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Best of the Web: The Polls Are Still Open

? Creative vs Apple |


| Omaha Steaks Responds to Privacy Complaint ?

August 31, 2005

Best of the Web: The Polls Are Still Open

Rob Hof

Our Best of the Web reader survey seems to have struck a chord: Some 37,000 votes have been cast so far. You can cast your own here.

And I sure hope you do. Truth be told, some sites are, shall we say, encouraging their users to vote early and often. Hey, more power to 'em, that's the democratic way.

Please understand, though, the final Best of the Web list in the magazine, at least, won't be a popularity contest. We hope we can combine the best of your faves with the informed judgment of BusinessWeek editors. But if regular folks like you just share your personal picks with the rest of us, we'll get a much better idea of what's truly the best. And if you don't see your favorite sites listed, write in your own candidates--those are the ones we're really watching.

01:23 PM

Best of the Web, Web 2.0

TrackBack URL for this entry:

And I'd guess that would be Freecycle. They're in the midst of a great upheaval, groups right and left are leaving them and starting independent groups of their own. The founder hasn't gotten it through his head yet, that you can't "own" this concept, and the control he tries to impose is too much for many of us who just want a grassroots movement.


Posted by: Linda at August 31, 2005 03:15 PM

Not so true.... The comments about Freecycle are not as they seem. The founder is not trying to "Own" the concept. Yes, there are some of the top people departing, but that is bound to happen when any concept reaches a certain level of growth. Those that have left fail to realize they are acting just like the man they said drove them out of the Freecycle Network. Everyone wants a piece of the pie per se. They want to be the leaders and guess what folks, that puts you in the same hot seat as the founder of Freecycle.

Whatever you decide to call it; freeshare, ecycle, free recycle, freexchange, recycle, etc. you're all reaching for the same brass ring that the founder of Freecycle has already reached. Most left because they know once Freecycle goes to its own site, they may no longer be needed and their groups, that are supposed to be the communities' groups, are actually going to become just that, owned by the communities. No one wants to relinquish their own personal perception of what they feel they have power over.

Go ahead, slam the founder of Freecycle if it makes you feel better about doing the same things you are accusing him of doing and worse.

Everyone wants to be "King of the Hill" and if they can't be, they will take their group and go else where, even if their group has no clue that is what's happening. That's right, they are changing the name of the group without saying a word to the members and some of those groups are well over 5000+. Makes you wonder how they would feel if they were made aware and given a choice of leaving or staying.

They are not being told the truth, their free will has been taken away and they have not been given any options. Now tell us, how is that better? Isn't that jumping from the frying pan into the fire...No wait, they didn't jump, they were thrown in without warning. Those that have done this to their groups are better then the founder of Freecycle how? Who are the ones that are really trying to "Own" the concept?

At least Freecycle didn't MAKE anyone join a group, they all joined of their own free will. Those that took their groups also took away each members freedom of choice !


Posted by: Linna at August 31, 2005 05:13 PM

I had a poll on my group of over 500 members with only 3 not wishing to leave Freecycle. I never changed my group name as I never needed to as it never contained the word Freecycle. But true to their nature they recreated a group in my area even though a democratic poll took place asking my members if there was a problem leaving the Freecycle Network. Yes I posted this on the Freecycle Mod Squad so that they would know that it was taking place and they had every opportunity to view the poll for themselves.

I have also received threatening letters from the hit squad threatening to delete my group.

Being on the inside as the GOA for Eastern Canada I saw the way words were twisted to get Deron what he wanted. Most of the higher-ups have left the movement, leaving the group moderators believing that WE WERE THE PROBLEM.

How I wish they really knew the truth!

Nancy Daniels

Former GOA Eastern Canada

Posted by: Nancy Daniels at August 31, 2005 10:06 PM

To Rob Hof:

There is so much going wrong with freecycle. The recent suspension of their freecycle (tm) application that can be found here

to their total control of freecycle Yahoo groups by forcing all freecycle group owners to have ersatzfriend as co-owner. Recent events have shown that thousands have left The Freecycle Network with group owners changing their groups and demoting ersatzfriend only to have freecycle create another group in its place so that those who surf will not see the group numbers decline. Leaving ersatzfriend (Deron Beal) as the sole owner of each new group created. This is his plan to have total control of all freecycle Yahoo groups.

Along with this Deron Beal has created what he terms The Hub and has demoted all former freecycle MODS.

Grist just came out with a new article about how freecycle and Deron Beal wanted them to no longer use the word freecycling as it would prevent them from possibly getting their freecycle (tm) which you can find here.

You can find more information by surfing this freecycle hub bub blog or you can send me a personal email at and I will bring you up to date Rob.

Thanks so much for starting this discussion.

:) FA

Posted by: freecycleanonymous at September 1, 2005 06:32 AM

Mine were given a choice. All elected to go but one. They are not wrapped in the name freecycle. Just the concept. They will go wherever they can get free stuff, whether it be freecycle or another name... 99 % of my members did not come from the actual freecycle page. I brought most of mine in. (We are a small county.)

It's just a name. Not the idea. People don't buy just Coke because they were first. They buy whatever they want.

Posted by: John at September 1, 2005 08:11 AM

I certainly hope that this pole will not be based on the number of votes as will do what it does best, inflate numbers.

Posted by: Paul Hurteau at September 1, 2005 08:31 AM

I hope the editors do truly look at the innovations offered by the sites listed - some of the newer, smaller sites that didn't crash the polls offer a lot more innovation than the currently known names.

Posted by: Tim at September 3, 2005 05:13 PM

I just wanted to thank you for bringing all these great websites to my attention. I've heard of some but I am new to many others. My favorite one I have come accross is The Phat Phree. It's updated daily and filled with some of the best humor from great writers around the country. I'm glad Business Week is opening up all these little gems. I will continue checking out all the ones that are nominated, and wish everyone luck in the polls.

Posted by: Nancie Hornyak at September 9, 2005 12:01 PM

If it's not too late, it would be nice to see a category for magazines.

Posted by: paul at September 12, 2005 11:58 AM

hey is anyone gathering all these news articles, that expose freecycles lies, somewhere on a public group or something?

Posted by: D at October 8, 2005 09:56 PM

I have come across an alternative that solves a lot of Freecycle problems - the site is

Posted by: vidar aesir at October 12, 2005 05:59 AM

There are a group of ex-Freecycle moderators who are a very vocal, jealous bunch who are angry and upset after Freecycle banned them from participating when they were unable to follow the most basic rules.

It's amazing how much wasted energy they spend in trying to tear Freecycle down by whining, griping and complaining, instead of building something new and moving forward.

These ex-Freecycle volunteers somehow believed that Deron Beal and Freecycle owed them something

either monetary or related to power.

When it became clear they would not get paid for their volunteer work they stole the recyling groups they were entrusted with along with all of the unknowing members, and left pouting, without even telling their members.

It's terrible that huge egos got in the way of promoting such an amazing massive positive ecological shift on our planet. Now these individuals have formed their own for-profit (some are already asking for PayPal donations) organizations in hopes of making some money and/or power for themselves.

Too bad for the members of the groups who thought they were members of Freecycle and now find themselves hijacked into being members of something entirely different, without any choice on their part. These ex-moderators not only lied to their members and Freecycle, but they also stole something that was never theirs to begin with.

This new 'recycling movement' can't get out of its own way with infighting, insults and squabbling. They do the same tricks in the name of 'freedom and grassroots' that they claim someone connected to Freecycle did nasty things to them. They have no direction or goals, other than to see, what they think they should own, Freecycle, being completely destroyed.

Anyone can see that the anti-Freecyclist's are the loudest. They act like tyrants trying to get the most attention, which is what they even tried to do while involved in Freecycle, which is one reason why they were not welcome there any longer.

These people are just plain scary, too. Deron Beal should take heed and find protection from the likes of this person:

From: Paul Hurteau


Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2005 8:38 PM

To: ''

Subject: Ersatzfriend question,,,,,

I wish I knew what groups are solely owned by EF(Deron Beal's nickname code) as,if I happen to pick up an item from an EF owned group member, go to that house,, fall and hurt myback,,, I can not only sue the home owner,, but also the owner of the group that facilitated the exchange.

As I am sure you know,, The disclaimer is not going to protect anyone in a real court.


(posted by Paul in an anti-freecycle forum

from an e-mail to a Freecycle moderator he has

been accused of harrasing and ultimately losing his priveleges with another ISP)


Another ex-Freecycle moderator/member who speaks loudly but contradicts herself, is this person. It's amazing how she can be in support of someone one day and then backstab them the next day:

== 2 of 3 ==

Date: Wed, Oct 26 2005 8:47 am

From: Deanna


It is my opinion that Stephenie beat Nancy at her own game of manipulation... which, if what Deron is paying her is accurate and there is not any under the table spending, gives Deron a full position at a lower rate... and gives Stephenie more money....

As far as you being removed from the Imod position, I totally know what happened there...

Firstly, when I heard about the Imod position I and others had expressed interest in it... I thought that it would be a more fun way to help, as although I did enjoy the helpful part of GOA, I did not enjoy the stressful part... and I thought that helping new mods from the start would be a much more positive way to help TFN overall than policing older groups who did

not know about new rules, etc. etc.

Anyway... I later found out that the position was

created for you so that you would not be back as a GOA as you were "unfit".

I had noticed inconsistancies in postings that you had made in GOA, NGA and MS, however I was unaware that there were family problems... It was my thought that you were overworked and overtired... and I do know that if a person pushes themselves too far there comes

a point when it all falls down...

Well... Nancy chatted with us, "confiding" in us about her thoughts of your mental health and the way that she put it it made sense...

Then there were some complaints about your Imod work and Nancy asked at least some of the GOAs (could have been all, for all I know) to write to Deron about how we were concerned for you and how you should not be doing that anymore... blah blah blah...

She also worked the same tactic for Emily... and a

couple of others that were not "performing up to


Judy I was really really concerned... I even wrote to you personally about my concern as I was so worked up about it... but later Paula and I noticed how great you were doing on answering questions of new GOAs and some other things that you were doing... and we both told Deron and others soo...

As far as Emily goes... well, she is likable to chat with... but it was easy for me to fall into the crowd to joke about her without her knowing as I was not crazy about her work ethics that I had witnessed...

(this is an understatement... Emily, if you get a hold of this... this is my honest opinion... we are different in the way that we handled ourselves work wise, and while I always spoke up when I agreed with your ideas, I mostly did not... that is just the way it was... I could not understand why the NGA stuff in MA was soooo out of hand and why you had lost track of

at least one GOA matter that I personally know of...

and were still offering to do side projects... just did not make sense... On the outside it looked like you were responsible for so many things, and you were... but to me that is where the responsibility stopped as things never seemed to get done...)

I guess I got a little off track... lol!

Anyway, Judy... Nancy ralleyed the troups in a written campaign and it worked... Deron spoke up for you again and again... and he did not want to "demote" you or get rid of you... but Nancy clearly did, and looking back, I do not think it was for your best interest as she lead me, and others, to believe.Deanna.


== 18 of 22 ==

Date: Tues, Oct 25 2005 4:46 pm

From: Deanna

I did not know at the time that Nancy was being

paid... and looking back I guess she was just doing her job keeping the GOAs on duty....

It is just sad...

I really felt used by Deron, but was really used by both Deron and Nancy....

Nancy used to get us to post behind her on the GOA

group or chat meetings to get Deron to agree with her and to get others on her side... (she did the same thing on RC)... She was always working behind the scenes to manipulate the situation using as many different people as she could...

We were all resources to her...

She always knew what to say to make us feel good ...

complimenting us... sharing in our pain... then she would turn to business... and it made us feel

obligated to do for her since she was so caring to all of us...

But then she spoke about others behind others backs...said mean things... but of course we never thought that she was speaking about us... lol! Yep... good ole Nancy...

What was the question? lol!Deanna.


And there are ex-freecyclists that have such a

one-track mind to destroy Freecycle that they

have gathered an army of 'militants' to cause even more trouble:

On 10/26/05,

wrote: I've tried to sign this Paul, but my hubby beat me to it, so now it won't let me sign it. Guess it logs IP? Any idea on how I can get my

> name on here? Thanks Char

> I'll pass it along to my more 'militant' members who are just know really seeing all the bad press on Freecycle. Most are pretty upset

> that Deron is taking money from WM, and wondered why he needed money to

> do something that us mods did for him. Namely... THE WORK !!>

> and a big he he to ya Deron just for old times sake. Char

(posted from an online anti-freecycle forum)


And finally here's just one tiny example of how dangerous and obsessed these anti-freecyclist's


== 5 of 21 ==

Date: Mon, Oct 24 2005 2:04 pm

From: Innocent & Sweet 4Ever

here is one of Deb's e-mail address's that she uses

well......seems she must be in here somewhere because that bitch joined my group this morning (within a 1/2 hour of my last post), then left 1/2 hour later, she then removed my group from the .org site. All WITHOUT any notification.

She's a lowlife piece of trash who will get her's one day when Deron kicks her to the curb

and damn now I can't wait!


I'll end this by repeating what "Bob" posted


"We can all post here until poor Rob Hof's head explodes but it's still going to come out the same way. Freecycle - love it or leave it. And if you leave - turn out the light, shut the door, shut your mouth and make a real difference by showing us something more productive.

And those who've left, unless you only have a personal agenda to destroy, why not move on to your 'freedom(cycle)'? Guess it's more entertaining to keep going back and trashing what it is you *think* you've created.

I'd also like to add: For those ex-Freecyclist's who have stolen groups, ideas and members....please let your members know the whole truth...not just your biased opinions and your hurt feelings and pride.

Allow your members to make their own decisions and choices.

By stealing and controlling your Freecycle groups and it's members, you are doing exactly what you claim Deron Beal has been doing.

Posted by: Lisa at October 27, 2005 02:50 AM

Ahh Lisa. Lisa, Lisa,,, You poor lost child. The least you can do is post things fully and not out of context. But I forgive you as you are blinded by the cult that we know as

Deb Sawyers has committed a crime in the name of freecycle and you condone that. Fine. It shows the morals and righteousness that this group has.

I on the other hand have invited all to sign a petition that follows a legal way of doing things and is the right way to do it. By Deb Sawyers actions I have lost two years of work,, Customers data bases and important information worth thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I am a law biding citizen and though the wheels of justice may turn slowly, they do turn.

Anyone interested in signing a petition which I will hand deliver to the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office is welcome to view, and if so inclined sign our petition. At:

If you follow the law and do what is right,, you will always prevail.

Paul Hurteau

70 Quaker Street

PO Box 528

Millville, MA 01529

Posted by: Paul Hurteau at October 30, 2005 04:27 PM

Being frustrated Freecycle users ourselves - but being successful web entrepreneurs - we've built

With a simple web interface that was designed for just this purpose, it has many advantages over an email-based system.

We hope you'll check it out! (Click my name, below)

Posted by: Ellen Boucher at October 30, 2005 07:38 PM

There are a group of ex-Freecycle moderators who are a very vocal, jealous bunch who are angry and upset after Freecycle banned them from participating when they were unable to follow the most basic rules.

Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. You really are confused. Banned us? No. We left. This is like the old joke, you can't fire me! I quit!

Get it right, or stop posting. You are obviously copying and pasting comments from Freedom cycle with out permission from the authors. Nothing I've said there is a secret, but at least have the nerve to ID yourself and your group.

Mine is here:

Melbourne Fl

Cocoa Fl

Titusville Fl

We are the original Freecycle groups here and the parallels set up to replace us have not made an iota of a dent in our membership or our posts. You see, it's not about the name, it's about what we do. We're a community, we're a group of people who care about each other, and our environment. There is no money involved, there never will be. I cannot say the same for the future of Freecycle.

Things have changed folks, and it's not for the better. When it's all said and done, the local groups will be absorbed into a large corporation, and the local mods will be useless. I'm sorry you don't see it Lisa, but you will when it's all said and done, and I hope for your sake you are not too terribly surprised or hurt by it.


Posted by: Charlotte Hess at November 2, 2005 12:59 AM

I personally helped run several groups which we have defected from the Freepsycho Network as I call them. These people are crazy -- all they do is sneak around and hide -- if they were on the up and up why would they have the need to have "secret" id's and emails join our groups to spy on us like erzatfriend is one and there are others that I found infiltrated my groups. Then when you want to leave - they bad mouth you in their freepsycho moderator group and say lies about you on the internet. WHO CARES if you say something is PROMISED instead of TAKEN - if it is not TAKEN YET -- why say TAKEN? Who cares if you forget to put TAKEN??????? I mean come on is this a reason to put people on moderation and threaten to boot them - I've had to put my former freepsycho groups on moderation because every now and then another freepsycho person surfaces who is still "spying" on our groups. It's just ridiculous -- we're GIVING things away - we're not SELLING them -- geez give me a break! I had to change my id twice already because of freepsycho problems - I don't care to do it again! On one group I remained on after taking over a group where the OWNER didn't want it - I was put on moderation because the person who is a moderator doesn't like me -- because I called them freepsychos I think they are psycho!

Posted by: Me at November 24, 2006 07:34 PM

Freecycle has gone way over board. Many of the original people have left and started other freecycling groups like or

They actually closed down my group for putting up a Christimas greeting.

Posted by: T at January 11, 2007 07:38 PM

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