The group I moderate now has a pretty high wanted/offer ratio. It's not that we live in a poverty stricken area, but the group covers a fairly large area that is very diverse when it comes to one's financials. Pretty much anything posted is swooped up quickly, causing complaints by members who "didn't get what they asked for". So our group is a mess of unrequited wanteds. One of the first things I did when I came on board was to stress the importance of "ask simply, no strings attached". Talking about your layoff, no money to pay the bills, but could you please spare a Xbox 360 so Little Johnny could have something fun to play on; or to replace the cell phone poor me flushed down the toilet. Some of the requests were for run of the mill things, but always with the same "poor single mom struggling to make ends meet after a layoff". You never know if they're true or not.
What I had trouble explaining to the newbie mods was that although initially they had not received any complaints about the sob stories, it would alienate those who MAKE the offers, and don't you want the list to be full of offers not wanteds? And for every new member, we were losing one. Long story short, we did start getting complaints about the sobs (although one mod just wanted to ignore the complaints...), and now we do strip out the really sobby stuff before approving a wanted that's in the queue. If anyone complains (and they haven't) the intent is to tell them that Freecycle is not meant to be a charity, although it does often have the side benefit of people who really needs an item getting one, that is not its Mission.
So last week I offered some old kitchen stuff we hadn't used since we moved here and was taking up space. I received 12 responses to my offer. One came immediately after the email went out and was a generic "I am interested in Everything" etc. I mentioned it to my other co-mod and he related that he received the exact same response from the person - immediately after the email went out. Ok Ms Auto-Responder, I will not consider you. <Delete> Most of the other responses lacked what I had initially requested - available pick up times, what items they're interested in. Some stuff on the list was duplicates. Why someone would want two widgets was beyond me. I replied back to each asking them for available times and what specifically they may be interested in.
Half replied back. One asked for things I hadn't even posted - misinterpreting things I had posted into other things. I certainly hadn't posted 3 crock pots of varying sizes, I'd posted 3 ceramic crocks with those weird pressure lids! I wrote down everything, wrote down what people wanted, and started sorting out. Half of the items went to two guys who had recently moved here. [We are a military city, too...] One of whom showed up on his motorcycle with a backpack to put things into! The blender I gave away was intended for a power shake that evening. One person stopped replying to my emails after I mentioned one of the 3 items she wanted was tagged for someone else. [She's not afk, she was posting receiveds...] I don't have the energy to chase people down when they decide the pickup window doesn't work for them after all or realize it's farther than they thought (despite my location being included in the post) or whatever reason she decided she no longer wanted them. So onto someone else and we're arranging pickup (although I haven't heard back from her since I sent her my address....)
I made another post and Ms Auto-Reply didn't auto-respond. I don't know if that's because of the extreme delay in MF getting the post out or she canceled the AR. I do have someone interested in a few items out of that box and we're arranging time... [Which was good it wasn't today b/c it POURING.]
Also, I have to agree about part of the whole lawn mower conversation. When DH and I bought our house, hey, we forgot a lawn mower! By the time we went through closing and paying the movers, then we had new windows installed since they were 50yrs old, we just didn't have the extra $$ to buy a new one when spring hit - we had no idea where to find an old one and Freecycle wasn't founded yet! Luckily our next door neighbor had an extra and gave it to DH.
However, she shouldn't have posted that she was too poor to buy one. That's a string tug.