Guidelines for Seneschals and Webministers
Seneschal - The office of Webminister is an optional position within a local group unless the group wants a recognized Web site. A group Webminister is a deputy of the Kingdom Webminister and thus must be warranted when they accept the office.
The Seneschal should periodically check the Web site ever so often, especially just before you host an event. This is so they know what information about their group is being presented to the world. The seneschal is ultimately responsible for information presented to the public about the SCA and the local group. Its a good idea to talk to your Webminister occasionally and know what projects they are working on or have planned. Working on the web is really pretty easy and many Webministers would like to present the group a mostly finished “look what I just did” page than try to describe what they want to do first. Remember your Web site is available to the whole world. Include promotional info there. The Ivory Keep site had a great idea. They specifically addressed the willingness of their group to do demos for the local population and explicitly provide contact info. It would be great if all groups did something similar.
Local Webministers - Local group Webministers must be warranted by the Kingdom Webminister when they accept the office. Like all other officers the first duty of of a Webminister is to report their contact information to the Kingdom Webminister.
All Webministers are required to subscribe to the Calontir Webministers List, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Calontir_Web_Ministers/.
Contact information on your group Web site should include, at a minimum, the Webminister’s modern and SCA name and e-mail. Address and phone number are encouraged, but not required.
Portions of the Society Webminister Handbook applicable to local group Web sites is printed below. In case of typos, any discrepancies between the electronic version of any information on this site and the printed version that is available from the originating office will be decided in favor of the printed version.
General Guidelines for Recognized Web Sites
Every Kingdom must publish a Web site. Each Kingdom’s Web site should be a showpiece of that Kingdom, showing it in the finest possible light. Web sites will uphold high standards of excellence in order to demonstrate the pride that each Kingdom has in itself, and provide the best possible reflection of the Society.
1. Recognized Web Sites
For an Internet site to be recognized by the Society for Creative Anachronism, it must represent an established branch of the Society and must have a warranted Webminister responsible for its content. The Society for Creative Anachronism will not recognize web sites for households. Kingdom or branch officers with separate or additional Internet sites for that office are responsible for ensuring that all such sites comply with Society guidelines.
Web sites which are not on the same domain name as the main Kingdom site may be deemed official if:
The Crown approves
The Kingdom Webminister approves
The web site complies with all Society and Kingdom guidelines
If a site fails to meet these requirements it may not be recognized as official.
All recognized web sites must have a link to http://www.sca.org/.
All recognized sites may not have links to non-recognized Web sites without an external link disclaimer such as:
“All external links are not part of the [Branch Name] web site. Inclusion of a page or site here is neither implicit nor explicit endorsement of the site. Further, SCA, Inc. is not responsible for content outside of [Web site address].”
The above disclaimer may be included once on a page of disclaimers or on the main page of the site.
2. Publication Permission for Personal Information
Personal information will not be published on any SCA-recognized Internet site unless permission first is obtained from the specific individual. Permission must be received in writing or in electronic format; an e-mail from the person giving permission is acceptable. Such e-mail notifications should be archived, stored and treated the same way written releases are treated. Permission to electronically publish the contact information of an individual is in effect until that same individual revokes permission.
a. Personal Information Includes:
Home or work address
Personal e-mail address
It is permissible to list a person’s Society name in connection with any office they hold without specific consent, i.e. — “Branch Seneschal: Lord Robert the Volunteer”; as well as official office e-mail addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org . If permission to publish a private email address is given by email, the permission must originate from that private email address. In the event that the individual is a minor, permission to publish must be obtained from their parent or legal guardian.
Personal information may be published behind a password protected portion of a Content Management System wherein the information being published has been released via an online consent during registration, and is maintained by the individual giving consent and by providing said individual the option to remove his or her information at a later time.
3. Web Publication Standards
As a non-profit educational organization, the Society for Creative Anachronism should be concerned that its electronic publications are as accessible as possible to persons with disabilities. This policy sets the minimum accessibility guidelines for SCA-recognized Internet sites.
Web Accessibility standards are currently being addressed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 should be reviewed (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/). All SCA recognized Web sites should strive to meet level A conformance. Higher levels of conformance are encouraged. It is the Society Webminister’s prerogative to check Kingdom web sites for non-conformance, and Kingdom Webministers should check the web sites of local branches.
b. General Standards
There are certain standards one should keep in mind when generating a web site. Here are a few items to keep in mind; be aware that this list is not all inclusive.
Do not abbreviate anything without explaining the full term first, keeping in mind that the web site may be the first point of contact for people otherwise unfamiliar with the SCA and its attendant specialized vocabulary.
Keep all your pages as uniform as possible; nothing confuses a visitor faster than obscure navigation and drastic visual changes from one page to the next
Do not use flashing text, overly large fonts, overly small fonts, or other such items that are deemed inappropriate for a professional web site. When in doubt consult with other officers, or the Society Webminister
When navigating away from your web site, either notify the user that they are leaving with a redirect page or visually indicate external links in some way (specific icons, font changes, or warnings that a link will open in a new browser window or tab)
Obfuscate all e-mail addresses by placing spaces between names and “at” “(@)” signs, spelling out “at”, or any other method which prevents automatic e-mail address farming
Never use embedded sound, music or movies on a main page or the site in general. Give the user the option to “opt-in” by making a link to a page with the media content and allowing them to hear and/or see the content. Use of content appropriate media is encouraged, but allow the users to choose when and what to experience.
Use both grammar and spell checkers on all site content
Maintain a high contrast between text and background
Maintain easy to read, uncluttered pages. Providing too much information on a given page only obscures the page’s true message
Avoid the use of frames
Choose a favico.ico appropriate to the SCA
Try to minimize external links to specific pages. If links are required, try to link to the root of any given site
Do not assume that everyone has a broadband connection; limit the amount of graphics on any given page, especially the main page
Check your links regularly and ensure they are not broken
Attempt to use compliant hypertext markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS)
c. Content Management Systems
A content management system (CMS) is an easy way to ensure that you meet all web site accessibility requirements, provide excellent service to your populace, and afford the Webminister a tool with which to update the site easily in a timely manner. An Internet search on the phrase “Content Management System” will return an abundance of resources.
4. Document Publication Standards
All documents available for download must be provided in Portable Document Format (PDF). The Webminister may provide other formats as a supplement to the PDF.
5. Image Publication Standards
All images, photographs and artwork that are used on a branch web site must have permission to publish from the artist, meet acceptable publication guidelines from the artist or publisher or be copyright-free. In the event that the subject of a photograph requests that their image be removed from the web site, the Webminister should take any measures necessary to remove their image from the web site, either by direct removal or cropping of the image. Further, artwork and photographs used on web sites should be resized appropriately for page content, in terms of both display size and file size. Larger file sizes, regardless of display size, will require longer load times, and cause viewers of the site to become frustrated with delays. An example of an area where larger file and display sizes are expected would be an arts and sciences gallery showing detail work on metalwork, clothing or the like.
6. Hosting for Recognized Web Sites
It is required that recognized SCA web sites be hosted on an account to which more than one person has access, rather than on a personal web site owned by one of the members. This will ensure that a recognized Web site does not go down or go stale should an individual member move or quit the group. Administrative access for SCA Internet sites should never be kept by a single individual. At a minimum, administrative access should be given to both the Kingdom Webminister and Kingdom Seneschal. Recognized Web sites may never be hosted on a service that requires banner or popup advertisements. All payments for web services should be made by the Kingdom or local Exchequer with the Webminister acting as liaison.
While it is not normally desired, group Web sites may accept paid advertising for publication, at the discretion of the Webminister. The fee charged for such ads is left to the determination of the Webminister but should apply to all advertisements equally. Webministers should not accept any advertising which, in their opinion: promotes a negative image for the Society; which is written in questionable taste; which would fail to interest a significant number of their readers; which advocates the breaking of civil, Kingdom, or Society laws; or which, in their judgment, is inappropriate for the Web site for any reason. Commercial advertisements must be for products and services vital to the educational purposes of the Society. Kingdom Webministers must not accept ads for partisan politics or elections. All funds should be collected in the group’s name, and delivered directly to the office of the Exchequer.
8. Politicizing the Office
Kingdom and branch web sites announce events and provide information to their members. Philosophical discussions of the way a Kingdom or a branch works are not out of place, but they need to be handled very carefully. Articles that cause anger and divert people from study and recreation are not acceptable. This is not an issue of freedom of the press -- Webministers have a responsibility to see that their web sites do not further the political aims of any one faction within a Kingdom, and that a web site is not used to provide a platform for any one view in preference to another. Personal attacks may not be published in the name of the SCA or any of its branches, or paid for with money that will have to be reported to the IRS as spent in the furtherance of our educational purpose. Webministers have a further responsibility not to take sides in a political dispute in print. Use of the Web site to further personal political aims is grounds for removal from office.
9. Statement of Ownership
All Web sites that are recognized by the SCA are required to display the following disclaimer and copyright statement. This statement should be displayed on the home page of the site, but may instead be displayed on a separate page, provided that an obvious link to such a disclaimer page is provided on the home page.
“This is the recognized web site for the <branch name> of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. and is maintained by <Modern and/or SCA name of Webminister>. This site may contain electronic versions of the group’s governing documents. Any discrepancies between the electronic version of any information on this site and the printed version that is available from the originating office will be decided in favor of the printed version. For information on using photographs, articles, or artwork from this web site, please contact the Webminister at <Webminister’s email address>. He or she will assist you in contacting the original creator of the piece. Please respect the legal rights of our contributors.
Copyright © <Year> <branch name>. The original contributors retain the copyright of certain portions of this site.”
10. Copyright Policies
The Society operates under the ideals of chivalry. Respect for others’ property, including intellectual property, is part of those ideals. The Kingdom Webminister must ensure that copyrighted material is not used in the Kingdom Web site except in compliance with applicable copyright laws. Authorization from the copyright holder must be received in writing or in electronic format (an e-mail from the person giving permission is acceptable, prior to publication. Such e-mail notifications should be archived, stored and in all other manners treated the same way written releases are treated. The notice “Copyright © [date and holder]. Used with permission.” must accompany the copyrighted material. This policy also explicitly applies to any article or message originally published or posted to any web site or electronic forum. In order to republish the message or article in any other form, permission in the form of a signed re lease must be obtained from the author.
Kingdom Webministers are required to maintain a file of all copyrighted material used in the Kingdom Web site. This file shall include a copy of the material used and the applicable permission letter.
Kingdom Webministers also are responsible for ensuring that branch Webministers within their Kingdom are familiar with these standards and adhere to them. If there is a possible copyright problem, Kingdom Webministers are advised to speak with their local officers about the item in question, and to follow up such conversations, if necessary, with a letter pointing out the possible violation and suggesting a remedy.
Webministers who persist in reproducing copyrighted material without permission will be removed from office and may be subject to further sanctions.
11. Quality of Content
a. Editorial Material
All editorial material, both text and images, must conform to the goals and objectives of the Society, and portray the Society and the Kingdom in a positive light. No content, including official Kingdom announcements, is exempt from this requirement.
There is no way to anticipate all the types of material that may be objectionable; what follows is a representative list:
Personal attacks on individuals or groups
Harsh criticism of the behavior of individuals or groups
Copyrighted material used without permission
Use of racial or religious stereotypes
Offensive words, phrases, or images
It should be noted that, per Corpora, banishment or sanction announcements may not state why the individual is being banished or sanctioned.
If there is any concern that specific material may be questionable, consult with the Society Webminister.
Branch Web Sites
1. Domain Names
Where possible, it is preferable to have local branches follow one of the following web site naming conventions:
If external domains outside the Kingdom domain must be acquired for a branch because the Kingdom’s domain does not accept or support subdomains, domain names should be purchased and maintained by an SCA branch, and never by an individual. In cases where a group name is difficult to spell, it is recommended that two domain names be registered: one with the full name of the group, and one with a shortened version. Example: The Shire of Duthaich Beinne Aird could be simplified to DBA.
2. Reasons for a Branch Web Site
A branch Web site may be less formal than a Kingdom Web site. It exists to serve the needs of a local branch or organization, such as a College of Heralds or an Order, to inform and educate that group of people about the SCA community in which they live, and to further the educational purposes of the SCA. It is crucial that the members of a local branch communicate with one another, and a web site is an excellent method of communicating with the populace.
3. Definition of a Branch Web Site
A local branch web site is the recognized publication of a recognized group within the SCA, Inc. It cites that local branch or educational organization as its publishing authority, and is maintained by a Webminister who is recognized and warranted by the Kingdom Webminister.
Branch Webministers must make a written report to their Kingdom Webminister on a regular basis. These reports must be made at least once per year, although a Kingdom may decide to require them more frequently.
5. Removal from Office
The Kingdom Webminister, with whatever Royal approval is required by Kingdom Law, may seek the removal of a branch Webminister. The reasons for removal from office include, but are not limited to:
Use of copyrighted material without permission
Failure to abide by the policies in this document
Use of material that is in poor taste or is otherwise objectionable. If in doubt, contact your Kingdom Webminister
Infringement of Kingdom Law
Politicizing the office
I am willing to help if you have any questions or difficulties.
Sung Sai-êrh, Webminister@calontir.org