Building detail on Capitol Hill map it

Photo by John Bahr

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Legislation, Policies and Standards

City of Seattle Policy on Non-Government Information and Links

The City of Seattle does not provide general Web site hosting for the public, but does allow other governments and non-profit organizations that work with the City to put their information on our server. We consider this a simple way to be a good neighbor and to assist our non-profit organizations. These outside groups are responsible for their own content, but must follow the City's guidelines (see the City of Seattle Web Presentation and Accessibility Standards). We prefer these groups to work directly with appropriate City departments so their information can be functionally integrated. However, many provide their information directly to the central web team and links are provided on our portal pages.

Links Policy

Many cities do not include links to other web sites, or limit them to a small group in a separate links section. Seattle.gov is a portal for information about Seattle.  We link to a large number of sites from outside City government,  and organize the links functionally with government information. Why? Citizens don't always know or care who provides a service or where to get particular information. Many City services are provided through contracts with non-profit organizations, and the City works closely with neighborhood and community groups on a variety of issues.

While the original focus of the City's web site was to provide information to local citizens and businesses, it was also clear that many of the site's users were potential visitors and people exploring business opportunities in Seattle.  Among the earliest users of the internet were City partners such as the Trade Development Alliance, that have an international constituency.  We frequently received tourism and trade related questions.  Since these economic development functions are important to the City, we concluded that the site should also be a broadly based portal of information, but rather than duplicate information provided by others, we would integrate that information into the site.

The Citywide Web Manager makes decisions on what links to include on our web site, using the following guidelines:

  • Other governments and educational institutions in the state of Washington, including individual school web sites.
  • Non-profit or public organizations that have some relationship to the City, usually contractual. (Seattle provides many of its services, particularly in the Human Services area, through non-profit organizations).
  • Generally recognized community councils and organizations. If there is a question about the organization, the Department of Neighborhoods is consulted.
  • Arts, cultural, sports, major festivals and similar organizations of general interest to Seattle citizens. With the exception of sports teams, such links are generally to non-profit organizations. Where individual organizations do not have web pages, we may link to a site that has general information about, for example, Northwest Opera, or bicycling events.
  • General employment information in the Seattle area.
  • Tourist information, principally from the Seattle King County Convention and Visitors Bureau; web sites of major tourist attractions, such as harbor tours and the Pike Place Market.

Seattle.gov does not generally link to:

  • Candidate sites or sites advocating a position on City or other ballot issues. We have discussed this possibility with the City's Office of Ethics and Elections, and may make such links in the future, probably through the Voters Guide.
  • Corporate commercial sites. However, non-profit organizations with sites on the City's server may include links to member or sponsor organizations. Seattle.gov will include links to business sites if they are presented as part of a neighborhood economic development section for a target area for City programs.
  • Individual personal home pages.
  • National sites, although departments may include links to public interest associations and similar organizations.

Rona Zevin, Former Director, Electronic Communications
Revised August 2, 2000
Updated September 19, 2006,
Bruce Blood, Web Manager, Seattle.gov
Reviewed without modification May 21, 2008,
City Internet Board

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