YMYW.org and returnandreport.org pushback

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Brianinidaho-p40
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YMYW.org and returnandreport.org pushback

Postby Brianinidaho-p40 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:21 am

This is my first post here. A few weeks ago our Bishopric asked me to get the ward using all the tools we can to do our callings better and called me to lead the charge as "ward information specialists." The direction was to run the ward website and help the other organizations. Our youth were using ymyw.org and our RS has began using returnandreport.

They asked me to give a 5th Sunday presentation training our ward members on how to use the LUWS and the above tools. Excited, I invited the leadership of the stake because it would be good info to know. The Stake YM President (a long time friend) came to learn about ymyw.org. Several HC and a member of the S.P. came also.

The presentation went very well. The S.P. member said while impressed he wanted to clarify usage of non LDS websites, specifically ymyw.org, with our area leadership. I searched this forum and found nothing specific either way, rather it seemed that use of tools-online or not- seemed to be left up to the local leadership.

I had a short series of email interactions and just received this:

Thank you very much for all of the information. We asked Elder (our area authority) about this issue (using returnandreport) and he indicated that the official policy of the church is still as outlined in the handbook. Consequently, until the church has officially entered this arena (having returnandreport functionality be part of MLS) we have been counseled not to adopt or utilize these applications. When the change is implemented we will, of course, move to utilize these more fully.

[color=black]Now obviously we will do what is asked (I am not asking for comments on obedience, following leadership, etc.).. I told him we will do this regardless but I dont know that this is the policy. The Dec 2004 letter does not say that. My fear is that no one really has looked at the handbook and just remembers vaguely something about "do not use non-lds websites" and has totally remembered the intent wrong. Again, I told him our use is ending if it is just their recommendation.[/color]

[color=#000000]My question is "has anything recently changed" with the church's stance in using tools-online or not- to help report home teaching and visiting teaching or tracking duty to God. Again, please dont talk about "following the brethern" cause we are. My question deals around the basis of this good leader's email... essentailly saying the church policy is to not use any on line tools... is that really the policy?[/color]

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Postby russellhltn » Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:41 am

You may want to look at this thread. Nothing has changed since that time.

I think the bottom line is if your stake presidency and area presidency are not comfortable with those sites, there's no policy or official writing that would change their position.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

Brianinidaho-p40
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Postby Brianinidaho-p40 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:21 am

Yes I looked at the thread and it is more than a few months old.

My stake presidency said they have no opinion and the area rep said it was church handbook policy not to use anything.

My point is not obedience. I told them we would do what they want if it is only as simply as they dont feel it is right. So lets avoid this getting bogged down with obedience.

The question remains (unanswered)- is the claim that the handbook bans using these 2 websites or those like them- is that claim what the handbook says? Or is the handbook as clear as mud still?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:26 am

Brianinidaho wrote:Yes I looked at the thread and it is more than a few months old.

My stake presidency said they have no opinion and the area rep said it was church handbook policy not to use anything.

My point is not obedience. I told them we would do what they want if it is only as simply as they dont feel it is right. So lets avoid this getting bogged down with obedience.

The question remains (unanswered)- is the claim that the handbook bans using these 2 websites or those like them- is that claim what the handbook says? Or is the handbook as clear as mud still?


I wouldn't say that the handbook is "as clear as mud", but it is true that people interpret it differently. I can certainly understand how some people read the words in the handbook and conclude that external websites such as those two you mentioned are not permitted, and I can also easily understand how others conclude that they are just fine.

So it really does come down to the specific direction you receive from your local leaders. If a stake president takes no position on the matter, a bishop makes a decision. If the area leadership takes no specific position on the matter, the stake president makes the decision. And so on. If someone in the direct line of authority gives you specific counsel, then in your situation, that clears up any ambiguity in the written policy.

Brianinidaho-p40
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Postby Brianinidaho-p40 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:46 am

Any idea when the roll out of returnandreport like features with MLS will occur? It looks like that project is underway.. just wondering when it will hit the streets?

Thanks for the viewpoints- to be clear- I told them we would easily do what they want even if they just had a feeling we should. So from what you are saying the handbook is unclear and the only clarity comes from whomever up the chain of comand says "up or down." I can live with that-the problem is that it needs to be described as that... our guy says it is in the handbook- it would be a little better, it seems, if they just said they dont want it. Fine either way in obeying, one seems a little more accurate. Am I right on this?

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Postby RossEvans » Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:01 am

Brianinidaho wrote:Any idea when the roll out of returnandreport like features with MLS will occur? It looks like that project is underway.. just wondering when it will hit the streets?


AFAIK there is no project to introduce such features in MLS. There is a project to build a web-based HT/VT reporting tool for leaders, which you can read about on the Wiki. Notably, that project by direction does not include online reporting by home and visiting teachers, as Return and Report does. But it would allow quorum and RS leaders and secretaries to work over the web rather than in the clerk's office. Using that tool would actually remove all HT/VT data, including assignments, from MLS.

I would not speculate on the timing or status. It is interesting that some BYU students have been enlisted to help with the development.

If the project is completed and rolled out to units, I believe the plan is still to make its adoption optional stake-by-stake. IMHO there are pros and cons to that decision.

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Postby craiger » Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:16 am

Brianinidaho wrote:So from what you are saying the handbook is unclear and the only clarity comes from whomever up the chain of comand says "up or down." I can live with that-the problem is that it needs to be described as that... our guy says it is in the handbook- it would be a little better, it seems, if they just said they dont want it. Fine either way in obeying, one seems a little more accurate. Am I right on this?


Just to throw in my two cents about the core question... I think it is important to remember that the handbook, by nature and purpose, is pretty high-level. To me, that means something different than "vague." The HB is a policy-level guidebook meant to be interpreted by trained leadership to fit different situations. I think that's one reason why it isn't widely distributed---there isn't anything secret in there, but the content is meant to be interpreted and applied by those who have been trained and are in a position to do so. Determining what is meant by what is written in the handbook is the role of the area authority, stk pres, bishop, or other presiding authority. So if one of them says that is what's in the handbook, then they are correct.

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Postby TechnoBabel-p40 » Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:40 am

It has been stated here several times that the issue that the handbook is trying to address is uploading data from Church systems to 3rd-party websites. Neither ymyw.org or returnandreport.org encourage or require anyone to do this.

Also, it was recently brought to light that the functionality of returnandreport.org is not important to the Church and is not on the Church's radar. I would be surprised if we saw anything similar to returnandreport in LUWS in 10 years. That is fine if the church doesn't think it is a priority, but I hope that the church would be willing to put forth some effort to work with the webmasters of returnandreport.org and ymyw.org to find a way to clarify that it is legal to use them. Even if they don't think it is a priority right now, I'm sure they can see the enormous benefit that both websites provide to Church groups worldwide.

TB

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:06 am

TechnoBabel wrote:It has been stated here several times that the issue that the handbook is trying to address is uploading data from Church systems to 3rd-party websites. Neither ymyw.org or returnandreport.org encourage or require anyone to do this.


The handbook says what it says, and doesn't mention the motivations. So although there have been plenty of opinions expressed here and other places about what those motivations might have been, in the end such opinions are simply speculation. Priesthood leaders may choose to consider such points in their decisions regarding policy, but ultimately they need to depend on the actual written word and inspiration for those for whom they are responsible.

TechnoBabel wrote:Also, it was recently brought to light that the functionality of returnandreport.org is not important to the Church and is not on the Church's radar. I would be surprised if we saw anything similar to returnandreport in LUWS in 10 years.


Some of the functionality of returnandreport.org is indeed important to the Church; other parts are not. If the Church had precisely the same priorities and requirements as RaR, then there would be no need for a separate project. Clearly the Church has different requirements. None of us knows what will come of the online HT/VT project that is underway; it doesn't appear that integration with LUWS is a high priority.

TechnoBabel wrote:I hope that the church would be willing to put forth some effort to work with the webmasters of returnandreport.org and ymyw.org to find a way to clarify that it is legal to use them. Even if they don't think it is a priority right now, I'm sure they can see the enormous benefit that both websites provide to Church groups worldwide.


It's pretty clear that it is not the position of the Church that "it is legal to use them," so it's not a simple matter of clarification. But at this point it is also not the position of the Church that it is illegal to use them. From the Church level we have not been given specific direction on this matter.

I have no way of knowing precisely what the Church's opinion is, but I imagine that although they can see the benefits, they are also very wary of the risks.

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Postby RossEvans » Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:09 am

TechnoBabel wrote:It has been stated here several times that the issue that the handbook is trying to address is uploading data from Church systems to 3rd-party websites. Neither ymyw.org or returnandreport.org encourage or require anyone to do this.


I think that conflates two separate issues. The policy clearly prohibits some things that do not involve such uploads. My ward could not sponsor its own public web site or blog, for example, even if the content was not downloaded from Church systems.

The way I and many others interpret the First Presidency policy on web sites is that it essentially addressed a public web presence by units, which the sites in question are not. Also, I doubt that the developer of RaR would have been honored, as he was, by the Church IT department for his site if it violated Church policy. So I think RaR as now configured does comply with policy. (But then, I am not Brianinidaho's stake president, so that is the interpetation that governs in his case.)


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