System Status: Password not working? See the Status Page for more information.

Getting Started on The WELL

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

Questions and issues:

I can't log in!
I think I forgot my password. Now what?
I can't open The WELL's login page with my browser.
Can I use any Web browser with The WELL?
Where is the Help for Web Conferencing?
What are those symbols I see in the conferences?
How can I set up my email?
I'm having trouble while trying to send email, what now?
How can I get in to PicoSpan and my UNIX "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.

Use the password help page, or contact helpdesk using the info on the footer of this page.

I think I forgot my password. Now what?

If your off-WELL email address on file with us is accurate, use the password help page 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 login page with my browser, but there's no error message.

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 access credentials are stored in the cookie. This is so that each time you access a different page you don't have to retype the password. Those cookies are not written to your hard drive nor are they used to track your movements or market to you in any way.

Can I use any 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.

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?  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. 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. Conference hosts may freeze or thaw a topic.

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 linked conversation about kids and hiking could be active in both the Parenting and Outdoors conferences, for example.

How can I set up my email?

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 our Mail Help pages 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, 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"?

You must use SSH to connect to to use the older PicoSpan interface.

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 built-in SSH, you can search the Web for SSH apps including free ones such as PuTTY. For more information see our SSH page.

For Further Information...

For information, use the Helpdesk contact information on the footer of this page.

* Using WELL Email

* How to Use WELL Conferences

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