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Award And Ethics Memberships - Why Bother?
By Luuk Francken -- September 18, 2002
Surely you can set up a home site and an award program without having to bother with all those so-called rating organizations . . . like Award Sites!, APEX, CEM/CEMA, etc.

Of course you can, that’s the beauty of the internet. You’re as free as a bird and can do what you like -- can’t you?

Well, yes and no -- especially when we're talking about an award program.

Luuk Francken

It’s easy enough to set up a good program, right? You must read a lot, visit many sites, make nice graphics (not too large or too “heavy” ) and in the end, publish it and promote it. Simple, isn’t it?

Well, yes, but after a while it becomes obvious that the program lacks something -- of course -- a rating. Which one do we choose? The best one is of course Award Sites! and that’s usually where you will start. I’m not going to tell you how to become rated by Award Sites! -- read the Criteria, that's what it's there for. Be sure to read it carefully and make sure that your program and the rest of the site conforms to the most difficult rating there is. Have a look at as many sites that have high ratings (like 4.5 or 5.0) that you can find. It shows you very clearly what is required. Then apply for the rating -- simple as that.

By now, you will have come across either the words APEX, CEM/CEMA, AECG etc. or you may have seen the badges from these associations. You may even have noticed that there are very few of these around the sites that you have seen. But you may have also noticed that the higher rated sites are usually member of one or more of these institutions. Why? And an even better question -- why should you also join any or all of these organizations?

These organizations have nothing to do with ratings, but rather focus on ethics. Ethics, my friends, is what it is all about.

Let’s talk about APEX. Where CEM/CEMA concentrates solely on the Awards Program Community, APEX sees it’s mission more as a global one:

"Our mission on the Internet is to increase the credibility and professionalism of all website owners, designers and users to set ethical standards, encourage professional practices, and promote fellowship amongst internet users."

"APEX exists to promote the ethical exchange of all ideas, goods or services where the internet is used for the exchange. We do this with education and resources where possible and arbitration where necessary." - APEX Mission Statement.

Of course there’s more, but this sums it up nicely. And even though it’s not easy to join, given the stringent requirements, it is well worth your while. The APEX badge will give credibility to your site and Award Program. And becoming a member, you pledge yourself to uphold an ethical way of promoting the fellowship amongst us all.

It’s high time that all of the site owners join together, to make sure that this huge company of Internetters at least adhere to these ethics rules to try and make this world a better one to live in. We’ve had so many problems and yes, there ARE so many problems in the world. Let’s try and make at least the internet a safe and ethical one.

Yes, do join the CEM/CEMA too, if you have an Award Program. That also is essential. In the Awards environment, there are a lot of unethical things going on. But to make sure that your award is not part of that, join up there too. With the seals of APEX and CEM/CEMA displayed on your award program, you make applicants feel safe. The membership of AECG, the German Ethics association for an ethical Award Program is another group you may wish to join if you’re an Award Giver.

But remember, APEX gives it’s seal, it’s membership not only to AP’s but to all site owners that pledge themselves to follow the rules as mentioned above. Surely a good initiative!

So, we should all join, don’t you think?

Copyright 2002
All Rights Reserved
Luuk Francken

About the Author
Luuk Francken is a retired chemical engineer, who is the owner of Luuk's Travel Site and has been evaluating websites for over four years.  Being fluent in his native Dutch and in English gives Luuk a decided advantage which comes in useful for website evaluation.  Moreover, he's worked in the Middle East, Far East, Africa, and other European countries . . . which give Luuk first hand experience as it relates to the content at his website.

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