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Gold Stars of Excellence by Award Sites!

Listing and Related Rules
Revised January 2006

  1. Award program owners who are seeking an initial rating must first review the Prerequisites Page to determine if your program qualifies for a rating review . . . before proceeding with reading the following rules and applying.  (Owners of currently listed award programs need to review the rules occasionally to make sure new rules have not been implemented that could impact compliance.)

  2. Owners of sites interested in a listing in other sections like USA Patriotism, Key Resources and Novels by New Authors should read the Removal Rules to make sure their sites meet general listing rules.

  3. You can use the AS! Forum for Peer Assistance concerning all aspects of your program and AS! (opens in new window)

  4. You can print the following key information for future reference, but you need to review this page online for each upgrade request to make sure no additions have been made that could impact your program's review since the last one.  (It is also where you access the initial and upgrade rating requests submittal forms.)

  5. Unauthorized use of the copyright rating level banners are prohibited!

Listing Rules
  1. Copyright / Intellectual Property Policy
    Award Sites! respects the intellectual property of others, and we ask our listed members to do the same, which includes use permission being stated with any associated copyright / intellectual property by another.  (See removal rule associated with unauthorized use and plagiarism further down this page.)

  2. Linking to the award's information or criteria page is required . . . It cannot be to the site's main page unless it is a stand alone award program.

  3. Rating Level Banner Required [RLB] Placement (based on 800 x 600 resolution) -- Award Sites! takes the proper display of its respective rating level banners seriously as considerable effort goes into reviewing programs for a rating.  (Size reduction is allowed if approved by Award Sites!, but not more than 25%)

  4. Member Badge Optional Display [MB] (based on 800 x 600 resolution)
    Owners of 3.5 to 5.0+ rated award programs can display at the original size only instead of the RLB and based upon the same requirements below for the RLB . . . The RLB must be displayed when the MB image size is a problem.  (Displaying the RLB on an index page and MB on a membership page is acceptable.)

    • APs with ratings from multiple services
      Index/Entry, Criteria, or Membership/Affiliations/Indices Page -- No Scroll
      on either or all of these pages that do not require a scroll.  And it is advised to list it before other rating service images to properly denote the importance of being rated by the leading and oldest rating service.  (Prominent placement of link to Membership/Associations/Indices page required with AP's navigation system.)


    Index/Entry, Criteria, or Membership/Affiliations/Indices Page Scroll Required - Must be associated with the first link that takes applicants / visitors to other pages of the award program.  And it is advised to have it before other rating service images.

    • APs rated just by Award Sites!
      Placement should be at the top of the page or no more than two scrolls unless navigation links are at the bottom of a page and associated with the rating level banner.

  5. Proper use of navigational tools and links on the award's pages should allow visitors to easily access the rest of a site offering more than awards.

  6. Award's image should not utilize another's copyright design without permission (see "Removal" Rule below).

  7. An award program cannot change the status of its winners without precedent in the criteria or rules of engagement . . . Meaning that past applicants submitted and judged by the criteria in place at the time of application are not subject to revision, at a later date, to new conditions of criteria and requirements. Their status should hold based on what they received originally. No change should be allowed due to any future alterations in an award program.  (Suspension with link deactivated on listing will occur if compliance is not met within a specified time . . . Then removal would occur if still in non-compliance on the 14th day after the suspension deadline.)

  8. Winners List Requirements (Once Rated)
    Lists must remain active relative to how often an award is given and not older than 60 days from the current date (See Removal).  If necessary, a statement / reference (e.g. "No Winner Selected") needs to be posted in lieu of a winner(s) for a given period to remain in compliance of an active winners list within 60 days of the current date.  Please review below according to the selection of your program's winners...

    • Weekly and Monthly issued awards... Winners must be listed under the year and month with "No Winner Selected" or similar notice of non-selection, as warranted.

    • Quarterly, bi-annually, and annually issued awards... Winners must be listed under year and month(s) of issuance and will be considered inactive if a winner or appropriate message is not posted within 60 days of the stated issuance date.

    • Note to owners of award programs rated before 2006 that offer many awards...
      If you have a 5.0 rated program or have no plans to request an upgrade . . . you still might want to consider using
      the Winners Selection Record (WSR) for your program . . . if you are listing or plan to list "No Winners" or "None" on respective award's winners list.

  9. Listing rejected sites . . . is not allowed as it demeans the respective sites and their representatives.

  10. Any award program incorporating features that require a certain minimum version of Internet Explorer and/or Netscape above 5.0 must state prominently what is required or will not be upgraded beyond its current level.

  11. An award program cannot disqualify a site with content about legal activities like hunting, boxing, football, and etc. for violence purposes unless otherwise stated "specifically" in the criteria.

  12. NOTIFY . . . Award Sites! about any changes to your program that need to be reflected on its listing including . . . when an award's page and/or image URL change, email address change, temporarily suspending award (see below), or when an award is discontinued.

Upgrade / Downgrade Rules

  1. 120 Day Waiting Period . . . after date of any initial, upgrade, or unchanged rating notification  (see downgrading statement below)

  2. Must be displaying the most recent rating level banner design as listed on Award Sites!
  3. Winners List
    Starting in January 2006, the following requirements are mandatory to be eligible for upgrade review.

    • Winners must be listed under the year and month with "No Winner Selected" or similar reference of non-selection for each award and level offered, as warranted.  (This requirement doesn't apply to previous years.)

    • The most recent listing of a winner(s)" or "no winner" must occur within 60 days of the current date of an upgrade rating request.

    • Winners Selection Record (WSR) alternative option to listing "No Winners" or "None" is available for award programs offering many awards and/or multi-levels.

  4. Upgrade rating review period can take 3 to 6 weeks after submittal.
  5. Downgrading . . . While chances are remote, downgrading of an award program can occur if it does not keep up with the standards of the respective rating level criteria -- based on the current date . . . not when its level was achieved.  This will not be a policing action, but will be reaction to any upgrade request or correspondence from a third party.  The matter will then be presented to the AS! Rating Panel to determine its validity with any subsequent notification from AS! to the AP owner, which will include an appropriate length of time (at least two weeks) to bring the AP into compliance so it can remain at its current level before being downgraded to another level.
  6. Images From Geocities and other free service providers . . . will not display on AWARD SITES! (Alternative server is required before upgrade rating request can be submitted.  Otherwise, award program will be given two weeks to do so or be downgraded to 2.5)
Temporary Suspending Program Rules
  1. Temporary suspension of your award program for more than three weeks and up to three months will not affect your programs listing and rating if an email is sent informing Award Sites! so an appropriate notice can be placed on your listing without affecting your rating.  (Rating level banner must . . . remain on display with link at AS!)

  2. Failure to notify AS! of temporarily suspending your program will lead to an email concerning the listing's removal until it becomes active with no guarantee of being reinstated at the same rating level.  (Any longer period will require temporary removal with the possibility of being reinstated at the same level.)  This process allows each situation to be handled on an individual basis.  

  3. Winners list should reflect the temporary inactive status during months involved.

Removal Rules . . .
(Certain cases will be reviewed individually to determine an actual
length of removal time including possible permanent ban.)

  1. Copyright infringement and/or plagiarism . . . Any unauthorized use of proprietary / intellectual property within the site, including outside of the award program, and regardless of purpose / intent.  AS! may, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, suspend and/or terminate the listing of any member who has repeat infringes, including a permanent ban.  (Authorized use permission of respective copyright item must be listed onsite.)

  2. Access or update problem, including with winners list . . . is not corrected within a short period after the site has been advised.

  3. Change in URL . . . of award page or image happens without notifying Award Sites! and failure to respond after being notified by AS!

  4. Failure to properly display . . . rating level banner and linking to Award Sites! will result in an AP owner being notified by email that compliance must be met in one week (7 days) unless otherwise stated in the official notice by Award Sites!

  5. Practicing, sponsoring, supporting, and/or encouraging ILLEGAL activity on your site, including links to sites of this nature, will result in immediate removal.

  6. Spamming . . . others concerning an award's program.  (Action taken only upon receiving complaint and inadequate response from offender.)

  7. Inappropriate actions . . . directed to submitters, visitors, or other award owners (i.e. insulting/vulgar language, hate, or any other distasteful occurrences) is confirmed.

  8. Invalid Email Address . . . that causes an inability to contact

  9. Any threat of negative action if desired upgrade is not received will result in program's removal from Award Sites! without further consideration.

  10. Implementing password requirement to visit program.

  11. Requesting removal . . . due to a dissatisfied rating will be at least one year.

(Listed programs use the Change Form for new URLs, updates, and other changes.)

Removed award programs must contact Award Sites! with rating level
when listed, date of listing or last upgrade, and reason for being reinstated.

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