to work in a very similar way, even down to the syntax of the messages and the wording of the disclaimers. One advantage of the Freecycle site is that you can withdraw an item which has been claimed; on Freegle you have to send a second message after the first and hope the membership (and the moderators!) connect the two.

It seems that users are showing a preference for the original Freecycle site. As I posted another offer today, I noticed that usage in the Bath Freegle Yahoo group has declined. When it split off in 2009, it was running at over 2500 messages a month. But through 2010 activity declined, and it is now about 1200 messages a month – still a considerable amount. Meanwhile Bath Freecycle has 4,000 more members than Bath Freegle and while I can’t find message stats, if today is typical it has significantly more messages. My experience of using both today is that moderators on Bath Freecycle are quicker to act – my message was moderated and put up within the hour (and the item then claimed), while no message has appeared on Bath Freegle for over 12 hours.

A quick check on the South Gloucestershire equivalent groups shows a similar pattern. The Bristol Freegle group exists but has never really taken off.

These sites are a real window on the sort of stuff people feel a need to offload and I often wonder at the story behind some items. Sadly but rather predictably, the literacy levels of the messages claiming items are often appalling.

I have one beef about the way Freecycle works. I have successfully posted offers in the Bath, West Wilts and South Gloucestershire groups (Bath is near the meeting point of these three counties). But when I tried offering something via the Bristol group I was told I couldn’t because I didn’t live in Bristol. Never mind that I work there and declared that a handover in the city centre or Clifton Triangle area could easily be arranged. This seems perverse and smacks of officious moderators liking to throw their weight around. I think it must have been Freecycle and not Freegle where this happened, for the reason given above.

But the situation remains that having two almost identical networks running in parallel doesn’t really benefit anyone. Whatever the restrictions which caused Freegle to spring up, they are less of a nuisance than the need for users to offer or place a wanted request in two separate places. I’d like to see a merger of the two, and if the current trends continue that will eventually happen.

7 thoughts on “Freecycle vs Freegle

  1. Mark

    I’m sorry that you feel that BathFreegle moderators are slow to act,on the day in question there were no messages submitted by members for a lengthy period and the messages appeared for approval after both moderators had started work,both mods run the group in their own time for no pay,we have to live so work is essential to pay bills and survive.Usually messages are cleared pretty quickly and usually there is a moderator dealing with messages night and day.One reason for delays in messages appearing is due to problems being encountered with a hefty hike in spam caused by BT/Yahoo subscribers having their accounts hacked and these accounts are being used to generate the spam.To avoid our group being swamped by spam we had to take the difficult decision to place our entire membership on moderation to intercept the spam before it reached our membership.We run our group in the most efficient manner that we can,given that both moderators devote a large percentage of our “Spare”time in running the group.

    1. Virginia Post author

      It sounds as if you’re stretched. What do you offer that Bath Freecycle group doesn’t (apart from a rather different list of stuff)? Is there any reason why the two should not merge again?

  2. Mark

    The Freecycle network is effectively run remotely from the USA and the person in overall charge dictates pretty much everything,our group is run by the local owners and mods and we had to migrate Freegle owing to the behaviour of Deron Beal.I can’t see any chance of the groups merging and we know many of our members and often help them with technical gremlins either connected with using the Yahoo platform or computers.Members often contact us offline via phone or email with unrelated queries,something that isn’t generally offered by the Freecycle network operating on a different continent in a different timezone.We care passionately about our group and our members probably more than is healthy for a sane person.

  3. Virginia Post author

    I think the Freecycle network has local moderators? Of course I’m not in a position to compare what the two services do ‘offline’ above and beyond their stated remit, because by definition it’s not visible on the Web. Readers are at least now in a position to make an informed comparison of the two.

    1. joe baker

      I joined Freegle many years ago & disposed of 1 major item to my satisfaction.
      Since then I have not reused and have lost my details but now need to reactivate my membership.
      I’d be grateful if you could tell me how to do so.

      1. vhk10 Post author

        Go to the login page, type in your email address and use the ‘Forgot password?’ link. You will be sent a message either telling you your password or giving you the chance to reset it. Or Freegle will not recognise your email address, in which case you’ll need to set up a new account.


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