Although I wrote this back in 2005, it's still applicable today!
If you've ever logged in somewhere, uploaded a photo or two, typed in some text, added a link or created a personal web page to share with family and friends, you can officially call yourself a "Webmaster."
After studying several dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a variety of both offline and online resources, I’ve learned that no two definitions are exactly alike. They all, however, suggest that if you've ever created a web page and have a link you can send to others so they can view what you’ve done then you are officially a "Webmaster."
Using dictionary.com, a resource which displays several definitions for a single word or term collected from a variety of dictionaries including Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, The American Heritage® Dictionary, among others, let’s break it down:
Web Page: A document on the World Wide Web, consisting of an HTML file and any related files for scripts and graphics, and often hyperlinked to other documents on the Web.
Web Site: A connected group of pages on the World Wide Web regarded as a single entity, usually maintained by one person or organization and devoted to a single topic or several closely related topics.
Webmaster: The alias or role of the person(s) responsible for the development and maintenance of one or more web servers and/or some or all of the web pages at a web site. The term does not imply any particular level of skill or mastery.
Pay particular attention to the last line: The term does not imply any particular level of skill or mastery.
What does this mean? You can add "Webmaster" to your résumé if you've ever created a template style web site or a "blog" with software such as Microsoft's FrontPage or with WordPress, or you've created a personal web page at websites like Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, Flickr, etc. It's a web page, viewable on the Internet and you created it. This suggests that Facebook alone has more than 3 million “Webmasters!”
My point? I think it's pretty clear. Sure, I can sell my home all by myself but that doesn’t mean I’m a Realtor. Nor can I call myself a mechanic just because I changed the oil in my Bronco. It might be wise to do a little research before hiring your next "Webmaster."
Unfortunately, the term doesn't require a set of credentials in order to use it on a business card. It doesn't suggest certain qualifications which are paramount when offering guidance to clients regarding Internet-related matters. It doesn't indicate a level of expertise necessary to develop a professional, successful, and search engine friendly Internet marketing tool. It’s been watered down, compromised and abused and no longer denotes any type of authority where Internet related matters are concerned.
Yes, there are plenty of qualified, knowledgeable individuals still using the word to describe their occupation. The challenge is in trying to determine who can do more than simply buy a domain name and create some web pages by pushing a button or two in a software program.
The truth is, any professional possessing the complete skill set necessary to provide you with competent and knowledgeable consultation along with the ability to properly develop an effective Internet marketing tool for your business will be overqualified to use the term "Webmaster."
William Wells is a social media coach and speaker. For information on this and other business social media topics visit him online and connect.