Getting the Best From TCA’s Family of Websites
By Katie Elgar
TCA National President (Summer-Fall 2014)
Members are familiar with TCA’s websites, but it’s helpful to point out some of our extensive content that’s sometimes overlooked.
In fact, TCA makes available to the public and its members a HUGE amount of material. It’s growing even larger as we emphasize the efficiency and savings from electronic distribution over traditional printing and mailing costs.
Before we provide an overview of our sites, I’d like to mention some exciting improvements that will be taking place later in the year.
Coming Up – Better Membership System
As I recounted in the September National Headquarters News, TCA is hard at work on a new membership system, replacing one that was no longer able to handle modern challenges.
It utilizes a tested web-based system operated by YourMembership.com. Our parent website (traincollectors.org) will look a bit different and assume added functions. As new functionality is rolled out, members will have improved ability to go there to renew membership, update their information, and get access to improved services.
Members who lose their passwords will find it easier to obtain them online, rather than having to call the National Business Office for help.
Prospective members will be able to submit applications online too. Members with email accounts may choose to receive reminders of dues, and even to schedule automatic payments, using a credit card payment system that should not suffer the occasional problems some members have encountered in the past. The system will even allow members to print out their new membership cards on their home computer. New features will be added over time.
There’s a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes, with technical setup and staff training needed before our anticipated rollout in December. At that time, some page URLs may change, and there may be a few kinks to be ironed out, but we’ll keep you posted as the change grows closer. Remember, our goal is to serve you better, faster, and at least cost!
We urge members to do as much online as possible. It provides faster service, and helpsTCA hold down costs!
How Our Websites Work
By way of an overview, TCA’s array of sites is described as follows:
- traincollectors.org is our gateway or portal site with links to the other members of the TCA Family of Web Sites. It’s a place to start, especially for those not familiar with our sites.
- tcamembers.org is primarily dedicated to providing information and services to TCA members, and also includes extensive information about toy trains, with a major section available only to TCA members. This is the place for members to start.
- nttmuseum.org is the site for the National Toy Train Museum. This provides both information about the Museum and extensive background material on toy trains. plus important information on our Toy Train Reference Library.
- tcaetrain.org is our online magazine, which presents over a decade of articles about toy trains written by TCA members. It is issued regularly, and previous articles are often updated to keep the material current.
- tcabuysell.org allows TCA members to list and seek toy train items for sale or exchange among members. Non members may view but not participate in the listings and sales. Participants are subject to TCA’s standards.
To make it easy to move from site to site, you may access the others by making use of the links at the bottom of each page’s footer, which looks something like this:
- Toy Train Mailing List, commonly called TTML, is a moderated Yahoo discussion group to discuss toy train matters. Non-members are welcome to join. It has a large archive of discussions.
Frequent Questions and Often Overlooked Features
I lost my password, how do I find it?
Currently you can obtain it at buysell.org: on the login page click the Forgot Password link. This will get you back in business faster than contacting the National Business Office. Unfortunately, it requires you to remember your User Name, and sometimes members forget. By 2015, the new system will allow you to enter either your user name or email address, which should make it easier to reset your own password.
Whatever Happened to the TCA Directory of Information?
Although the printed version of this went away some years ago to save money, the information is still available. Just go to this page, and you’ll find out all about it.
One of the most frequent questions about the Directory is how to look up a fellow member’s information. We value privacy! To the extent a member allows, this information is included in several PDFs that are in the Members Only section of tcamembers.org. To protect privacy from peering search engines, you need both the password to get into the members only section, plus a second password that you will find there, before the PDF will open up.
Where’s the latest information on meets?
While each issue of National Headquarters News includes all the meet information submitted by divisions at press time, the online version often has more updated information. Just go here.
How can I find more information about our Divisions and Chapters?
There is great vitality in our local units. Information about them may be found here.
How do I contact the relevant person with questions?
We have a full page describing how to contact us!
How about other common questions?
We have a list of frequent questions with answers here!