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How to use Freecycle

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Freecycle is a fantastic group of websites and a great way to give items to people that need them or get things for free. However it is a bit fiddly and not hugely user friendly. This guide will give you a quick head-start.
What you'll need: 
An internet connection
A Freecycle account
A Yahoo! account
1: 
Go the website Freecycle.org and search for your nearest group. On this website you will either be presented with a list of items on offer or invited to join their "Yahoo! Groups" page.
2: 
If there is a list of items, you will find in the top right hand corner of the screen it says "Log in or Sign Up". Follow the instructions on Sign Up to do so. Once signed up, you will need to re-search the group again (unfortunately) and then join the group.
3: 
If you join the location's "Yahoo! Group" you need a Yahoo! account in some form or other and may require approval from the group's admin.
4: 
In both cases you will probably receive a few automated e-mails that tend to cover the same sort of ground and cover the same topics. They can come across quite waffly and it may be worth at least skimming through them to get a feel for the freecycle community. However, spending some time reading through posts and exploring the site is just as, if not more, useful.
5: 
There are three types of posts on both types of site. "OFFERs" are things that people are offering for free, usually asking you to collect. These posts give a rough location and small description to entice you to take it off their hands. Unfortunately for some reason it is nearly impossible to post a picture with an item so you may have to ask for one. But remember: These are items going for free, so don't expect them to be in perfect condition.
6: 
"TAKEN" posts refer to previous offers that have now been taken and that it is no longer available. These tend to be made by the original "OFFER" poster. "WANTED" is the last type of post, typically involving people begging for items for free. There are a despairingly large amount of these posts, but freecycle etiquette asks that you post at least one "OFFER" before you post a "WANTED".
7: 
If you wish to create an ad, the typical format is: "OFFER: Wardrobe, SE2", and you may find your ad edited or even not published at all if it does not conform to this.
8: 
On replying to an "OFFER", it is typically negotiated on a first-come, first-served basis, or in the case of bulky items, the ability to collect them. It is entirely up to the "Offerer" as to who the item goes to, but if they ask for money, feel free to report them for violating rules and beware they may report you if you make a monetary offer.
9: 
It is entirely possible - even advisable - to join more than one group when both making offers and looking for items. But use common sense and make it realistic. It is important not to waste people's time and make offers on things you have no intention of collecting.
Conclusion: 
Its a great way of cheaply furnishing a room, gathering props or finding particular items, but beware of possible bogus offers and cons. Also be advised that useful items often dissapear very quickly, so you need to be vigilant and decisive.
Warnings: 
Freecycle's design is firmly lodged in the late 90s, so can be a bit frustating to use, but the rewards are obvious
There are a number of community rules that you need to familiarise yourself with before you start
References: 

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