Updates To Our Website…
I hope you are all doing well during these times. Your Internet Committee has taken this time to focus on some of the many things we have planned for our website. This communication is being made in an attempt to keep everyone updated on some of the items we have being working to make better.
As many of you well know, this website started back in the days when the internet was a safer place, without the effects of modern day malicious entities. Back before spam or malware or ransomware was a concern.
At some point during this site’s lifespan, it was decided to create an online electronic directory for members to be able to provide a point of contact so that others might be able to reach out to them. This gave birth to what became known in Alabama as the “e-M@sons” section of our webpage. This was originally created as a single webpage with the provided (and verified) information being hand coded into a static HTML webpage. As technology advanced and more volunteers came on-board with the Internet Committee, this process became database driven, and eventually became an automated process where brethren could submit their information (or change requests) and the Internet Committee could then review the entries and submit the changes with the click of an approve button. But as time went on, we as a committee began discussing the serious concerns of publicly posting what is now considered Personally Identifiable Information.
With the recent advancements and feature releases that have been provided by the team at GrandView Systems, we now have a seamless way to migrate this entire function cohesively into our “Grand Lodge Database” that is used by our Grand Secretary and our member Secretaries.
The GrandView database now offers the ability for a member of our Grand Jurisdiction to log into GrandView and search for basic member information (Name, Lodge Affiliation, Phone, Email). There is also a feature to allow a Brother to opt-out of allowing anyone from being able to search against his personal information. But as a reminder, this is ONLY available to authorized users in GrandView (i.e. Masons within Alabama and the Office Staff of the Grand Secretary)
Officers & Committees Pages
Keeping with this same process of removing Personally Identifiable Information where we can, we have updated our Officers Page and our Committees Pages so they no longer list more than a person’s Name and Lodge Affiliation. If we have an email address on file for them, then there is now a link provided that will let you submit a form which in turn emails that intended contact for you. This eliminates us providing a personal email address while still allowing you the ability to reach those important contacts when you might now know the right person or might not have their email address.
Also, over time and based on the requests of the Brethren, we began sending out nightly automate emails to our registered e-M@sons. This feature is now a separately powered process, and there is a form embedded directly beneath our events calendar that allows users to subscribe to our various automated emails. If a user that is already registered for automated emails submits this form, it will tell them the email address is already registered and will send them a direct email with a link to edit their subscription options. However, if a user is already registered, then every automated email they receive includes a link at the bottom that will let them edit their settings.
For iPhone users, we have published a method to allow you to subscribe to a shared calendar. This allows you to select various subscription options (like a Masonic Group, Masonic District, or Appendant Body) and it will add a calendar directly to your device that gets automatically updated with new event data.
We also built a secure online store for our Lodge Secretaries. This is only available to Lodge Secretaries, and it simply provides an electronic means for them to order items for your Lodge. If a Lodge Secretary has any issues with this section, please feel free to contact the Internet Committee directly and we would be MORE than happy to assist you.
When we updated the website to its current platform, we added several Blogs. For example, many of you have seen the various COVID-19 related announcements from our Grand Master Mike Taylor. These are channeled through the Grand Master’s Blog. All our website posts and blog entries are automatically posted to our Grand Lodge Facebook Page and Grand Lodge Twitter Accounts.
We have also been contacted by a Brother who is interested in providing various Masonic related quizzes that will be tailored for our Jurisdiction. We plan to begin working with him soon to test the possibility of adding a section to our website for this purpose.
In closing, I hope this message will assist you with learning about some of the many features our website has for each of you.
Committee on Internet and Information Systems
Grand Lodge F & A M of Alabama