I’ve been busy over the past few days installing several new interactive tools and features into the site. The immediate response resembles a junior high school dance – lots of people standing around, but not too many have ventured out on the floor. I'm not worried. This is something that will develop in due time.
This is the first in a series of "How To" blogs that I'll post over the next few days in hopes of getting folks started. If you don’t understand something I've written here, or if you catch a mistake in my write-up, or if something doesn’t work as expected, you can drop a line in the comments section below this window, or send me a note.
Before we go any further with the discussion of community and public profiles, I want to talk about privacy. We will not publish user lists, names, email or anything else about you. If you want to "fly under the radar," that's your business. You, the individual member, are fully in control of the information you publish on this site. That especially means your private details, including your name, your email address and anything else you entrust to us.
That said, I hope that we'll soon see our members mixing it up. The purpose of a coalition is to gather people from different backgrounds toward a common purpose. That requires some amount of two-way communication. In other words, be a wallflower if you must, but to have an effect in the wide world, you have to get out there.
Your Profile is information you choose to share with other members of the site. It includes your name, a picture if you choose to post it, links to an email form (without displaying your address) and a private message tool, your web page if you have one, and a short introduction. To see another member’s profile, click on their name as it appears in a post. Feel free to visit Jeff’s and my profiles.
To see your own profile, look on the left side of the page toward the bottom and you’ll see the “User Menu.” The first entry is “Your Profile.” If you’ve been a member since prior to last week, it’s probably pretty empty. If you choose “Edit” and “Update Your Profile” you’ll find yourself in a screen with some empty boxes and an editor box. We require a first and last name. Note that your name will be visible to other members who look at your profile. We don’t have any way to enforce whether you use your real name, or if you choose to call yourself Daffy Duck. It’s your call, but again, see the paragraph above about wallflowers. Only logged-in members of the site can look at a profile. No one except a site administrator can browse the user lists. The only way anyone will see your profile is if you post something under your account.
Utilities: Changing Your Password, Default Editor
In addition to choosing what information to display, you’ll use the Profile Editor for housekeeping chores such as changing your password or your default editor. Don’t change the default editor unless you intend to enter raw HTML. If you are posting a link to a YouTube video, you may need to do exactly that, but in most cases the default editor works fine.
On the display profile there’s a Contact Information tab. All of the information that appears there, as well as confidential information that the system uses are managed through the Update Profile link.
Your email address was required at registration time. It is never displayed in public. If you need to update your address, you can do it in your profile.
Another bit of information that we ask of new members and hope our older users will provide is a zip code. The purpose is to map our members to their Congressional districts. We expect eventually be able to send targeted email alerts and also to generate mail to Congress and other elected servants. If you are outside of the U.S., we’d like to know what country you are visiting us from.
We also ask for, but do not require, a mailing address. Again, no one except site administrators can see those fields, and we consider your private data yours alone.
If you have a web site or an existing blog site, you can invite users to it here. Your site need not be a gun-related site, but if the link smells like spam it will disappear along with your account. Expect no tolerance or even a sense of humor with regard to spam.
You can introduce yourself here. We strongly recommend that you not include an email address at this point. Other members of the site can send email to you through the email form.
Also on your profile
On your profile you’ll also see tabs labeled Blog and Connections.
The Blog is yours (within site rules). We believe wholeheartedly in the First Amendment, but we also believe in property rights.
This may be the most powerful tool the site offers. You can develop your own network of members within the site. Connections are based on mutual consent. You have to accept the invitation. Connections are not publicly displayed. In other words somebody can’t just decide to connect with you.
We’ve added a number of categories and interest areas to help you know who’s who in your network. If you have a suggestion for additional categories, drop me a note. Feel free to add me as a Connection.
Under the Messages tab you can send a Private Message (that stays on the site) or send email which goes across the Internet. Your email address is never displayed and is always treated as confidential by The Firearms Coalition. A site administrator might be able to hack into the underlying database and read a private message, just as a system administrator at your ISP can dig into your email files. That administrator probably isn’t terribly interested in reading it and neither am I. We treat private communications as private.