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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Dreaded Lodge Webpage Discussion

A couple of Facebook discussions brought me around to the topic of lodges with a terrible online presence. We've all seen it before - from a site promoting the 2010 lodge picnic, to a remade Geocities page with animated gifs and midi music playing that you can't shut off.  

(And yes, I'm fully aware that I'm using an outdated Google service created 15 years ago with terrible formatting. And an AOL address. Cue the snorts. I've addressed this before and I'm kind of stuck with it. And yes, it's because I've "always done it that way." Mind your own damn business.)

The Grand Lodge of Ohio has circulated an online guide to lodge internet management and content creation at www.freemasonmarketing.com . Created in part by WB Matt Johnson, it has a lot of resources in a single place. If you find that you are suddenly the newly appointed Internet Committee, you need to look at this information or get help. 

Even if you DO create the world's greatest website, it's worthless six months from now if it doesn't have up to date information about how to find your lodge, what's going on regularly, and who to contact. Everybody seems to have migrated to Facebook, but that's not really true now. There's a certain subset that has shunned it in favor of the Next Big Thing to view on their phones, once their grandparents all got Facebook accounts.  More important, Facebook pages are lousy for finding important information like addresses, contact information, regular meeting nights, lodge histories, archival photos, and other unique aspects of your lodge that might make it stand out. Try searching though old Facebook posts to find that sort of information if it's been posted more than six months ago. Facebook pages are chaos, and depressingly few Facebook sites have a fully filled-out "About" page.

Good old fashioned websites exist as the closest thing to a semi-permanent online billboard for your lodge (or as permanent as anything can be these days), and it's where everybody winds up eventually, no matter how they got there, and they will for the foreseeable future. I can talk into my iPhone and in 3 seconds get the website for any lodge that has one. And it's remarkable how useful even old, defunct lodge web pages are that can still be found using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

If you just can't manage to get someone who will update the site on a regular basis, or last year's Senior Deacon ran off to Wyoming with all of the site admin access information and passwords, then create a website that at least has the basics of where you are, WHAT you are, and who to contact that doesn't require regular upkeep. At least it's a place to start and you won't be invisible. Think of a simplified website as the electronic sign on your lodge front door.

If your lodge DOESN'T have a website at all, I promise you are doomed to extinction. Yeah, it's that important.


  1. I update our Lodge's Facebook page, but only about 10 members have liked the page to get the info. I started a Lodge Twitter account and have only convinced 2 Lodge members to follow. The Lodge has more twitter followers from UGLE than Washington F&AM.
    Bob King PM
    North Hill Lodge #210 Spokane, WA

  2. Understood. Twitter is now hemorrhaging users who are moving elsewhere, and Facebook is being disdained. But web pages persist and are the ultimate landing strip for everybody. No matter what other platforms come and go, they all can and will have a link to your home page.

  3. Chris, What you describe is what I call a cobweb site. I see it in Lodges, Synagogues and just about everywhere with a volunteer webmaster. Like everything else, the responsibility lies with the WM to appoint a responsible brother, and to make sure that the job is done.

  4. Union Lodge #7
    Declared to be a shining star by the MW of Kansas 2016 Lynn Beyer
    www.union lodge #7
    On Facebook twitter instagram and we even have out own lodge android app.

    Bro Jeffrey Black

    Union Lodge#7 media relations

  5. Was working on my home lodge pg. When I was admonished that what is show represents the lodge as a whole and was told to get more brothers on board. Mind you, I was the one that picked up the piece in an attempt to make this work and committed. My only advice would be not to take the wind out of the sail of those M.M. tbat really want to commit to your webmaster or fb pg. Later I began FS and now look at the pg. Great information brother Hodapp, as always.

  6. Thank you Chris for posting about this! The 14th District of Ohio greatly appreciates it.

    Sticking with the 21st century theme... In case this might be worthy of a post as well.

    Blendon 339 released 3D printable working tools recently. As candidates progress through their degree work they receive the working tools of that degree in a nice box and a 3D printed commemorative coin among other oddities.

    These working tools are open source and are free to download, modify, distribute, etc. They can be printed in plastic, various metals, chocolate and even concrete or "wood".

    These files are available at http://www.blendon339.com/masonic-3d-printing/

  7. I set up a new website for my lodge, and I made sure there was no information on it that ever needs updating. Nothing with a date on it, no officers of the year, no events. A feed from our Google Calendar is on the site and that is all. It never needs updated.

  8. I was at a town hall meeting at the state conference for Job's Daughters this weekend and listened to an adult leader announce that the only way you can communicate with their Bethel is via the US Mail; they don't get or want any digital communications; it blew my mind.

    I'm in charge of "Communications" at our lodge and my goal is to over communicate; initial my plan was to the newsletter going again, we now mail 300 out a month; the printing and postage is one of our highest costs after rent and utilities. That led to me taking over our website, which had music and frames, and completely redoing it. I update it monthly primarily to include a link to our newsletter, as one of the earlier posters said by using Google Calendar I don't have to update that much.

    I've found Mail Chimp to be a great resource. It lets you create and schedule HTML e-mails; it will even post them to your social media sites. The best part is that we have a small enough distribution list that it is free. When I do the newsletter I try to set up an e-mail to go out each week as a reminder of what is going on.

    We also had a physical autodialer that was hooked up to an outdated computer in the office and called all the members, one at a time, when it worked. We now use a online service, I was able to send out a funeral notice from my iPhone while in the hospital when my youngest son was born.

    Br. Rich Pratt
    Senior Warden
    Golden Ark 595

  9. Visit our Lodge's website at www.elvinehelms926.org. We'd appreciate any feedback that you have.

    Dan Kemble
    Elvin E. Helms Lodge No. 926
    Petersburg, Kentucky

    1. Very well designed and informative site. Looks like your lodge is quite active, too. Good going!


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