Having a “.org” domain for an election website just sends the wrong message to potential voters

Should a political campaign's website have a .org designation in its web address?

By Gregory Moore

The primary election for Bexar County may be over and in Precinct 4, Tommy Adkisson easily fended off two challengers.

Yet even after the election, there is a news story that needs to be delved into because it shows that someone is not really thinking about the people and more about somebody’s pocketbook.

Websites and social network pages have become synonymous with campaigning and thanks to our current President of the United States, the success of having such electronic mediums at your disposal not only gets your message out; it also shows that you are savvy in a world where such technique is necessary in negotiations.

But having the WRONG web address can also send the wrong message to those who are very savvy  and understand why you have such domains in the first place.

In the world of websites, domains and IP addresses, it is just forbidden to have a domain with a “.org” tag at the end of it and the site is not about an organization but about a political candidate.

Yes, you have read this correctly. Somebody in Bexar County had the unmitigated gall to actually have a “.org” domain and be running for political office.

For some it may not seem to be that important; especially now.

In hindsight, maybe a column should have been done about this topic but I’ll be honest, in order to keep an unbiased attribute about the San Antonio Informer and my own web blog when it comes to politics, it was just ‘easy ‘ to wait until now.

That doesn’t mean it is not an important subject matter now because also in hindsight, more education about the World Wide Web and domain names is needed; especially when it comes to our minority communities. As tech savvy as we all claim to be, many in the Latino and African American community are still left in the Flintstone era.

So why write about a candidate’s website now, you may ask?

Because it also sends a very disturbing message on a financial end as well and that is important information whether you are a tekkie or not.

The website in question is owned by former city councilwoman Sheila McNeil.

Before we even discuss why her web address is wrong, let me give you the quick primer on the importance of a proper website domain name.

Basically if you want to start a website of your own, you pick a domain name that is going to have one of the following domain registers: .com, .net, or .org.

Every now and then someone may get a .mobi, .info, .tv, if their website is going to have specialized audiences.

Now the .com and .net website domain names are mainly used for public websites. For example, the web address for the San Antonio Informer is www.sainformer.net. ESPN uses www.espn.com. The San Antonio Spurs use www.spurs.com. You get the picture I think. And every now and then a website may actually have two domain names; meaning that the owner of that website was savvy enough to actually make sure that his/her website was accessed either by a .com or .net entry.

In some cases however a website will have a .org domain registry. That is a special designation that is mainly used for civic and social organizations.

And just what would be some of those organizations? UNICEF (www.unicef.org), the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org), the United Way (www.unitedway.org), and Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org) are just some websites that come to mind.

But I have never seen a .org classification be used for political purposes; until now.

That’s sort of disturbing because the .org classification usually means that you are looking at an organization’s website that does social/civic work and usually takes contributions and donations that are deemed tax deductible.

Is Ms. McNeil’s campaign trying to send the message that any money donated to her campaign was a tax-deductible contribution?

As I stated earlier, there mere fact that her website has the .org designation could send the wrong message.

Somebody gave her the wrong advice on setting up a website and instead of fixing the problem early, they continued to use this website address for not one but TWO political campaigns.

Whether she understands the problem at hand or not, her website brings visitors in thinking they will get a tax deduction if they contribute simply because there is no language on the site saying otherwise.

How would I know that?

Quite simply, there is no disclaimer page on her website ANYWHERE.

Not in the four links below her photo and definitely not in the seven links at the bottom of her page. There’s not a single message that lets the visitor know that even though this is a .org site, IT IS not a not for profit organization.

Now some may think that this is overkill and that maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing but I don’t think so.

From an IT background and perspective, I think that Ms. McNeil’s webmaster has done a shoddy job at ensuring that no one can come back and ask these sorts of questions as to why a political candidate would even have this sort off domain registration knowing full well that it is a designation that is mainly reserved for non-profit organizations that are out in the community.

To put it very bluntly, with her domain registration as it is, I am looking for the Sheila McNeil Foundation and there is no such animal.

Now if I’m willing to go out on such a limb and make these assertions, what do you think the State Comptroller would want to be doing if they logged onto her website?

They would be wanting some serious answers.

So while the election may be over, maybe it is time that Ms. McNeil talk to her webmaster and rectify this issue before it really becomes a news item on the six o’clock news.

Right now it’s just a tekkie pointing out the fact that somebody doesn’t know how to properly maintain a simple website by incorrectly registering a domain name.

If this isn’t corrected in some fashion, it could be leading to her answering questions about where are finances going and where is this supposed foundation that has a .org designation in its website address.

And that my friends spells bad news for anyone seeking public office.

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