Open Letter to Don McIver

Annika Backstrom
in misc, on 14 January 2009. It is tagged #Internet, #freecycle, and #plymouthnhfreecycle.

I sent the following message to the PlymouthNHFreecycle group today. It is archived here for posterity.

From: Annika Backstrom
To: Don McIver
Cc: PlymouthNHFreecycle
Subject: WANTED: Moderator civility (Wentworth)


I am writing to express my distaste for the way you handled a recent post to the PlymouthNHFreecycle group. This email, subject "WANTED: HOUSEHOLD ITEM: WARREN," was a well-intentioned request for donations of any unwanted items for a family with very little. While it is certainly your prerogative to moderate the group as you see fit, and indeed your moderation was in line with the goals of Freecycle, your replies were unnecessarily rude and they betrayed the spirit of the original email. You could have chosen to redirect the poster to local charity efforts, but instead you were curt and threatening. This was inappropriate, and I am not interested in membership in any group with such an attitude at its core. As a result I will be unsubscribing from Freecycle today.

You may do well to re-read the Freecycle moderator guide, including the first line of the Moderator Oath: "I pledge to be a really nice and patient person when moderating our new Freecycle group."

For context, here are the relevant posts. The original request:

From: Leslie Backstrom
To: PlymouthNHFreecycle
Subject: [PlymouthNHFreecycle] WANTED: HOUSEHOLD ITEM: WARREN

A family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids ages 8 & 2) who have been homeless and now have found a trailer to rent in Warren, are in need of items to furnish their new place. If you have anything to donate please call them directly at 764-9904,

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Your group reply:

From: Don McIver
To: PlymouthNHFreecycle
Subject: [PlymouthNHFreecycle] ADMIN: Inappropriate posts

A post made it to the group requesting items for a family. Posts like this are inappropriate and will not be tolerated. If a post makes it through as this one did, the post will be deleted and and the sender contacted. Please accept my apologize for this error.

And your private reply:

From: Don McIver
To: Leslie Backstrom

Your post is entirely inappropriate for freecycle. Freecycle is NOT a charity. Your message has been deleted from the group site. Any further post like this will result in your removal from the group.

And then...

After the message was received by the group:

From: Don McIver
To: Annika Backstrom
Subject: Re: WANTED: Moderator civility (Wentworth)

You are free to do what you like. The poster has been a member for over a year well knew the the rules. And in no way was the response threatening other than to remove the member if such an event happens again. Redirecting the poster to charitable organizations was a moot point since the post had already been sent to the members. And your posting this directly to the membership is highly egregious. If you were not leaving on your own, you would be removed.

Owner / Moderator


From: Don McIver
To: PlymouthNHFreecycle
Subject: [PlymouthNHFreecycle] ADMIN: Inappropriate posts

I must apologize for the most recent message post to this group. This should have sent directly to me and not to the board. The offending member has been dealt with. Again, sorry for subjecting all members to something that should have been dealt with personally.