Side by Side: Frequently Asked Questions
What is Side by Side and why are you creating it?
Side by Side is our new online community where you can feel at home and connect with others who understand what you're going through. We're introducing this new platform to create the best possible online community for anyone with experience of a mental health problem.
We've managed Elefriends since 2013 and from the research we've done, we know it's not perfect. We heard from our community that there are lots of good things but also areas we could improve on as well.
Specific improvements around features to help personalise your experience, put you in control of who you interact with, and also the way people perceive the identity of the Elephant and our moderators are all things that we've had lots of feedback about.
Our community has been growing rapidly and we want to support you all in the best way that we can, but there's only so much our technology can do. We're proud of what Elefriends has achieved but in order to make the changes we need a new platform and that's what we've created.
Side by Side will keep all the things you've told us you like the most about Elefriends, as well as new features to help you get the most out of the community.
Why is the Elefriends brand changing?
While we're improving the community to give you the best experience possible, we're also taking this opportunity to give the new community a fresh new look and feel.
We learnt from you that the Ele doesn't always hit the mark. Sometimes he seems a bit too childish, or that our moderators can come across as a bit robotic.
We've taken all of this on board and making Side by Side as easy to use as possible. We're making it look more like Mind too, because we're proud to be a part of this important charity and want to help you make the most of the information and services it provides.
Why are you not building on the existing site?
We're proud of Elefriends and what we've achieved. However, the digital world moves fast and in order to make the changes you've asked to see, we need to introduce a new platform and new technology.
We've taken our time over this decision to make sure it's the right one, and have been guided by Elefriends and Friends in Need members. Everything you see in Side by Side will be there as a result of talking to you. This is your community and it's important to us that it's designed and shaped by you.
What new features are going to be on Side by Side?
As we get closer to Side by Side launching, we want to make sure we're communicating openly and honestly with you about any future developments or changes. Right now, we can tell you Side by Side will include new benefits which will be developed throughout the beta phase to:
Give you more control over who you interact with through private message requests and a snooze feature.
Help you find connections and conversations through selecting your interests and celebrate the brilliant support that happens on the community.
Please stay tuned for some more updates very soon!
Is there going to be a block button?
Through hearing from you through our research, we know you wanted more control over who you interact with whilst also making sure the community is a supportive place to be.
We've explored different features in order to deliver this and we're excited to tell you that we will be developing both private message request functionality and a snooze feature as part of Side by Side.
Once built, these features will allow users to control whose posts they see on the main wall and also have control as to who they start a private message conversation with.
We are confident that this will deliver on what you as members have asked for while also maintaining a supportive and safe site. We will continue to test out these features as the new site gets up and running to make sure they work as expected.
Is there going to be an app?
The new site is going to be mobile responsive. This means that although it will not be downloadable from the app store, the site can adapt to be used on smaller screens such as tablet or mobile.
The technology behind the app hasn't always delivered the best experience. We heard from you that the app would often experience freezing or have inconsistencies with the desktop version. That's why we made the decision to make Side by Side mobile responsive, as we know we can create a better and more consistent experience for our users.
You can still have the site appear as an app by saving the link to the site onto your phones desktop. To do this, start by accessing the Side by Side homepage. You can then click the icon that shows an arrow pointing out of a box at the bottom of your phone or tablet screen. You will then have the option to save the site to your phone's desktop.
What is going to happen to my data?
We understand that for some people having a copy of what they've contributed to the community is important to keep record of. We looked into all of the options for migrating various levels of data across to the new site, but unfortunately the security issues involved in this work were really complex and too high risk.
Don't worry though, there are ways to keep your data and we'll be giving you time to do this before we move over to the new community. We've put together some steps below that you can follow to save your data.
- Keeping posts or comments - you can easily do this by scrolling through your profile page and making a copy of those you'd like to keep
- Personal Details - you can access, amend and copy this information through the Edit Profile button on your homepage
- Other information - you can find out more about how Mind collects and uses its data here: https://www.mind.org.uk/legal-info/privacy-policy/
How do I keep my connections?
We understand how important the support you've received through the Elefriends community is. We want you to be able to keep talking to friends you've made on our communities if you choose to join Side by Side.
We'd encourage you to use your Elefriends username when you sign up to Side by Side so you can be easily found. However, due to the new security features on Side by Side, usernames will be restricted to a minimum of 3 characters and a maximum of 20 characters.
When we're ready to launch the new platform, Elefriends will be running alongside Side by Side for a few weeks, so you'll have time to message your friends on Elefriends to let them know your new username on Side by Side.
We're here to make this process as easy as possible and you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on maintaining your support network.
If I sign up to the Beta registration form, will my username be saved when Side by Side launches?
Unfortunately, your username will only be saved if you have been selected to take part in Beta testing. We can understand keeping your username is very important and we'll do what we can to ensure that happens when you sign up to Side by Side.
What does beta phase mean?
Side by Side is in a beta testing phase right now, which means it's not open to the public and we're still making changes to it and developing new features. During this time, we're going to be evaluating feedback and fine-tuning the service with help from staff at Mind and community members. When the beta version of Side by Side is launched, Elefriends will remain open as usual for a short time, and then be replaced with a fully supported Side by Side community.
How to register to be part of the beta testing phase?
If you'd like to be one of the first to use Side by Side and give us your honest feedback, you can register your interest and find out more here. Make sure to register by 6 March 2020 as this is when we will be closing registrations.
Why haven't I been selected to test Side by Side yet?
Thank you very much for your interest in helping us test the new site. At the moment we do only have a smaller number of users on the test version of Side by Side, this in order to make sure it's working as well as it should be.
If you're not selected to take part in the beta testing phase, please don't worry. We'll be keeping you regularly updated via the Elefriends community about what's happening on Side by Side and if there's lots of interest to take part, we may increase this number to allow more of you to take part in the best testing phase.
How are you selecting people to take part in beta testing?
After we've closed registrations for beta testing, around 200 of those who have signed up, will be selected at random to take part in the beta testing phase.
If I take part in beta testing, will my posts be kept on the community if we launch?
We will work to maintain any posts, comments or private messages made on the new site during the closed beta phase. However, because of the nature of testing the site, this is not something that can be guaranteed while we're making technical changes.
When will Elefriends close?
After this period of testing and we feel the site is ready, we will close Elefriends and open Side by Side to everyone. We're hoping this to be within a few months, but timelines may change as we're testing and making final changes to make the new community the best it can be.
We understand how important the support provided through Elefriends is, and we want to reassure you that the community will continue while Side by Side is getting up and running. There won't be a time where you'll be without access to online peer support.
I thought Side by Side was a programme in 2014 with local Minds?
In 2014, a two-year programme was launched in collaboration with nine local Minds to improve access to peer support across England which was also called Side by Side. You can read more about the programme here. This programme ended in 2016 but there are 14 projects still running with that name. We hope that this new online community will be a great additional support to those groups and the many other peer support groups that we work with.
Can I use Side by Side if I live outside of the UK?
Yes, you'll be able to login and use Side by Side if you're living outside of the UK.
If you are based outside of the UK, please be aware our signposts might not be relevant to where you are living as we are a UK organisation, however, we will do our best to help you find support.
Will the new platform be a forum or a wall like Elefriends?
Side by Side will be very similar to how you post and interact with other members on Elefriends. We will have a wall and we don't currently have any plans to change that to a forum layout with different sections/categories.
Will I have a profile and a profile picture like I do on Elefriends?
Yes, you'll still have a profile and the ability to upload profile pictures just like Elefriends. The layout of your profile is very similar to how it is on Elefriends and we've added a few new profile fields to help you connect more with other members.
I'm really worried about the change, can you help?
We can understand this change feeling scary and overwhelming, particularly as we haven't shared much about what the new community will look and feel like. We want to reassure you that Side by Side will be similar to Elefriends. We understand how important it is to keep what you as the community like most about Elefriends.
We're still in our beta phase which means we want to get your feedback on the new platform to allow us to shape it based on your input before we release it to the public. It's important to us that you're involved to help us get it right and create a community that really does work for you. If you haven't signed up to our beta testing already, make sure to register. This will be a great opportunity to share your feedback and ideas.
If you are concerned or worried about the changes, drop us an email and we can talk this through with you. We really want to support you through this as best as we can.
I didn't receive an email, how do I get one?
We're sorry you haven't received an email. Make sure to check your 'junk' inbox and if you still haven't received an email, reach out to us at email@example.com. It's possible there's been some technical issues or a delay in it reaching you, so we'll be sure to send it to you again.
When will I find out if I've got a place as a beta tester?
We're hoping to launch beta testing on Weds 18th March (TBC). We'll be in touch with an update shortly!
Will more than 200 beta testers be able to take part?
We were really excited by the response to our call out for beta testers. Over 1,500 of you signed up to take part in the two week testing phase. Because we've had such a big response, we're hoping that we can increase the numbers of beta testers from 200 to 500. We will keep you updated!
Who can I contact if I have any questions or feedback about Side by Side?
If you have any questions about Side by Side, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Any questions are welcome, we're here to help! We'll aim to get back to you within 5 working days.
[last updated 13/03/2020]