Admin Reference Manual

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Need to find a group?  A Local Admin?  A Regional Admin?  Our Worldwide Map for Admins is a  wealth of information: https://goo.gl/olYIHB

Welcome to the Buy Nothing Project!

Quick Links/FAQ

Introduction

Our volunteers are stewards of the Buy Nothing Project, and essential to its continued success.  The Buy Nothing Project is a worldwide network of hyperlocal gifting groups.

As such, there are a great many “moving parts” that make the Project a success.  When all volunteers are fulfilling the duties as expected, all of these “moving parts” work together toward our goals. When volunteers cease to perform any of their duties, it can throw off the whole balance.

We ask all volunteers to consider whether they are ready to fully commit to the expectations and requirements of a volunteer position with the Buy Nothing Project, and not to take this commitment lightly.

The purpose of this Manual is to provide Local, Development and Regional Admins with an overview of their responsibilities to the Buy Nothing Project, and to provide Local Admins with some details about these duties.

If this is your first visit to this Reference Manual, please take the time to read through the sections dedicated to All Volunteers, as well as the section dedicated to your role.

If you have visited this page before, and are looking for something specific, feel free to visit the “Quick Links/FAQ” section to find what you are looking for.

Structure

All Volunteers

All volunteers commit to:

  • Uphold and embrace the Mission of the Buy Nothing Project;

  • Represent the core tenets of the Buy Nothing Project;

  • Have consistent and dependable access to Facebook;

It is best to have access to a desktop or laptop computer.  Some of our procedures are difficult to follow via mobile.  However, it is acceptable for a Local Admin to have mobile access only.

  • Collaborate and maintain reliable communication with other volunteers within the Project;

Collaboration is a key component of the Buy Nothing Project philosophy.  All volunteers are expected to perform both independently and as a part of the whole. 

Local Admins are expected to work as collaboratively as possible with their co-Admins, and to reach out to their Regional Admins whenever another perspective may be warranted or required. Regional Admins are expected to collaborate with their Co-Regional Admins as well as the Global Admin Team.

Collaborating with Co-Admins and Regional Admins

Communication is another key component to the Buy Nothing project philosophy.  All volunteers are expected to maintain communication with other volunteers.  Please inform your fellow volunteers if you will be taking a hiatus, going on vacation, or stepping down from the Project.

If a Regional or Global Admin is unable to reach a Local or Development Admin, Admin status may be suspended until contact can be re-established.

All Volunteers are required to join, monitor and participate in discussions in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.

We expect all Volunteers to be informed and up to date with regard to all Rules, Guidelines, Policies and procedures.

Staying Informed

  • Maintain communication with members of the Project;

Members of a group must be able to communicate with some member of the Admin team.  Remember that when you block a member, you can still see what they post, but they can no longer see any notes, comments or attempts at communication from you.  

If you have a significant need to block a member, please consult with your Regional Admin for assistance and consultation.

  • Treat all Buy Nothing Project members, group applicants, and other volunteers with civility and respect;

Admins are expected to treat all members, applicants, and other volunteers in a way that is in keeping with our Civility pledge, and our policy of True, Kind and Necessary communication.

All volunteers are expected to make every effort to resolve conflicts with other members of the volunteer team.

Resolving conflicts between Admins

  • Use the platform we have chosen with integrity and responsibility;

We expect all volunteers to abide by Facebook’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.   Follow all of Facebook’s rules, and take precautions to stay out of “Facebook Jail”.

We ask that each admin uses their own “Every Day” Facebook account (not a Facebook Page, an account associated with a business or other organization, or an account specifically created for this purpose). We also ask that every admin uses their “Every Day” name for their account. No one at the Buy Nothing Project will ask you to prove your name or your identity. However, if your account is disabled by Facebook for this or any other reason, the Buy Nothing Project reserves the right to find a replacement admin or take whatever other steps are necessary to preserve the continuity and integrity of the Project.

Facebook sometimes introduces “new features” which may seem like an advantage to our groups but turn out to be less-than-helpful.  When Facebook rolls out a new feature of any kind, please check in with your Regional Admin before using it.

Please see our file in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum with helpful tips to stay out of Facebook Jail.

  • Protect and respect the privacy and confidentiality of all member-related information, documentation or discussions;

Our Admin groups are intended to be safe spaces where admins can share knowledge, collaborate on solutions, seek encouragement, and celebrate successes. Information shared in these groups is to be considered confidential.

Private message threads or emails relating to member conduct or membership eligibility are likewise to be considered private and are not be shared outside of our Admin community.

Any information provided to an admin for purposes of membership eligibility verification is also to be similarly safeguarded, never to be shared with non-admins, never be published or distributed in any way, and to be used only for purposes for which it was submitted.

  • Recognize our strengths and limitations;

As a volunteer run organization, the Buy Nothing Project has many volunteer needs, from Local Admins to special behind-the-scenes projects. If you have a special skill to share with us, please let us know!

If you find that you have something going on in your life that might prevent you from performing your duties in a kind and compassionate manner, please contact a Regional or Global Admin to arrange to take some time away from your role.

If you find that the values of the Buy Nothing Project no longer work for you, or there are other areas of your life that require more of your attention and you are unable to continue as a Buy Nothing Project volunteer, advise a Global or Regional Admin with as much advance notice as possible and work to facilitate a smooth transition.

Stepping back

  • Gracefully accept when things don’t work out.

Grounds for removal from the Buy Nothing Project volunteer team

Local Admins

The primary responsibility of the Local Admin is to uphold, through example and explanation, the Mission and Principles of the Buy Nothing Project.  All volunteers within the Buy Nothing Project must have experience as a Local Admin before they can be recruited to any other volunteer team.

Upon joining the Local Admin team, all Local Admins should receive a copy of our Local Admin Orientation .  If you did not receive this document, feel free to email BNVolunteerCoordinator@gmail.com  to request a copy.

All Local Admins agree to:

  • Actively participate in your neighborhood’s hyperlocal gifting group;

First and foremost, you are a member of your local group. As a member, you are bound by the same rules and standards as all other members. We encourage you to participate actively in your group. Your actions as a member speak volumes and oftentimes your modeling of good community behavior is more effective than your actions as an admin.  Your voice sets the tone of the group and can be used to motivate members and get them involved.

  • Regularly review posts and comments, and take action regarding posts and comments that do not fit within our Rules;

A large part of the Local Admin’s job is to review posts and comments for compliance with our Rules, and to take action when a post or comment does not meet this criteria.

It is very important that Local Admins have a firm grasp of our Rules and Standards, including the difference between an enforceable Rule and a Guideline or suggestion. This understanding will help the Local Admin know when to request an edit and when to utilize a swift removal.

Differences between Rules and Guidelines

Local Admins may need to take action if a post or comment does not meet our criteria.  This may take the form of a request that the member edit their post or comment.  There will be times when posts or comments must be removed.

Asking a member to edit or correct their post

  • Regularly engage members with Admin posts, comments and encouraging remarks;

If you notice a trend in posts or comments, or find that there are a number of members who seem to need clarification on something, you may find it useful to post an “Admin Reminder”. These reminders serve to provide information about our Rules and Guidelines, educate the members about our Mission and Principles, and alert our members to any changes in the Project.

Guiding a group with Admin Reminders and comments

  • Respond to all membership inquiries in a timely manner;

Local Admins are asked to make some form of  contact with every person who requests to join a Buy Nothing Project group.  Remember that this contact makes you the face of the Buy Nothing Project. Your interactions on this level will strongly influence people’s opinion of the Project as a whole.

Admins are asked to confirm, with reasonable certainty, that a person:

  • is joining the group with a personal (not a business) profile;
  • lives within the boundaries of the group;
  • is an “adult” as defined in your area;
  • is not in any other Buy Nothing Project group.

Responding to membership requests

Methods of performing this verification are frequently discussed and described in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum. 

Some people will request to join more than one group at a time, or may already be in a group when you get their request.  Some people may have recently moved from one neighborhood to another.  We ask that you help all of these people find the right group and remove themselves from any groups they may have been added to by mistake.

What to do if a member is in more than one group

  • Respond to member questions or concerns and resolve group issues in a timely manner, in keeping with all Buy Nothing Project policies;

When a member reaches out to ask an admin a question, the admin are required to make every effort to reply and assist the member as quickly and effectively as possible.

Members are encouraged to post questions about the Rules, the Buy Nothing Project or the hyperlocal gifting concept in their groups for discussion.  Admins are asked to engage in these conversations in a pleasant and helpful way.  These posts are not to be removed from the group, as long as they remain civil and respectful.

Finding ways to say Yes to members

It is sometimes necessary to remove members, neighbors, and even friends from our groups.  This is not an easy decision for an admin to make, and is not to be taken lightly. We remove people only after we have seen a pattern or repeated behavior that is incompatible with membership and participation in the Buy Nothing Project.

Member Removal
Information about “Removed for Cause” lists

  • Actively participate in the hyper-localization (sprouting) process, as we move closer to our goal of a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies;

To maintain our hyper-local focus, when the Buy Nothing Project administration determines that a group has reached a certain level of size and activity, it will be transformed into smaller groups devoted to more smaller neighborhood regions.  We call these transformations “sprouts”.  All admins are expected to assist with this process, helping their members find their new groups, confirm their location and leave their old group.

Hyper-localization

  • Respect the integrity of all Buy Nothing Project groups, including the copyright protected documents, group description, settings, and procedures;

Every group within the Buy Nothing Project network is subject to the same rules and policies, regardless of location or size.  No group may create rules or membership requirements exclusive to their group.

Each group is set up with specific settings that are consistent across the network. It is very important that admins do not change the banner of the group, the url (including creating a “custom url”), the group type, any of the group settings, the group description, or any of the primary documents.

Our Documents and Group Description are subject to copyright and are to be edited only in a very limited way.  Admins may edit the  Group Description to include a point of contact for new members.  However, no other parts of the Group Description are to be changed or rearranged in any way.

  • Seek support, collaboration and guidance from co-Admins, Regional Admins and Global Admins.

The Buy Nothing Project relies on collaboration and communication between all volunteers.  We strongly encourage all volunteers to seek support and guidance whenever there is any question or confusion.

Seeking support

  • Regularly review our volunteer-centered forums and groups, and participate in these groups in order to engage and collaborate with other admins;

The Buy Nothing Project Global Admin Team will use our volunteer forums to keep you up to date on any changes to our Fine Print, provide guidance regarding our policies, and make important announcements.  All volunteers are expected to maintain contact with the Buy Nothing Project operations team via these forums and groups.

While we encourage active communication between admins in all forms, we ask that admins not form “secret” groups, where misinformation might be shared and spread and Regional Admins are not available to post corrections. Instead, all Local Admins are encouraged to ask questions, seek clarification, share celebrations in their Local Admin groups.  This should be your first stop for any information or advice.

If you cannot find an answer to your question in your Local Admin group, we encourage you to post your question in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum. Your post will be reviewed by the Global Admin Team before it is approved for posting, and we will do our best to find an answer to your query.

All Buy Nothing Project Admin Groups

More Information on Selected Topics

Development Admins

Development Admins assist with the creation and setup of new groups to the Buy Nothing Project, and collaborate with those interested in introducing the Buy Nothing Project to their neighborhood.

Upon joining the Development Team, all Development admins are encouraged to read the Development Admin Orientation. If you did not receive this document, feel free to email BNVolunteerCoordinator@gmail.com  to request a copy.

All Development Admins agree to:

  • Monitor incoming communications and respond to inquiries in a timely manner;

Currently, the Buy Nothing Project uses a form located on our Start-A-Group page to collect information from individuals hoping to start a group for their neighborhood.  This information is sent to a Google spreadsheet, which all Development admins must have access to.

*It is easiest to access this spreadsheet if you have a Google account and login.

  • Communicate with potential admins in a friendly and courteous manner;

Development Admins are often the first people that prospective admins meet when they ask to have a group set up for their area. Please remember that you are the “face” of the Buy Nothing Project in this regard.  Make every effort to communicate as clearly and in as friendly a manner as is fitting that position. 

  • Communicate and collaborate with a potential admin to determine the parameters of a new group, using Buy Nothing Project policies as a guide;

Development Admins are provided with certain parameters and guidelines for creating groups and are asked to use those when collaborating with new admins.  These parameters include group size and boundaries, group naming conventions, and techniques for communicating with new admins.

  • Communicate and collaborate with Regional Admins and Global Admins;

Development Admins and Regional Admins may communicate as often and thoroughly as possible in order to provide a smooth introduction into the Project.  Global Admins may reach out to Development Admins via personal contact or through posts or comments in the Development Team group.  Prompt reply to these communications is appreciated.

  • Set up new groups using a shell provided by the Lead Development Admin and in keeping with standardized practices;

Development Admins  are provided with template documents to load into each group during setup. Development Admins must not create new shell groups on their own.  All groups are created and owned by a very small group of Global Admins in order to retain “ownership” by the Project.

  • Complete specific tasks in order to ensure that new groups are included on regional maps, administrative lists, and on the website’s Find-A-Group page;

Specific instructions for these tasks are located in the Development Team group.

**Duties and responsibilities of Development Admins often depend on circumstances and administrative needs and sometimes change.  These duties and responsibilities are described and discussed in more detail in the Development Team group.

More Information on Selected Topics

Regional Admins

Regional Admins provide information, guidance, and support to the Local Admins as well as providing conflict resolution and problem solving. These volunteers are representatives and intermediaries of the Buy Nothing Project Founders and Global Admin Team.  

Regional Admins have exhibited an understanding and dedication to the Mission and Principles of the Buy Nothing Project, as well as an understanding of the Rules, Guidelines and Policies of the Project.

Regional Admins consistently guide the Local Admins of their region to ensure that all groups in the Project are managed consistently, in a manner in keeping with the Principles of the Buy Nothing Project. Regional Admins also identify and foster growth of additional leaders for the Buy Nothing Project.

Upon joining the Regional Admin Team, all Regional Admins are asked to read our Regional Admin Orientation. If you did not receive this document, feel free to email BNVolunteerCoordinator@gmail.com  to request a copy.

All Regional Admins agree to:

  • Engage and communicate with all Local Admins in the Region;

Regional Admins engage Local Admins by posting frequently and helpfully in the Local Admin group for their region, and by contacting Local Admins directly if those admins have not recently participated in the Local Admin group.

Regional Admins will also use these groups to share important discussions, announcements and updates from the Founders and Global Admin Team.

We ask that Regional Admins communicate with local admins in the Local Admin group rather than via private message, as often as possible.  This allows all admins to learn and grow in skill and understanding by observing other admins’ experiences. Regional Admins are also expected to encourage admins to reach out to their Local Admin team with questions and concerns, to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and team problem-solving.

We suggest that Regional Admins treat any issues that arise as opportunities for coaching, mentoring and learning.  This will help Local Admins identify trends in their own groups and encourage them to solve dilemmas in their own groups in creative ways.

If there is more than one Regional Admin, each Regional Admin are expected to contribute regularly to discussions, so that all Local Admins are familiar with all of their Regional Admins.

  • Engage and communicate with volunteers throughout the project, in the Volunteer Forum;

Regional Admins are expected to monitor the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer forum regularly.  We suggest regularly sharing posts from this group in the Local Admin group. This will allow local admins in your region to discuss and learn from questions that are asked there.  The Global Admin Team may also make important announcements in this group, which can also be shared in the Local Admin group.

  • Engage and communicate with other Regional Admins and the Global Admin team;

The Regional Admin forum is a space for Regional Admins to communicate with one another, problem solve issues, discuss conflict resolution, and seek any other personal support that you need.  This Forum is an invaluable resource and wealth of information.

The Founders and the Global Admin Team will often announce upcoming changes and important updates and alert Regional Admins to potential issues in their Regions in this forum.  Regional Admins are required to actively follow and participate in this group.

  • Maintain reliable communication with all Volunteers;

Local Admins, other Regional Admins and Global Admins must be able to communicate with you.  If the Global Admin team is unable to reach you, we may take action on your behalf.  Continued lack of communication may result in removal from the Regional Admin team.

  • Monitor the health and activity of all groups in the Region;

Regional Admins will have admin status in all the groups in the region, and are asked to “check in on” the groups in the region on a regular basis to monitor their activity level and growth, as well as the participation level of Local Admins.

  • Specifically, Regional Admins are required to:
    • Join and become and admin in all groups in the region;
    • Be familiar with each group in the region, its admins and boundaries;
    • Encourage solo-admins to seek out co-Admins among their membership;
    • Address issues of multi-group members and assist with finding the right group and removing them from all other groups;
    • Monitor Reported Posts and remove when necessary;
    • Monitor membership requests and reach out to the Local Admin when the membership request queue seems to be growing unchecked;
    • Respond to requests from Local Admins or members for intervention or clarification;
    • Communicate and collaborate with Local Admins if the need for Regional Admin intervention arises;
    • Assist Local Admins in case of unplanned absence, emergency or other difficulty;
    • Monitor group size and growth in preparation for sprouting;
    • Seek out and recruit Local Admins in groups lacking an admin;
    • Decommission groups that lack leadership and activity, where no Local Admin can be found.

If the need arises for a Regional Admin to step in to assist or act on behalf of the Local Admin, Regional Admins are asked to followup with the Local Admin as promptly as possible, in case further actions are necessary.

  • Recruit, train and mentor Local Admins;

When a Local Admin requests assistance, help them with a post in their group seeking a co-Admin.  There are templates for these posts in the Regional Admin forum.  If a group has only a solo-admin, encourage that admin to seek out a co-admin.

When a new Local Admin is recruited, there are specific procedures to follow to provide this information to the Buy Nothing Project Operations. These procedures are presented in the Regional Admin Forum.  Once the new Local Admin has been introduced, Regional Admins  are expected to help them find their way around the various resources available, including the Admin Manual, the Volunteer Forum, local and global maps, the Buy Nothing Project Facebook page, and buynothingproject.org.

  • Assist Local Volunteers in case of unplanned absence, emergency or other difficulty;

Regional Admins are asked to make a special effort to identify any difficulties that a Local Admin may be experiencing, and to provide as much mentoring and support as may be needed.

  • Things that Regional Admins may need to watch out for include:
    • Argumentative interactions between admins;
    • Argumentative or tense interactions between admins and members;
    • Admins who represent the Guidelines as “hard rules”;
    • Resistance to flexibility, or resistance to enforcement of clear rules;
    • Lack of admin interaction in the hyperlocal gifting group;
    • Long membership request queues;
    • Old or outdated pinned posts;
    • Lack of response to tags or messages;
    • Complaints from members or other local admins about “unresponsive” admins.
  • Step in to act as a Development Admin if the need arises;

If your Region’s Development Admin steps down, you may be asked to perform certain duties or fill in as a Development Admin until a new one can be recruited.  Regional Admins are also an integral part of the Development Team, and are asked to stay up to date on current Development policies and procedures.

  • Provide leadership and guidance through the hyper-localization (sprouting) process;

The hyperlocalization process is essential to the growth and continued success of the Buy Nothing Project.  Regional Admins are required to participate in this process.

  • This process includes:
    • Collaborating with the local admins with regard to boundaries, mapping, group names and other details;
    • Setting up new groups using shells provided by the operations team;
    • Adding new groups to the regional map;
    • Submitting sprout information to the operations team via a prescribed method for inclusion on the Find-A-Group page.
  • Perform record-keeping and other administrative tasks;

Regional Admins may be asked to maintain lists of groups and/or admins in their region, and to contribute to record keeping 

Regional Admins may also be asked to update banners, descriptions, or documents in existing groups.  These updates are to be made in as timely a manner as possible.

Regional Admins are required to maintain and occasionally review a “Removed for Cause” list for the Region.

  • Seek support, collaboration and guidance from co-Regional Admins and Global Admins.

The Buy Nothing Project relies on collaboration and communication between all volunteers.  We strongly encourage all volunteers to seek support and guidance whenever there is any question or confusion.

Seeking support

**Duties and responsibilities of Regional Admins often depend on circumstances and administrative needs and sometimes change.  These duties and responsibilities are described and discussed in more detail in the Regional Admin Forum and Development Team group.

More Information on Selected Topics

Global Admins

The Global Admin Team collaborates with the Founders to guide the Buy Nothing Project in keeping with the Mission and Principles, and provides administrative support to the Founders, Regional and Local Admins.  Inclusion on the Global Admin team is limited and by invitation only.

Our Founders are Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller

More information on selected topics

Collaborating with Co-Admins and Regional Admins

You are a Local Admin. It is likely that you are a part of a team with at least one other Local Admin.  Each of you will have equal status as admins and mentors for the group. We do not have “Lead Admins”. All Local Admins are expected to communicate, collaborate and cooperate with their Co-Admins and Regional Admins.  In case of a disagreement between co-admins, please immediately contact your Regional Admin.  Do not ever remove or block another admin.  It is especially important that no Buy Nothing Project admin block their Regional Admin or any Global Admin.   If your Regional Admin or a Global Admin is unable to reach you, after repeated attempts, you may be removed from your position as an Admin until contact can be reestablished.

The day-to-day duties of the Local Admin may be shared or split up between Co-Admins in whatever way works best for all involved.  You and your Co-Admins are there to support one another in all situations.  Here’s what Liesl Clark said about collaboration:

We see this project as a collaboration among us all. We’d love to see admins finding ways to solve problems together, even those you disagree on, rather than parting ways. Our project was founded upon the principle of community and sharing. If our admins can’t share in the stewardship role of running a gift economy, recognizing even celebrating our differences, our diversity, and teaching tolerance, then we aren’t really practicing what we preach.

Your Regional Admin is there to answer your questions, provide information on behalf of the co-founders and the development team, assist with conflict resolution, monitor for cross-group memberships and to intervene on your behalf when needed.  Your Regional Admin may occasionally remove “reported posts” from the groups, or alert you to issues that they see brewing.  Your Regional Admin is also your contact point in case of any conflicts between Co-Admins, if you would like to add a new Co-Admin, or if you need to step down as a Local Admin.

The Buy Nothing Project has a structure set up so that Regional Admins, the Global Admin team, and Founders Liesl Clark & Rebecca Rockefeller, can provide resolution and clarification on any issues brought to the project. The Co-founders, as well as the Head of Development, Shelley Schwinn, have full access and administrative privileges in all Buy Nothing groups at all times.

Staying Informed

All Admins must be familiar with our Rules, Standards and Guidelines, and our Mission and Principles.

  • If you are not familiar with the Buy Nothing Project as a whole, please also take a moment to check out the About page on our website.
  • Make sure you are familiar with all of our Rules and Standards.
  • Another great source of information is our FAQ page.

Every Local Admin must be a member of their Local Admin group, as well as the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  Your Regional Admin can provide a link to your Local Admin group.  

It is your responsibility to stay informed about changes to the project and to review the Volunteer Forum and your  Local Admin group regularly.  Local, Regional or Global Admins may reach out to contact you via these groups or via private message.  There are times when these communications will be time sensitive and very important.  We ask that you check your messages frequently and respond to any communication from a Regional or Global Admin as soon as possible. If Admins and Regional Admins are unable to contact you for any extended period of time, you could be removed as an admin until contact can be reestablished.

If you have any questions about the project, your duties, or about specific posts or members, first consult with your Local Admin Group.  The other members of this group are admins in groups in your region.  These admins are probably best informed about the culture and customs of your particular area and can offer you the most personalized advice.

If you cannot find an answer to your question in your Local Admin Group, your next stop is the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  First, search the group for a few keywords. It is possible that another admin has asked the very same question you have.  If you still cannot find what you are looking for, feel free to post to the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  These posts are held for review before posting, so if you need a quick answer and resolution to the issue you are experiencing, your Local Admin Group is definitely your best option.

You are encouraged to join other Buy Nothing groups in your region as an observer, in order to learn from other Local Admins and also in order to share resources and information with your fellow Local Admins.  Observing admins are assigned “member” status only.  You may not ask for or receive items from areas other than your own, or otherwise participate in any way. Members are only allowed to participate in one group, and Admins set the example.   If an observing admin’s presence or behavior becomes disruptive in any way, the resident Local Admin may choose to remove them from the group.

When joining another Buy Nothing group as an observer, please reach out to the membership admin of that group (found in the “About” section) to let them know who you are and the name of your group.

Resolving conflicts between Admins

Admins in the Project are leaders who are passionately and generously bringing the gifts of their time and talents to their neighbors and other admins. The Buy Nothing Project Coach, Lyssa Danehy DeHart, has gifted guidance for handling difficult situations in ways that are True, Kind and Necessary.  These strategies and resources can be used when working towards conflict resolution whenever needed.

All Buy Nothing Project Admins commit to communicating in ways that are civil and respectful. We understand that there are times when we may not agree.  That’s okay.  We don’t always have to agree.  However, we do have to acknowledge each person’s right to have an opinion on any given subject, and to respect that opinion as valid for them. Personal insults, provocative statements and generally uncivil behavior in any of our Admin forums may be grounds for immediate removal from the Admin team.

If a conflict between admins at any level (Local, Regional, etc.) escalates to the point of one admin feeling the need to block another, the Global team must be contacted, if they aren’t already involved. Blocking of admins by either a member is grounds for removal from their Buy Nothing group.  Blocking of admins by another admin may be grounds for removal from the Admin team.

The Buy Nothing Project reserves the right to review these situations and will try to find a solution, agreeable to all parties, that works to uphold the mission and standards of the Project, while allowing for the safety and security of the Volunteers.

As a neighborhood-based project, by the time an Admin becomes a Regional, we hope that leader has fine-tuned her/his good neighbor skills, no matter how little one might have in common with one’s neighbor. If, while in the Regional role, there is repeated conflict with others, Project leadership may review the Regional Admin’s conduct and may find another role for them that is in the best interests of the Project.

Stepping back

Everyone has a life offline. When your offline life requires that you step back from your position with the Buy Nothing Project, here are a few steps to take to ensure a smooth transition:

When the transition is foreseen (new job, move, new baby, vacation, etc):

If you find that you have something going on in your life that might prevent you from performing any of the above duties in a kind and compassionate manner, please contact your Regional Admin to arrange to take some time away from your role as a Local Admin. If you find that the values of the Buy Nothing Project no longer work for you, or there are other areas of your life that require more of your attention and you are unable to continue as a Local Admin, please take the following steps:

  • We may ask you to recommend a replacement for your position;
  • We may ask you to train your replacement if at all possible;
  • During the transition, we will ask you to add the replacement admin to all of the appropriate groups, promote them to “Admin” status, and help them get acclimated for a transition that is as smooth as possible for members and Local Admins.

Local Admins:

  • Contact a Regional Admin to discuss the transition.  
  • Provide as much notice as possible.
  • Try to find a replacement, if you can.
  • Inform your co-Admins (if any) and make arrangements for another admin to take over your duties.

When the time comes for you to step down:

  • Remove yourself from any and all admin groups and forums
  • Change your status from “Admin” to “member” in your local group
  • Remove yourself from any other local groups that you are observing

Development Admins and Regional Admins:  

  • Contact a Global Admin to discuss the transition.  
  • Provide as much notice as possible.
  • Let the Global Admin know if you have any thoughts about a replacement for your position
  • Inform your co-Regional Admins, Regional Assistants, Development Admins, or any other Admins that you work with.

When the time comes for you to step down:

  • Remove yourself from any and all admin groups and forums
  • Change your status from “Admin” to “member” in your local group
  • Remove yourself from any other (hyperlocal or admin) groups that you are observing

If you are remaining as a Local Admin in your local group, please be respectful of the new Regional Admin. Remember that they might have a different way of doing things, be supportive and cooperative.

When the transition is unforeseen, please take as many of the above steps as possible, and reach out for as much support as you need.

When the transition is sudden and unexpected:

We understand that “life happens”.  All we ask is that you keep us informed.

Sometimes a life transition is such a surprise that an Admin appears to disappear without notice. If it becomes evident that you have taken a leave of absence without notice, we may step in and remove your status as an Admin at least until contact can be re-established.  These situations may also result in permanent removal from the Admin Team. Here are some things we keep an eye out for:

  • Several weeks of not seeing or answering posts in the Local Admin group;
  • Extremely long membership request queues and/or no recent Admin Activity in the Admin Activity Log;
  • Messages from members about an unresponsive Local Admin;
  • Messages from Local Admins about an unresponsive Regional Admin;
  • Messages to the Regional Admin go unseen/unanswered;
  • Tags in any or all of the Volunteer Forum, Regional Forum, and Local Admin groups are unanswered/unacknowledged for an extended period of weeks;
  • Unacknowledged development inquiries;
  • Unanswered private messages or emails.

Repeated instances of unresponsiveness may mean that, despite the very best of intentions and/or a prior steady history of generous gifts of time and talent to the Project, your Admin role is no longer appropriate for your level of availability.  

It is the goal of the Buy Nothing Project Founders and Global Admin team that Administrators at all levels have access to coaching, mentoring, and guidance to be successful in their role within The Buy Nothing Project.

If all reasonable interventions and redirection prove unsuccessful, The Buy Nothing Project reserves the right to remove admins who are unable or unwilling to perform the duties of their position, or who behave or communicate in a way that leads the administration to believe that they are not a good fit for this endeavor.  Admin privileges and group membership may be revoked by a Regional Admin or the Global Admin team. This is a step that will never be taken lightly or without much thoughtful consideration.

Grounds for removal from the Buy Nothing Project volunteer team

In addition to unresponsiveness, the Buy Nothing Project reserves the right to remove any admin (Local, Development or Regional) who exhibits any of these tendencies:

All Admins:

  • Failure to uphold and embrace the Mission of the Buy Nothing Project;
  • Failure to represent the core tenets of the Buy Nothing Project;
  • Failure to effectively collaborate with other volunteers within the Project;
  • Failure to maintain reliable communication with other volunteers within the Project;
  • Failure to maintain communication with members of the Project;
  • Failure to treat all Buy Nothing Project members, group applicants, and other volunteers with civility and respect;
  • Failure to use the platform we have chosen with integrity and responsibility;
  • Failure to protect and respect the privacy and confidentiality of all member-related information, documentation or discussions.

Local Admins:

  • Failure to regularly review of your neighborhood’s hyperlocal gifting group;
  • Repeated misunderstandings or lack of knowledge of our Mission and Principles, as well as our Rules, Standards, Guidelines and Policies;
  • Failure to respond to membership inquiries in a timely manner;
  • Failure to respond member questions or concerns and resolve group issues in a timely manner;
  • Refusal to actively participate in the hyper-localization (sprouting) process;
  • Repeated tampering with copyright protected documents, group description, or settings;
  • Failure to regularly review and participation in our volunteer-centered forums and groups;
  • Any other behavior that leads the Regional Admin or Global Admin Team to believe that you are no longer  a good fit for the Local Admin role.

Development Admins:

  • Failure to monitor incoming communications and responding to inquiries in a timely manner;
  • Reports of unfriendly and discourteous communication with other volunteers;
  • Failure to communicate and collaborate with a Regional or Global Admin;
  • Failure to complete tasks essential to the Development process;
  • Failure to regularly review and participate in Development related forums and groups.

Regional Admins:

  • Failure to engage and communicate with all Local Admins in the Region;
  • Lack of attention and engagement in the Local Admin group;
  • Failure to convey important announcements and updates with local admins;
  • Lack of active participation in the Regional Admin Forum;
  • Lack of reliable communication with the Founders and Global Admin Team;
  • Evidence of a unhealthy or dysfunctional groups in the region, indicating a lack of engagement by Local and Regional admins;
  • Failure to effectively recruit, train and mentor Local Admins;
  • Refusal or failure to actively participate in the hyper-localization (sprouting) process;
  • Failure to perform record-keeping and administrative tasks;
  • Any other behavior that leads the Global Admin Team to believe that this Regional Admin may be unfit for a leadership role.

Differences between Rules and Guidelines

There are some rules about what types of goods can be posted in our groups.  We must give only legal gifts, and gifts that do not violate Facebook’s  Community Standards. . This means: No prescription drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition. We also don’t allow items that endorse or oppose any current political party, candidate, or ballot option.

For more details on Facebook’s definition of “firearms”, see this link.

Because the Buy Nothing Project operates groups all over the world, it is impossible for us to list what types of items might be legal in all jurisdictions.  This is where your Regional Admin and your Local Admin Group come in.  Your Local Admin Group is a great place to discuss whether a particular item is legal to gift in your area.

There are some rules about the way that we communicate with one another.  All posts in our groups must be civil. We do not permit members to communicate using personal insults, slurs or anything that veers toward hate speech. Our members must always respect their neighbors’ privacy and property, which includes not sending private messages to other members without permission, and not using our groups as a means to collect information for commercial purposes or for personal gain.

Most of the rest of our rules relate to things that are not allowed in our groups. Some of them may appear to be repetitive, for emphasis.  

We do not allow Marketing, advertising, recruiting, promoting or otherwise “spreading the word” about a business or organization (even a non-profit one).  This does not mean that people are not allowed to mention their business or organization name. They simply cannot use our groups to promote that business or organization.  This includes asking for referrals for businesses, offering recommendations for businesses, or telling people where they can buy or get something they have asked for.  We are a gift-economy.

We do not allow Buying, selling, trading, bartering, asking for money or loans to buy things, discussions about buying,  selling, trading, renting or leasing things, discussions about paid employment or any other kind of situation where money will change hands. Everything in our groups must be Freely Gifted, without any expectation of compensation.

The easiest way to remember the types of things that are allowed in our groups is to familiarize yourself with our Standards for Posts, as well as our Mission.

Our Standards for Posts & Comments section describes the types of posts and comments that are allowed in our groups.

These are the types of posts that belong in our groups:

  • Offers of freely gifted, shared or loaned tangible goods, services, or gifts of self;
  • Requests for freely gifted, shared or borrowed tangible goods, services, or gifts of self;
  • Gratitude posts to express appreciation for the group, the project, the members or the gift;
  • Questions, suggestions or discussions (even challenging ones) about the Buy Nothing Project, the platform that we use, or the gift economy as a whole.

When determining whether a post is “allowed” in a Buy Nothing group, just ask a few questions:

  • Is the member offering or requesting freely gifted tangible goods?
  • Is the member offering or requesting a freely gifted service?
  • Is the member offering or requesting a gift of self, talent or time, which will personally connect them to one of their neighbors in some way?
  • Is the member expressing gratitude for the group, the Project, a member, a gift, or anything else related to the Buy Nothing Project?
  • Is the member asking a question, making a suggestion or expressing a concern about the Buy Nothing Project, the platform we use, or the gift economy as a whole?

If you can answer Yes to these questions, then this post belongs here.

We offer people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors.

In addition to our Rules and Standards, there are also some Guidelines that we ask our members to follow.  These are not rules.  These are suggestions. Admins may feel free to make these suggestions in their groups, reinforce these suggestions with gentle reminders, but none of these things can be required:

Be honest.    

  • Describe the item you are gifting
  • Ask about any defects or other conditions
  • Let us know if you will be reselling the item

Communicate clearly.    

  • Use full sentences
  • Include a photo (just one photo in the main post, with additional photos in comments)
  • Using a screenshot or a link is also okay
  • Let us know if you are crossposting
  • Be sure to communicate about pick-ups and drop-offs
  • Do not feel the need to tell us how much the item cost

Practice patience.    

  • Let your post simmer before choosing a recipient
  • Let your neighbors know if you need the item gone right away
  • Resist “bumping”
  • Edit your posts to show if the item is gifted (but do not delete)

Be yourself.    

  • Friendly comments on posts are encouraged (but not lengthy discussions or debates of opinion)

Finally, some groups have certain tips for making our groups easier to navigate.  These tips might include:

  • Labeling posts with Ask/Gift/Gratitude
  • Designations such as “Flash Give”

Please keep in mind that these Hints and Tips are not part of the Buy Nothing Project Fine Print.  These hints and tips may not be “enforced” and are not grounds for removal, nor to correct a member.  As a member of the group, you are free to model these habits, but you must not lead your members to believe that these are Rules or even Guidelines/Standards in any way.

Asking a member to edit or correct their post

As you guide your neighbors through our rules and guidelines, we encourage you to connect with them one-on-one. We encourage our members to communicate clearly with one another, and we encourage our admins to do the same.

If you find a post or comment that is outside of our rules and guidelines, try to deal directly with the person who posted, either by commenting on the post or comment, or by sending a private message, rather than posting a broad reminder or public announcement.

Some posts may be removed immediately.  These posts and comments might include:

  • Spam: If you believe that a person has joined the group for the sole purpose of posting spam or some other inappropriate content, you may remove them from the group  until you are able to make personal contact with them.  You may then send a note to the person explaining that they have been removed from the group and that they may contact you in order to be re-added.  This allows for members whose accounts may have been compromised or “hacked” while still protecting the other members and the integrity of the Buy Nothing Project.
  • Illegal Items: All items gifted in our groups must conform to all federal, state and local laws, as well as Facebook’s Community Guidelines.  We do not allow the gifting of anything on Facebook’s list of Regulated Goods, including prescription drugs, marijuana, firearms or ammunition. We also do not allow the gifting of items that endorse or oppose any current political party, candidate, or ballot option.   There is more information for admins here.
  • Personal insults, or hate speech:  If you believe that a member has violated our Keep It Civil rule, you may also remove that member from the group for a short time (just to let them cool off) or for an indefinite period.
  • Obvious posting errors:  Sometimes people just post things in the wrong place.  If you see something that looks like a personal status update, or a misplaced personal message.

It is a good idea to message the poster of the above, so that you have a running conversation and record of the removed posts.

If a post or a comment falls outside of our Rules, but is not spam or anything illegal, we ask that you give the member the opportunity to edit their posts. Some admins prefer to leave a comment on the post, to give the member an opportunity to edit the post, and give other members the opportunity to learn from this error.  Other admins prefer to make corrections quietly and privately.  In most cases, we ask that Local Admins contact a member when a post is removed, to explain its removal.

We always assume that these posts or comments were made in error, without any malicious intent.  We approach these situations with compassion and understanding, and do everything we can to make sure that our neighbors understand not only the Rules of the Buy Nothing Project, but also the Mission, and how those Rules support our Mission.  We guide our neighbors through our unique rules with consistency, to prevent confusion and misunderstandings. If a member, after repeated reminders within the group and private messaging, is unable to abide by the rules you may remove them from the group.

Guiding a group with Admin Reminders and comments

The first place to look for an Admin Reminder or a Group Activity is the photo albums in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum. There, you will find photos and graphics that have been approved for use throughout the project.

If you can’t find what you are looking for, would like to use an existing reminder with a new photo, or would like to create your own Admin Reminder or Group Activity post, we ask that you keep certain parameters in mind. 

  • It has always been the Founders’ wish that we approach admin reminders and activities with evocative, original photo images and captions that encourage the thought/action desired in a guiding way.
  • Using real photos (rather than graphics or clip art) visually reinforces the Buy Nothing Project’s mission of connecting real-life neighbors.
  • If you are unable to provide your own original photo image, please be sure to always use copyright / attribution free images.
  • Please use images that accurately reflect the culture and tone of the Buy Nothing Project, its Mission, and its Principles. Our groups are made up of adults from all backgrounds and cultures. Please do not use internet memes.
  • Focus on positive instructions and examples (i.e. what to do, rather than what not to do). Avoid using sentences starting with the word “No” or images with red slashes over them to demonstrate what is not allowed.
  • Always align your words with our Standards and Guidelines, with a friendly and inviting tone. Refrain from using any degree of sarcasm, irony or mockery in your messages.
  • When creating a Group Activity or Challenge, refrain from using the word “Game”. Activities and challenges inspire members to notice their abundance and encourage participation in your local gifting economy, whereas “games” imply a culture of scarcity and competition. Please choose your words carefully.
  • The preferred format for graphics is that they include just a few words (if any) overlaying a photo (like a headline), with the bulk of the message conveyed in the caption to the photo and not in the image itself. This makes our messages accessible to all members, including those using text-to-speech or translation software.
  • The best way to make sure that your Reminders are in alignment with our Rules and Standards is to copy words from our Fine Print or from our FAQ.

If you will be using the image or reminder only on a local level, you may use it without seeking review or approval, though it is advisable to seek the advice of your Regional Admin if you have any questions.

If you would like to share the image or reminder with other admins in your region, you may post it to your Local Admin group, with the approval of your Regional Admin.

If you would like to share it with your fellow admins, you may submit these images and reminders to the Project at bnpreview@gmail.com. Please include a statement as to the copyright status and source of the image you have included, and the caption you have prepared. If your graphics are approved by the Global Admin team, they will be added to the photo albums and we will tag you to let you know. Please do *not* upload photos or graphics to the Admin Photo Albums in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum, or create any additional photo albums.

Responding to membership requests

Each of the groups in the Buy Nothing Project has specific boundaries, determined by landmark areas, transportation patterns, and population density, as well as other factors. In order to participate in any of our groups, each person must confirm that they are an adult*, living within the boundaries of that group, and that they do not belong to any other groups within the Buy Nothing network.  There are no exceptions to this rule.

ALL contact between Local Admins and potential members will be made via Facebook’s messaging system. Not via email, or any other means. The name of the admin listed in the Group Description is expected to be an admin’s “every day” Facebook profile.  It must not be an alternate account, or an account created to be shared by admins, or a Facebook page, or any other means of contact.  It must be you.

We recommend that all admins performing membership duties have access to a computer.  Volunteers who access Facebook only via their phones may have difficulty performing certain tasks.

Admins attempting to perform their duties exclusively using mobile devices may find themselves overcome with an urge to yell at, kick, hit, poke, punch, throw or otherwise cause damage to their devices. The Buy Nothing Project accepts no responsibility for any equipment damage caused by Mobile Device Frustration, and can only suggest wine and/or tequila for emotional stress.

Admins are asked to confirm, with reasonable certainty, that a person:

  • Is participating using their personal profile and not on behalf of a business;
  • lives within the boundaries of the group;
  • is an “adult” as defined in your area*;
  • is not in any other Buy Nothing Project group.

You may be verifying this information using private messages, or using 3 pre-written membership verification questions. Specific methods of membership verification are frequently discussed and documented in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.

Guidelines to keep in mind:

Please keep in mind that the messages you send to anyone while using your admin “hat” represent the Buy Nothing Project mission, but you are free to express yourself and your personality. These members could become your friends, so be friendly!

There are a few things that you are not to ask for:

  • Exact addresses
  • Dates of Birth
  • Any other personally identifying information, for reasons of privacy
  • A confirmation that they have “read” or “agree” to our Rules and Guidelines

We trust each of our members, as adults, to answer truthfully and to be responsible for their own actions.

If you are unable to personally contact a person (for example, if their Facebook profile does not give you the option to send them a message, or their name is in black or grey text), we prefer that you decline their request to join our groups.

Whether you use the verification questions or a method of messaging each person who requests to join the group, here is a message you can send each new member as you approve their request.  We ask that all new members receive a personal welcome message from an admin similar to this (please check the files in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum. for complete templates):

Thank you for joining the Buy Nothing Project! Based on the answers you provided when you joined the group, I have approved your request.
Before you begin posting, please take a moment to visit our Files section, where you will find our Rules and a link to our Frequently Asked Questions page.
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Welcome!

Definitions of “Adult” and how to respond to under-aged membership requests

Our definition of “adult” refers to the *most restrictive* definition in your area (country/state/county/city). In most cases, this age is the legal drinking age, but this is not always the case.  

We allow our admins to make exceptions to our minimum age rules based on their understanding of the person’s living situation and level of maturity.  Specifically, we permit exceptions for young parents, and members of military families, as long as those people also exhibit through their communications with the admin that they can be trusted to participate in keeping with our Mission, Principles and Rules.  Exceptions are to be made very rarely and only after serious consideration.  Please contact your Regional Admin with any questions.

If you receive a request from someone who is under the minimum age for your group, you can refer them to another project by the Founders of the Buy Nothing Project: blog.trashbackwards.com, as well as the new Buy Nothing 7 Challenge.  There are sample messages for these referrals in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.

Referring requests to other groups

Please only admit people into the  group if they live within, or very near (see below) the boundaries of the group.

If you receive a membership request from someone who lives on one of the group’s boundaries, they are to be given the option to join whichever adjacent group works best for them.  It does not matter which side of the boundary they live on.    You may help them choose a group if they ask for assistance, but the choice is up to them. There are sample messages for these referrals in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.

If you receive a membership request from someone who lives very near one of the group’s boundaries, you are asked to refer them to the group where their neighbors live. However, if they return to you with an additional request, you may make an exception and allow them to join the group of their choice, as long as they live within 1-2 blocks of the boundary for that group.

Please do not admit people who live more than 2 blocks from the boundary of the group.

If you receive a membership request from someone outside of the group’s boundaries and you need to refer them to another group, you can find the correct group using our group maps.  Check your local admin group for a link to the map of your region. You can find links to all of the regional maps here: https://goo.gl/olYIHB

If there is no group available for this person’s area, you may refer them to our Start A Group page.  There, they can find out more about the process of starting a new group and becoming an admin. There are sample messages for these referrals in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.

What to do if a member is in more than one group

Prevention

The best way to guarantee that a member is not in more than one group is to confirm, before adding them, that they do not belong to any other groups.  Do not add anyone who already belongs to another Buy Nothing Project group.  Ask them to leave their old group, or ask a Regional Admin to remove them from that group, prior to adding them to a new one.

The best way to guarantee that a person is not already in a Buy Nothing Project group is to access all membership requests on a computer or via “desktop view (www)” of the Facebook website via your mobile browser.  Accompanying their membership request is a line that indicates what groups the person is a member of.  This list can be easily looked over to check for other Buy Nothing Project groups.

If you receive a request from someone who already belongs to another group,  ask them to leave their former group before adding them. There are sample messages for these referrals in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.

Monitoring

Facebook gives us a way to compare the membership records of two groups, to find members that are enrolled in both groups.

In order to do this, you will need the Facebook-assigned identification numbers for the groups you would like to compare. This number is included in the URL for the group.

Example: The URL for the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1376812719222837/ . The identification number is therefor 1376812719222837.

To compare two Facebook groups, enter the following string into your browser’s address bar: https://www.facebook.com/search/(GROUPNUMBER)/members/(GROUPNUMBER)/members/intersect.

Replace (GROUPNUMBER) with the identification number of the groups you would like to compare.

Correction

If you find that a member is in more than one group, the first thing to do is send them a message.  These messages should be friendly and courteous.  We always assume that these members have joined multiple groups accidentally, and your message reflects that perspective.

Here’s an example:

Hello! I am an admin for the Buy Nothing Project, doing a bit of housekeeping, and I have noticed that you are in more than one of our groups.  Did you move? Did you join more than one by mistake? If you could give me an idea of where you live, I’d be happy to help you find the right group for you.  Thanks!

You can then wait to hear back from them.  When they reply to you, and provide you with a location, the next thing to do is to contact the admins for the other groups and ask them to remove this member.  You can also contact your Regional Admin to assist with this process.

If you don’t hear back within a few days, you can send a second message, like this one:

I’m sorry we were unable to connect to determine which group your neighbors are in. For now, we’ll have to remove you from our groups until we can sort this out.  As soon as you get back to me, we can get you back into the right group. I look forward to hearing from you!

We ask that you then contact all related admins and ask that the member be removed from all groups until contact can be made.  Again, you can also contact your regional admin for assistance with this.

Finding Ways to Say Yes

Buy Nothing Project Admins are asked to make every effort to say “Yes” to requests from members.  Sometimes, even when the answer is “No”, we can find a way to turn it around.

Before you remove a post or comment, ask yourself if it can be rephrased  in a way that would make it okay.  Whenever you need assistance with this, you can ask your fellow admins in your Local Admin group, or in the Volunteer Forum.

We try to use this same philosophy when members post questions, concerns, or even complaints about the Buy Nothing Project Rules or Guidelines.  Please do not delete these posts, as long as they remain civil.  Instead, participate in these discussions carefully and compassionately.  Remember that we do not all have to agree.  Disagreeing with an admin is absolutely not grounds for removal from the Project. Expressing confusion or frustration with one of our rules is not grounds for removal, as long as the discussion remains civil and productive.  

Here are some words from one of our Founders on this topic:

We let people learn their own lessons whenever possible here in the Buy Nothing Project. So long as people are following the explicit rules (no advertising/marketing, must be civil, must be legal, etc). we need to allow them to continue on as they like with offers and requests even when they push our own personal buttons or they seem to have chosen the “wrong” way to go about things…Our job as admins is to gently guide people to better ways through modeling and helpful suggestions, and to find ways to say “yes, here’s how to do that while respecting our mission and rules!”

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll get to say it again, many times: Each of us will come across things in our groups that push all of our buttons. What pushes those buttons is very subjective, though. In order to grow the BNP as an inclusive network of hyper-local gift economies we will each need to vent privately, breathe deeply, or even scream out in frustration or laughter in order to keep our personal opinions to ourselves while we’re wearing our admin hats. All of us have internalized a lot of crazy market economy beliefs, starting with the fear-based scarcity model and the idea that we are what we own. Shifting to a new way of seeing our material culture and our human neighbors as a network of abundance and interdependence is a process with many paths and many different starting points.

It’s not always a pretty trip, but people do make progress if we provide each other with kindness, clearly articulated basic ground rules, and a bit of room to experiment. By all means, please DO help people understand and respect the rules, but please find ways to say “Yes, here’s how…” whenever possible, and let our adult members learn for themselves from the consequences of their actions when it comes to things like overuse of sob stories, over-eager “must have it all!” requesting, and other common reactions to being part of a gift economy for the first time. We’ve got a number of helpful admin reminders and photos that can be used to remind people of best practices, and you can always ask here for new wording and ideas of how to finesse the growth of our shared mission to increase the wealth of connections between real-life neighbors.

Thanks, as always, for everything you (yes, YOU) are doing to bring the Buy Nothing Project to life in your community.

Rebecca Rockefeller

Member Removal

It is sometimes necessary to remove members, neighbors, and even friends from our groups.  This is not an easy decision for an admin to make, and is not to be taken lightly.  We do not remove people for making mistakes, having a bad day, or sometimes choosing the wrong words to use.  We remove people only after we have seen a pattern or repeated behavior that is incompatible with membership and participation in the Buy Nothing Project.

Grounds for removal from a group are included in The Fine Print, and include the following:

  • Posting spam, marketing posts or items for sale
  • Joining any group with a fraudulent account(s) or with the purpose to defraud others
  • Incivility towards or between group members
  • Disrespect toward group members, their privacy or their property
  • Dishonesty or obtaining items under false pretenses in order to sell said items without disclosing that intention
  • Repeated instances of disregard for our rules or principles
  • Blocking or failing to communicate with an admin
  • Repeated complaints about the group or our rules
  • Statements in the group that lead the admin to believe that you are unhappy in the group or would like to be removed.

Finally, we reserve the right to delete anything that we feel doesn’t belong in our groups, usually without notice, or to remove members who act in a way that is not in accordance with our Rules, Standards or Principles.

No member is to be removed from a group for the following:

  • Gifting items without letting them “simmer”;
  • Failure to pick up in a timely manner;
  • Failure to describe faults with an item;
  • Failure to meet up in person;
  • Conflicts with a neighbor that are unrelated to the Buy Nothing Project;
  • Selling items*;
  • Any Other Reason that is not specifically related to the Buy Nothing Project and listed in our Grounds for Removal.

*The grounds for removal specifically state: Dishonesty or obtaining items under false pretenses in order to sell said items without disclosing that intention.  If the member did not make any false statements in order to obtain the item, then that item is now theirs to do with as they please.

We do not remove members for any activities that we cannot see, or which happen outside of our groups.  Whenever you receive a complaint from a member, please refer to the “Difficult Situations” section of our Frequently Asked Questions first.

Removal from our groups is rarely permanent.  The Buy Nothing Project believes in giving people second, and even third, fourth or fifth chances.

Admins may start out with a short term removal.  This, combined with communication with the member, can sometimes resolve these issues.

When short term removal is not sufficient, admins may resort to a longer, but still temporary, suspension from the group.

Finally, when all previous solutions have failed, you may need to remove a member for an indefinite period of time.  If they reach out to re-join the group in the future, please contact your Regional Admin for assistance in re-evaluating their membership, in the hopes they will abide by our very few, but clear, rules.

If you and your fellow co-Admins have determined that it is necessary to remove a member, we ask that one of the admins send  a message to the member, explaining why they have been removed and when they may be reconsidered for membership in the group.   We ask that this message be as factual and informational as possible. If a removed-member contacts the Buy Nothing Project with some objection to this action, we may ask for the information contained in these communications.

Always remember that these members are also your neighbors – people you may run into at the post office or at the park.  Your Regional Admin is available to assist you when dealing with these difficult situations.

Whenever a member is removed, they have the option to contact the Buy Nothing Project directly using the contact information on our “Contact Us” page.  These messages are received by the Founders, and may be distributed to the Global Admins, the Member Relations Team and/or the Regional Admins, and are reviewed on a case by case basis.

During this review, we may reach out to the local admin for screenshots, history, or other information.  In order to prepare for this eventuality, we ask that Local and Regional Admins maintain a list of people who have been “Removed for Cause”

.  You may also keep a file of screenshots or other notes with regard to particularly difficult situations or removed members that you feel may appeal this decision.

If a Global Admin, Member Relations Admin, or Regional Admin reaches out to you and asks for any of this information, please keep in mind that our goal is to uphold the Mission and Principles of the Buy Nothing Project. We may ask some difficult questions. We may ask you for screenshots or direct quotes from the member’s posts.  Please do not interpret these questions and requests as a challenge.  Our only aim in these discussions is to try to understand a situation that we may not have been directly involved in, so that we can explain the removal more  thoroughly to the member.

If, during this review, we determine that the member was removed in error, we may reinstate that member.   Once again, this is not a challenge to your abilities or your decisions as a Local Admin.  We recognize that all of our admins, as well as our members, are human beings, and human beings sometimes make mistakes.  Please do not be concerned that a reversal of your decision reflects negatively on you in any way. It does not.

We ask that you cooperate fully with any requests made by a Global Admin, Member Relations Admin or Regional Admin in this regard, and that all communications follow our policy of True, Kind and Necessary communication.  Once again, our goal during these communications is to uphold the Mission and Principles of the Buy Nothing Project to the best of our ability. We appreciate your assistance and support during these discussions.

“Removed for Cause” lists

Each region in the Buy Nothing Project may maintain a list of members who have been removed from a Buy Nothing Project group based on our Grounds for Removal.  The information contained in that document will be used by Local Admins, if the person requests to join a group in the future, and by Regional Admins and Global Admins, should the person complain about their removal.

If one of the people on this list requests to join a Buy Nothing group, this list will provide valuable information for the admin to decide whether to admit them or not.

Inclusion on the Removed for Cause list does not mean that this individual has been “banned” from the Project.  It means that they were removed from a group for violating one of our rules.  If this person requests to join a new Buy Nothing Project group, you may choose to re-admit them even if they are on this list.  If you do so, please note that decision on the list for future reference. Please consult with your Regional Admin if you have any questions or concerns.

When a local admin removes a member from the group, we ask that they add this information to the Removed for Cause list:

Name (Profile URL) –
Date
Reason (from Grounds for Removal)
Group name, Admin name
EXAMPLE: Member Jane https: //facebook.com /jane
April 11, 2017
~ Disrespect toward group members, their privacy or their property
~ Repeated instances of disregard for our rules or principles
~ Repeated complaints about the group or our rules
Neighborhood ABC Admin Bob / Regional Admin Mary

These notations should be kept as brief as possible. Any further information about the member and their removal may be saved elsewhere for future reference upon request.

Please do not add people to this list solely because they have (a) joined multiple groups; or (b) joined a group with multiple Facebook accounts.  We expect those situations to be dealt with separately in the following manner:

(a) If a person has joined multiple groups, a Local Admin or Regional Admin is expected to reach out to this person, verify their current location, and follow through to make sure they are removed from all except their appropriate hyperlocal gifting group. If this person has joined multiple groups by providing false information or conflicting information to multiple admins, this may be referred to a Regional Admin, who may decide to temporarily remove this member from all Buy Nothing Project groups until their actual location and appropriate group can be determined.

(b) If a person has joined a group using multiple Facebook accounts, the Local Admin or Regional Admin should determine which account the member uses most often, and remove all others.  This is not grounds for removal from our groups.

Hyper-localization

The goal of the Buy Nothing Project is to create and nourish a network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors.  When our groups get too big, it makes the giving difficult, and we lose our focus on people who get lost in all the stuff. We’ve seen this first-hand in our groups, usually accompanied by people having a hard time finding their own posts, debates about how to gift, increased complaints about no-shows and flash-gifting, lack of clarity on basic core Buy Nothing rules and other issues.

To maintain our hyper-local focus, when the Buy Nothing Project administration determines that a group has out-grown its current incarnation, it will be transformed into smaller groups devoted to smaller neighborhood regions.  We call these transformations “sprouts”.  All admins are expected to assist with this process, helping their members find their new groups, confirm their location, and leave their old group.

Signs that it might be time to start planning your hyper-localization:

  • Many gifts are being offered on a “first come first served” basis;
  • Members start complaining about the “speed” of the group, or how quickly gifts are being claimed;
  • An increase in “no-shows” or lack of follow-through;

We usually, but not always, see these signs when group membership reaches between 800 and 1000 members.

If you start to see these signs, and suspect that hyper-localization  may be the next step, contact your Regional Admin for assistance.

Seeking support

Searching for a co-Admin

Local Admins:

You may post a request for new Admins or Co-Admins whenever you feel the need for additional assistance.  You may also reach out to your Regional Admin for help with this.  When a member steps up, use your judgment to decide whether this person would be a good fit for you.  You are the person who will be working alongside this new admin, and you may have interacted with them in the past, so you are the person best qualified to make this decision.

Once you have decided:

  • Send the new co-Admin’s name and email address to the Regional Admin.
  • The regional admin will send an email to the new prospective admin directing them to read our Join Our Team page, then join the Local Admin Group and the Volunteer Forum. 
  • A Welcome message announcement will be posted once they join the Local Admin group.
  • Your Regional Admin will promote them to “Admin” status in the local group.
    • Please do not promote a member to “Admin” status unless you are instructed to do so by a Regional Admin

Note to Regional Admins:  In order to add a Local Admin to the Volunteer Forum, you must submit their name and email (referenced above) to the Buy Nothing Project Operations team using the methods prescribed in the Regional Admin Forum.  

Development Admins and Regional Admins:  

You may find that you would like to add a co-Regional Admin or a Regional Assistant to your team.  You may feel free to discuss this option with Local Admins within your Region.  Use your judgment to decide whether this person would be a good fit for you.  You are the person who will be working alongside this new admin, and you may have interacted with them in the past, so you are the person best qualified to make this decision.

  • Use the “Comings and Goings” post in the Development Group to let us know about your new Co-Regional Admin, Regional Assistant or Development Admin
  • A member of the Global Admin Team will approve their membership in the correct groups and forums.
  • Introduce your new co-Regional Admin or Regional Assistant to your Local Admin team
  • Add any co-Regional Admins to all groups in your Region and promote them to “Admin” status.

Buy Nothing Project Admin Groups

Local Admin Groups
For: Admins within a specific region, Regional Admins, some Global Admins
Where Local Admins meet to discuss issues in a smaller more personal environment, connect with other admins in their region, make referrals between groups, and receive guidance and information from their Regional Admin.
Find your Local Admin Group here.

Volunteer Forum
For: All Admins & other Buy Nothing Project Volunteers
Where all volunteers turn for resources, knowledge, brainstorming and to draw on each other’s experience and ideas

Regional Admin Forum
For: Regional Admins, Member Relations Admins, Global Admins
Where Regional Admins can discuss sensitive issues, preview upcoming changes to the Buy Nothing Project and communicate with the Global Admin Team.

Development Team Group
For:  Regional Admins, Development Admins, Global Admins
Where Development Admins and Regional Admins can find all of the resources and communication tools they need for the processes of Development and Hyper-localization.

More Information

Please take some time to browse the posts and comments in the Buy Nothing Project Volunteer Forum.  Take a look in the Files section, and look through the Admin Reminders in our photo albums. Many Local Admin groups have additional information that you will find useful.  

Feel free to bookmark this page, for future reference!

Technical Assistance

 For Local Admins:

  • Local Admins: Do NOT change the name of the group, create a customized web and email address, change the group type, change the cover photo for the group, or change any other settings for the group. Always discuss these issues with your Regional Admin and ask them to make these changes.

For Regional Admins:

  • Regional Admins: Do NOT change the privacy settings or posting privileges for a group, except during the hyperlocalization process, when we turn off posting privileges for groups in the midst of hyperlocalization.

For Development Admins:

Founders’ Insights

Admin Info/tips

Thank you for your dedication to the Buy Nothing Project.

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