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SPOTLIGHT
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User-exchange site alters rules to aid efficiency

Published on -6/12/2014, 4:56 PM

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By Tim Schrag

The Hutchinson News

Earlier this month, Reno County Buy, Sell or Trade went dark to do a bit of cleaning house, but on Sunday the page opened back up for users to post their items.

Only the rules have changed a bit. "Simply put, if a post does not list an item for sale or trade by an individual, it is not allowed," the new guidelines read.

With 21,704 members it is one of the largest Facebook user-exchange groups in Kansas.

Nathan Meyer, the group's administrator, said the basic idea was to clean up the page in order to allow it to be more effective. In the past, some users posted asking about lost and found pets, handouts, help, job advertisements, or items that violated the rules already set by the administrators. Meyer said he and his team of administrators, whom he would not name, decided they needed to remove any gray area about which posts to delete.

"It's all done strategically so that the site can continue to grow," he said.

Reno County Buy, Sell or Trade is an open group, meaning anyone can see who is in it and what members post. Meyer said about 50 to 75 people request to join every day, but only about a third get accepted as the administrators only allow people from about a 50-mile radius around Reno County.

Although he wouldn't specify the amount of man-hours he and his team spend on the group, he did say it was not a casual hobby. Meyer said the change in the rules was necessary.

"We don't try to take any credit," he said. "We understand that people have opinions, gripes and concerns on how we run the site. It's a group of 22,000 people. Not everyone is going to get along or follow the rules."

Meyer and his team have been managing the group for a little over a year. In addition to the Facebook group, Meyer manages a website, www.bstexchange.com, a site also devoted to user exchange in the central Kansas region.

User-exchange groups such as Meyer's are not uncommon to the area. Each has its own set of rules and most are closed groups, meaning users must belong to the group to see what is posted. Pretty Prairie and Buhler both have area-specific groups. However, how each group is governed seems to vary greatly.

Allison McGowan, of Kingman, said she checks user-exchange pages on Facebook frequently in part to look for deals on clothing, but also in part for entertainment, especially the Reno County group.

"A couple weeks ago a lady was selling a half-empty bottle of lotion and shampoo," she said. "Things like that make you wonder what people are thinking. Or maybe they just really need money."

McGowan has sold items on the Kingman exchange page, K-Town Dealer, an open group of 1,685 members. It has one administrator.

Jaron Watkins, a page administrator for the McPherson Area Buy, Sell and Trade group, said they had to change their posting policies and guidelines. Last December group administrators shut down the group of 6,896 members to clean it out and emerged with a new set of rules, which they monitor highly.

"It is a lot of work and sometimes it feels like, why do we do this?" she said, "but when you have one person say thank you it makes it all worth it. We have a lot of rules, but it runs smoothly because of our rules."

The McPherson group is operated by seven people. Watkins said each has a specific role. Administrators decide how to set the page rules by voting. While they do allow more non-exchange posts, every post is investigated.

"If we find it suspicious, we report it," she said.

The group also place users on a three-strike basis. Those who break the rules are removed.

(c)2014 The Hutchinson News

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