Information for Lodges who want to stand up a website, or social media presence.
Also be sure to read The Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M., of Virginia, Social Media, Public Relations and Information Technology Policy.
Website must have
- On the main home page....
- Name of Lodge. i.e. "Name Lodge No. 123 A.F. & A.M." do not use "#"
- Charted (date) by The Grand Lodge of Virginia. Optionally link to GL site
- Location of Lodge. use the physical 911 address, not the mailing address
- Stated communication(s) day and time, properly formatted and any exceptions noted
Information below can be on the main or other pages....
- Mailing address if different then physical 911 address
- Phone number, of the Secretary and or the Grand Lodge of Virginia. 804-222-3110
- Webmaster's name, email and or phone number
Website should have, static information
- Picture of Lodge
- Phone number of the Lodge if it has one, if not use the Secretary's and or the Grand Lodge phone 804-222-3110
- Copyright notice and Official website information
- Masonic District Number, optionally link to the District website
- Driving directions
- Lodge history or a Bio
- Handicap accessibility information
- Parking information
Website Optional information, static information
- What Grand Lodge Region and Division the Lodge is located
- Are there meals, if applicable, dinner is served before or after the stated communication
- Links to other websites as long as they are not considered non-Masonic in nature
- If applicable, information about renting your Lodge to other groups
- Information about other Masonic Appendant Bodies or other groups that meet in your Lodge
- Link to Internet mapping service for driving directions
- Consider having links to your local town/city and local origination's
- Images of US and or State Flags
- Background music, not recommend because it causes websites to load slowly
Website Optional information that requires regular updating
- Unless you know for sure you will be able to regularly update your website do not provide this information.
- Calendar of events
- Dues payments and donations accepted by credit card, i.e. www.PayPal.com
- Worshipful Master’s contact information, email and or phone number
- Officer's. contact information, email and or phone number and what year they are serving
- Pictures of Officer's, with or without jewels and aprons, optionally include bios
- Information should be no more than ninety days outdated, if six months or more the link to it from the GL website will be removed.
Website may not have
- PII (Personally Identifiable Information) i.e. date of birth, social security number, etc.
- Broken, dead, or misdirected links.
- Copyrighted pictures, text or other, unless there is written permission.
- Pictures of due guards, signs, ritual, degrees, or of the Square & Compasses on top of the Bible.
- Pictures of Brethren, other people, or children unless you have their consent.
- Content or links to what would be considered un-Masonic in nature.
- The use of the Great Seal of Virginia is not allowed by Stated Law. Image of State flag is allowed.
- Petitioner name's, after elected, (As of 2009, candidates name's can now be published, per Methodical Digest Sec. 2.108)
- Masonic publications by the Grand Lodge of Virginia, please contact the Grand Lodge to confirm what publications are approved.
- Information should be no more than ninety days outdated, if six months or more the link to it from the GL website will be removed.
- The current Worshipful Master should review the Lodge's website and its content approved by him annually.
- Unless you know for sure you will be able to regularly update your website do not include dated content, i.e. current year Worshipful Master or Officers names, calendar of events, Trestleboard, etc. If your website is most likely to stay static, then only include the information under "Static" section listed above.
- Two or more Brethren of your Lodge should have the information needed to access the website and make changes to it.
- Add a hit counter to track the number of visitors http://www.easycounter.com
- Request other Masonic websites in your District and other websites that would not be considered un-Masonic in nature to add a link to your website. This will greatly increase your search engine ranking. You may also want to add links back to their website.
- Pictures, you should keep the file size of your images as small as possible to allow for faster webpage loading. Large files sizes, i.e. large megapixel and high resolutions will cause your website to take a long time to load. Today's cameras have very high mega pixel and create a very large file size. Image Resizer is a free Windows XP utility from Microsoft that can easily reduce the file size. or try Image Resizer from VSO. A 10 megapixel image can range from 4 to 7megs in size, an images dimensions, i.e. A 3872 x 2592 is 10,036,224, 10 megapixel (Ten million). A 1024 x 768 is 786,432, about 200kb in size. A 640 x 480 is 307,200, about 80kb in size and is large enough to full most monitors. A 240 x 320 is 76,800, about 30kb in size.
- Have your DNS configure so your website can be accessed with or without the use of www in the URL. i.e. http://Lodge123.org or http://www.Lodge123.org
- To prevent users from receiving a 404 page cannot be found error, this can happen when you rename and delete pages on your website and during that time search engines and other websites have linked to those now non-existent pages. Have your ISP configure the server to redirect page not found errors to a custom auto redirect page.
- There is no need to pay fees to third party companies that offer to list your website with search engines. you can do this yourself by visiting each search engine and looking for the option to submit your website a.k.a. URL for indexing. Now a days this is not even necessary, as most search engines in time will automatically find your website and index it.
- If you have links to other websites, check them periodically to make sure they are still active. If applicable links to other websites should be to the top level domain i.e. https://grandlodgeofvirginia.org and not sub-pages within the website because they might be renamed and or deleted, a URL of http://www.grandlodgeofvirginia.org/index.htm should not be used because at some point the page name Index.htm could be changed to something like Index.asp.
- Make sure the Title and Description META tags in the hidden HTML source code have the proper information to match the page, i.e. each page should have an unique Title, the Contact page should read something like <title>Lodge Name Contact</title> the Membership page should have <title>Lodge Name Membership</title> This will improve your search engine rankings. Google webmaster tools can help point out issue with your website www.google.com/webmasters/tools
- Double check for spelling errors and typos.
- Make sure your website is password protected with a secure password, a minimum of 8 characters in length, and a combination of upper and lowercase letters, number and other characters.
- Keep several backup copies of all the content of the website, should the ISP go out of business or other major mishap you will be able to get your website back up and running. Put copies of this information on a CD, DVD, Memory Stick, or other computer hard drives, etc.
- File names should not contain any blank spaces, webpage's, PDF, picture files, etc. Example, "Picutre_Name.jpg" and not "Picture Name.jpg" use "December-2007.pdf" and not "December 2007.pdf" use a underscore "_" or a hyphen "-" to separate words in a file name. And keep file names as short as possible, Dec_07.pdf. It would be a good idea to use the Lodge’s name or number in the file name of your Trestleboard, this will help users to identify Trestleboard’s of other Lodges when they download and save them locally.
- How to prevent search engines from indexing your website or pages and files within your website, read thishttp://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=59819 the use of a robots.txt file can be useful.
- You can prevent people from using right-click to copy text and images or only images from your website by adding a couple lines of code, search the Net for words like "stop right click." preventing right-click copy or save as, only stops the average user, a person with some knowledge will know how to bypass this. So keep this in mind, anything and everything you put on the Internet is public and available to anyone in the World.
- All of your website content should be available using the web browsers HTTP standard port number 80, or HTTPS secure SSL port 443. Internet users with good quality firewalls will be blocked from viewing content on non-standard ports like 81, ,8081, 8484, etc. i.e. do not have any URL's like www.Domain.com:8081
- Now a days it is recommend all websites use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which provide secure transmission of data between the website and user. A SSL is required if you are collecting personal information such as any of the following, a person name, address, date of birth, social security number, credit card information, or any other sensitive information.
How to create a Website and obtain your own Domain Name
- Obtain a domain name, i.e. Lodge123.org having our own domain name is an option but recommend.
- Select an ISP (Internet Service Provider) to host your website and optionally provide email services.
- Create and publish your website.
- Domain Name. The first thing you should do is register your own unique domain name. There are a multitude of domain name registrars authorized by ICANN to re-sell domain names, for a complete list visit http://www.internic.net you will pay an annual fee for your domain name and the prices vary widely from registrar to registrar. You can save money by pre-paying the annual fee several years in advance. Paying a registrar for a Domain name is required. Registrars my also offer optional paid for services either separately or in a package deal, i.e. website hosting, and email, etc. Some popular registrars are www.GoDaddy.com and www.NetworkSolutions.com and www.Google.com/Domains and www.Register.com just to name a few. Do your research and go with what fits your budget and needs.
- Domain Name Types. There are dozens of different top level domain types, most commonly known are, .COM commercial business which is the most common. .ORG origination nonprofits. .NET networks typically ISP's. EU educational school, college, museum. .GOV government. The .ORG better represents freemasonry and is recommended, but it would not be a bad idea to get both the .ORG and .COM. If your .ORG and .COM name are already taken, you may want to considers others like .US.COM. .NET, .US, .INFO.
- Domain Tips. Keep your domain name short and easy to remember. www.Name123.org is recommend over the longer version of www.NameLodge123.org example's "George Washington Masonic Memorial" www.GeorgeWashingtonMasonicMemorial.org is rather long whereas www.gwmemorial.org is easier. Or in the case of "Alexandria-Washington Lodge No.22" www.AW22.org
- Free website hosting. Most ISP's that offer free website hosting will automatically add advertising to your website and some overdo this. The ad's are typically not static and change regularly and may or may not be the type of ads suitable for a Masonic website. Read the ISP's policy and select carefully. With free hosting you typically cannot use your own domain name, but rather share the domain name the ISP has, i.e. http://www.ISP_Name.com/Lodge_Name.htm Google Sites is recommended https://support.google.com/sites
- Paid website Hosting. Will not have advertising and the ISP will provide a better level of technical support for you. Your own domain name can be used, i.e. www.Lodge123.org and email services can be included. SPAM and anti-virus filtering for email is important, select an ISP that offers these services.
- Create your website. You do not need to know programming to create a website; there are a multitude of easy to use programs that you can use on your own computer. Even easier, select an ISP that offers the option to create your website online using fill-in the blanks and templates that they provide. This way you can create your website online without the need of any special software or computer skills. Google Sites is recommended https://support.google.com/sites
- The legal registrant name of the domain name should be in the name of the Lodge and not a member of the Lodge. The Administrative and Technical Contacts registered with the domain name registrar should be one or more members of the Lodge and this information should be keep current.
- Email, the best low-cost email is provided by Google Apps
The correct why to display the Lodge name is "Name Lodge No. 123 A.F. & A.M." or all uppercase "NAME LODGE NO. 123"
Do not use "#" use "No."
A.F. & A.M. or A.F. and A.M.
Ancient Free & Accepted Masons or Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.
Note: the Grand Lodge's A.F. & A.M. is in front of the word Virginia. "Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M., of Virginia" While the Lodges are at the end, "Blue Lodge No. 123 A.F. & A.M."
"stated communication" for Lodges having one meeting per month (lowercase)
"stated communications" for Lodges having two meetings per month (lowercase)
(note the lower case "s" and "c")
Use "1st", "2nd", "3rd", "4th" for week. do not spell them out, First, Second.
The day of the week should be spelled out in full and not abbreviated.
Example, stated communication 1st Monday.
Example, stated communications 1st & 3rd Monday.
Example, stated communications 1st Monday's & 2nd Wednesday.
Do not use "meetings" or "meets"
Do not use First, Second, Third.
Make note of any known exceptions to stated communication, i.e. December 2nd Monday. If a holiday then the following Monday.
Copyright notice and official website information
You might want to include a Copyright notice in small print on the bottom of your pages. i.e.
Copyright (c) 2000 Lodge Name No. 123 All Rights Reserved. and a sentence stating "This is the official website of Lodge Name No. 123"
Location of the Lodge
Should be the legal 911 address. i.e.
123 Main St.
City, Va. 22212
If applicable, give details, i.e. meets in Fire Department, 2nd floor of Church. Or cross street, etc.
Chartered statement examples
Charted date should be spelled out, i.e. December 22, 1877
Three options "Charted by" "Holden under" or "Under a charter from"
The Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M., of Virginia
The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M., of Virginia
A.F. & A.M. can be spelled out "Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons" or "Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons"
The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Virginia
A.F. & A.M. or A.F. and A.M.
Trestleboard is one word.
Fellowcraft is one word.
Candidates name can be published. (revised 2009 Sec. 2.108)
Petitioners name can not be published.
Rejected, suspensions, etc., shall not be published.
The names of the Degrees are officially;
- Entered Apprentice. Not 1st
- Fellowcraft. Not 2nd
- Master Mason. Not 3rd. There is no Degree of 3rd. it is Degree of Master Mason.
For faster download times, Trestleboard's or other documents should be converted to HTML, or PDF format, the use of Word Document format is not recommend because the files are larger and require the user to own a copy of Microsoft Office or have a viewer installed. There are also font and printing issues.
When listing names, the format for past titles would be John Doe, PGM, PDDGM, or PM, do not use "Worshipful John Doe, PM"
Use of picture photography, video or audio recording during a tiled meeting. Or while working or practicing the ritual degree's.
Video or audio recording is NOT allowed, this includes, Camcorders, Tape recorders, Mobile phones, or any other recording devices.
Still Photography is allowed if you follow these guidelines.....
- Get the Worshipful Masters permission.
- No pictures of due guards or signs.
- No pictures of the Square & Compasses on top of the Bible, this can be prevented by taking your shot from a low angle and shooting upwards. Do not take a picture if your view will be looking down on the top of the Alter. If you take a shot by mistake, you must edit the photo and blur or crop out the Square & Compasses on top of the Bible.
- No pictures during balloting.
- No pictures during grand honors.
- No pictures of ritual or degrees.
- No pictures of a candidate during the degree work or at anytime while he is prepared in his attire for a degree..
- Respect the wishes of Brethren who do not want to have their picture taken, or published. See the official Grand Lodge position letter, utilization of the Internet. from June 4, 2009
- Unless you have the permission of the person, do not identify him in publicly published pictures. (See GL position dated June 4, 2009)
- If there are any accidental pictures taken of the above, the digital copy, prints and negatives must be destroyed. With digital prints you may be able to edit them and blur or crop out and removing the unwanted portions, for example, blur or crop out the Square & Compasses. Make sure the originals are destroyed.
- A Table Lodge is a tiled meeting in which EA's and FC's can attend.
- Masonic Birthdays, only the name and month can be published in Trestleboard or other, i.e. November Masonic Birthdays, John Doe, David Smith. Cannot include Day, Year, or number of years.
Last updated 03-08-19, 03-21-19, 03-22-19