We want our readers to be aware of what information we look at, how we use it and under what circumstances if any, we disclose it.
WE AND YOU
You’ll see “We” a lot in this document. “We” usually refers to the publisher of the site, John R. LaPlante. Sometimes it refers to the technical and business partners who help with the site. “You,” of course, is the person reading this document. We hope that you’re a snowboarder, or at least someone who wants to try it out!
We use standard, traffic tracking software that is readily available on the Internet. Examples include SiteMeter, StatCounter, and Extreme Tracking. Tracking software tells us how many visitors come to the site. It tells us the search terms that recent visitors used to come to the sites. For example, if in the last 30 minutes you typed “statistics of snowboarding” into Google and then click through to this site, the report will tell us. The software also will tell us what time you clicked through. The same software will tell us your IP address and city. So we would know, if we were interested, that somebody using an AT+T connection in New Jersey as interested in “statistics of snowboarding.” We could also see what pages on the site the person viewed. But we would not have that person’s actual name or e-mail address.
How do we use traffic information? We use it to know how much traffic comes to the site. That gives us an idea of its teach. It also lets us know if recent publicity efforts have paid off in getting more people to visit. Traffic software, for example, can tell us if a newspaper article mentioning the site drove traffic up.
We also use the information to get an idea of what parts of the site need improving. Say for example that we find a lot of traffic from people looking for the term “getting fit for snowboarding” but they stay for only a minute or less. That suggests three things: one, that we mentioned the topic; two, that it’s something people are interested in; three, that we didn’t say enough about it (or say it well enough) to draw t heir attention to stay around. So we might add more material to the topic, or re-write it to make it more interesting.
Everything said above applies to the discussion board, but participating in the board requires that you give us a little more information: an e-mail account.
On the discussion board, where readers can ask questions, make comments, and exchange ideas about snowboarding. Shortly after we launched this site, we received more comments about this than other feature. So we turned to an open source program called phpBB. The software offers web site operators a number of options in how they set up discussion boards.
We have chosen a fairly restrictive approach. Anyone with an Internet connection can read whatever is on the Grays on Trays® web site, including the discussion board. But only registered users can make comments on the board.
We imposed this requirement for several reasons. The first is to make sure that the board doesn’t become cluttered (and therefore useless) from unscrupulous people leaving sales pitches (spam). The second reason is that we think it promotes a sense of a community of civilized people. While you don’t have to use your real name on the board, the atmosphere of the board is enhanced by having people use screen names on a consistent basis.
When you sign up for an account on the discussion board, you must tell us a few things. You must supply a screen name. It can be your real name, or not. We recommend that you don’t use your full name, and we reserve the right to ask you to change a name that is objectionable. You must also supply an e-mail address. And you have to have a password. Note that the software doesn’t let us know what that password is; if you forget it, you will have to create a new account.
That’s it. That’s all we ask for.
The e-mail address is important. Make sure it’s a real account. It doesn’t have to be one you use every day (who are we to know anyway?) But here’s why it has to be an active account: once you sign up for an account, the program sends an e-mail to the site management. The site management then looks for any evidence that the person is a spammer. It’s a simple and non-intrusive process; foolish people have been known to enter web sites with addresses like SeeMoreP0rn.com or BuyKnockoffDrugs.com. If you don’t do that, your account will be activated, and you will get an e-mail telling you so.
That’s the stuff you have to fill out. You can also fill out optional information. You may tell the world your instant messenger handles, where you live, your occupation, and your interests. You may also create a signature with a pithy quote. (Keep it clean!). You can also list your personal or business web site, if you have one. (Be warned: if you enter a site that deals in spam, pornography, hate speech, or illegal activity, your account WILL be deleted without question and without warning. You will go on our list of troublemakers.)
When you register, you can also choose whether or not other members of the board can use the board to send an e-mail to the e-mail account you used to register. (See http://graysontrays.com/bb/memberlist.php for idea of how these buttons can be used.) I f someone sends a message to your e-mail account and you respond from that e-mail account, you will of course be revealing to that person your e-mail address. Just so you know.
Every person who registers can use the board’s software to send a private message to other users of the board. A private message, unlike an e-mail, does not leave the Grays on Trays site. If someone should abuse the private message function (for example, by sending you a harassing message or a piece of spam), let us know, and we’ll deal with it.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU DISCLOSE IN PUBLIC
The private message function is reasonably secure, but we make no guarantees. Anything and everything you write in your posts to the discussion board, or in your user profile (aside from your e-mail address and account password) can and will be available to the world at large, through robots at Google and other search engines, as well as the casual user to reads through the site. So when you write, remember that you are writing on postcard. Be careful in revealing your actual name, details about your place of employment, and so forth. We think it’s a great thing for riders to meet each other. If you want to talk on the phone to arrange the details of where you will meet, and so forth, send an e-mail or private message, and don’t put your phone number or physical address out on the board for everyone to see. You may wish to do that, but we warned you. By the way, we have met people in real life whom we had first met online. It’s never been a problem, but use common sense.
OUR PROMISE OF NON-DISCLOSURE
We will not disclose your registration information to anyone else for commercial purposes. So you won’t get e-mail from some large company trying to sell you anything. We do have commercial relationships with Amazon.Com and Google.com. We may add others over time. If you click through to these sites, their privacy policies, not ours, apply. If you click through or purchase something as a result, we get a small commission. (Thank you! The modest sums that come through these relationships pay for the upkeep of the site and a tiny portion of our time.) Through these commercial relationships, we will be able to tell how many of what items were sold when, but not who ordered them.
OUR COMMUNICATION WITH YOU
There is a mass e-mail function in the phpBB software. We tried using it once, to send a “Thank you for participating on the board this season” message. We couldn’t get it to work. We may try again, but rest assured that it would be at most a twice-a-year message. If we get around to making this work, such a message would talk about changes to the site. It could also solicit interest in a meet-up for as many discussion board members as are interested. Otherwise, we will limit our communications with you to private messages (just as is the case with every board member) and public forums. If you choose to send an e-mail message, we will respond in kind.
We are part of an affiliate program with Amazon.Com, and sell advertising through Google.com. These are the only companies that do business on this site. Users are free to place “classified ad” type announcements from time to time (“I bought a new board and am selling my 2005 WhatZit for $200. Contact me through private message if interested.”) But don’t make a business of it.
If you have a web site, it’s fine to mention it in a post, but at the same time, have something to say. In other words, don’t spam. What’s spam? Decent people know what it is, and the management of this site reserves the right to decide, and to remove any posts it deems offensive.
We reserve the right to sell goods through the site, and place notices about such goods in the discussion board, on the other pages of the site, or both. Should you purchase such items from us, you will need to supply us with information that will be made known at the time of purchase.