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Things I've Learned Twitter Facebook Print E-mail
Written by Tom Welch   
Monday, 26 February 2007

It is wonderful how a community can come together to share information and to assist people.  I thought that I would take a moment and share with you some of the things that I have learned since this Web site was launched.

FamilySearch Indexing

In a forum thread discussing genealogy transcription, I recently learned that the Church has a program in which volunteers from around the world extract family history information from digital images of historical documents to create indexes that will assist others in finding their ancestors. You can read more about it and even sign up to volunteer by visiting I'll be talking more about this program in the near future.

We Do Listen

In a forum thread discussing ward maps, the idea of being able to show a map of all members of your ward or unit would be beneficial. In fact, someone even created a Web site showing how that could work.  Although that Web site was shut down for security and privacy issues, this prototype led to a discussion internally at the Church on how we could integrate that technology into the current local unit Web sites. The original author of the software graciously provided all of his source code to us to help us get a head start on the project.

Changes Take Time

We have been flooded with many great ideas in how we can improve the MLS and local unit Web sites (LUWS). We have had hundreds of posts to the forums reporting bugs and suggesting improvements to both products.  It takes a lot of time to review and categorize all of these issues. What I have learned is truly how complex some of the problems are that we face with these two products.  As I have talked with some of the team members about these features, I've come to realize that there are very few "simple" solutions. Something as seemingly easy as adding an extra phone number field can create a lot of work.  I'll try to share some of the challenges we face as we move through the design process of these products.

People Want to Help

I have been very surprised at the number of posts, private messages, and e-mails that I get from individuals from all around the countryand even the worldwho want to help in one way or another.  From offers to beta-test applications, program on various projects, design Web interfaces, document processes, and even design graphics, the offers continue to come in.  In a conference talk in April 2003, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

"I am constantly amazed at the vast amount of volunteer service which our people give. I am convinced that volunteer service is the Lord’s way of accomplishing His work."

One of the benefits of my job is that I get to see so many exciting projects both within the Church and by community members. It is truly inspiring to see so many people offer to give so much of their time to help in the Lord's work.  If you would like to help out with a project, check into this forum thread to see projects that are currently being developed and how you can get involved.

Let me know what you think. Post your comments here.


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