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Where to Host a Club/Society Home Page

First, what is a URL? URL is an acronym for Universal Resource Locator, also sometimes known as Uniform Resource Locator. The URL is a means of specifying the location of information on the Internet for WWW (World Wide Web) clients. The home page of your club would have an URL and all the other pages would have different URLs. The URL for the AFMS web site home page is http://www.amfed.org

A couple of more quick definitions. An Internet Access Provider provides you a means to access the Internet. They usually give you other services as part of the package such as email and web space to host a home page. A Host Provider provides space on their computers for hosting a web site and makes it available on the Internet. They are not required to provide Internet access for you to access the Internet with your computer, but only your site, which they are hosting on their computer(s).

The first obvious solution to provide a home for the club home page has sometimes been to use the web space provided by a personal Internet access account. The personal account was probably provided by an outstanding member that is doing above the call of duty. While this may be a free solution to the Club or Society, it also has some concerns that may not be initially obvious. The WWW is very dynamic and the available resources are always changing. Therefore as you look for a home or happen to be looking to update your site, there are several things to look at now. If you already have a home page, you may not want to change it right now, but keep some of following items in mind for the future. Some of the items of concern when using a personal Internet access accountís web space feature are:

bulletIt is difficult to change a URL once it is established.
bulletIt can be difficult to locate all sites that point to the old URL.
bulletWeb sites can be very slow to change links. Some sites rarely or never update content. You could easily take a year to change links on other sites.
bulletSearch engines can retain links to old URLs for a long time.
bulletSince the WWW is very dynamic and options are always changing, it may be desirable to change Internet Access Providers. But since the web page space is provided as part of the Internet Access Providers account, the URL will be lost when the account is closed.
bulletThe role of webmaster is difficult to change, since is being hosted on a personal account. Would other offices of the organization be allowed to become this unchangeable?
bulletThe home page of an organization can be a vital link to rest of the world. Establishing a permanent URL that is linked to by sites all over the world allows an organization to be very accessible. Besides brand recognition, we now have URL recognition being a very valuable commodity. The URL of the organization should be permanent and under the control of the organization.
bulletIt is very aggravating to hit dead links. An opportunity to be seen is now given to another site that is not at the end of a dead link.

So what is a better solution for an URL? There are a lot of host providers on the Internet willing to host your clubs web site for free. If you use one of these providers, then your URL will contain their domain name in your URL. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Trails/3085/ is an example of this type of URL provided by GeoCities. Most of these providers are willing to host your site for free if you will allow them to advertise on your site. Therefore advertising actually pays for your site. Different providers have different requirements for advertising and you will need to evaluate their terms. For a fee, some of these providers, as well as other providers will host your site without any advertising. Fees might range from $30 or more per year. You may even find a provider willing to host your site for free without any advertising. The market is constantly changing. There are a lot of new providers every week and also a lot of providers dropping out. So look at the providerís history. This type of solution allows you to maintain a constant URL that is not dependent on using a specific Internet Access Provider and allows different people to act as webmaster. It does require using the specific provider to host the site, since your site will be a part of their domain. Changing host providers will change your URL.

Another solution is to own your own domain name. http://www.pogmc.org/ is an example of this type of URL. This has all of the benefits of the previous example, plus since you own the domain name, you can let any host provider host your site and still have the same URL. If your host provider goes out of business, or you like the services of another provider, then you simply change host providers. Your URL is still the same, and links to your site, as well as all the documents with your URL are still correct. The cost for doing this is around $15 to $35 per year to register your domain name with InterNic. Costs for host providers range from free to thousands of dollars per month to host your site. Again by accepting advertising, there are host providers that will to host your site and domain name for free. This is probably a good solution for larger organizations since there are fees that must be maintained. Even $35 can be a large budget items for some of the smaller organizations.

Why Own a Domain Name

bulletYour URL never changes no matter where the site is hosted. Therefore once you publish your site as www.myclubsite.org, the URL will always be the same.
bulletYou have a URL that can be published on a single line (I'm a little overboard, but this is sometimes true), or at least be easily remembered.
bulletBy the club owning a domain name, the club will always be able to use the domain name for their site. If the site is hosted through a personal account, that would not be always true.
bulletWithout a domain name, if your host provider changes their format or even goes out of business, then you loose your URL. And there is plenty of that going on.

Picking a Domain Name

Probably the shortest name that makes sense is the best recommendation.  Since so many domain names have already been taken, you may have to get a little creative picking an unused name.  Since most clubs and societies are not-for-profit, the .org top level domain is probably the best choice.

Top level domains generally used:

bullet.com = commercial organizations
bullet.org = nonprofit organizations
bullet.net = network providers
bullet.edu = only qualified educational institutions
bullet.gov = only qualified government organizations
bullet.us = US domain that is free, but will have several subdomains added for your locality. The difficulty of working with this one is may not worth the savings.

The .ws is actually for the country Samoa, .tv is for Tuvala, and .cc is Cocos (Keeling) Islands. These 3 top level domains are quite often being misrepresented.

bulletNew top level domains
bulletTop level domain listing
bulletScams preregistering top level domains
bulletICANN The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
bulletInterNIC public information regarding Internet domain name registration services

Hosting Options

bulletDial-up Access Allows you dial in to the Internet Service providers computers and gain access to the Internet.
bulletNon-Virtual Hosting You have a subdirectory on the host provider's domain.  You have an URL such as www.hostingcompany.com/yourdirectory/.  You often get a non-virtual account with a dial-up account.  When you change providers, you lose the URL.
bulletVirtual Hosting Allows you to use your own domain name such as www.yourdomainname.com.  Allows changing to a different host provider and still have the same domain name.

Common Terms Simplified

Access Provider Provides access to the Internet.  This service is required to browse the WWW.  Many access providers are also a host provider and provide email accounts as part of their service.

Host Provider Provides space for web pages as well as connectivity of those pages to the Internet.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) Special instructions included in a web page text to tell a web browser how to view the page.

POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) Software protocol used to receive email.

SMTP (Simple Mail Text Protocol) Software protocol used to send email.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) Address for a web page such as http://www.amfed.org/


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