Tag Archives: advice

Securing and Maintaining Access to Your GPT Site Admin Panel

Your ShiftCode Admin Panel

Refer to any welcoming email message from ShiftCode staff you have likely already received after your ShiftCode licensing purchase.  Look for references to your ShiftCode Admin Panel URL (web location) and login (username and password)  Enter (or copy and paste) your ShiftCode Admin Panel URL into your browser and proceed to that web location.  If all things have gone well so far you should now be viewing a special admin-only page that looks like this (below):


First things first, you may have noticed that your own special ShiftCode Admin Panel URL contains a series of what looks like gibberish letters and numbers (like this ‘63d130df7xbe167e2’)  This is called a security ‘hash’ (it’s basically a URL with an encrypted section added on) – it is unique to your own particular instance of the ShiftCode script and you should NEVER reveal that web location to anyone else (other than yourself)  The admin URL containing the hash is purposely made hard to guess by hackers or others that may have bad intent with regard to your site (yes, this hash code is changeable via a ShiftCode support ticket but rarely (if ever) is this needed)   We’d suggest that you take the time to write down and safely bookmark this URL as this is where most all functions of your site are configured and performed.

Next we’ll address your assigned admin username and temporary password.  Chances are that you’ve been assigned a relatively simple admin username and password.  You’ll want to change these to your own preferences as soon as possible (now?) for increased security purposes!

Use your given admin login to log in to your admin panel.  You should then see a seeming complicated (but really easy to navigate and powerful once you get used to it) screen that looks like this:


Next find the ‘Main’ heading (link box) in the upper right corner of the admin panel just under the ShiftCode logo (as seen below)


Click on Users & Groups.  Notice the top section of that page is for ‘group’ management (which are basically defining roles available to assign to admin(s), staff, and designers, etc)  What we’re interested in now is the ‘User’ management area just below the group management area.  Notice that your own administrator account is listed along with the ‘shiftcode’ admin user account (the shiftcode admin user account is for internal official ShiftCode staff and cannot be edited or deleted because it is necessary and mandatory)

Instead of editing your own administrator account (while also being logged into the same admin user account) then we feel it is much safer to create a secondary new admin account for the time being (after you’ve successfully logged into the newly created admin account then you can delete the original admin account)

Click on ‘Add User’.  Enter your desired new administrator Username and Password (we suggest a strong password that includes a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, at least one number, and at least one symbol character – though strong passwords are not enforced at this time then it is best for your own good)  Make sure that you’re not using a password you have ever used at any other site (past or present)  The new admin account you are creating will have ultimate access to all your sites functions including financial balances, etc. don’t shoot yourself in the foot by specifying an easy to guess or repeated password!

Specify that this new account is part of the ‘Administrator’ group (chances are that at this point you have no other options)  The Description field is totally optional / not crucial and will be explained at a later point in this documentation.   Leave the Description field blank.

Take a moment to write down your new username and password (now!) Click the ‘Add User’ button to finalize your new administrator Username account creation.  You should see a green headed ‘Success!’ message further stating  that ‘The user has been added’  At this point the User management area should be showing your old admin User, your newly created admin User, and the permanent internal ‘shiftcode’ admin user account.  Click on the ‘Logout’ button on the upper red bar on the upper left under the ‘ADMIN PANEL’ heading (as seen below):


Now log back into the admin panel using your new administrator account credentials.  Go back to the Main > Users & Groups  area (the area where you just created your new admin account)   Now click on the blue gear box at the right side end next to your old administrator user account and choose delete.  Confirm that you wish to delete that account and then this mission has been accomplished!  Give yourself a pat on the back safe in the knowledge that your new administrator account is safer than the previous default admin account assigned to you.

Incidentally, that ‘Users & Groups’ area is also the area where you can eventually add a new group of sub-admin privileged staff members or site template installers and when you add a new group you will be able to specify exactly the level of access each new group has.  It is NOT necessary to make any new groups at this point in time (continue the quick start guide and stay focused on the important steps we point out – you can go back and add groups etc. at a later point as needed)

Locating & Bookmarking Your ShiftCode GPT Admin Panel On Your Own Domain

AFTER, your site has started appearing on your own domain name (www.MyOwnGPTSite.com) as well as on the shiftcode.com subdomain (myowngptsite.shiftcode.com) then as a matter of preference (though it has practical benefits as well)

First, log-in as the administrator on your shiftcode.com sub domain (chances are you are already logged in.  Take a look at your browser’s URL bar.  Note everything that comes after the ‘shiftcode.com‘ part (starting with a slash (“/“), continuing with your unique hash code, another slash (“/“), and then ending with an index.php (select and copy all that to the clipboard)   Now open up a new browser tab (or window) and type in your domain name starting with the ‘www.’ part and then immediately after your domain then past everything you copied from your sub domain based admin panel URL and past it after your own domain name now – hit return (or enter)  You may be asked to -re-login to your admin panel.  Now once you are in to your admin panel on your own domain name then bookmark that URL and use that as your main admin panel access URL.  It will likely prove useful and have a few advantages over using your sub domain based admin panel (though bookmark both admin panel URLs just in case your domain name service is ever disrupted (rare))

Deciding What Niche Type of GPT Site Strategy You Wish to Employ

About General GPT Site Economics Considerations

Decide What Niche Type of GPT Site Strategy You Want to Employ

Whether or not you’ve really noticed as a GPT member then indeed there are several different niche classifications of GPT sites employing a few different basic economic strategies that now that you’re a GPT site admin may now want to think about and decide which type of GPT your site ‘wants to be’

The Ultra High Payout GPT Model
(In Reference to Offer Lead Rates)

  • Advantages:
    Those GPT sites ‘regulars’ members that prefer to make their money by earning it mostly from their own personal offer completions will really enjoy your site and make it a priority when they are ‘doing offers’

  • Disadvantages:
    GPT members who are mostly into sending referrals and/or winning contests will likely NOT engage in your site promotion (etc.) as actively (if active at all) as other types of niche GPTs.

    • Heavily weighs all its various rate ratios and percentages to come across as the best paying lead rate per same offer at other GPTs.

    • These GPTs will sacrifice most all other rate structures and like to keep all other overhead costs to a minimum (such as lower referral percentages given, fewer and lesser paying site referral and offer contests, etc.) so that priority is given towards giving the offer completing members the highest lead rates that you can give them.

    • The offer lead rates you give out to members take a priority which would rightly be set at anywhere from 60% to 85% of the lead rate that you (admin) are getting from offers sources.  The referral rates may routinely be in the sub-10% range (usually as low as 5% or below) and if multiple referral tiers are set up at no more than 1% (multiple referral tiers are understood as not necessary usually in this type of site)

    • Site perks such as contests, jackpots, and freely given out promo codes, etc. are strictly kept at a minimum if they are offered at all.

    • You (admin) will find yourself (and your marketing agents) performing much more of your own site promotion as not many of the best active site referrer pros will tend to view your site as not worth the effort since the referral rates are so low.

The Balanced or Combination GPT Model
(Everything in Moderation Striving to Best Strike a Balance)

  • Advantages:
    You’ll have plenty of members that generally enjoy your site and will see the balance amongst all factors as a good compromise towards making it a generally good site to frequent if the member is looking to engage in many aspects of GPT all at once (doing offers, referring members, competing in contests, fielding promo codes, and hoping for a jackpot score)
  • Disadvantages:
    GPT members who are mostly into one particular aspect sought in a GPT site will tend to favor other more specialized GPTs boosting one earning mode over another (your site will be less popular to those specializing in certain specific areas of earning) and can be thought of as an over all ‘good’ GPT in all areas of earning but will likely not be thought of as ‘great’ in any particular mode of earning (some may even see the site as a drab or boring (ho-hum)) site lacking particular excitement but a workhorse for those that play the earning ‘field’ so-to-speak.
    • GPT site newbies may prefer or favor your site because they’ve looked around and no particular area of ‘earning’ on your site looks quite that bad.
    • You’ll have to balance and moderate all of your offer rates, referral rates, contest frequency and prize expenditures, jackpot payouts, etc., so as not to come too close exceed what you’re actually earning as profit for the site (it’s complicated when you figure all the percentages out if you have multiple referral levels, etc.)
    • You have the advantage through purchasable account upgrades that can morph your site at will into a winner in the eyes of those wishing to specialize (you can have purchasable referral rate upgrades, offer rate upgrades, etc. so that your site member can tailor your site into more of what he/she is looking for simply by buying account upgrades)
    • In cases for sites aspiring to be this type your offer lead rates may fall somewhere between the 45% to 60% range, your first level referral rates can be closer to 10% to 20% with the second referral tier in the 1% to 4% range (but watch out on your math here – the goal is to reach a balance and it’s really easy to be too generous thereby negating much or all of your profit without even realizing it), you’ll be able to run fairly regular  contests, promos, and jackpots provided you don’t go overboard on them)
    • You’ll find many of your members stepping up to help promote your site to referrals and you’ll have to option of spending less time and money on your own site promotion (unless you’re just always in ‘promotion dynamo’ mode like I am (which always helps))
    • We’ve noticed that these type of GPT sites are usually generally more popular, active, and more ‘fun’ places to be as members may report having so much to do with ‘ok’ rates on everything.

The Physical Prize Theme or Prize Catalog Based GPT Site
(Offering Certain Niche Classifications of Physical Prizes & Gift Cards Geared Towards a Particular Demographic)

  • Advantages:
    You’ll be the king of fans of the particular niche prizes you specialize in (such as video games & accessories – where you can also offer prepaid game currency cards & codes, aftermarket game controllers, etc.)   This doesn’t preclude you from offering cash or money forms of withdrawals as well only many GPTs like this make them less enticing (not such a great or a ho-hum deal on the cash out options)

  • Disadvantages:
    Physical prizes usually require keeping some sort of minimal inventory of the physical prizes, labor involved in packing such prizes, postage required to send prizes, trips to the post office, etc.)  You may find that many GPT regulars may notice that you prize costs to them might not be such a great deal when the can just go to a mainly cash giving GPT and then with cash in hand (or in PayPal, etc.) that they may like be able to accomplish receiving many of the prizes in your catalog at a much better deal rate.
    • Know that you don’t only have to specialize in physical prizes but you can list services and intangible prizes (such as domain registrations, web hosting, etc.) as well.
    • These types of GPTs used to be extremely popular and all the rage five or so years back but since then they’ve been in a decline.  Why have to choose from a pre-set limited catalog of prizes when you can just get yourself to a cash paying GPT and buy exactly what you want?   Even offering custom orders doesn’t seem to address the issue to enough of an extent to make these GPT site seem worthwhile nowadays to many GPT die-hards.
    • There is another sub-form of this GPT type that is advertisement and account upgrade based where the prizes are on-site advertising, account upgrades to better referral percentages, purchasing actual referrals, etc.
    • You just may be one of the few admins that may have the skills and tact to pull this type of GPT site off but know that many have tried recently and failed.

General Considerations & Strategy Pointers On GPT Site Operation

Having been in the Industry for About a Decade One Tends to Pick Up Tips from Observations Over The Years.  Here is a General Collection of Truths Learned Through Trial and Error Over Time Though They Are Open to Your Own Interpretation for Your Particular Purposes (why not learn from the mistakes of GPT admins that came before you?)

General GPT Site Operating Wisdom:

  • Starting On a Limited Budget:

    A Good Starting Strategy for New GPT Admins Without a Decent Amount of Money in Reserve Set Aside to Pay Your Members Initially
    (until your offer sources finally pay you):  If your new GPT site is indeed ‘new’ and your wallet isn’t as fat as it should be to cover paying your member withdrawals while awaiting payments from upstream offer sources (affiliate networks) you may find it advantageous to severely limit the number of affiliate networks and offer walls that you are initially running live. The reasoning being that many offer sources will start you out a month or more behind before you start receiving payments from them.  Also, most offer sources have a minimum payment threshold that must be reached before a certain date in each month for you to get paid.  If you limit the number of offer sources you start with to maybe one or two affiliate networks and one or two offer walls then you’ll tend to reach each offer source’s minimum payment threshold quicker and easier – and that equals faster payments.  Ideally you would have a decent amount of money set aside to pay your members for at least two months (a good figure just to be on the safe side)

    On the other hand, if you’ve planned this new GPT business of yours properly and have saved a nice little payment fund to get you by with paying members well before you get paid from your offer sources then go ahead and go live with as many offer sources as you feel comfortable with.  It is a fact that GPT site regulars will tend to prefer sites displaying many more offers than those that are sparse on offers – if you are prepared in the money department the yes, just go for it and add affiliate networks and offer walls at will (your site will grown much more quickly this way.)

  • Make Your Site Currency (Points & Cash) Standard:

    From an experienced GPT member perspective finding out that your site is using a non-standard or non-traditional conversion table may likely be a source of aggravation leading to less favor for your site.  The customary currency conversions for most all decent popular sites is 1 Points = 0.01 Cash and 1 Cash = 100.00 Points !  It’s highly recommended that you also adopt the same industry standard ratio on your own GPT site.

  • Know What Today’s Most Popular Cash Out Based GPTs are Doing for the Popularity:

    (You Probably Can’t Initially Offer These But You Can Make a Goal in Reaching Them ASAP)
    Hands down the most sought after attributes of today’s most popular cash out based GPTs are INSTANT payouts (to PayPal and others) with a minimum cash out threshold at or under a buck.  The sites that give out instant gift cards also enjoy popularity almost as good.  Yes, we know, unless you’ve planned out and have a health start-up nest egg of cash to fall back on to pay those super fast cash prizes right out of the gate then let this be your eventual goal to make withdrawing this easy and fast (many GPT site regular members will beat a path to your GPT once a low minimum with instant payouts are announced.

  • Know Your 100% Profit Items and Enable Internal Funds for Purchases:

    Give Your GPT Site Members Plenty of Enticing Items that They can Purchase with Internal Funds
    (instead of cashing out, etc.)   ALWAYS enable ‘Internal Funds’ as a form of payment for intangibles (advertising, upgrades, etc) on your GPT.  Anything that avoids you actually paying out of your pocket helps – right? The member is satisfied and you are satisfied by them choosing advertising or upgrades instead of cashing out – right?

  • Enable Enticement for Members to Be More Active:

    Give Sign-On Bonuses of at least a quarter ($0.25) to newly registered members (you’ll find members will tend to never want to leave money on the table and will work to reach your minimum)  Also, it helps to issue promo codes liberally and often to spur member log-in activity.

  • Promote Your Site on Other GPT Sites With a Strategy In Mind:

    Identify other GPT sites by their popularity and check out their banner advertising rates.  Find other GPTs that are fairly popular though that also have reasonable advertising rates and promote your own GPT there.  Also, you can also take another approach, you can look for other GPTs which aren’t so popular with their members and if they have reasonable banner and/or side panel ad rates then make sure you advertise there as well (chances are the members that are there along with new members just signed up will want to flock away from a dismal site as early as possible – give them your banner(s) to click on to discover you own totally cool site!)

  • Don’t Unnecessarily Reward Referrals for No Apparent Reason:

    Patch Up a Few Referral Policy Holes That Will Go a Long Way Towards Not Rewarding Random Members with Undeserved Referrals.  There are a few referral credit based loopholes (or maybe ‘loophole’ is a bit too strong of a word here – I’m pretty sure that these were originally designed as site ‘features’) that can potentially cost you here and there over time (it all does add up)

    • First, if you (yourself) don’t already have a site member account on your own GPT site then take the time to make one now.
    • Now go to Membership > Configure and notice (in the Referrals portion of the page)  field which is marked “Referral Catcher: [             ] When a user is deleted, his/her referrals are sent to this account.” and click ion the tiny magnifying glass icon to select your own member account there and then click ‘Update’ to save it.
    • Next go to Membership > Blank Referrals and click on ‘Add User’ (again using the tiny magnifying glass to find your own account) Select your own username, crank that ‘Weight
      ‘ drop-down figure to 20 (which means you’ll have 20 times the chance of being automatically assigned  referral credit for new members that don’t have a referrer (they signed up directly)  This will increase the odds dramatically that you’re usually first in line to receive the assignment of new members without a referrer – unless you have a lot of upgraded members with a closer ‘Weight’ than the starting ‘0’ every new member get’s  Now you’ve done all you can to NOT be rewarding members for referral promotion work they haven’t done.
    • My last advice in this area is that whenever you go to promote your site (wherever) then consider using your own member account referral link (to your own site) as the URL you insert for promotional purposes.  This way then none of your site members will likely get referral credit for promotional work you do.
  • Get the Most Effective Bulk Referring Members on Your Side:

    Offer Them Perks to Promote Your Site – (give them reasons to prefer promoting your site over other sites) – Notice high referral gathering members and offer them an extra perk or two to more draw their attention that your made promoting your site more enticing for those who know how to do it right.  If your site gives normal standard members 10% for first level referrals then offer the ‘Referral Whale’ member 20-25% (or just give them a free custom upgrade)  You will definitely get their attention and make them feel welcomed and wanted as a VIP referrer (and you will not regret this decision)

  • Don’t Make Your Members Hunt to Find Their Account Balances:

    Make sure that your site template provides the member’s points balance and cash balance somewhere on EVERY page of your site to avoid member frustration of trying to figure out what their balances are.  As a new site member there is nothing worse than frequenting a site where you can’t intuitively find the most crucial information easily (balances) and you have to click on ‘Account Balance’ to see it.  It’s also very inconvenient to have to remember your points balance when you are on a converter page that doesn’t show a balance anywhere.Make a balances section either in a persistent top banner such as this:
    top balance display
    Or, make a side panel display such as this:
    side panel balance stats

  • Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot By Interpreting Offer Restrictions Too Strictly:

    (a Biggie!) Don’t make the mistake of Interpreting certain affiliate network offer restrictions too literally such as ‘no cash’ and ‘points only’ to mean ‘no points converter’ (that’s not what they mean!)  Generally affiliate networks and offer wall sources that specifically allow incentivized or GPT site promotion of their offers WILL ALLOW you to run ‘points only’ offers while still featuring a point-to-cash converter on your site.Yes, it usually goes unmentioned but it is a generally accepted practice and implied that offers bearing the statement ‘points only’ is not interpreted so strictly as one may think while first encountering it.  In most all cases networks we’ve worked with will not take the ‘no cash’ or ‘points only’ statements strictly literally as long as their offers are mindfully promoted in a generally respectful way.  Still to be more fully in compliance with the spirit of the restrictions always ONLY run ‘points only’ or ‘no cash’ offers by rewarding completions with points only (your members may freely convert the points to cash via the converter)  Note: If you want confirmation of this allowance (nail them down to an answer) then know that most affiliate network staff will usually repeat the ‘no cash’ means NO CASH more strict interpretation (though if it’s not asked in the first place then it’s almost always not a problem)

  • Ditch the Usually Unnecessary Log-In Captcha Code Check:
    Unless you have been alerted by a reliable source to a recent ‘GPT-bot’ issue (it has happened in the distant past – Years ago) then I highly suggest that you set the  log-in CAPTCHA to ‘Easy’ or turn it off altogether!  Observations of human nature for site members dictates to avoid bothering to even log in to a site with a CAPTCHA set to anything but ‘Easy’ or off completely!

    This CAPTCHA level setting is located on the right side Admin Panel under ‘Main’ > ‘Configure’:

    You can turn off the CAPTCHA prompt entirely from the ‘Products’ (left side admin menu) > ‘Membership’ > ‘Configure’ > ‘Security’ here:

I would suggest leaving this setting (below) checked (on) regarding new member registration checked because it’s only a one time thing when a new member is registering (once)

Referral Banners:

  • Don’t Ever Delete Referral Banners:

    Don’t Run the Risk of Negating the Hard Promotion Work of Your Members By Deleting ANY Referral Banners.  When adding referral banners to your site for your members to use in promoting your site never delete referral banners.  Deleting banners will tend to instantly make any promotion efforts involving those referral banners that you and your members have done up until to appear invalid because of the obvious broken image links leaving only an empty shadow of your banner with a red ‘X’ in the corner.   That means all those broken looking forum posts, referral web site listings, top site list rankings, etc. will make it appear as though your site has gone out of business or otherwise not worth the click effort.  It’s fine to add referral banners (the more selection the better) but try not to delete them.  Even if certain information on the banners is no longer valid then as long as the posts containing those banners still appear fresh and ‘whole’ then they are still beckoning potential clicks leading to your site.

  • Know This About Using ‘Signature’ Type Referral Banners:

    (Possible Security Risk) Use ‘Signature’ Type Referral Banners Properly (omitting all balance information) or Not at All !
    Yes, Signature referral banners are those that insert account information (such as the member’s current balance, how much they’ve earned, how many members they’ve referred, etc.)  Signature banners are built by using the ‘Signature’ feature (on the main left navigation menu in the admin panel)  Over the years it’s been noticed that these custom referral banners may pose a security risk by revealing any member’s balance (even if they aren’t even using Signature banners)  It’s just way too easy for anyone to find out anyone else’s account balance if you include balance info on your custom signature banners.

    Why would revealing a member’s balances be so bad?  …it’s too easy for malicious hackers to target members who keep a large balance in their account.  When they find someone with a decent balance then they may spring into action by launching phishing or brute force hacking attempts on that member’s account, logging in as that member, changing the withdrawal account, and cashing out their earnings (it has happened quite frequently in the past until the combination of ShiftCode patching potential security gaps and GPT site admins modifying or omitting their Signature banners)

  • Serve Up Predictable Standard Sized Referral Banners:

    When creating referral banners try to stick with online ad industry standard sizes.  Have at least one 468 pixel by 60 pixel banner (the most commonly used and needed for GPT referral use)  Other commonly preferred banner dimensions for GPT referral use are 728×60, 300×250, 125×125, 120×90, 120×60, and 88×31 (illustration below courtesy of Wikipedia – click on it to see the full size version)  Sticking to standard sizes also make your site look more professional:


Site Contest Wisdom:

  • Always Have Free (to you) Contests Running:

    Set Up Recurring Contests  with Prize Items that Don’t Cost You Money to Provide (at least one of each – recurring Referral & Offer Contests):  GPT referral and offer contests need not offer only cash and/or points as prizes.  It can be advantageous to continuously (or regularly on a recurring basis) run contests offering these items as prizes that don’t cost money to you but are still highly revered by many site members such as banner ad impressions, side panel ads, and well thought out member account upgrades.  Yes, when your site grows stronger in popularity and activity then running cash contests helps as well but in the beginning days then no cost contests do tend to help.

  • Thwart Fraudulent Signups in Your Referral Contest(s):

    When running referral contests always require that contest qualifying referrals need to complete at least one offer (or some other milestone other than just the simple registration)  Having such requirements tends to discourage members that are so inclined from causing bogus multiple accounts and other shenanigans.

  • Set the Contest Rules Once and Don’t Mess with Them Before the Contest Ends:

    Thoroughly think out contest rules and requirements before making the contest go live and stick to those rules and requirements throughout the contest duration.  If you change the rules at all in the midst of a running contest then your risk alienating certain members while breeding unnecessary resentment.  If you found that you’ve messed up by including or omitting rules and requirements then let the contest run its full course till the end without changing the rules and requirements and consider that a lesson learned to be applied to future contests.

Planning – Important Considerations Before You Start Building

Yes, you are extremely exciting to begin your new business venture but as is with any potentially successful business startup (online or off) proper planning before you start or build is key:

  • What countries will your site serve?  Will your site be totally international or will it serve just North America?  Will it serve Just the USA or Canada?  Yes, the geographical region your site serves can essentially be changed any time in the future but it’s best to decide before you start building.

    Be aware that there are a few countries that are anecdotally known in the industry to produce higher amounts of fraudulent activity than the others (in other words, serving those countries could potentially result in eventual unnecessary offer crediting reversals from your source affiliate networks – many of which may happen well after you have paid the site member)  For advice on which countries may be best to steer clear of we suggest this you consult your affiliate manager (AM) at your chosen affiliate networks.

  • Know that there is a catch-22 situation some times with regard applying as a publisher to some affiliate networks and brand new or unfinished web sites.  Logic may tell you that you should apply for a bunch of affiliate networks (where you get your offers from) while or even before you even start building your web site.  Be aware that many affiliate networks have a policy of denying web sites that are not hosted (showing an error), under construction, too new (not enough traffic, not popular enough, too few site members, or not enough traffic (yet))  We suggest that you plan the timing of your initial publisher applications to affiliate networks deliberately after your site shows as a finished site open to new member registrations.  Also, you may want to explain your situation a bit if the publisher application provides a field for such information.

    If you insist on applying to affiliate networks while building your GPT site then initially go with affiliate networks that are the most GPT site friendly.  Performa (ShiftCode) based affiliate networks tend to be more familiar with and welcoming to ShiftCode GPT sites.  They also have the added benefit of being integrated tightly into the ShiftCode system.  News and special promotions from these Performa networks is also delivered straight to the top center home page of your admin panel as is seen below.
    Considering whether my second point (above) is valid or necessary to explain here (note to self)