How do I use SideContact?

You just browse normally. SideContact makes other people visible to you right on the web page you are visiting, in the right and left margins of the page. You can talk to these people as you view the same page.

You can chat with any person you see by clicking on his picture. A chat dialog appears and you can type your message into it. Press ENTER to send the message. The person will read your message on the same page that you sent it from.

I see people at first, but then they slide away into the margin and disappear. How do get them back?

If the window is too narrow to display people without eclipsing part of the page content, they are displayed briefly as the page loads, but soon their pictures retract into the edge. They can be revealed again by sliding the cursor over the window edge.

If you stretch the window wide enough that there's a clear margin for the people to occupy, they will reappear and won't retract.

Those people are in the way! How do I get rid of them?

You can always turn SideContact OFF by clicking on the orange SideContact icon in your browser's address bar (upper right corner of your browser window). To turn it ON again, click again.

How can I tell who is online right now?

If someone is online (and browsing) right now, their face will be displayed in COLOR. People who are no longer online are displayed with BLACK-AND-WHITE faces. You can send chat messages to these people, but they won't see your chat message until they come back online. If they have a website icon by their picture, you can still visit the last page where they said something, although they won't still be there.

How can I talk face-to-face with someone who is online?

When a face is in COLOR you may also see a green camera icon next to the face when you hover over it. Click on the green camera icon to start a video call conversation with the person. If they answer, you'll see them face-to-face in a separate window. You can continue to browse during your conversation. The talk window also shows a thumbnail of the page the other person is currently looking at. When the other person browses to a new page, you can follow if you like by clicking on the thumbnail. We call this 'walk and talk'.

To end the video conversation, just close the 'talk window' to 'hang up'.

Why are some people on the left, and some on the right?

People on the RIGHT sidewalk are on the same page with you.

The LEFT sidewalk shows people who are not on the same page. They may be anywhere on the web now if their face is in COLOR. They are offline (or not browsing) if they have a BLACK-AND-WHITE face.

You'll normally see yourself on the RIGHT, in COLOR. You're here now, aren't you?

What are those website icons next to some people on the left?

If you see a website icon right next to someone's face, it's a link to where the person is now (or was recently). You can click on it to join them on that page.

You won't see a website icon telling you where the person is unless the person said something on that page. SideContact doesn't reveal where people are unless they speak to you, or you happen to "bump into each other" on the same page. People can't track you to where you are, unless you deliberately reveal your location by talking to them.

People can see you if they happen to "bump into you" on the same page, provided you're visible to each other at that site.

Something's shaking! What should I do?

When someone is trying to get your attention, the website icon next to their picture shakes. When you click on someone's picture and send them a text message, they will see this shaking website icon that is a link to the page where you are now. If they click on it, they will arrive at your page, where your message will pop up.

When you text someone, you are also telling them what page you are on now. Your message will only be displayed when they have come to where you wrote it. SideContact messages are received on the same page where they were written. SideContact conversation always takes place in the context of a particular page.

You don't actually have to type any words to chat -- if you click on someone's picture, and then just press ENTER, you will get someone's attention and invite them to your current page, even though you didn't type a message. (This is called "pinging" someone.)

The person I want to contact isn't displayed (on either side). How do I find them?

If you don't see the person you want to contact, click on the orange SideContact icon below the last person displayed (on either side), labeled "more people". In the dialog box which appears, look for person you want, and click on their picture or name. If you don't see them, type their name to find them.

If they are not using SideContact yet, they won't be listed so you can't click on them. But there are Facebook and Email buttons at the bottom of this dialog -- use them to reach out to any of your facebook friends or email contacts, respectively. The page you are on will be sent to them as a link (along with any text message you add). When they click on the link, they will be asked if they want to install SideContact before proceding to the page you sent them. If they do install SideContact, you'll be notified when the have done so and arrived at the page you sent them to.

What are those checkboxes in the sidewalk that appears when I hover over someone's picture?

When you hover over any visible face, or when you slide the cursor over the right or left edge of the window, SideContact pops out a retractable "sidewalk" on that side. It disappears again when you move the cursor off it.

In addition to people's pictures, the sidewalks contain controls, including checkboxes that give you control over your visibility at different websites, and other preferences.

Who am I visible to?

By default, you are visible only to your friends. You can change the default, on a site-by-site basis. For example, you could decide to be visible only to one particular person while browsing a shopping site with them, or to no one at all while browsing some site privately.

On the right sidewalk, you will see checkboxes labelled "selected", "friends" and "anyone". You can choose to see and be seen by the people in any of these categories. The "checked" category is everyone you currently have selected (everyone whose checkbox next to their picture is checked). The "anyone" category is all SideContact users.

Your choices on the right side are "sticky" for each website, until you change them. They apply to all pages at that website.

Who can I see?

The people you are visible to are also the people you can see. Visibility is by mutual consent. Both of you must agree to be visible at a website for either of you to see the other there.

On the right side, you can see people in the categories you (and they) have checked on the right sidewalk. Remember these settings are different for each website.

On the left side, you can see people in the categories you have checked on the left sidewalk. Left sidewalk settings are not per website; they apply to everyone shown in the left side. Your left side selections determine whether you will see when someone is online, or if they post a comment. If you don't want to be bothered by these notifications, you can narrow the categories of people you display on the left side.

Like the right side, the left side visibility choices are mutual. If you can see when someone is online, he can see when you are online. If you don't watch him, he can't watch you. So you can adjust your left side settings for the solitude you require.

When someone sends you a chat message personally (as opposed to posting a public comment), you will be notified in the left side even if the person is not in a category you selected.

What does the checkbox by each person's picture do?

Next to each person on the sidewalk is a checkbox you can check to "select" that person. People you select will always be given priority in the display, and displayed before other people. SideContact can't always display everyone who is present, because there isn't room for more than a few people on each side (and the display of people doesn't scroll). So the people with the most recent activity are displayed first, and less recent people may not be displayed if they don't fit. But if you check someone's checkbox, they will be displayed before other people, so they'll likely stay visible (unless you have too many people checked at once). Keep the people you are interacting with now checked, but only keep a few of them checked at one time, so they will always stay visible.

When you chat to someone, that will check their box automatically. That way, people you are talking to now stay visible. When you're done conversing, you may want to un-check the person to make room for other people at the top of the display.