a false giver, one who gives something away but then takes or demands it back.

Synonym: Indian giver

Etymology: ersatz + giver

History: The Freecycle Network (TFN) and its founder Deron Beal gave away many things but then took (or attempted to take) many of them back. Many noted that TFN and Deron were thus Indian givers but regretted using this term since it reflected negatively on Native Americans and the original source in this case was a cultural misunderstanding rather than a deliberate wrongful act (see The members of FreecycleNext came up with the new word "ersatzgiver" (March 13, 2011) as a better replacement for Indian giver. This was chosen as it is related to ersatzfriend, a special Yahoo account that TFN created that was supposed to help protect freecycling Yahoo groups in case the owner became incapacitated. Instead ersatzfriend came to be known as false friend among freecycling moderators because this account was more often than not used to take groups away from owners who happened to disagree with TFN rather than rescue groups as originally intended.

Ersatzgiving is deceptive and hypocritical.

Here is a short list of some of TFN's hypocrisies where TFN did the opposite of what freecycling is all about -- where it took rather than gave:

    • Freecycle means to recycle (reuse) by giving away an item for free that otherwise would have been trashed, yet TFN repeatedly took back what it had given away (the word freecycle, freecycle logo) and persecuted those to whom it had given these things. This is detailed on our history page where we won several legal actions in our favor and against TFN.

    • Many freecycle moderators freely gave their authored works to be reused, but TFN put these under its own copyright and refused to share what was freely shared with them.

    • While TFN tried to exercise strict control of its own alleged copyrighted material, it freely took the works of other organizations and republished them on its own website. This was finally stopped when the New York Times sent a cease and desist letter to TFN.

    • TFN's original trademark included a bicycle and guitar for which they did not own the copyright (NV Tech owned the copyright). TFN did not abide by NV Tech's license and thus did not have the rights to incorporate these in TFN's trademark. Although TFN was made aware of this in 2006, it did not admit to this nor rectify this until 2011.

    • TFN promoted the idea that people should let go of ownership of both things and groups, yet it forcibly claimed ownership of freecycle groups that were created and maintained by others. It was not ok for others to own groups but it was ok for TFN to claim ownership.

This all makes The Freecycle Network a perfect candidate to be the basis for the new word ersatzgiver. The Freecycle Network is truly a trademark ersatzgiver (whereas freecycling itself is a virtuous activity for all to do).