The way it should work
Populi normally logs a user out of the system after 60 minutes of inactivity. This is a security measure to help prevent you from logging in, leaving the computer, and having someone swoop in to get on to your account and mess with things under your name.
The above notwithstanding, you can also set certain devices to "Trusted". Trusted devices let you remain logged in to your Populi account on that device. Read more about trusted devices (and other security settings).
Sometimes users experience frequent timeouts—even though they're actively using Populi at the time!
There are several steps we take to troubleshoot, most of which surround what's covered in the System Requirements.
A few things you should look into regarding your Browser:
Your browser is too new (unlikely)
If you're one of those early-adopters of beta-status browsers, good for you! All the same, we develop Populi to work on currently-published browsers, and so we can't vouch for how the program performs on bleeding-edge, as-yet-unpublished browser versions.
Your browser is too old (likely)
If you never update your browser, that could be the problem. This issue is most common with Internet Explorer and Firefox users (because upgrading is generally optional with those programs). Check your browser version, which you can find in the "About ____" screen of the program (usually under the Help menu). Check the System Requirements for supported browsers and make sure you're using the most current version!
Your browser is running incompatible add-ons
This is pretty common with Firefox users, and could potentially be an issue for Google Chrome users. Add-ons, if poorly-designed, can destabilize some of the background processes in Firefox that Populi relies on to function properly. To see if you're running any Add-ons, and to address this issue, go to the Firefox Tools menu, select Add-ons... and click Disable next to each Add-on.
You are logged in as more than one user or in more than one browser
This commonly happens with schools that are just getting started with Populi. A registrar will create a "Test Student" just to see how things work, and will log in as the Student without first logging out as a Registrar. As a security measure, Populi won't permit you to be logged in as more than one user at a time on the same computer. Similarly, you can't have two different browsers (like Chrome and Firefox) open and stay logged in, even if you're logged-in as the same user. You can, however, have multiple tabs and windows open of the same browser—Populi's designed to support that.
This article has other browser troubleshooting tips.
Your internet connection is down (or is unreliable)
If you lose your internet connection, that will cause Populi to drop your authenticated session, which is a fancy way of saying, "You'll be logged out". There could be some network in between your computer and Populi that's having trouble, or there could be something local on your end. Have a savvy IT person check out your computer and the internet connections for any issues. Such problems are entirely out of our hands, and we can't do much to help you if that's what's going on!
Something's wrong on our end
If something's wrong on our end, we have numerous alerts and notification systems in place that will start hassling us long before our users discover a problem. We're pretty good about keeping our users updated in the Status Updates forum, and we do our utmost to get the word out as widely and quickly as possible.