FREEUSE.ORG: THE FREEUSE NETWORK
|...the simple, age-old principle that's changing the world one gift at a time.
Frequently Asked Questions-For TFN Users
Q. If I have an “adult” public profile or a “racy” screen name, does that matter?
A. Possibly. FreeUsing is definitely a “family friendly” movement. If your chosen identity is a “racy” one,
you may be asked to reapply using a different persona.
Q. Why are applications for membership in FreeUse sometimes moderated (Posts will be moderated
at the TFN, rather than membership applications)?
A. Because allowing anyone to join anonymously and without moderation results in spam (often
pornographic), which our members do not want to be subjected to.
Q. What kinds of messages can I post?
A. Each FreeUse list has its own policies. However, commonly there are four types of member posts:
“Offer:”, where you seek to find a new home for something you have and no longer want; “Taken:”,
where you have found a new home for the offered item(s); “Wanted:”, where you are looking for
something; and “Found:” where you no longer need the item. Some lists restrict member posts to only
these four kinds of posts.
Q. If I am uncomfortable getting something for free, can I offer to pay for it?
A. No! The point of FreeUse is that everything must be free. There are other places for sale or trade.
Q. Can I ask to borrow something I only need temporarily?
A. That depends upon the individual list policies, but generally, 'yes'.
Q. Do I have to give an item to the first responder?
A. No. In fact, many lists recommend that you wait a reasonable period—perhaps overnight—before
you determine whom you might be happiest in giving the item to. This allows charities to respond,
and people who are not constantly connected to the Internet. In most cases, there are people who try
to claim everything very quickly; often, they might be simply trying to get things to sell.
Q. Can I get a tax deduction for things I give?
A. No, unless the receiving entity is a tax-exempt nonprofit (Ask for a receipt in those cases, with their
Q. Why should I be asked to give my location when I seek an exchange?
A. Because many folks don’t want to be responsible for too much fossil fuel being burned simply for a
minor exchange of “stuff.” In addition, having your general location in your posts will usually increase
your chances of success.
Q. Who can post a “Taken:” post? Can I post it if I am the receiver?
A. No. Doing so can cause your membership to be terminated. Unfortunately, some folks say they
want something but don’t show up when they promise to. In addition, trying to keep others from asking
for something by posting that it is “taken” reduces the ability of the offerer to determine who might best
Q. Can I post an offer for "political yard signs"?
A. No. No politics, no spam, no kidding!
Q. Can I post the availability of coupons or a “buy one-get one” promotion?
A. No. No commercial uses, no come-ons. There are plenty of coupon lists for those who want them.
Q. Speaking of coupons, can I ask for coupons? (Or bottle caps, UPC proof of purchase, etc.)
A. No. Again, this is not the place.
Q. Can I post a separate message for each item I want to give or receive?
A. No. Most lists ask you to put all your offers in a single message for any given day, and all your
“wants” in another. This is to keep the volume of email to reasonable limits. When you post a “taken”
or “found”--again, this should include all the items from a particular email.
Q. How often can I post a “wanted” or “offer” for the same item?
A. That depends on the individual list. Usually, it will be from a week to a month. At this time, TFN is
limiting a "wanted" for the same item to twice a month.
Q. Can we use FreeUse to find or offer homes for pets?
A. Generally, yes—but always be lovingly careful. Always strongly consider the local animal welfare
organizations. PETS MAY BE OFFERED, BUT A 'SEEK" POST FOR A PET IS PROHIBITED.
Q. Can I respond to an offer on the list?
A. No. Responses must go directly to the offerer. Most lists are configured so all you need do is hit
“reply” and the message will be addressed to the offerer.
Q. How do I arrange pickup?
A. That is entirely between the offerer and the receiver. Try to avoid messages like “It’ll be on the porch
for the first one to show up!”
Q. What if someone who claims an item does not show up when promised?
A. If they don’t at least call to reschedule, I would suggest going to the next person that wanted it.
Please do not post any comments as to individual members or directed to an individual.
Q. What if someone makes personal comments about me because they are disgruntled about not
receiving something or for some other reason?
A. We suggest you should not get into a personal email exchange with these folks. Instead, notify the
list owners or moderators privately. Unfortunately, some folks seem to have personality problems that
show up from time to time. It is not worth provoking them—but it IS worthwhile to let the list owners
know of this kind of behavior.
Q. What if I post copies of off-list correspondence?
A. In addition to being considered generally objectionable on any mail list, this sort of thing is not
permitted on a FreeUse list.
Q. What about computer viruses?
A. Unfortunately, these things are common today. Many times, the “from” field is faked by inserting a
different address from the address book of an infected computer. For any machine that is connected to
the Internet, you should be sure to have a good firewall and an up-to-date anti-virus program. There
are excellent free programs in both categories.
IF YOU RECEIVE ANY MESSAGE WITH AN ATTACHMENT FROM FREEUSE OR ANY FREEUSE
MEMBER, ASSUME IT IS A VIRUS AND DO NOT OPEN IT! It can also help to use a Web-based email
account for public mail lists to keep your private email box from many instances of computer virus
problems. TFN does not allow attachments to posted messages and they are automatically deleted.
NOTE: Unfortunately, Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, and all Microsoft email clients including
Outlook and Outlook Express are famously vulnerable to computer viruses and trojans. You may wish
to explore the alternatives for any or all of these.
Q. Can I post an offer to give away a copy of a (video)(computer program)(CD)?
A. No. No copies of copyright materials—they are illegal! Remember the FreeUse credo: Keep it free,
legal, and appropriate for all ages!
Q. Can I post an offer or request for a service?
A. Generally, no. The fundamental idea is for exchange of “stuff” that otherwise might end up in our
landfills. Services should find a home elsewhere. We do allow requests for advice.
Q. I heard a great joke today. Can I share it with the FreeUse list?
Q. I found a great free community resource! Should I post it?
A. No. Send a note to a list moderator. They may wish to put it in the Files or Links section of the list
website for all to consult in future.
Q. Can I give away my partly-used cosmetics?
A. No. Too much potential problem with spreading microorganisms. Full, unopened bottles are fine.
Q. Can I give away unused medicines?
A. Giving prescription medications to others is illegal and thus cannot be done on FreeUse.
Q. I’m getting too much email from the list! Must I unsubscribe?
A. Not at all. You can reset your list preferences to “no mail” or to “special notices only” and access the
list from the Web. “Special notices” are moderator ADMIN messages on important topics regarding
the list operation—moderators don’t abuse this, so the “special notices only” setting is preferable.
Q. Since some folks who claim an item don’t show up, should I post a “taken pending pickup” notice to
keep from disappointing folks and to reduce the mail I must respond to?
A. No. We suggest you should not post a “taken” notice until the item is actually gone. You need not
respond to each email message individually; the “taken” note is fine. You also need not give the item
to the first one who asks for it...and, if the first person doesn’t show up, you may simply go to the next
on the list.