Archive for Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New high school websites aren’t supported by schools

September 9, 2015

A company is buying up domain names related to local high schools, but some school districts want to make it clear that the sites are not sanctioned by the schools.

The company, DigitalTown, Inc., has created websites related to both Basehor-Linwood and Bonner Springs high schools, along with many other schools in the state, going so far as to use each school’s mascot logo. Some school districts are concerned that patrons will confuse the sites with the official sites of the district.

DigitalTown says its aim is to create online communities for high schools.

“We are building the leading direct to consumer online media network for high school sports,” the company’s website states. “DigitalTown Software Group is pleased to offer its unmatched portfolio of more than 20,000 school-related domains for use by athletic directors, schools, teams and communities.”

The Chieftain received a press release announcing the launch of bonnerspringsbraves.com on Aug. 28. The press release says the site will feature “the latest news and information for Braves fans, including news, scores, schedules, community directory, photos, videos, livestreams, as well as archival content such as yearbook images.”

Registered members get a “free” bonnerspringsbraves.com email address, as well as a BraveBucks account that allows members to send and receive funds commission-free. But the site shows that it charges for email addresses that provide more services than simple email forwarding, from $4.99 per month to $29.99 per month.

The site also is looking for writers, photographers, videographers and advertising salespeople.

“From our ongoing communication with members of the community, we know that there is tremendous interest in the idea of a community site for Braves fans,” Jack Londgren, community manager for the Bonner website, states in the release. “The bonnerspringsbraves.com site offers exciting ways for community members to stay informed and interact. Last but not least, it is an ideal tool for fundraising, particularly for smaller teams and clubs that do not have the benefit of dedicated booster clubs.“

But it there doesn’t seem to be much indication that the company was in contact with the community members, and they didn’t contact the district.

“This company is not affiliated with the USD 204 in any official capacity,” Superintendent Dan Brungardt told The Chieftain. “The district has notified the company (asking that) they place clearly marked disclaimers on all of their advertisements and promotional materials noting that they are not affiliated nor supported by USD 204 in any way.

“Further, the district requested that they do not display USD 204's mascot on their website or any promotional materials because the district holds a service mark on the mascot.”

As of Tuesday, the website was still using the Brave logo.

Brungardt noted that most of the information the website provides already can be found on the district’s website.

“They are basically taking what is free and trying to charge people for it,” he said.

Jeffrey Shearon, superintendent of Burrton USD 369, a small community just east of Hutchinson, discovered the firm created a website for his district and sent out a letter to all superintendents in the state.

“In chatting with a representative from this company who said he was in Minnesota, he indicated that they are affiliated with the NIAAA,” Shearon wrote. “However, in checking with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, we are told that this website company has purchased thousands of .com names and are NOT affiliated with them in any way.”

David Howard, superintendent of Basehor-Linwood USD 458, isn’t as concerned.

“I conducted a Google search for Basehor-Linwood, and their site (for Basehor-Linwood High School) did not come up on the first five pages,” he said.

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