Geographic Section Website Guidelines
SPE geographic section websites play an important role in communicating with SPE members. These guidelines are intended to assist geographic sections in the effective operation of their websites and to make members aware of relevant SPE policies and practices.
A geographic section planning to develop a website for the first time, or to revise a current website, may find it helpful to examine other geographic section websites for ideas about what kind of information to include. Links to these websites can be found using the geographic section list. In addition, assistance can be obtained from the Geographic Sections Manager (P.O. Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083 3836, USA).
At a minimum, geographic section websites should include:
- The SPE geographic section logo with the section name prominently displayed according to the criteria set forth in the SPE Graphics Standard
- A link to the SPE home page (spe.org)
- A link to the appropriate SPE regional website
- Geographic section goals and/or the Mission Statement of SPE
- A calendar or listing detailing upcoming geographic section programs, speakers or social or technical events
- Names and contact information for section officers.
Depending on the size and needs of the geographic section, other types of content that sections may want to include on their website include:
- Information about key SPE regional and international activities (awards programs, scholarships, meetings, etc.)
- Information on geographic section study group activities
- News about geographic section members
- Information from geographic section-sponsored SPE student chapters
- Reports and summaries of geographic section technical presentations or workshops
- Links to key pages on SPE.org (e.g., Membership Directory, meetings calendar) or other SPE products and services as appropriate
- Links to noncommercial websites that may be of interest to members
- Local directories (e.g., consultants)
- Contact details for the section webmaster
- Banner advertising
- Logos of local geographic section sponsors
- SPE news and meeting information
Geographic sections should take care not to post any member identification numbers or personal details of their geographic section members to protect member privacy.
Geographic section officers are responsible for ensuring that website content complies with SPE policies and these guidelines. Geographic section websites should not include inappropriate or potentially offensive content of a sexual, racial, religious, cultural or political nature.
If a lot of time-sensitive information is included, then it is essential that the website be kept up to date. An out of date website does not provide an impression of quality to members or website visitors. Geographic Sections may find it useful to establish a set schedule for website updates to avoid having content become outdated.
Logins on Geographic Section Websites
Geographic Sections are strongly discouraged from requiring members to log in to access content on the geographic section website or to maintain their contact information, including email address. It currently is not possible for this login to interface with SPE.org’s login or membership system, so member confusion could be created.
For example, a member who updates his/her contact information on the geographic section website might expect it to be updated on their SPE record. Since the two systems are wholly independent, members would have to update information in both places. Members would also have two “SPE” logins - one for SPE.org and one for the section site.
SPE acknowledges that there may be good reason for having a login on certain geographic section sites. In such cases, geographic sections should maintain only necessary information, and any pages for updating that information should clearly state that this information applies to the geographic section website only and will not be updated in the SPE membership database. A link for updating member information on SPE.org should be provided.
Website Hosting, Management and URL
Geographic sections have a wide range of options and technology available to them. The right choice depends on the section size, needs, and capabilities. In determining what technology to use, geographic sections are encouraged to think about future needs. Just because the geographic section has one member able to develop html pages this year does not mean that a similar resource will be available in future years. The ongoing ability to maintain the website is an important consideration.
SPE-Hosted Section Websites
SPE offers software and hosting on its servers to make it easy for sections to set up and maintain a website.
Independent (Non-SPE Hosted) Section Websites
Some geographic sections, especially those with significant financial and volunteer resources, choose to develop and maintain a website hosted elsewhere. Sometimes geographic sections even select a contractor to maintain the website for them. SPE standards for logo appearance, advertising, etc., still apply to websites hosted by other entities. SPE will provide a link from SPE.org to independent section websites upon notification by email of the URL, or web address, of the site. Send link requests for geographic section websites here.
If a geographic section chooses to develop an independent website, it will need to purchase an appropriate domain name for the website. The domain name/universal resource locator (URL) should include the geographic section name or acronym/abbreviation, and should not include the name of any non-SPE entities, including the hosting service. This domain name should include the initials spe, with some indicator for the geographic section name, with a preferred ending of .org, or .org.country abbreviation. Examples of current domain names for independent geographic section websites:
Geographic sections will need to let their website provider know that the geographic section domain should be used throughout the site, not just on the homepage. Website provider names should not appear in the URL of interior pages of the website. If a geographic section that has purchased a domain name elects to use the SPE geographic section websites software at a later date, the chosen domain name can be retained and transferred to the new site.
Quality and Standards for Geographic Section Websites
All SPE publications, including websites, should protect and enhance SPE’s reputation for quality. Geographic sections should ensure that their website presents a professional image and maintains SPE’s reputation for impartiality.
Geographic Section Responsibility for Oversight of Content
Where a geographic section works with a contractor on their website, it is the responsibility of the geographic section officers to ensure that website content complies with SPE policies and these guidelines. Questions, complaints, or comments about the content of a geographic section website should be directed to and responded to by the geographic section officers, not a contractor.
The Society of Petroleum Engineers encourages open and objective discussion of technical and professional subjects pertinent to the interests of the Society in its publications. Society publications shall contain no judgmental remarks or opinions as to the technical competence, personal character, or motivations of any individual, company, or group. Any material which, in the publisher's opinion, does not meet the standards for objectivity, pertinence, and professional tone will be returned to the contributor with a request for revision before publication. It is recommended that this Editorial Policy statement be included somewhere on section websites.
To protect the Society’s reputation as a respected association for oil and gas professionals and the industry’s most reliable provider of technical information, editorial material published on geographic section websites should not promote the use of a specific product or service and should present an impartial, balanced view of technology.
Geographic sections are responsible for ensuring that their websites present a professional image, avoiding inappropriate or potentially offensive content. Sections should be mindful of the highly diverse nature of SPE’s international membership and avoid materials of a sexual, racial, religious, or political nature. SPE is a technical organization, and while sections may engage in a wide range of non-technical activities (e.g., charitable, educational, social), these are nonetheless activities sponsored by a professional society and the overall tone should be professional.
Geographic sections are responsible for confirming the right to publish all material on their websites and for obtaining written permission from the copyright holder before publication. This includes photos, text, presentations, videos, podcasts, and other materials. Posting material on a website constitutes publication of that material. Thus, copyright laws that pertain to reproducing material in print also apply to material on a website. Copyright remains with the originator (e.g., author, artist, photographer) until it is transferred to another person or organization. Geographic sections should be aware that taking material from one website, including graphics, and posting that material on its website without permission is likely to be a violation of copyright.
If SPE members or the general public are allowed to post materials on a geographic section website without prior approval by a geographic section officer, it is the responsibility of the officers or their contractor to periodically check the website for possible copyright violations and remove any materials that may represent a copyright violation.
Because it is easy to copy material from a website, a geographic section may want to include a copyright notice on material that it does not want to be freely copied. The easiest way to do this is by including a copyright notice in the footer of the website. For example, “Copyright 2007-2010, SPE Gulf Coast Section.” The date range reflects the fact that various website content may have been written at different dates during that period.
Geographic Section websites should include a disclaimer of responsibility for contributed content. Example: “The SPE Gulf Coast Section is not responsible for any statements made or opinions expressed on this website.”
The liability of a website publisher for comments made in online forums, chat rooms, and threaded discussions is not definitive, but it is clear that the potential for liability exists. It is therefore wise to include disclaimers of website responsibility for statements made or opinions expressed by participants. An example of such a disclaimer is, "Any opinions expressed here are strictly those of the individual posting the message and not necessarily those of SPE, the Gulf Coast Section, or the organization with which the individual is affiliated."
In general, advertising accepted for SPE geographic section websites should be pertinent to the oil and gas industry and the readers of the publication. Geographic sections should follow the SPE advertising policy, which should be stated on the section website: “SPE publications accept advertising for goods and services which, in the publisher’s judgment, address the technical or professional interests of the journal’s readers.” This gives a geographic section the option of refusing to run advertising it does not believe is appropriate to the professional reputation of the Society.
Promoting Non-SPE Events and Training Courses
In general, SPE would prefer that its geographic sections promote SPE events and training courses. Dues comprise only a small part of SPE’s revenues, so the success of SPE-sponsored programs is important to funding many activities and benefits, so sections should give preference to promoting those programs. SPE recognizes, however, that there may be a variety of good reasons why a particularsection may want to promote the events of another organization, particularly where sections work closely with the local affiliate of another professional society. It should be clear, perhaps through an explicit statement, that SPE does not endorse or sponsor these non-SPE events – they are provided for information only.
For events or training courses offered by for-profit or commercial organizations, it seems appropriate to require these organizations to purchase banner ads or other paid advertising. For the events and/or courses of another not-for-profit or professional society, it is suggested that the geographic section consider whether it receives like treatment from the other organization. Do they promote your activities to their members? If the answer is no, then the geographic section may want to consider whether it is appropriate to require them to advertise (perhaps at a reduced rate for not-for-profit organizations).
Reporting Income from Geographic Section Websites [US Sections Only]
SPE International (SPEI) is registered as a not-for-profit corporation with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). As a not-for-profit organization, SPEI must report to the IRS any profits derived from sources not related to its not-for-profit mission of disseminating technical information. If a geographic section sells advertising in its publications or on its website, the publications or website are considered by the IRS to be unrelated business activities. Geographic section advertising revenues must be reported to SPE so that it can be reported to the IRS. Expenses must also be reported.
Each section’s Treasurer is responsible for submitting the annual Geographic Section Financial Statement to SPE by 1 June. Revenue from the sale of advertising in geographic section publications (newsletters and/or websites) should be reported on the line “Unrelated business income” under Income. Expenses for publications and/or websites should be reported on the line “Unrelated business expense” under Expenses.