Can I make my Profile private?

Not entirely.  This is a social media website where a primary objective is to encourage your participation and interaction with the wider community and to provide a richer experience for all.

The public aspects of your profile are designed to let you express your personality without revealing your identity; the following are always public :-

  • Screen name (or username) : Your choice of “handle” which should not reveal your true identity
  • Profile Images: Choose images that are fun and expressive without revealing your identity
  • Home Location:  Home town only
  • Gender: Optional – displayed if specified
  • Interests:  Optional – displayed if specified
  • Member Status:  “Member” or ID-verified through “Gold” membership.
  • Join Date:      Date of joining TellTrail
  • Last Login:     Date of last usage.

The following are subject to your privacy controls:-

  • Cover Images: Personalise your profile to selected members  only
  • Age
  • Unsolicited messages from general members
  • Allow others to find you by:-
  1. Real Name
  2. Email
  3. Interests

What are contacts?

Contacts are TellTrail members who accept or acknowledge some mutual recognition.  Becoming a contact doesn’t give either party any specific access rights*  but it does mean that each gets remembered in the other’s contacts list which can be seen under “Friends & Contacts” from the account options (cog) drop-down list.

You can request contact with an existing member via the User Browser or from their profile display and they will need to accept the request for a mutual contact association to be established.

Alternatively, you can invite non-members to join your TellTrail community using our Invitations facility that lets you import email lists.  Accepted invitations will become automatic contacts.

What are automatic contacts?

When you invite non-members to join you in the TellTrail community, the invitation email contains a convenient link for them to register.  When they use that link and register on your invitation that recognises some connection between you both and on that basis we automatically establish you as mutual contacts.

This is particularly convenient as you may not readily recognise each other’s public usernames or profiles but it also means that we’re able to credit you with any points due under our Hi5 competition to win an iPad!

What is Hi5?

“Hi5” is the name we give to our monthly rolling Win an iPad competition.

During the first 5 weeks after your membership registration, and for up to 5 levels of introduction, we credit you with points for every new member introduced either by yourself or as a result of your introductions.

You get 5 points for every new member you introduce, 4 points for every new member they introduce, and so on until you get 1 extra point for every new member joining at the 5th level of your “introduction chain”.

Hi5 participation and all qualifying TellTrail memberships are completely free so it makes sense for you to invite all of your friends and family as soon as possible so that those introductions have the best chance to grow and multiply during your 5-week period.

Each Hi5 month closes when everyone has had their full 5 weeks and we then award the iPad prize to the member with the highest points score.

What are Friends?

Starting from your list of Contacts, you can select and organise specific members into Friend Groups of your own choosing.  You can create as many Friend Groups as you wish and any of your contacts can be in as many of those groups as you choose.

A Friend is just someone you have selected to be in one or more of your Friend Groups within TellTrail.  Friend status is not mutual, no specific privileges are assigned in either direction and your new Friend does not  have to agree with your assignment or make you one of their own Friends.

What are Friends Groups?

Friend Groups are just a way of organising a collection of your Contacts for a common purpose.

That purpose can be as simple as being able to send a single TellMail message to the group as a whole or you could assign privileges which enable all members of the group to see specific content and/or albums.

Why are there 2 types of Friends Group, i.e. Circle and Star?

You create a Friend Group based on the way those Contacts are related to you, you choose the type of Friend Group based on the whether you want them to relate to each other.

In a STAR Group, the members are only linked to you and are never made aware of who else is included in your group.  This type is sufficient when you only want to send common messages or assign common access privileges to a set of otherwise unrelated contacts.

A CIRCLE Group works like your own private club.  You can still send common messages or assign common access privileges but all the Group members are not only aware of who else is in the Group but they are all connected by a private Group MessageBoard where the whole Group can see who’s included and you can all exchange messages shared exclusively within your Group and inaccessible to anyone outside of the Group.

How accurately can I control the privacy of whatever I post?

You assign separate privacy controls to each item of general content and to each photo album individually but an  album could contain only one image, so in terms of content it’s every bit as precise as you need it to be.  The smallest collection of members assigned in privacy setting is an individual Friend Group – which could also consist of only one Friend – so again it’s as precise as you need it to be.

So, at the extreme, you can easily restrict any single item to be viewed by only one other person.

The only thing more extreme would be to publish for your eyes only... and that is achieved if you post with a privacy of “personal”.

At the other extreme, you can publish items for “public” access and then any site visitor – including search engines, web spiders etc. – can access that particular item.

Why can’t I EDIT or correct something I already published?

Whenever you publish an item of general content, it is potentially exposed to others who may comment or respond in some way that could be invalidated by a subsequent edit or correction.  An extreme example would be a Poll where the question is reversed after many votes are logged.

We weighed the options and decided that it’s in everyone’s best interest if all content remains locked after publishing except that the author can add a subsequent footnote correcting minor errors or omissions in the original text.

We have provided a PREVIEW facility and we strongly advise that you thoroughly check and Preview your content to ensure its accuracy before publishing.

However, where necessary, you can UNPUBLISH any of your items and we even provide a COPY function in Content Management that will start to generate a new item based on the retrievable content of the original.

What are Content Groups and what is their purpose?

You will have already seen how Friend Groups organise selected contacts by a common association and Content Groups achieve a similar function for Content.

In the case of Content, the common attribute could be the type of content, its sensitivity  or any other commonality that you feel appropriate.  You can create as many Content Groups as you need and name each one in a way that’s relevant to your purpose.

During privacy setting for any content item, under Friends (for reasons that will  become evident) you have the option to assign the content’s privacy to a new or existing Content Group rather than any specific collection of Friends.

Content Groups are connected to Friends Groups in a separate process of assignment so if you created a new Content Group for your content it is not yet visible to the Friends you intend.  After you’ve finished with your Content item, opening “Content Group Setup” or “Privacy Settings” from the main toolbar will take you to where a new Content Group can be defined, or through “Content Group Management” to where Friends Groups are mapped to Content Groups (and vice versa).

The purpose of Content Groups is to fully control the mapping or association of Content to Friends.

A Content Group can be mapped (made accessible) to any combination of your Friend Groups and that privacy link can be set or amended at any time without the need to alter individual content.

Since the privacy of published Content cannot be altered, we recommend the use of Content Groups for all Content aimed at a restricted audience.

Although we have provided the ability to ‘directly’ restrict Content Privacy to a specific Friends Group, this actually creates and assigns a special Content Group “For [Friends Group Name]” which achieves the mapping for you but is then restricted to that one Friends Group.

How quickly do privacy changes take effect?

As stated above, you cannot change the privacy settings of any published item but you can change your Friend Group membership and the assignment of Content Groups to Friends Groups at any time and these changes are immediate.  Privacy settings are checked whenever Content is requested so your privacy changes affect the very next attempt to view.

Please note that when you add extra people to an existing Friends Group, they immediately acquire all the access privileges associated with that Group.  Similarly if you remove a member from a Friend Group their loss of privilege is immediate.

Any member included in several of your Friend Groups always enjoys the most enabling rights that are applicable from the combination of access rights taken across all Groups concerned.

What is GOLD membership?

General site membership is free and validated only by an email response which means that those members are taken at face value and effectively remain anonymous in the real world.

However, certain facilities we have under development and many or our members may require the security of knowing that they’re dealing with someone who is genuine and ID-verified.

The TellTrail Gold subscription is an inexpensive and unobtrusive way of establishing and maintaining a member’s ID verification.  No additional details are taken or held on the website but a  nominal monthly subscription serves to establish that the member is traceable by the latest real-world payment that must have succeeded within the last month.

Gold members have the unique option to restrict their publications or queries to other Gold members; someone selling an item from their home for example may prefer to know that all callers are also ID-verified and traceable.

Why is GOLD a privacy setting and what does it mean?

As stated above, active Gold members are ID-verified and traceable in the real world.  This fact alone gives them more credibility than the general membership and Gold members may wish to limit their exposure by specifically including other Gold members in privacy settings.

How do I control the privacy of my albums and postings?

Whenever you create a photo/image album or content item you can specify the privacy you require on publication.

General choices are :-

  • Personal:  Author viewing only
  • Friends:   Selected Friends only: All Friends, a specific Friends Group or Content Group
  • Contacts:  My contacts only
  • Members:  Only TellTrail members
  • Public:       Anyone, including website guests

*Gold members can potentially be added to any selection that doesn’t already include them.

Why can’t I set privacy for Lost & Found?

If you lost or found an item we believe you should want to reach the widest audience with your report, therefore all Lost and Found reports are public Content.

What is Circulation?

Some items of Content may only relate to a specific geographical area.  For example, you may wish to restrict a politically focussed Poll to only accept voters resident in your own country.  This can be  achieved through Circulation and you can think of it as a geographical privacy extension.

The present options of “My Country” and “Global”  are somewhat limited and we do have some exciting plans to considerably extend this function in the near future!

What are Content Points?

Content points are assigned whenever Content is published and they give some indication of which members are actively supporting and helping to build the website.  These points have no monetary value and at this stage are primarily used in tie-breaking competition results but we already have some ideas and may well Poll the membership in the near future for your ideas on how they could be used.

Why doesn’t TellTrail advertise in the media?

TellTrail, as the name suggests, is entirely based on personal recommendations and invitations.  Our membership will grow only by members like yourself finding it useful and worthwhile recommending to your family and friends.  Although we are ultimately financed by business subscriptions, the only businesses we will accept are those that members like yourself are prepared to recommend and businesses which value customer service enough to not only accept but encourage genuine customer feedback on an ongoing basis.

Why so few businesses in my area?

Everyone knows some businesses that they trust to use repeatedly and would recommend to their friends.  That knowledge has value because sooner or later everyone needs some new service but doesn’t know where to look or which adverts to believe.

We aim for TellTrail to pool all the knowledge and experience of our members so that we list only the very best businesses in each area and everyone benefits when they need something new.

If there are few businesses listed then maybe we only just reached your area but that just means there’s a great opportunity for you and your community to contribute to the site for the common good and to make a little money in the process.

How can I make money through TellTrail?

Your knowledge and your recommendations have value, we want those recommendations for other members and that takes a little effort on your part so we’re happy to reward your participation.

Just print the introductory leaflet as many times as you need to give one to each of the businesses you’d like to recommend.  Don’t be shy – the leaflet is complimentary to them and is doing both them and us a valuable service by giving them the opportunity to join.

The leaflet contains a promotional code that they are required to supply and which identifies you as the member offering their recommendation.  We’ll then keep you advised as their interest progresses and ask you to record a few words of personal recommendation when the time comes.  With that in place you’ll be credited with £10 cash – 50% of their first subscription - to claim at your convenience!

Just think of all the places you regularly spend your money or the numbers on that standby list near the phone, multiply it by 10 and that’s how much your knowledge could be worth!

What does a TellTrail recommendation really mean?

In practice relatively little because it’s only one customer’s opinion but it is a good start and an expression of confidence by both the customer and the business concerned.  What really counts is a recent history or real customer feedback and any business listed in TellTrail is committed to the ongoing, open and genuine publication of real customer comments.

So please don’t be put off by low feedback counts and give new TellTrail businesses the benefit of your custom and your honest feedback to help them build the reputation they deserve.

What rating score should I look for in a business?

There’s no magic number.  Obviously 100% would be nice ..... until you really think about how difficult it is to please all of the people all of the time or about human nature dictating that complainers are far more motivated than praisers, or that nobody’s perfect.... including customers!

It’s more important to look at what has been said, how any complaints were handled and how this business compares with competitors.  Rest assured that the business owner  is far more concerned with specific numbers than you need to be; from a customer’s point of view we suggest an emerging trend is more telling than any specific score.

What is Fair Usage?

We have adopted a Fair Usage Policy designed to give each member a reasonable number of CLASSIFIED and EVENT entries whilst restricting the opportunity for anyone to overwhelm listing displays with lots of entries to the detriment of other users.  The actual limits are subject to continuous review and are always shown on each member's profile summary.