Meet the District Website’s Other Members

Another area of the Suffolkmasons.com website that is very beneficial to the District is the Site Members area and their related sections. We’ll quickly explore these below. Frankly there is much more than can be easily put into one Post, so this will be as brief as possible on each topic. As you may discover it’s much more than just a District Calendar.

Please don’t forget one needs to be registered and logged on to see this section, so yes members only. They are listed below in the order they are on in the Main Menu for ease of reference.

My Account

As members discover areas of the District website that only members can access, they also discover there it sometimes more to them. Once logged onto the site many have discovered that the menus at the top of the page, change. A new item replaces the “logon” menu item. It now will say “My Account” This is for the logged on members to change account settings, like which email address is linked to the account, their First and Last Name, privacy items like who can message you or see your account as well as for what you get notified and how. Also you can delete your account should you see fit to do so. 

My Profile

The members Profile area is just what it seems to be. A registered member gets a profile card and their own area for their profile. You can add an avatar pic, and we don’t mean a pic of the blue people living on a fictional planet called Pandora. Also you can add a cover pic to snaz it up a bit, add a short Bio and some contact info, like cell and home #s if you choose. You can also add Social Media links to places like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to name a few. Again this facilitates connection between members and allows for other member to find you and contact you in several ways, depending on urgency. 

If a members profile is filled in and another member needs to ask a question about an event their Lodge may be hosting, you can send a direct ‘chat like’ message; if the member being asked is not online at the moment, they will receive a notice via email from the site that they have a new message. Or if I need a quicker response and the member has listed a contact phone number, I can call him. If you would prefer a Facebook or other social media connection, and the member list them, connect that way.

To edit your Profile just login and open your profile. There is a green cog or gear to the right bottom of the cover image. Click it and click “edit profile”. Then you can upload an avatar, cover pic, add a Bio, etc. Click the check mark when done to save. Down towards the bottom of the profile is a space for member tags. These will be listed next to your profile avatar pic and may be helpful if you’re an Officer of a Lodge or committeeman. Again helpful to Brothers who may not know you and what you do at your Lodge or around the District. If you are designated as a ‘Lodge Liaison’ the Admins will add this tag if you do not so that we can easily find you if needed. That’s it! Easy Right!

It is a fact that the more real connections you make the more information you can get and we all know, information is power. The power to make all of our Lodge’s flourish & grow. It adds to brotherhood as members who are either newer or don’t get to travel much can connect with old and new Brothers.

The District Collation Room

This item was discussed in a previous post specifically about this and what it’s purpose was. If you’d like to have a look you can see that article here. I have included this short bit as a reminder that it’s there and available for use. Great for asking general questions and getting replies.

Site Members

This is the profile card or all members of the site listed together. A profile card is what you will see here and it’s a snippet of the profile itself. Above the profile cards is a search box. As the membership grows scanning through members may get a bit tedious. So if you’re looking for a specific member by name (first or last) or maybe you only know first name or maybe only his Lodge name. You can put the first few letters of a name or Lodge into the box and click search and if he is a member it will be presented to you. If you want to see more of someone’s profile, just click on the profile Card and you will be taken to their full profile. It’s worth mentioning that if a user is a member and has set their profile to private and not shown, they will not be listed or show in searches of the members area. Of course setting your profile to private defeats the purpose so we’d advise against it.

Your Notifications

If you have received a message from another user or someone has followed or friended you (we’ll discuss that next), it’s likely you have already seen the notifications page and popup. This again if for the benefit of the members while trying not to be too obtrusive or annoying. First know that you can control when and what you get notified for in My Account settings. Look for notifications and web notifications under your account. By default they are all on. Uncheck them to turn them off if you prefer. 

The notifications area is accessed 3 ways. The first is the web notification bell. When you login to your account and if there is a new notification you should see a small dark circle with a white bell in the middle pop up from the bottom with a small red circle with a number in it. If it comes up with no red number you have no new notifications. It should disappear after a few seconds with nothing new. 

If you have new notices it will remain there. Just click on it to open the notification box. Like an email, if you hover over an item or click on an item in the popup notification box it will reduce the new notices by one until they are all “viewed”. You can click the X to delete them or click the cog to edit preferences.

On the My Account menu is also a way to get to old notices and delete or set preferences.

Submit Posts 

The items above the text editor may look different to most members than is show here.

This is what is referred to as a “front End Member Submission Page”. The District Website is based on or run on a CMS or Content Management System called WordPress. It allows for 2 ways to manipulate and control a website. The Admins and those responsible for creating and maintaining the site are Admins and are given access to the “back end” of the site with much more complexity than what other members see. But one thing it does do is allow members to do much more on the “front end” than they could ever do on a standard html based web page, like Submit Posts or blogs, images, events and much more. 

If a member would like to submit an post (article) of Masonic interested, which all registered members can do. They only need to logon and access this page, create a Post Title (subject), add tags (we’ll get to that in a moment) and pick a category and add their text. Creating a title is self explanatory and usually the easiest part of writing an article. It should be short and concise, to the main point of what is below it.

Tags are just additional makers and generally used by search engines to “index” the articles they find on pages like this. Although they are not required, if none are used, the Editors may add some to better index your posts. 

A post category is a drop down menu that you select from predefined items. For 99% of all members it will be under Lodge Posts. If circumstances require ask the admins to add another category or even a child or subcategory and if it’s agreed we’ll get it in there.

Now to the two most important parts. The body of text and images. The body of text can be entered in several ways. You can type it in right there in the rich text editor. Or if you are a more contemplative writer and you use a word processor like Word, etc. Just write up your post and when you’re done, copy and paste it into the box provided. Keep in mind not all formatting may be preserved so you should keep that as simple and common as possible. Not all fonts are web ready so avoid fancy fonts. 

Second it’s statistically proven that posts with images are read more often by a double digit margin than post without images. So include at least one image. If in the course of this you need to add more then one image just contact the Admins and we’ll get them in there for you. At some point we could add that ability to the Submit Posts page. Included images will be set as the “featured” image at the top of the Post.

Then just Click “SUBMIT POST” and your Post will be saved in the system as pending. A notice will be sent to the admins that there is a new submitted post and it will be checked and possibly edited before publishing. Editing is usually to correct, spelling, formatting or add images, tags, etc. Once Published you will also receive email notification that your Post has been published. There are a few requirements as to Posts, nothing onerous but necessary just the same. There is an entire Post about this HERE.

Additionally all posts will be fortified with the best SEO we can get it. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of setting up the subject to get the best position in searches from search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo, etc. It only takes a few minutes but well worth the effort in the long run. if you’d like to know more of what SEO entails you can click HERE to read the Wikipedia entry.

Don’t forget to check it and let us know if any corrections are needed once published only Admins can edit Posts. Also don’t be shy, used the Social Media Sharing tools on the post to share your creation on several social media sites, with just one click.

Conclusion

Considerable effort has been put into the Suffolk District Webpage and it’s a lot of work to maintain and manage it. This is the primary driving force to setup a member interface for members to manage their own Lodge events on the district website. Please take advantage of the usefulness of the site and appoint one or more Brothers of your Lodge as the Lodge Liaison to the District site. In attempting to make it as “foolproof” as we can we have placed all this under the individual members profile so he may access all events, posts, images, documents, etc. in one place.

Although it’s a labor of love for the Admins it’s really a bit of overload when 16 Lodges events must be tracked and added, updated and revised. There are many more features of the site that some will love and other…not so much. But we’re always looking to improve the site and make it easier, balancing security and privacy. 

We’d also appreciate your feedback on the site. We all dislike polls and surveys, at least I do. So I am avoiding that route for now. However there is a comments section under each post as well as the Collation Room room area that you can give “constructive” criticism or kudos, whichever fits.  The site is for the Brothers of the District to use and enjoy as well as profit from. It has been a multi-faceted goal to attract attention for individual lodges events. meetings, etc. as well attract well qualified men to the Fraternity. Don’t forget to comment below.