Monday, April 14, 2008

Chicago Free Cycle: Lots of Free Spam for Joining

Recyclers, be warned: if you join Chicago Free Cycle in order to dispose of your unwanted items in an environmentally friendly fashion, you will be opting in to more spam than you ever thought got sent out in all of cyberspace.

I was recently casting about for ways to find good homes for perfectly good items I want rid of, when I read about a Yahoo group called Chicago Free Cycle, where you can offer items you want to dispose of and look for items you want from things offered by other people, the idea being to recycle usable items and keep them out of landfills. What's not good about such a group?

I quickly found out. I joined on line, got five pieces of mail describing group terms and etiquette, and within two hours, my e-mail box was swamped with offers of items, as well as messages that other items were taken, or spoken for.

By the following day, there were over 300 new messages from Free Cycle members in my mailbox, and I have spent every day since deleting hundreds of messages that clog my box every time I check it.

Tonight, after deleting about 250 more newly arrived messages, I unsubscribed, and wrote a letter of complaint to them.

There has to be a better way to arrange things than to spam members to death with hundreds of daily e-mail messages, one for every item offered or taken on the exchange. Why not let members post them on a list on the Free Cycle site, like Craigslist?

If you know of any other organizations who offer this type of exchange, either online or by means of a local exchange flea market, please write.


Anonymous said...

sounds like a list server. if so, you should be able to subscribe in digest mode and get aggregate mails a few times a day. a/or make a dedicated mail folder and create a rule to move all fc messages to that - which you could then search for whatever object you were trying to give away.

i can imagine people looking for a particular thing wanting to see the messages as they were sent so as to get first dibs.

also - if you subscribe, it isn't spam.

Casey said...

I had an even worse experience with Chicago Freecycle - I only hope prospective members read this blog, which comes up first when you google search "freecycle spam". I didn't mind receiving dozens or hundreds of chicagofreecycle emails; that I knew I was signing up for. But I also, within hours, began receiving literally hundreds of actual spam emails - thank you's for signing shady guestbooks, notices that I'd received e-cards (hundreds of them spontaneously), web business offers, etc - many of them from me, as though my email address has been co-opted to send these things out. What a miserable swindle from a bunch of crooks. DO NOT JOIN CHICAGO FREECYCLE.

The North Coast said...

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Give PixieList.com a try. It has a similar premise, but is web-based instead of email-based.