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PKF Guidelines
Subject Lines  
Combining Posts
Gifts Not Allowed
Choose the Giftee
Arrange the Pick-Up 
Pet/Animal Adoption
Need is not a Topic
Handling All The Mail
To Show Or NoShow,
That Is The Question

Portage-Kalamazoo Freecycle Help

How do mailing lists work?
Why does PF use Yahoo Groups?
Who runs PKF?
Why don't we allow coupons?
What do I do if someone is abusive or rude in email or in person?
What do I do if more then one person wants what I have offered?
What is the PKF disclaimer?
Can I just set the item out and say who ever gets here first gets it?
What is the etiquette for pickups?
When making multiple offers should I put them together or list each one?
How do I arrange pickup?
Why do I see praise listings?
Post for prescription medication?
Can I get stuff from PKF to sell?
Can we freecycle gift software?
Can I work out a trade on the board?

Subject Lines

With almost 5,000 members, sometimes posting over 40 messages a day, PKF is becoming a high traffic mailing list. Consistency is crucial to a productive freecycle session. Even though there are a number of ways to quickly process all the mail daily in less than 2 minutes to find the posts of interest and delete the rest, many members get frustrated feeling they have to unsubscribe because of the volume of mail.

Well formed subject lines make it easier on all members to quickly scan all the posts from the list each day to find the ones they want to work with and then delete the rest. Some members just let all the mail accumulate in their inboxes and pick through it. Others filter and sort their mail in their computer's email client in order to organize it for easier scanning. Many just read the list on a web browser like yahoo mail or on the PKF web site message data base. The key to making this process quick and painless is to have the subject line in a set predictable form.

Having to open the email body just to find out what the Topic is or what the item is gets old very quickly. A well composed subject line makes your post more likely to be responded to. The subject line protocol is:

When you write a freecycle post subject line be kind to all the other members who will read them. Here is how:

  1. Only use one of the five Topics as the first word in the subject line. If you find yourself using any other words, don't. Please just stick to the five Topics.
  2. Be sure to include a short description of the gift(s) that post is about. Use the description in posts for all of the 5 Topics so members can track freecycling items in sequence; say an offer, pending, taken and praise sequence. Also, the gifter's name should be included in the praise subject line.
  3. When posting an offer, or want lists of items, try not to use words like "list" or "misc" or "various items" as the short description. If at all possible try to mention all items or the type of items in the subject line. If you have a large list use short words to list some of them and then say something like "& more" or "+" or break it up into two or more posts. An example might be something like: "wanted: Chain saw, weed whacker, snow blower". More detailed descriptions could be put into the body of the post. Also, if you are posting pending's, taken's or praises for multiple items try not to make a separate post for each if you can combine them as above.
  4. If you are the gifter in a freecycle transaction, do not use the praise Topic to publicly thank the receiver for,say a prompt pick up or anything else. The praise Topic is used by the receiver to publicly thank the gifter for the item(s) and to give that particular freecycle gifting some closure with the group. As the gifter you can certainly thank the receiver in your taken post for that item(s).
  5. Don't try to contact the moderators by posting to the list using a Topic like "moderator" or "admin". You can always contact us by using the group owner address that is on the bottom of the home page as well as at the bottom of every email that PKF sends out to all group members.

The first word of all subject lines that members post to the list must be one of our 5 Topics:

  • offer: to gift an item(s) All offers must contain an approximate location or nearby intersection where the pick up will be made. (more on approximate location)
  • want: something that would be nice to be gifted to you. Keep your requests reasonable.
  • pending (or PPU): to let members know something you have offered is waiting to be picked up for which a pick up plan has been aggreed to by both the gifter and the giftee. Be sure to save all responses you get to your offers so you have an alternative receiver in case you first choice doesn't work out.
  • taken: to notify members that a gift you have offered has been picked up. You can use this Topic to publicly thank your receiver for a quick pick up or anything else you might want to say about them.
  • praise (or thank you): to let the group know who gifted to you. You must mention the gifter's name in the subject line of the praise post. The praise is not for the gifter to thank the receiver for a fast pickup or anything else. It is for the receiver to thank the gifter for the gift. You would do that in the taken if so inclined.

    Some members tell me, "there is already too much mail" and others are asking the praise Topic be dropped. If we allow praising on the list for a quick pick or other up, or any other reason the giftee may have to be thankful, the members would get two or more praises for one freecycle gifting transaction.

Common mistakes for the first word in subject lines are:

  • "looking for" This not a Topic keyword. Even though it is not that informative to the meaning of a freecycle message, its fine to use that phrase anywhere in the post except the first word of the subject line.
  • "repost" might tell everyone that it has been posted before but gives no information as to what the Topic is like offer or wanted ,etc.
  • "reoffer" or "relist" I doubt anyone cares if the item had been offered before. Just use offer.
  • "still available" Just use Offer
  • "found" is sometimes used similar to pending or taken when a want is met. At this time we are not using the found Topic to cut down on the volume of email going to members.
  • "anything"
  • "posted" Use the Topic that it was posted before as
  • "sorry"
  • "available" use offer
  • "still need" use want
  • "in need of" Use want
  • "still in need of" again use want
  • "free" Everything on freecycle is free by definition
  • "Ref"
  • "Re:"
  • "List of Items"
  • "several things" what are things?
  • "various items"
  • "numerous items"

If you find yourself using one of these as the first word in your subject line, don't. Change it to one of the 5 Topics.

When composing a subject line for posting to the list please include, along with your Topic keyword, a short description of the item being freecycle gifted or the person being praised. We require this so members can scan the subject lines quickly to keep up to date with the list and just have to open the posts that they want to read further and delete the rest.

Common mistakes for the short description of the gift(s)in subject lines are:

  • "several things" what are the things?
  • "various items"
  • "numerous items"
  • "misc. items"

If you find yourself using one of these as the description of the gift(s) in your subject line subject line, don't. Use short descriptions of the specific gifts.

If you are combining a number of items into one post it may not be possible to list them all. Do try to list a few and that there are others. For example: OFFER: 20" TV, VCR, Movies, Recliner and more

Approximate Location in Offers
Please include your approximate location or nearest intersection for the pick up when making an offer to the list. It can be in the subject line, the body of the post or in the signature part. This helps people to decide if they will respond. Long distance pick ups are not always the best for successful freecycle gifting.

Gift: Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation. A valid gift requires: (1) a competent donor; (2) an eligible donee; (3) an existing identifiable thing or interest; (4) an intention to donate; (5) delivery; i.e., a transfer of possession to or for the donee and a relinquishment.