The free stuff / wanted category is used a lot and is very active. A slight issue is that you can't tell if an offer is taken unless you read the comments, but a planned exchange could not happen and you falsely suspect the offer is closed.
Some indicator that the offer is closed would improve the accessibility of the category. The OP can close the offer/ request, and stuff requests auto-expire after a given time.
Does anyone agree this would be beneficial?
This would be useful but not sure how you can enforce? Where people edit thier title to say 'Sold' it certainly saves looking into an item (also nice to see where lost animals are found).
Who is the OP?
If there was a 'closed' tick box somewhere that the original poster could use & then be displayed on the list of items it would help. If this is not used though, do you intend to set after an nominal expiry date?
You wouldn't have to enforce it, but the provision of some indicator is what I'm suggesting. Better than having it than not, or expecting users to go and edit the title, when they could hit a Resolved button. In fact, hitting a button would be quicker, and people would use it more than editing the title of their own accord.
And your suggestion about it being used for lost animals is good. This would make working to implement it more worthwhile.
The current architecture of the site which is built by Ning doesn’t really allow for something like a resolved button or auto- expire, so I’m afraid it is down to the person selling or giving something away to edit the post title themselves (which is very quick to do and a few people do that) - people do often add a comment that the item is now gone but of course you have to open the post to find that. It would be helpful if more people did return to their posts and edit but as you say it can’t be enforced. Usually the older the post the less likely it is that the free thing is still available so I think people take that as an indication as to the likelihood of being successful.
You can set up an email alert for a category if you want to be told straight away if there’s something new rather than wait for the ketchup by opening up the category and hitting the follow button at the bottom (highlighted in the image below).