A medieval title

Webmaster, a medieval title not used since the early days

Jon Volks
Written By | @webproninja

Currently I am in the process of re-prioritizing the type of content that this website is going to feature. Previously it was all about web programming, however my professional job has shifted from the technical side of things to more of global website construction. Responsibilities include how the website runs, how it’s maintained, and what kind of design and content is used to achieve it’s goal. In the process of this re-prioritizing, I was searching for keywords to help explain this new effort. I kept coming across the term webmaster.

Did he just say webmaster?

A webmaster (from web and master), also called a web architect, web developer, site author, website administrator, or website coordinator is a person responsible for maintaining one or many websites. The duties of the webmaster may include: ensuring that the web servers, hardware and software are operating correctly, designing the website, generating and revising web pages, A/B testing, replying to user comments, and examining traffic through the site. – Wikipedia

Geocities Logo used by WebmastersThis definition describes the responsibility of many of us in the website industry. However the web community looks down on this title. It’s considered an archaic word from the early days of the internet when anybody could sign up for a free Geocities account and build a website about whatever interest them (which I did of course).

An outdated occupation, just like haberdasher, milliner or blacksmith. In medieval times, every website had a Webmaster who used his mystical computing powers to keep all the flashing text, unreadable links and “under construction” signs safely in place. – Urban Dictionary

As you can see from this definition, it’s considered a joke. Urban dictionary had quite a few more definitions that were not as pleasant. But joking aside, the term Webmaster is used on many lists of keywords to avoid on a resume (see David Walsh’s article, 9 signs you shouldn’t hire THAT web guy).

But… But…

The reality of the situation is unfortunate. It’s a fitting word to describe for what we do. At one point while I was re-prioritizing the content on this site, I was going to be defiant and use it but chickened out thinking the web community wouldn’t respect all the other advise this site has to offer. Although I may not be using the term professionally, I will always think of myself as a webmaster.

What do you think? Do you like the term Webmaster? Do you hate it? Leave you thoughts in the comments below.

About The Author

Jonathan Volks is currently a Web Programmer at Skidmore College in Upstate New York. He enjoys everything about the Internet; from Search Engine Optimization to Web Programming. His hobbies include landscape photography and hiking the Adirondacks.

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