Gumtree – Unsung Heroes Making A Better World

Gumtree LogoToday’s post is my tribute to the wonderful people who make possible in locations all over the globe.

In our society, we’re always ready to level scathing criticism at anything that falls short of our expectations.  We’re programmed for bad news, shock and awe. Good news of any kind is paid only token attention.  If you don’t believe me, just observe the content of any TV news bulletin or the content of any daily newspaper.  Divide the headlines into good news and bad news and you’ll soon see what I mean.  And while we’re always ready to fire up our moral indignation and jump in to criticize and berate, we seem far less interested in taking the time to acknowledge goodness and to celebrate nobility.

There are exceptions, of course.  Occasionally, some billionaire will open his purse and donate a few million out of his petty cash,  to some pet charity or other.  The press dutifully bang the drum and we all bow down to the greatness of their altruism.  (I’m always reminded of that bible story about the lady who only put a penny in the collection plate …. it was everything that she had and Jesus thought more of it, than of the donations of the wealthy,)  Occasionally too, we acknowledge some saintly soul helping out the underprivileged people.  Some who’ve made a life’s labour of such charitable works even achieve celebrity status and a level of immortality.

There are loads of wonderful people in the world and every time there is a crisis of some kind, out of nowhere appear countless volunteers.  Ordinary people will almost trample over each other in their eagerness to offer physical help and material aid.  Its very heart warming.  These folks achieve the odd brief mention in the media and I’m sure that their efforts are appreciated long after, by those who benefit from their generosity of spirit.

There’s one group of people though, who NEVER seem to get mentioned or noticed or acknowledged.  And yet their quiet contributions to the world, even more than those of the wonderful people I’ve already talked about, probably help more people in more places; touch and improve more lives and in general make the world a better place for everyone.  These people are, in my mind, the creme de creme of humanity.  There are several different groups who come to mind but right now, I want to talk about the people who make happen.

For those who don’t know, Gumtree is a website which facilitates exchange between individuals for mutual benefit.  Its a forum where people can advertise just about anything at all, making goods and services available to a target audience in their own locality.  It facilitates the exchange of value for value in anything you can imagine, from accommodation to chattels and (I think) even relationships.  There’s even a section for give-aways, where if you don’t want to dump an item, you can give it away.  The standard of facilities provided for advertising on Gumtree, stretches to not only text adverting, but also images.

It wasn’t very long ago that advertising anything whatever, involved placing and advertisement in a newspaper.  Every word was charged for and the advertisement might appear for only one single day’s issue.  Inclusion of  even a basic graphic was prohibitively expensive and insertion of actual images was either not possible or beyond the financial means of ordinary folks.  failure to find a buyer for your item, meant that your investment was totally wasted and there was no residual benefit.  Your advert was simply finished.

About the only other advertising possibility was to stick a flier on the public noticeboard at the local shop or supermarket.  The audience was inevitably tiny and the successes few.

One of the major effects of the limited availability and prohibitive cost of advertising was that mountains of valuable commodities sat rusting away in backyards. dingy sheds and dusty attics, simply because the people who no longer required them couldn’t find (or couldn’t afford to find) the people who did.

In the United Kingdom, a group of people got together to create a mutual help group, utilizing the internet to facilitate the exchange of (I think) accommodation …. and Gumtree was born.  The idea embraced one of the most powerful motivating forces on the planet … namely people helping each other, not for profit but for mutual benefit.

The concept was  a great success and it wasn’t long before other commodities were being listed and the Gumtree concept began to spread.  My local Gumtree is at

Gumtree provides a platform where people are able to advertise their goods and services, creating advertisements in their own words, with almost no limit on the amount of text included and with up to ten high resolution photographic images as well.  Advertising is free and revenue seems to be limited to modest charges for those advertisers who wish to pay for various enhanced features, aimed to make their ads stand out.  Ads can run for (I think) five weeks at a stretch and can be renewed when they expire.

Advertising on Gumtree is a far cry from the old days of newspaper classifieds.  Potential buyers are better informed with extensive descriptions and photographs of what is being offered.  The prospects for shady dealing are much reduced because of the ease with which detailed information can be provided.  People simply don’t bother with vague ads that lack detail or pictures.  There’s a sort of self imposed integrity standard, built right in.  So the number of fruitless travels to distant locations to view unsuitable items is very much reduced.  That’s just one of the smaller benefits!

The major benefits are these.  People can now , on Gumtree, offer goods and services to a wide audience within their locality.  The advertisements run, not for a single day, or for a week …. but for weeks on end!  Mountains of valuable goods that previously would have simply deteriorated over time in backyards and sheds are now being moved on to new owners who can utilize their remaining value.  The simple reduction in needless waste of value is mind boggling!

And money is being exchanged between buyers and sellers.  Where a person previously was stuck with an item they no longer needed (and its value was ensconced within that item), now they are able to move it on, receive cash for it, and to spend that cash back into the economy to obtain something that has value to them NOW.

If you stop and think about it, the benefits of this entire system to all of those who make use of it every day is simply incalculable.   It enhances the daily lives of individuals in myriad ways and the level of reward that it seeks in return is absolutely minimal.  It is, in my mind, the very embodiment of a ‘Public Service’.

I think the people who dreamed up the Gumtree concept have made a contribution to humanity that would make any Nobel Prize winner feel like a fraud.  And the people who daily keep this system running and expanding?  Well they are MY heroes.  Even though I don’t know a single one of them personally, they make MY life better and MY world better and I am thankful for them, every single day.

The utility value of the Gumtree collective and the economic benefits that it provides would defy costing.  But even that isn’t Gumtree’s greatest claim to fame in my view.  Gumtree reminds me every day, that human beings can work together on a mutual project for mutual benefit and succeed.  Even communism doesn’t seem to be able to manage that.  Gumtree reminds me every day that humanity is basically good … quite the opposite to what the daily news broadcast seeks to do.

If you haven’t dome so already, check out       Whatever you want is right there.  And if not, it will be tomorrow or next week or next month.  And unlike the newspaper, it costs you nothing to look.  They’ll even email you when the thing you are searching for is advertised.

Anyhow, this article is just my small way of thanking a large number of wonderful people for making a massive and positive contribution to the world we live in. Check them out.

Andrew Caddle 2013-12-22


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