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Why hide the forum?
Posted 05 September 2004 - 01:08 PM
I hope that didn't come across as mean or defensive - I'm just on a roll this morning...
Posted 05 September 2004 - 01:32 PM
If they can't get it right from those clear set of guidelines then it ain't never going to happen. There is a clear path there to success and clear definition of a path ahead (which has been lacking IMO).
I am on the edge of joining, as I am sure are loads of others, I do not like not being a member, but at the same time it would be wrong of me to voice doubts in something while at the same time slipping them my cash and broadcasting the fact I am a member.
Or am I wrong about that?
Posted 05 September 2004 - 01:36 PM
Anyone can bitch about SEMPO, but if you're not a member, then it's not going to hold as much weight, imo.
Yes, they are supposed to represent the industry, but first and foremost, I think they are supposed to represent their members.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 01:39 PM
I'd like to see them get things straightened out, but I sincerely doubt I'll ever see a reason to join.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 01:41 PM
Posted 05 September 2004 - 05:25 PM
And there is exactly where you're either wrong or it all falls down Jill.
Non-profit organizations pay no taxes for a reason. The reason is that By Law the belong to every single US Taxpayer. Regardless of whether the taxpayer is a member of the organization or in this case even an SEO/SEM. As a taxpayer, I have every much as right to know everything SEMPO is doing as does the next person.
Whether that person is you, Barb, any other member of SEMPO or Joe B. Taxpyaer who doesn't even own a computer. We all have equal rights to know what SEMPO is up to and what they're all about. We're paying their tax bill after all.
1) Continue being a Non-Profit and open up everything to everybody.
2) Become a For Profit Corporation, pay your taxes and quit allowing anybody to take a tax deduction for donating money to SEMPO.
Sorry, but it's really that simple.
By the very nature of their Non-Profit status, every taxpayer in the US supports SEMPO not having to pay taxes. We pay the taxes to make up the difference for all of the non-profits. As long as they keep anything a secret little Members-Only Society, there are going to be problems. That's without even getting into their mission statement.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 05:57 PM
If you're right, then they certainly have some big changes to make. I wonder what sorts of things constitute "secrets" etc. Ian already stated the differences a bit. I don't think SEMPO has any intention of keeping the tax stuff secret or anything, but as I think Ian said, they can do their decision making behind closed doors, it seems to me.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 06:26 PM
I haven't seen anything that would indicate such a campaign is taking place (no doubt some members feel harrassed, but that isn't the same thing).
The default should be to disclose. But remember that the documents that must be disclosed are those related directly to the non-profit status of the corporation, in short, documents of interest to the IRS.
Although this is a wide arena, it's not universal. Anything that is not required to be turned into the IRS or that may be legitmately requested by the IRS is not covered, for example.
If it has something to do with the tax status of the organisation, then it must be made available. If it doesn't, then it doesn't. For example, SEMPO is NOT allowed to disclose information that is covered by a Privacy Act (like certain personal information of it's employees or members)
You can't use this rule to collect addresses for a spam database or to stalk someone, for example. The disclosure is to protect the public, not to allow employees or members to be harrassed.
Additionally, discussions that do not result in decisions do not need to be recorded and broadcasted.
Hopefully that's a bit clearer - if it's in a file cabinet, there is a good chance it needs to be disclosed, unless it's a private personnel file. If it's sent to the IRS or any other government agency, then if certainly should be.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 06:37 PM
Posted 05 September 2004 - 07:18 PM
I would never become a member since I'm not an SEO and what they do for the SEO Industry, or don't do for that matter, is of no interest to me. So everything I have to say means basically nothing to those who are in power or even members.
Here's my beef with SEMPO...
I have been told that the original SEMPO IRS filings and bylaws have been officially reqeusted more than once over the last couple of months, by more than one person. Not whatever the paperwork gets updated to, but what they were on that date. As far as I know there was no response other than that the documents would be made available after consultation with an attorney and after they were updated. That's not the Law, and it frankly feels like they were trying to hide something sinister. If you have different information that indicates the requests were honored by SEMPO as required, it would be good to hear.
Given the recent track record (for whatever reason, though I don't personally think most of this stuff was done purposely) why should one who can't see these secret forums believe that no job trading FOR PROFIT is going to exist? What about if another Director or Board Member or plain old member starts using their SEMPO connections to push their own For Profit business again like Barb did at least once?
Call me a cynic, but at this point you would have a very hard time convincing me, and evidently a lot of other people, that absolutely everything is going to be on the up-and-up. Not as long as stuff is hidden that has no need to be. Or things that are supposed to be public record are not provided when requested as required by law.
What's that old saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...
Make the Committee Discussion areas of the forum private. Absolutely. Or better yet a completely separate forum database. I agree that SEMPO committees should be to discuss internal policy privately.
Beyond that I have trouble seeing the need for a members-only discussion forum. And no need for a load of moderators as indicated unless the mods going to receive instruction on what cannot legally be there. One forum area for each Committee. Then someone from the committee moderates their area, since they are in theory going to be the ones answering questions specific to their committee anyway.
One inadvertant screw up on a Members Only forum and it jeopardizes the whole thing. I give it 3 months tops before someone solicits business on the Members Only SEMPO forums.
Seriously, I hope that SEMPO makes it and manages a comeback. I'm happy to see that people like Ian and Christine and Matt and Mike are heavily involved, because I'm 100% sure each can be trusted to do the right thing.
On the other hand, even though they might loose things like Google's sponsorship money, it's my view that SEMPO would have a lot better chance of succeeding at being an industry shaper if they simply declared themselves a For Profit corporation and got on with it already. The change would also give the organization a lot more flexibility, as I'm sure Ian has told the board.
The NFP designation has become more expensive, a bigger headache and more time consuming than it's worth.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 07:24 PM
To me, it's a question of whether those things that they did that weren't right were done on purpose, or because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the laws/rules.
Either way, ignorance isn't an excuse, but intentions mean a lot to me.
Posted 05 September 2004 - 07:26 PM
Posted 05 September 2004 - 07:29 PM
First, in answer to Scottie's question, the goals I support are the general desire to promote SEM, nothing more specific than that.
As he's right, but the point made by Jill he was commenting on was the amount of influence in decision making between member and non-members, and until a decision is made, there's nothing to know. At any one stage in any organisation there will be hundreds of possibilities and it would be impossible to publish absolutely every single suggestion, thought and comment made everything until anything at all has been decided on, so knowing about it, and influencing it are different beasts.
OWG, here in the UK charity and not-for-profit are very, very different things, however if anyone approaches me to stand outside the local supermarket collecting on behalf of SEMPO then I'll let you know. If you took this to all NP or membership run organisations then it would mean that all our political parties are charities too! (thinking about it - let's not go there )
I would say that joining any organisation doesn't mean you have to agree 100% with everything that happens at any time ever until you cancel your membership, but it does mean you have certain common thoughts, goals, whatever and you want to help achieve them - but getting there will take debate with many conflicting views.
The moment you're membership gets above 1 you're gonna have a disagreement at some stage. Mind you, I did come across someone who said that committees should always have an odd number of members, and 3 was too many!
Posted 05 September 2004 - 07:42 PM
If you've ever been to a SEMPO meeting, their stated goals are to raise awareness of SEM in order to get a larger share of the marketing budget from large advertisers. Their advertising is aimed at this, I believe.
When asked, Barb stated that the goal of SEMPO was to make more money for SEM's.
IF I were a member of SEMPO, I'd be asking what they plan to do to raise awareness outside of the US and also how their plans will benefit the small- to medium-size SEM companies.
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