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Shout99 - Freelancers, FO35, Section 660
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Shout99 - Freelancers, FO35, Section 660
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How to make effective use of Shout99
by Simon Banton at 18:16 17/03/03 (Conference Papers)
Some hints and tips on how to get the best out of the Shout99 website, and what to do if it's all going horribly wrong.
Make sure your registration email address is correct and working.

When you first register on Shout99, we don't ask you to choose a password. This is because we email you an automatically-generated password instead, and so it's vital to ensure that the email address you register with is actually working and accepting mail successfully.

Obviously, if you register with an email address that doesn't work then you'll never get your initial acknowledgement of registration and so won't ever know what your initial password is.

Tip 1: test that the email address you plan to use is working correctly before you register with it.

Changing your registered email address

Once you're logged in, you can change your registered email address and other details in your user profile (accessible through the 'User Admin Area' options).

We use this address for various facilities such as sending you a new password if you forget your old one, and for any website update notifications you ask for.

Tip 2: when you change the registered email address in your user profile, check it's working correctly beforehand.

Yahoo, Hotmail and other free webmail accounts

Some of these systems have very tight limits on the size of the mailbox you're allowed to have, some as low as 1MB. If your account is 'over quota', then email to it will not be delivered.

If you don't log in to some of these systems very often, they will disable your webmail account and so email sent to it will not be delivered.

Many of these systems are extremely popular, and so can suffer from very heavy load from time to time - especially if they've been used as a return address for a widespread 'spam' message. When they get overloaded, they can become uncontactable and on rare occasions may reject inbound mail to any of their accounts.

Tip 3: if you use any of these webmail systems, be aware of the points above.

Email redirection

It's common for people to have a 'public' email address which they redirect to a 'private' one, to avoid exposing their actual email address to the world.

Sometimes, people set up chains of redirections so that mail to something@this.domain is redirected to somethingelse@that.domain which is further redirected to realaddress@the.actual.domain.

When everything is working well, this is fine - but if any link in the chain has a problem then things can break in a difficult to diagnose way.

Tip 4: try to avoid multiple levels of redirection, especially if one or more levels are provided by free webmail systems.

The Email Digest service

This allows registered users to request a periodic (currently, once a day) summary of new content posted on the site across a wide variety of areas.

No matter how many areas you ask to be notified about, we only send one website update notification email to each registered user per day, not one per area in which you've expressed an interest.

Tip 5: don't worry that if you ask to be kept informed of everything that's new on the site that we'll send you dozens of emails a day - we won't. One notification email per day is the most you'll get.

Logging in

We make use of cookies (small text files sent by us which are stored by your browser on your computer) to personalise the site for registered users, and they need to be working properly in order for you to log in successfully.

Some people have software installed on their machines that blocks cookies, thereby causing problems. Typically, an attempt to login if you're blocking cookies results in a 'Login success' page immediately followed by a return to the login page, so you go around in circles.

Worse, some software can prevent a site from updating its existing cookies if the software is installed on a machine after it has accepted a cookie. This can be very confusing indeed.

This cookie test is useful for checking whether you can accept cookies from this site or not.

Tip 6: If you're having problems logging in (the endless loop of your login being accepted, then back you go to the login page again) then almost certainly the cause if that something between us and you is blocking the cookies we're trying to give you. Delete any existing cookies for the www.shout99.com domain that are stored by your browser, configure your cookie privacy options to allow www.shout99.com to set, update and delete its own cookies, and try again. The attachments to this post show the IE6 'Internet Options' configured to allow Shout99.com cookies.

Anything else?

Webmasters are here for a reason - to help their website users. Don't be shy of mailing me (webmaster@shout99.com) and asking for help or advice.

Simon Banton
Webmaster, Shout99.com

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