Section Website Guidelines
SPE section websites play an important role in communicating with members. These guidelines are intended to assist sections in the effective operation of their websites and to educate officers of relevant policies and practices.
A section planning to develop a website for the first time, or needing help to revise a current SPE-hosted website, should contact email@example.com for assistance.
At a minimum, section websites should include:
- The 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 calendar or listing detailing upcoming section programs, speakers, social, or technical events
- Section officer details
Depending on the size and needs of the section, other types of content sections may want to include are:
- Information about key SPE regional and international activities (awards programs, scholarships, meetings, etc.)
- Information on section study group activities
- News and spotlights featuring section members
- Information from section-sponsored student chapters
- Reports and summaries of section technical presentations or events
- Links to key pages on SPE.org or other SPE products and services
- 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 section sponsors
- SPE news and meeting information
- A link to the appropriate SPE regional website
- Section goals and/or the mission statement of SPE
Sections should take care not to post any member identification numbers or personal details of their members to protect member privacy.
Section officers are responsible for ensuring that website content complies with SPE policies and these guidelines. Section websites should not include inappropriate or potentially offensive content of a sexual, racial, religious, cultural, or political nature.
If time-sensitive information is included, 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 An out-of-date website does not provide an impression of quality to members or website visitors. Sections may find it useful to establish a set schedule for website updates to avoid content becoming outdated.
Logins on Section Websites
Sections are strongly discouraged from requiring members to log in to access content on the website or to maintain their contact information, including email addresses. 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 their contact information on the 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 section sites. In such cases, sections should maintain only necessary information, and any pages for updating that information should clearly state that this information applies to the section website only and will not be updated in the SPE membership database. A link for updating their member profile on SPE.org should be provided.
Website Hosting, Management and URL
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, sections are encouraged to think about future needs. Just because the 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. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request set-up.
Independent (Non-SPE Hosted) Section Websites
Some sections, especially those with significant financial and volunteer resources, choose to develop and maintain a website hosted elsewhere. Sometimes sections might 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 of the site. Send link requests for section websites to email@example.com.
If a section chooses to develop an independent website, it will need to purchase an appropriate domain name for the website. The domain name/URL should include the 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 section name, with a preferred ending of .org, or .org.country abbreviation. Examples of current domain names for independent section websites:
Sections need to let their website provider know that the 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 section that has purchased a domain name elects to use the SPE section website software at a later date, the chosen domain name can be retained and transferred to the new site.
Quality and Standards for Section Websites
All SPE publications, including websites, should protect and enhance SPE’s reputation for quality. Sections should ensure that their website presents a professional image and maintains SPE’s reputation for impartiality.
Section Responsibility for Oversight of Content
Where a section works with a contractor on their website, it is the responsibility of the section officers to ensure that website content complies with SPE policies and these guidelines. Questions, complaints, or comments about the content of a section website should be directed to and responded to by the 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 section websites should not promote the use of a specific product or service and should present an impartial, balanced view of technology.
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.
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. 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 section website without prior approval by a 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 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.
The liability of a website publisher for comments made in online forums, chat rooms, and threaded discussions is not definitive, but 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 section websites should be pertinent to the oil and gas industry and the readers of the publication. 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 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 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 section 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 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 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 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 section sells advertising in its publications or on its website, the publications or website are considered by the IRS to be unrelated business activities. 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 officers are responsible for submitting financial details within the annual report to SPE by 1 June.