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Old 08-02-2004   #241
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thejenn
but when it comes to things like webmaster links or contact info in press releases, I don't see that they have done anything out of the ordinary.
the webmaster info link is to what appears to be a one page SEM lead generation site that was just recently registered, not a web design site. that coupled with the fact that the site is a SEM non profit site are what make that particular setup look a bit sketchy in my opinion.
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Old 08-02-2004   #242
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I don't see that they have done anything out of the ordinary
It it were done in the course of ordinary business it would be a non issue.The fact, however, it was for a NFP or NP and there is a difference. The ethics and standards are much stricter for a NP or NFP which is one reason for favorable tax treatment.
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that people are arguing over things that never would have been a big deal had not other issues come up first
Absolutely true, as they may have been glossed over, but these other issues have come to light. Because of them things have been inspected more thoroughly, and there has been an emerging ugly pattern. All these little items add to the bigger picture that is no Monet.
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Old 08-02-2004   #243
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SEMPO isn't yet that organization, but if it can take heed and be lead by demand, it could be. There's a lot of constructive criticism available, here and elsewhere, to help forge an organization that we can all at least feel comfortable with, and that many of even the critics here could actively support.
I second that. A factor driving the outpouring is that people really do want to see a representitive organisation. SEMPO "could be"...
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Old 08-02-2004   #244
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve sardell
OOOPS, I just heard they are not planning any of those. I'll simply send them an email with my questions, maybe this time it will be answered.
Don't hold your breath.

Last edited by bethabernathy : 08-02-2004 at 12:35 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-02-2004   #245
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SEMPO claims to be a professional organization representing SEM, and as such it seems to me that it would be correct to present itself professionally. IMO this means as a minimum that emails concerning SEMPO matters should go to and come from SEMPO addresses, and the individual officers personal emails and/or website addresses should not be used to conduct SEMPO business.

This is also be true of its press releases, they should be signed by the issuing individual as an officer of SEMPO so as to not appear to be acting on his/her own behalf.

The issue of having a two tier membership structure IMO raises concerns that the organization is representing some members more actively than others.

But most important of all, if they are to be the voice of the SEM community, they are going to have to start communicaing with that community if for no other reason than to insure that they are representing the interests and desires of that community. From a personal perspective I consider myself to be fairly well informed, but I really have no clear idea of what SEMPO is really about, where to find out or how it operates. This lack of transparency seems at odds with the stated goals of the organization.

That there is a need for an organization to improve the perceptions of the industry in the publics mind is IMO without doubt, but the question is SEMPO the answer still has to be answered.
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Old 08-02-2004   #246
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Here's Another One

http://www.netapplications.com/sempo/

I agree that separating the non-profit business from the owner's business is very important. There must be some guidelines on this on the non-profit level. Will be looking much more closely into that this week.
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Old 08-02-2004   #247
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I've been reading all of these post but wonder why SEMPO and SES seem to go hand in hand.
Many of the reasons why you hear SEMPO doing stuff at SES is exactly as Steve mentioned, in my opinion. SEMPO was indeed born out of the SES conferences. Many members do indeed attend the show. It has been convenient for SEMPO to apparently have some of their meetings during the show for this reason. Similarly, the WAIM group used to have meetings in conjuction with a conference it was born out of.

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From what I have been reading, it seems that the only way to find out anything about what SEMPO is doing from the SEMPO people themselves is to visit SES.
Well, people attending the SEMPO meeting in London learned nothing of the stipend issue at all, even though that had happened. I think there have been other things that have happened learned outside of SES, like the job board.

The point is well taken, though. Not all SEMPO members attend SES shows, nor should they. The group clearly needs to improve communication with its members and not depend on them coming to any particular conference. That's a common theme coming out of this thread.

For the record, I think SEMPO has also had meetings at Ad:Tech and PubConference. I could be wrong, so certainly anyone correct me. I can tell you that way back in a discussion of the founding of SEMPO, I certainly encouraged the idea that the group would meet well beyond SES.

The quotes below are all from me and came from quite a heated debate on the founding of SEMPO last year on WebmasterWorld.com (you have to be a paid member there to access the actual thread).
Quote:
I don't see it as an SES thing. I know Barbara likes the idea of having meetings there. However, I suspect that if the SEMPO idea takes off, people would have meetings wherever there are a number of members. That might include PubConference, local areas, plus via online. Personally, I'd like to see it as inclusive as possible.
Quote:
In addition, while the group has been largely born out of SES attendees, as I said earlier in this thread, I don't want that to be the only way members meet. It should be inclusive. Anywhere you have a lot of SEMPO members meeting, PubConference or wherever, there could be meetings. And if there are meetings in conjunction with SES, then I'll ensure on my end that they are free for anyone to attend.
Quote:
Yes, the next meeting will be at SES. That makes sense because the core group interested in SEMPO was born out of people who have attended that show. However, my intention is to arrange a room at the show for an evening meeting, so that anyone who wants to attend -- whether they have a show pass or not -- can come to it. As I said before, I'd also well expect that if SEMPO members wanted, they might organize meetings anywhere they want, including perhaps around times when PubConference meets.
Everything I said before remains still the case on my end. I think SEMPO should meet anywhere it has a lot of members -- and even better, virtually so as many members can participate as possible. FYI, the references to making the meetings "free" on my end meant that I wanted to ensure SEMPO had a room made available so they could have meetings outside the regular show that people have to pay to enter. That helps, if you only come for the expo. But it still is better if there are virtual meetings that everyone can attend.
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Old 08-02-2004   #248
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IRS Research

I have been doing some reading on the IRS website related to the 501(c)(3) Organization and others and it seems like there is no way they can charge $299 to get into a charitable non-profit meeting.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p557.pdf

Nice easy reading, but does report clearly on what they must Disclose and the Annual Returns are to be made public record. I am still confused what is their charity?
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Old 08-02-2004   #249
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Peter - loved your San Jose page!
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Sadly, I must face the inevitable. It's just not going to be economic for me to hear what SEMPO is saying. In person, anyway.
Quote:
I've got a webcam sitting on top of my firewall, gathering dust. Perhaps I'll package it up and mail it off to SEMPO in the hope they can stream the next meeting for me. That would certainly solve the problem of getting there. Other SEM's who can't be there will benefit too
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Old 08-02-2004   #250
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Originally Posted by Chris_D
<aside>
Peter - loved your San Jose page!
</aside>
I think the map and cat were probably the best parts of that page
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Old 08-02-2004   #251
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...there is no way they can charge $299 to get into a charitable non-profit meeting
First off, all non-profits are not "charities" - there are different types. As to membership-only meetings, local congregations like churches and synagogues, which do have non-profit status, and should, most certainly CAN and DO have members-only meetings. Not only that, but they can and do also have elders meetings that aren't for the general membership. And while some are supported by free-will offerings and tithes, some do charge annual fees for membership, and some have building funds to boot.

All fair and square, and that's a fact! In my congregation one of the elders is a practicing attorney with a specialty in business law, a member of the Bar and licensed to practice in the State of California - and one of the deacons is an accountant.

I don't know how much clearer it can be that it's a members-only meeting - SEMPO is *not* charging to get into the meeting. If that is why someone paid $299 for a membership - for the express purpose of gaining access to the members-only area of the site and getting into the meeting - then that is their own personal agenda that they are pursuing, and a choice they made of their own volition. Case closed.

Added:

Oh, and while we're at it. This is proprietary and protected by copyright law

http://www.netapplications.com/sempo/

Was anyone granted permission by the copyright owners to publish that publicly on the internet?

Last edited by Marcia : 08-02-2004 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 08-02-2004   #252
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Originally Posted by Marcia
I don't know how much clearer it can be that it's a members-only meeting - SEMPO is *not* charging to get into the meeting. If that is why someone paid $299 for a membership - for the express purpose of gaining access to the members-only area of the site and getting into the meeting - then that is their own personal agenda that they are pursuing, and a choice they made of their own volition. Case closed.
You might try getting off your high horse. There are plain and simple issues here that I am interested in finding out, simply related to Sempo's accountability. The organization needs to step up to the plate and make it clear as to what their objectives are. As this has been reitterated throughout this thread and other forums for days on end. If they can do that Great.

I would be interested in finding out just what "personal" agenda YOU think I might have? At this point, I am going to find out what they are all about and to hopefully get some answers. Perhaps that will happen, maybe not, I am on the fence. Unfortunately that information will not be available unless you become a member and attend this meeting. In addition, I want to be able to hear first hand what their deal is as I don't want to hear a forum recap. Attending this meeting is a real drain for me. I had to drive 4 hours from beautiful Lake Tahoe down to this road rage Bay Area (where by the way I grew up and lived in for 36 years), had to board both my dogs (1 of which is only 5 months old). Also, not to mention, that I will not get home until after midnight tonight and that I have client projects sitting undone.

But again, this is just so I can hear it first hand rather than spattered across the internet. I also wanted to attend SES, again living in Tahoe does not give me much of an opportunity to put faces with names and participate in the industry that I have been working in since 2000 (and working hard). That is what I need to do, if I am going to find any good out here. The forum business just doesn't cut it for me, especially when I have been waiting since last August to get an answer related to their operations, membership and whether or not there are some qualifications that are needed to join (which unfortunately there are not). That said, going back to your post about not allowing new membership over the weekend. What exactly was your agenda with this? Seems strange that if you aren't a member and not on the board you would have no authority here and actually it is even stranger that you think you might have gotten somewhere with your post.

On that, here is some additional food for thought:

http://www.canonprofits.org/

"Step 4: Do you really need to be a nonprofit
Does your project really need to be set up as a nonprofit organization? There is no advantage to becoming a nonprofit organization except to secure tax exemption status. Tax exempt organizations do not pay income taxes, and if they are a 501(c)(3), donors can also receive a charitable deduction for contributions if they fill out a long tax form. Competition for contributions and grants is greater than ever. So consider incorporating as a forprofit before you apply for nonprofit status. It is also important to understand that you give up ownership of your idea when you become a nonprofit. The project now belongs to the people of the State of California. The direction and purpose of the project will now be determined by a board of directors. The only way you retain control of your project is to be the owner of the company. Becoming a nonprofit can mean giving up control of the project."

At this point, perhaps it is you with the hidden adenda as I think I have made myself clear. But happily wait your answer to my question. While I spend another 2 hours trying to get from S.F. to San Jose which again we are talking major road rage during commuter hours. Seen it been there, done that and ran away.
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Old 08-02-2004   #253
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To theJenn:

I will try to be polite to the best of my abilities:

1. " Actually, I did read all of those posts and completely understand what you meant."

Then you probably should revisit the facts, especially my reply to SEO-PR Guy about the press release issues in post #217.

2. "Yes, there were some issues where it's probably better to point to the SEMPO home page than, say, the WebMama site, but when it comes to things like webmaster links or contact info in press releases, I don't see that they have done anything out of the ordinary."

"Anything out the ordinary"?

Allow me to say you miss important points summarized in post #217. First, it is hard to believe the excuses presented by an experimented marketing guy like Greg. Second, since when press release services are suppose to ADD information to a press release, worse without consulting their clients? As I said, this speaks tons about the nature of the press release syndication service hired. If I run a syndication/editorial service, I would be embarrased, especially when others pin point the obvious. (this is not about typos, or text left out but about adding information that was not there to begin with.)

This is just ONE of the problems with the issued press releases and that's why after we dissected their press releases, they fixed and issued a clarification (check Yahoo service). For that, I do applaud SEO-PR Guy (Greg) and give credit to him. Still they need to fix other copies outthere of the same pr and once for all remove their wrong "hat signatures" and hot links pointing to the SEO-PR and Referencement sites. They should start adding SEMPO contact information and proper "hat" signatures in all SEMPO press releases. Proper usage of the right "hats" in SEMPO sites and press releases IS a big deal.

Posters have been discussing since post #1 whether or not SEMPO inner circle promote their own image or not. We were up to the task. We researched the evidence. Unfortunately for SEMPO we find it in a form of several pr-nightmare press releases. We dissected the prs and presented the information to posters. Then the press release service sindicating the prs had no option but to correct the prs. For that I give them credit (my hat is off to them).

The fact: the press releases became more than an issue. It is a written evidence of SEMPO inner circle attitude, promoting their our businesses through a not-for profit organization. The press releases were circulated by PRWebDirect for SEMPO, at least that's what the footer said. Accordingly, they have no business diverting readers to their sites (intentionally or not) through those press releases. Put one hot link to the above business sites in 1 ,5, 10 press releases for a not-for profit site (SEMPO), circulate it to 100,000 multimedia outlets, and voila!, turn the "silly" links into 100,000 - 1,000,000 links pointing to their own enterprise operations. The problem here is lack of credibility by SEMPO from the get-go.

Now, is time to pause and wait what good comes out from the conference, folks. I'll be the first in giving an improved SEMPO a chance, provided they get rid off those responsible for their lack of credibility.

Orion

Last edited by orion : 08-02-2004 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 08-02-2004   #254
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Orion, I appreciate how deeply you've looked into this matter, and I happen to agree with you that it's an important issue. Where I disagree with you is in your apparent refusal to accept that people can simply not feel that the press release issue is an important one. The evidence is there, and anyone who's willing to look at it can draw their own conclusions as to how much it says about the way SEMPO has been run. I don't see it as necessary for you to reiterate your points and run back through all of your evidence every time someone indicates that they don't see it as particularly damning.

Quote:
I'll be the first in giving an improved SEMPO a chance, provided they get rid off those responsible for their lack of credibility.
So you would not accept a sincere mea culpa from the current board members, along with a promise that, if they are re-elected by the members, they will make major changes? I think that's up to the members. I'm not a member, nor do I have any intention of becoming one, no matter what they say or do. If I remember correctly, you're not in the business. I don't mean to imply that you don't have a right to an opinion (as I said, I happen to agree with you), but if they make changes and their members approve of those changes, I think that's their business -- not mine or yours.
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Old 08-02-2004   #255
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Thanks, gwerty. I appreciate your post.

1. "So you would not accept a sincere mea culpa from the current board members, along with a promise that, if they are re-elected by the members, they will make major changes?"

Now we are talking about mea culpa. That's a new element in the picture. If they are sincere, why not? Nobody is perfect. I recognize when others deserve credit for fixing things.

2. "I'm not a member, nor do I have any intention of becoming one, no matter what they say or do. If I remember correctly, you're not in the business."

I am in the business, I'm simply not a seo/sem or se employee.

3. "I don't mean to imply that you don't have a right to an opinion (as I said, I happen to agree with you), but if they make changes and their members approve of those changes, I think that's their business -- not mine or yours."

I take this at face value and think you are sincere at expressing that. I do disagree with you. This is an emerging organization industry-driven. It is business of all involved in the industry, members or non members. That's why they are getting wide open to members and non members at the conference, looking for all type of feedback from anyone willing to speak their hearts and gutts.

Orion

Last edited by orion : 08-02-2004 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 08-02-2004   #256
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I do recognize that if they claim to represent the industry of which I'm a member and they have enough money behind them, then their actions will affect the image of the entire business, and that will filter down to my image. I don't like that, but I accept it. My philosophy is not the same as theirs, and I make efforts to differentiate myself from them.

But I can't stop them from saying what they want to say, and if they're seen as representing my industry, the best I can do is stress that they don't represent me.
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Old 08-02-2004   #257
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Let's stay away from accusations of personal agendas and high horses as much as we can, please. There's enough upset over the issue without getting personal with each other.
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Old 08-02-2004   #258
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I applaud and cheer for that, Danny.

I would say, we all should take a deep breath and wait. I'm sure some good will come out from the SJ conference for the good of the industry.

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Old 08-02-2004   #259
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Let's stay away from accusations of personal agendas and high horses as much as we can, please. There's enough upset over the issue without getting personal with each other.
Sounds very good to me. Thank you.
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Old 08-02-2004   #260
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I will also try to be very polite with this post. I'm sorry if I sometimes come off as c ocky or arrogant. It's hard to sit back and watch when this industry means everything to me personally and business-wise. My personality can be hard to take sometimes. I know this.

From day one of knowing about this new org, there have been a great amount of questions asked. Motives of board members and of the Director have been questioned. Emails have been sent. Vague responses have been given in forums all over the internet. Now it's been one year since inception, and "all" the concerns about SEMPO have been realized.

Many of us all have the same concerns. Many of us are not represented in the current form of SEMPO. There are very important reasons for that.

1. No vetting process of new members.
Many see the list of members as a yellow page thing. The problem is that there are 'levels' of membership.

2. Circle members have to give $5000 to be in the Circle.
That leaves out the majority of SEM's and small type other businesses completely.

3. Those in the Circle are given a front page listing.
SEMPO did very good at the start, as one original concern was the lack of disclaimers on the website. They corrected that quickly. If we sit back and think about it, the perception of a website owner coming to that front page is that of thinking that those listings are something special. I know the disclaimer is on that page, but do we really believe a visitor is going to read all of that content first, before clicking on a Circle listing? I don't think so. At the top of those listings is just... "SEMPO Circle Members"

Full disclosure would be something like:

SEMPO Circle Member Sponsorships

4. It turns out that I have directly seen emails from a variety of people and things where a Circle Member claimed something like this:

"But I'm a SEMPO Circle Member"

SEMPO has stated countless times that NO members should be using the membership status to gain some kind of "credibility". This is not happening at all as members are constantly touting their membership to gain an advantage. Right now, there are Circle members using SEMPO to say they must be better than everyone else since they are a Circle Member of SEMPO. This is stated on some Circle member websites. Not good.

5. See all of orion's posts and other real good posts about all the other concerns about SEMPO. They are facts. They are not silly or speculative.

Now: How does SEMPO improve to get the most members to join?

1. The Executive Director must resign, but be given the opportunity to be a regular member. A new director should be looked for in a democratic way that has experience in running a non-profit org. SEMPO could pay this person a good salary for "full" time work.

2. An Assistant to the director should be hired as well. Both these positions should Not be of people or firms "in the SEM industry. See the BBB and how they set things up. Also look at other non-profits to see.

3. All board members should step down, and new board members "voted" in by the existing members. There needs to be checks and balances from top to bottom. Danny's suggestion of "half" now, half later was a good one. The same board members could actually be 'voted' back in, but they would have to step down first imo. The top two positions have final say on all activities of the organization.

4. There should be a level playing field. There should not be different levels of membership at all. The mission is to tell the world about SEM and how it can help every online business. There should be no way that members can capitalize on the fact they are a member. A fee in the range of $100 to $200 US per year is sufficient. This would enable "many" more businesses to become members and not be strapped financially. Afterall, the orgs mission is suppose to tell the world about the benefits of SEM, so the org should be all-encompassing. It should not be for the few firms that have $5000 to invest. Notice I used the word "invest". SEMPO has stated it wants the whole world to join, not just the select few. I feel this type of fee structure would entice everyone in the world to join.

5. Some type of education should be developed into the SEMPO website. Articles are fine, etc, more things should be done.

6. A new website should be designed. The current one is confusing. Of course, this is just my opinion, but I feel that some great and Professional Designer out there could build a top-notch site, complete with database management, and completely search engine friendly as well. It's not a tough thing to do. The industry wants the org to be "the" thing, so it should conduct itself that way right from the start.

7. RFP's should only be received "if" there is some kind of vetting process. Otherwise, the org could get into big trouble down the line. I don't have to explain this as it's pretty clear to most everyone in this forum.

8. Links leading out to other business websites should Not be allowed. Period. You should have a "resource" type page as the only place on the whole site where different resources can be listed.

9. Same as orion about the 'hats' things. Official email addresses should be used only.

10. If there 'is' a vetting process of some type, RFP's should be listed on the website itself where any member can log-in to view the RFP's submitted. This form should never go directly to any one person, or go directly to the board members or to anyone else. It should be posted immediately in the "password" protected area where "every" member has access to the email address and anything else you all have in the form. This could be set up "very" easily by a capable developer.

11. The actual member listings should be by category, and then by alpha order. Again, fairly easy to do.

Well, I'm tired now. I have many more ideas as well. I certainly hope you all take this post in the spirit it was intended. I do want to help, and I do feel like I could join SEMPO at some point, just not now. I know the meeting is this evening so maybe things will get straightened out some. If so, great! I just wanted to share my feelings about all of this. These concerns and suggested remedies are shared by a great many I would think.

Sorry that this was so long, but thank you for reading and giving me the opportunity to express my opinions.

Doug Heil

Last edited by ihelpyou : 08-02-2004 at 11:49 AM.
 
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