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What Does It Mean To Be A Webmaster?


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#1 saschaeh

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 12:17 PM

What are the key roles of a webmaster?

To kick things off an array of points:
  • Being the head developer?
  • Managing Developers and making sure they are using correct methods?
  • Managing developers and developing some parts?
  • Project managing the website and reporting to site owners?
  • Webmaster is the owner of the site?
What is your idea of a webmaster and what roles should s/he fore fill? What is s/he responsible/liable for?

Also, what roles does a webmaster have within a meduim to large company?


Id be interested to see what you all think.

Edited by saschaeh, 16 October 2007 - 12:19 PM.


#2 bobbb

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 12:49 PM

5. No

#3 AbleReach

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 01:56 PM

6. The person, sometimes the owner, who manages the site after it's completed.

I'll hazard a guess that #6 is the most common for really small businesses.

#4 EGOL

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 01:56 PM

lol... we have disagreement already... should be an interesting thread.

I am the webmaster here and I own the site. I am responsible for it's goals, its content and its development. My investment will rise and fall in proportion to the job that I do and how well my decisions and resources fall to or defeat competitors. The goals are limited by my ability to generate content or hire it, plus by my abilities to comprehend design, SEO and development.

The website is the entire business, not an additional channel.

I delegate or hire content, design, analytics, programming and development - but I do a bit of each of these things myself.

The responsibilities of SEO strategy and content focus are mine. I get advice from SEOs, analysts, developers and designers. The critique of all of these things hits me and any failure in them cuts my income first. Others are paid a guaranteed rate.

Most important.... what I think, what my employees think, and any advice that I receive is subordinate to how visitors behave on my site. In the end, they run the site as best as I can make that happen.

Edited by EGOL, 16 October 2007 - 02:01 PM.


#5 JohnMu

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 02:06 PM

Are you a webmaster if you have a MySpace page or a Facebook profile?

#6 EGOL

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 02:14 PM

I would say, YES. You are responsible for a specific piece of the web.

#7 saschaeh

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 02:36 PM

really webmaster if you have a myspace or facebook account...

So a punter who has, myspace, HI5, facebook, linked profiles can put on his CV. Webmaster experience on multiple sites. hmm

That means that anyone with a webmail account is a webmaster as they manage there email on a piece of a website and customise what they see when they login. So what you are suggesting is that almost everyone online is a webmaster?

These are site users not webmasters, surely. Webmaster will create functionality that will allow a user to partly manage the service provided by the site. But the site, in turn, is ultimately managed and determined by the Webmaster.

Perhaps Pagemaster or Profilemaster or Webuser (or Webservent :( )is a better term for these people - website users.

:unsure:

Edited by saschaeh, 16 October 2007 - 02:52 PM.


#8 EGOL

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 02:49 PM

I like "PageMaster".

If a person claims webmaster experience on a CV, he/she should include the URL. That way people can go see the product and be impressed either with the work or with the character of that person. :=)

#9 AbleReach

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 03:51 PM

"Profilemaster" is precious. Me like. LOL.

#10 ccera

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 03:59 PM

I think of the Webmaster as simply the person who is contacted when things go wrong. I also think (and think that this thread proves) that it is term with too broad a definition to have any real meaning - unless something goes wrong and you need to know who to contact. :(
CiCi :unsure:

#11 AbleReach

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:12 PM

I think of the Webmaster as simply the person who is contacted when things go wrong.

Does anyone else have an experience of contact links that say "webmaster" being a black hole?

#12 SEOigloo

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:56 PM

Hi All,
Neat discussion.

When we offer webmaster services to clients, what that means to us is that we remain available to them to be the people who update their website. The client does not want that responsibility, we stay on board after launch and work at an hourly rate for the client, doing whatever needs doing.

And, obviously, we webmaster all of our own sites.

Miriam

#13 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:56 PM

Well, my tupence worth (suprise... merely views and toughts - nothing official.)


It varies... alot.

It ranges from the person who is to handle the general content and possibly the addition/deletion of pages throug ha CMS.... through the the mastermind of a major site and handcoding everythign whilst managing all the designing and SEO stuff.

The term is non-specific, and thus in many cases moot.

Originally it was the title often assumed, sometimes bestowed, upon the person within a company whom handled the generation of the the code, the managmenet of the server (uploading and access permissions) and generally add/edited content etc.

Those days have kind of disappeared(ancient history) in many situations, yet the term is still hanging around.

You are more likely to find terms such as Administrator (controller/Director), Editor, Content supplier etc... more job specific and targeted terms as being a more defined and applicable method of labelling.

That said, as ...EGOL... pointed out - there are still those that handle the majority of things... and considering the cope... it makes the term of "WebMaster" either patheticly imprecise... or all consuming.

#14 EGOL

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 07:23 PM

I think that the word "webmaster" was originally given to a person who produced the code that rendered the site. I think that a lot of people still see it that way.

I could give myself the title of "CEO" or "President"... but those poorly describe what I do. I could grant the title of "webmaster" to an employee who makes most of my pages. However, he is following instruction and not determining the course of the site and making the decisions that will result in the success or failure of the site.

I know that I will probably hold minority opinion here on this subject. However, if I had a staff of 50 people my title would still be "webmaster" and I would hire some egghead to be President.

#15 bwelford

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 07:43 PM

I think the problem is that the term 'webmaster' has by now picked up a particular meaning in the minds of many. Most often it is seen as the person who is responsible to keep the website in good order and functioning correctly. You can't fight the common perception so that is what the word now means.

IMHO it often stems from a view that a website is a static thing like a garden or a museum exhibit. Once the object has been created for all to see, then the webmaster does the tweaking and upkeep necessary to ensure people can see the website as the owner intended. In other words the word webmaster is linked to a very static view of a website.

If you have the view that the website can be the most potent part of a company's marketing strategy, then the job of making it perform to the maximum in generating sales should be done by someone who has the responsibility for maximizing sales. In many companies, if the word webmaster is used at all, it will not link to this sales maximization role. Indeed perhaps the word webmaster may inhibit someone approaching all this with sales in mind. So I would suggest that it may be better to drop the word webmaster entirely and use some other that better reflects the achievement of the goals of the particular website.

#16 Respree

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:05 PM

I'm not so sure there is a clear definition. I normally associate the word with the broad-based overall management of technical aspects of the site, including security and ensuring the site functions as intended. There may be owners who take on a dual role with include additional responsibilities like developing site goals, strategy, marketing, usability and the like, which case the line becomes blurred.

I think the size of the organization matters too. Who would you say is the webmasters of Google and Yahoo? I could be wrong, but I don't think anyone would carry a title like that in a company that large.

Edited by Respree, 16 October 2007 - 08:08 PM.


#17 EGOL

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:25 PM

For some companies the webmaster is a person who they hired on contract to produce a website.

For some companies the webmaster is a person in the IT department.

For others it is a person in marketing.

What do you think? For the companies with the highly successful sites, which of these places do you think the webmaster works from. Maybe another?

#18 A.N.Onym

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:42 PM

Successful companies have a designated web developer to handle the site and implement all the changes, including content, SEO and such. Marketing/promotion, in this case, is handled by others.

#19 DianeV

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 09:57 PM

I guess the definition from Dictionary.com (via answers.com) might be a little surprising.

#20 saschaeh

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 12:30 AM

According to the unofficial encyclopedia: Wiki

Webmasters are practitioners of Web communication. Typically, they are generalists with HTML expertise who manage all aspects of Web operations. On a smaller site, the webmaster will typically be the owner, developer and/or programmer, in addition to the author of the content.

On larger sites, the webmaster will act as a coordinator and overseer to the activities of other people working on the site and is usually an employee of the owner of the Web site, hence webmaster can also be listed as an occupation. If the webmaster is hired by a larger Web site, or promoted to the position, they could do things from web design, to project management, or employee supervision. The range of activities to be undertaken by a webmaster may be estimated using the concept of Website scale.

In the early days of the use of the term "webmaster" (a take-off on the term "postmaster", the administrator of an e-mail system), this role encompassed all aspects of planning, coding, production, and user interface. The webmaster may have many of the duties of an information architect, including ensuring site usability, user experience and menu taxonomy.

However, since the late 90s, this type of webmaster role was typically only found working on small Web sites that could be managed by one person, or in environments where there was not a great deal of role definition. The current model tends to be more team oriented with a website manager or online producer leading a team consisting of web developers, designers, programmers, QA lead, Adobe Flash developers and often at least one usability expert or a UI/UE team. In established web development companies, especially those existing since the 90s, the term webmaster may be used by senior officers of the company, and may include usage such as "Webmaster-in-chief."

A broader definition of webmaster is a businessperson who uses online media to sell products and/or services. This broader definition of webmaster covers not just the technical aspects of overseeing Web site construction and maintenance but also management of content, advertising, marketing and order fulfillment for the Web site.

Core responsibilities of the webmaster include the regulation and management of access rights of different users of a web site, the appearance and setting up web site navigation. Content placement can be part of a webmaster's responsibilities, while content creation is typically not.

Typically, the webmaster is the agent who reads user feedback and complaints about site functionality.


Pretty good rounded look at webmaster. (Quite interesting little point about it been takenin from post master.)

What do you think?

Edited by saschaeh, 17 October 2007 - 12:35 AM.


#21 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 04:42 AM

Well.... I'd say in many respects the term is not really applicable any more.... it's kind of outmoded and lacking in definition - the web has grown a lot since the term originated.

That said... I suppose the "person in charge" could be the "webmaster"... I just always found the term a little pretentious and for some, over reaching (think of the little oiks that get two pages given to them, then runing around claiming they are the WM of X!).... and for others, just simply not enough (look to those that manage all the SEO, ASEM, Advertising, Design, Markup and Scripting... yet are not actually in charge of the site).


Lack of true terminology has been somethig that bugs me no end in our field/s...partly due to the diversity of backgrounds... or even the lack of them. Add to that the sheer "world Wideness"... it's no wonder thats words and application of them doesn't really form anything comprehensive or cohesive.

I use terms that I'm comfortable wit.... yet sometimes have to substitute to match my designers, programmers or clients.... and I've never heard anyoe of them use the term WebMaster.

#22 saschaeh

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:11 AM

What would you call yourself ?

Edited by saschaeh, 17 October 2007 - 05:17 AM.


#23 Jem

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:31 AM

I think that the word "webmaster" was originally given to a person who produced the code that rendered the site. I think that a lot of people still see it that way.

That was pretty much the impression I was under. I have always considered a webmaster to be the general name assigned to anyone who owns their website - often using it to describe the likes of amateur designers/developers. I wasn't aware that it was something specific/"higher up".

See, I am the webmaster of a couple of sites, but professionally I am a web developer and that is what I refer to myself as.

#24 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 09:04 AM

I have always considered a webmaster to be the general name assigned to anyone who owns their website


The problem with the term being used for ownership is that there are a vast number of folks out there that own the website, and haven't got a clue as to coding... so are they webmasters?

There are also plenty out there that havethe skills/knowledge and experience... who have made multitudes of sites... yet are not the owner of a single one... are they webmasters?

It's more than a little confusing when viewed from that angle (at least to me).
Is it possible to ahev multiply webmasters for the same site... or is it an exclusive title?

What about the sites that haveseveral key editors, and multiple access to the server etc. ?


I'm trying to think of somethig comparative...

Ah... Builders.
Builders, (some of), build homes.
Does that make them Home owners automatically?
Some actually own their own home (or several) outright... so they are homeowners then?
What about those with mortgages... are they homeowners?
How many homeowners out there can actually build their own home (successfully that is)?


Just picking holes :P
But does that make sense in that the title is a little flawed when viewed in some contexts....

#25 Jem

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 05:09 AM

I can't say as I've ever given it that much thought, I honestly have better things to do with my time than analysing the meaning behind the word "webmaster". So yes, of course it's likely to be flawed.. but then I wasn't adding my $0.02 to be the definitive guide on what a webmaster is, simply my thoughts on how I've used it in the past.

I'm not sure why you chose my definition to "pick holes" in, as I am open to discover as to what a webmaster should be... that's why I posted in this thread in the first place.

#26 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 05:31 AM

Heh - not picking on anyone.

You statment is what I view as the generally accepted, believed and commonly used "definition" of what a webmaster is.

The same assessment is applied to the wiki referal as well.


[Edit]
Well - obviously that caused some issue - so I think it best if I apologise - it wasn;t aimed at anyone, jsut a general "picking of wholes", so I'm sorry if it caused you upset.

Edited by Autocrat, 18 October 2007 - 05:34 AM.


#27 Jem

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 06:34 AM

You didn't upset me, and I didn't think you were picking on me (picking holes in my post - that's what you said) .. I simply wondered why you were asking me questions about my definition when I was so totally oblivious to the fact that so many people considered it something other! ;)

One of my mum's phrases sprung to mind:
"Don't ask me, I know nuffin!"

Edited by Jem, 18 October 2007 - 06:35 AM.


#28 saschaeh

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 03:40 PM

lol im no where nearer to knowing what i would call what i do. It seems that webmaster is a non term due to ambiguity.

Perhaps we would do better with simple terminology like: Website Manager, Website Owner, Website Author, Website Marketing Manager...

#29 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 10:36 AM

I wouldn't say ait's a "non-term"... jsut don't expect people to automatically know exactly what you do...

If someone says I'm in Marketing... I'm in Advertising... I'm in Graphic Design.... you kind of have a fair idea of at least the general areas their knowledge/skill should lay in.

It's obviously a little less distinct with SEO/SEM (as some have them together/same).

Web Design gets a little more ambiguous (as it could ential all the above, some of it or none of it!)

Web Master is no real different.... very generic and broad scope... and offers little definitive insight (then again, that may be what you are after, in which it's ideal ;) )

#30 redstarweb

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 04:14 PM

I am afraid I have lost 'my' identity

I design websites (look & feel)
I develop websites (coding)
I create and maintain content
I do (self serve) SEO (on going)
I do SEM (on going)
I analyse Analytics
I analyse other statistic tools
I resolve problems
I am the one people can contact (about the websites)
..and start at the top (of this list) again, just like running in an endless circle


Please tell me, what am I? :unsure:

Kind regards,
Redstarweb

#31 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 04:46 PM

A highly talented and skilled web based professional ?

:unsure:

Seriously - don't take my views on something as gospel or fact... they are merely my views.
It's simply as I view it, the title is a little too generic now a days... the field got a lot bigger, and will likely continue to grow.

If you title yourself as a "web master", then by all means, continue to do so.... or get a different title.... what ever you like :)



EDIT:

Looking at that list again...
You design, code, manage content and are the primary contact.... that would cover the mainsectiosn of beig a web master we all discussed, right?
Add to that the SEO/SEM... so that would also put you in the ranks of being an SEO/SEM person.
Further, you have the analytical skills, research and resolution implementation, which would make you an active analyst.

There you go...from one title to three diversified and highly skilled titles... does that make up for any over statements or generalisatiosn?

Edited by Autocrat, 20 October 2007 - 04:50 PM.


#32 redstarweb

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 05:18 PM

"....A highly talented and skilled web based professional ?..."

I think that is too much credit for me.
(But it was all true that I indeed do all these things)

I agree with you, I only used my reply to show the difficulty in finding a good definition.
Like you said, the name "Webmaster" is too generic to define it as doing one or two tasks. In a large company it could be the person who only will be contacted when something is wrong with a website. But in a small company it can be a person like me.

But to give (for me) the one and only definition to the original topic "What does it mean to be a Webmaster" I can say: hard, really hard (never ending) work, a lot of headache, but a lot of satisfaction too!

e.g. "never ending work... Here in Holland (Europe) it's past midnight and I am still at a "Webmaster's" forum, to learn from others, know what I mean?

#33 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 05:28 PM

Perfect!

If I had to vote for a dictionary definition... I'd vote on that one, twice :unsure:

#34 redstarweb

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 05:41 PM

"If I had to vote for a dictionary definition... I'd vote on that one, twice"

I wished mr. Google would do the same, but then for my websites :unsure:
a nice wishfull thought to start my nightrest.

#35 kensplace

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 12:31 AM

Its a pretty generic term, but to me it generally means the person who controls what is on the website, who fixes it, and controls what goes on the pages, in a technical sense.

Not the boss who gives the orders, if they are not doing it themselves. Nor the marketing team who are dictating content, nor the graphics designer who supplies the graphics, nor the copyrighter or content writers who submit articles - they all contribute the parts the 'webmaster' pulls together and gets the server to display, as they see fit.

A little like on a forum, the mods and admins, nor the contributers are usually thought of as web masters because they post. Sure the posters are controlling that bit of space on the thread, and the mods are controlling which threads stay, and the admins can control the look and feel of the forum to some extent, but the actual web master would be the one that installed and setup the forum in the first place, and continues to maintain it when it needs maintainance.

To put it another way, the webmaster is the one who can cripple a site should they wish to with just a few commands, or they can alter what is on the site at will, more than any other participator on the site.

#36 DianeV

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 02:33 AM

Ken, that's pretty much how I think of it.

#37 Guest_Autocrat_*

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 08:41 AM

Okay... I like that - some one with the power to halt/alter the site.... that goes in with ...redstarweb...

But what happens for sites with multiple inputters, or multiple layers of adminsitration?
Technically, I'd say there is only 1 WebMaster, the person at the top.

In addition, there are plenty of sites out there that would be considered as WebMasterless then - as the person that built it is not part of the company that owns it, and hands it over to the owner - with no one in the company with the knowledge/skills to do anything with it.


Still - I thnk you are right - it boils down to "control2 and "influence"...

#38 redstarweb

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 09:26 AM

I agree with Ken too.

Beside being a "A highly talented and skilled web based professional" (sorry folks, Autocrat words, not mine ;) ) I am also responsible for an Intra- Extranet in a company with 1800 employees.
We use a CMS system in such way that every department has its own space to maintain their sub-site. But they only can control their own content (contentmanagement), use the tools, gadgets and other features 'I' provide them.
It's me who has full control of this Intra- and Extranet. It's me who decides which controls are available, which gadgets (portlets) they can use, or which new portlets will be developed. Of course I am not doing this alone. I have an administrator (for access control), some developers (for developing and maintaining new portlets or tools), a design team (for the look and feel, e.g. CSS's) etc. But within this team of different skills, it's still me who is in full control. I think that having 'full control' of a website (intra, extra- or internet site) is the main responsibility of a Webmaster.

#39 AbleReach

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Posted 21 October 2007 - 06:35 PM

:pieinface:
To be the master of one's own domain?

(sorry)

#40 saschaeh

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 01:13 AM

Ablereach

To be the master


lol


The last couple post have somehow resonated although it seems there will always be some ambiguity.

For example: the one website I 'Master' has a head developer who has titled himself the 'Webmaster'. He, however, does not have any influence on what functionality will be developed. He influences the actually execution but nothing beyond that. He has the highest and most in-depth knowledge about the code and how the whole puzzle fits together.

However this does not entirely go against the last couple of posts. He still has some influence over what happens and a lot of control over how, not which, things for the site are developed. The spanner in the works is that there cant really be two masters, right?



So; The webmaster is a person with the most control and influence over a website.


So then I guess that makes me the Webmaster...


Sascha



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