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Situation Analysis

Page history last edited by Paul Crosland 11 years, 4 months ago

This page is being overseen by the Project Steering Group

 


Relationships with Other Websites

 

freecycle

 

The initial functionality of freelend could be relatively easily extended to allow people to give their things away. It would then have similar functionality to freecycle.

 

freelend could possibly offer the ability for people to be sent any or all of the following emails:

  • an email notifying them each time a giveaway item was added to freelend
  • a daily digest of all giveaway items added to freelend that day
  • an email notifying them each time a giveaway item matching their search criteria was added to freelend.

 

Advantages over freecycle:

  • people receiving would not have to receive mountains of email in order to get what they want, they would only have to search the database, or receive targeted emails
  • people giving could hold onto their things for a longer time until a suitable recipient came along

 

Disadvantages over freecycle:

  • it's another website, with another registration form

 

freeconomy

 

freeconomy is focused on services, though they have recently added 'Toolshare' for sharing tools - a definite overlap with freelend.

 

Some differences between freeconomy and freelend are listed below.

 

Ratings System

 

freelend has a ratings system for identifying trustworthy borrowers. This is not part of the freeconomy ethos, which does not want anyone to be identified as a "bad" borrower. In freelend, the ratings system is seen as an encouragement to be a "good" borrower.

 

Item Categorisation

 

In freelend, people will type in keywords and select from various pre-defined tags. e.g. keyword "Qualcast rotary lawnmower", tags "Garden Equipment", "Electrical". People can search on keywords or browse by tags.

 

In freeconomy, there are only pre-defined categories. If the right category does not exist, either the wrong one must be used, or a request for a new one must be submitted. This may end up being high maintenance for the freeconomy support team.

 

geographical location

 

In freelend, locations are identified by selected postcodes and typed-in neighbourhoods, e.g. "BS3", "Southville". Search is done on postcodes, e.g. "BS", "BS3". The neighbourhood is there more for information, to show you how far away an item is.

 

In freecycle, locations are identified precisely using Google Maps.

 

Advantages of freelend:

  • no graphical interface, so accessible to visually impaired people
  • no reliance on external software

 

Advantages of freeconomy:

  • it's more fun to use the graphical interface
  • searches are done on people within 10 miles of you, so if you live close to a postcode boundary, this is not an issue

 

facebook

 

Integration with facebook would be a good thing, provided only one database had to be maintained - people would not want to add their items twice.

This has not yet been investigated.

 

 

Public libraries -what lessons to learn?

 

[Mike from Hastings sent these comments:

"I was thinking, if you pursue this, you already have a model that is clearly well established and has been proven to work in the area of 'freelending' on a national scale - the public library lending services.  I think if you will need to scrutinize this system as a model to follow as it has stood the test of time.  It might be worth having a chat with someone in tha library services  and get the lowdown on how it works though of course you may well already have done this.  Thing is the library services are not free, and cost a significant amount of  tax-payer's money to ensure it runs smoothly.  

Key to the library model, I think, is the system of "fines" to ensure, as much as possible, that books (or freelending items) are returned, either on time (or returned at all!).  The other thing is money to replace worn books (or freelending items) as they wear out or get lost/stolen. You will need to have a similar  'penality system' in place as we are dealing with human nature, not saintly beings.   However you will need to pay someone officially to ensure that this is carried out as I think if it's  done purely on a voluntary basis it is likely to fizzle out as individuals lose interest, simply move on, or just simply take advantage of the system for selfish ends  You would also need to carry out a regular appraisal/review to ensure things continued to run smoothly" ]

 

Strategy

 

Start small, learn lessons, get feedback, grow.

But design with the future expansion in mind.

 

1. Geographical:

- start in Bristol

- then other transition towns, one at a time

- then UK-wide, all at once

- maybe then international (harder)

 

2. Go live only when:

- the site is fully tested, and

- the site looks professional

 

3. Publicity:

- add a reasonable number of lendable items before doing any publicity. Get a small 'core group' of friends, etc., to add these items

- then publicise to the site to committed people (e.g. Transition Bristol and permaculture group mailing lists)

- when more items have been added, publicise more widely, e.g. in the Spark

- seek sponsors in other transition towns before going live in them

- when going UK-wide, do not seek further sponsors, as this would be impractical.

 

4. Languages:

- start with English(UK) only

- actively seek volunteers to translate into Welsh fairly early on

- ask for volunteers to translate into other languages

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