Getting Started on The WELL

Welcome to The WELL! Here are the answers to some questions you might have about logging in or getting started on The WELL.


I can't log in!
I think I forgot my password. Now what?
I can't open The WELL's secure login page.
Can I use any Web browser with The WELL?
Where is the Help for Web Conferencing (Engaged Help)?
What are those symbols I see in Engaged?
My Complete account came with email. How can I set it up?
I'm having trouble while trying to send email, what now?
How can I get in to PicoSpan, Alpine and my "home directory"?


I can't log in!

If an "invalid password" error message appears when trying to log in to the Web site, the primary cause is that a) you really did type the password incorrectly, or b) you are typing your username incorrectly. Usernames must be typed in lowercase letters and cannot include any spaces. Your password, however, may include upper or lower case characters and is case-sensitive.

Send email to helpdesk at with your name and the WELL username you chose if you recall it. Or call us for assistance.

I think I forgot my password. Now what?

If your off-WELL email address on file with us is accurate, use this link to create a new password.

If you have trouble changing your password, we can reset it over the phone. Call us at (415) 343-5731. If you reach the voicemail message, leave your name, your telephone number and your username and we'll call you back. For security reasons, the staff is not able to look up a forgotten password. We can only reset it. It might be helpful to remember that when you chose your password you had to choose one that contained one or more non alpha-numeric characters, such as *(&%$#.,]{=+-_@!~>?/), etc., along with numbers and/or letters. Passwords are case-sensitive, so XYZ is not a match for xYz.

I can't open The WELL's secure login page with my browser, but there's no error page.

If you are entering your username and password correctly but keep getting returned to the login page with no error message, then most likely you don't have cookies enabled in your Web browser. Cookies must be enabled and accepted, because your password is stored in the cookie so that each time you access a different page you don't have to retype the password. The cookies are not written to your hard drive nor are they used to track your movements on The WELL in any way.

Can I use any Web browser with The WELL?

Use any modern browser. The browser must understand CSS in order to display pages properly.

  • Firefox 1.5 or higher
  • Chrome 30 or higher
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer version 7.0 or higher
  • Safari 3 or higher (4.0 or higher recommended)
  • Apple mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, etc) running iOS 3 and higher
  • Mobile devices running Android 2.3 and higher

Other recent browsers will likely work, but are not officially tested and supported. Likewise, many other mobile devices will also work, but may exhibit some minor blemishes. Older browsers may work, but the interface won't be pretty, and a few features may be missing.

If you have trouble, send an email to Helpdesk and describe what you're seeing. Be sure to include your browser's version number.

Where is the Help for using the conferences? ("Engaged" help)?  help icon

If you have any questions about how to use the conferences with your Web browser, or what the various symbols and buttons do, click on the help button (a circle with a question mark inside) on the toolbar at the bottom of most pages while you are logged into conferencing. This takes you to the Guide. The Web software developed for reading our even older text-based online conferences was originally called Discussions by Well-Engaged. The software company is no more, but people still informally call the Web browser mode of participating "using engaged." The older method is "using PicoSpan" with an ssh connection instead of a Web browser.

What are those symbols I see in the conferences?

ice cube  Blue ice cube: The ice cube denotes a "frozen" topic, or in other words, a read-only topic. Hosts may freeze a topic. Sometimes frozen topics can be reference notes for a particular conference. Or they may have conversations which grew so long and unwieldly that they were continued in a new topic about the same subject.

chain Green chain links: This symbol indicates that the topic is "linked" which means that it appears in two or more conferences at the same time. A conversation about kids and hiking could be active in both the Parenting and Outdoors conferences, for example.

My Complete account came with email. How can I set it up?

You can read your mail on using Zimbra, or you can set up a program like Thunderbird, or Apple Mail to pick up your mail using either IMAP or POP. See Using contemporary WELL email for more information on which settings to use.

I'm having trouble while trying to send email, what now?

Are you having trouble sending mail out from your desktop or device mail program? Some ISPs dislike having you use another outgoing mail server, even though they are happy to have you pick up and send mail with your WELL email address. See our Mail help pages, or experiment. Simply configure your mail program to use your ISP's outgoing mail server settings (keeping The WELL's incoming mail server), to avoid authentication issues. The mail will not look any different to your recipient.

Meanwhile, do a quick check. You can also get to your email with a direct login to the Zimbra mail server at using your web browser.

How can I go to PicoSpan, Alpine and my UNIX "home directory"?

If you are a Complete plan member, you can use SSH to connect to the PicoSpan interface. Telnet, a much less secure program, will no longer connect to The WELL.

Mac OSX has a built-in SSH program. To use it, launch the Terminal program and type: ssh where your username replaces the word "username".

If you don't have SSH, you can search the Web for SSH programs including free ones such as PuTTY. For more information see our SSH page.

For Further Information...

For information about The WELL or for WELL Customer Support, use the Helpdesk contact information on the footer of this page.

* Using WELL Email

* How to Use WELL Conferences

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