Cyber Missionary Testimonial Pages

So you have the BIG idea that the Church or community needs to develop. Discuss that idea here. Maybe you just want to make a suggestion on a new forum topic. Let us know.
Marcel Demas-p40
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Cyber Missionary Testimonial Pages

Postby Marcel Demas-p40 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:02 pm

Testimony pages from LDS Cyber Missionaries to overwhelm anti-Mormon sites in search engines.

As Elder Ballard pointed out in a recent talk, online seekers of information about the LDS Church are all too often led to sources that misinform. I think a lot can be done to help address that problem.

A Google search of the word "mormon" today took only .04 seconds to come up with 16,300,000 references. A quick glance at just the first 20 of those references showed that more than half were most likely misleading or critical of the LDS Church. Looking further would probably increase the numbers of misleading sources of information about "Mormons" on each page of references.

I think one of the main reasons why non-members are so often led to online anti-Mormon sources of information is because of the overwhelming number of such sources compared to reliable LDS sources.

I am certain that there are better ideas than mine and I am not technically skilled. But I think it is possible to automatically create webpages for thousands of people who go to one site and fill in a questionnaire that personalizes each newly created webpage. For example, in that fashion, volunteers ("LDS Cyber Missionaries" if you will) could quickly produce possibly tens of thousands of webpages perhaps similar to the following:

[url=mhtml:{09272DBB-5804-4926-A7B0-C39813AD4444}mid://00001205/!x-usc:http://www.mormon1.org/]http://www.mormon1.org[/url]

Participating member volunteers would go to a central cyber missionary site in their own language where they would qualify in a similar manner as gaining access to stake and ward websites. There they would fill in a questionnaire including a brief testimony of why they are a member of the Church, or their conversion story. The software would automatically create a personalized webpage for them, perhaps mormon2.mormon.org, mormon3.mormon.org etc. that would soon find its way into the search engines. Eventually the top Google search references might include a lot of those pages from ordinary 'grassroots' Latter-day Saints. I think those simple personalized pages would be appealing to sincere truth seekers.

Is this technically possible and if so is there someone reading this who would be interested enough to bring it to the attention of Church decision makers?

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:38 pm

Marcel Demas wrote:A Google search of the word "mormon" today took only .04 seconds to come up with 16,300,000 references. A quick glance at just the first 20 of those references showed that more than half were most likely misleading or critical of the LDS Church. [...]

I think one of the main reasons why non-members are so often led to online anti-mormon sources of information is because of the overwhelming number of such sources compared to reliable LDS sources.


Perhaps. But I think a bigger reason is we don't refer to ourselves as "mormon", we're "LDS". A Google for "LDS" turns up 18,700,000 hits. Not a single anti-Mormon site is on the first page.

What I think we need to do is to use the sites we have to reclaim the word "mormon". However, that tends to go against the style guide that our our short name is LDS.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

Marcel Demas-p40
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Postby Marcel Demas-p40 » Sat Sep 06, 2008 8:40 am

RussellHltn wrote:Perhaps. But I think a bigger reason is we don't refer to ourselves as "mormon", we're "LDS". A Google for "LDS" turns up 18,700,000 hits. Not a single anti-Mormon site is on the first page.

What I think we need to do is to use the sites we have to reclaim the word "mormon". However, that tends to go against the style guide that our our short name is LDS.


Thanks for responding.

So what are you suggesting we do then if there are in fact more "LDS" sites than anti-Mormon sites in the search engines but they are not coming up when someone googles "Mormon"?

Can you provide instructions for the owners of those LDS websites, many of whom may not be techies? (I personally don't understand what would be involved in actualizing your suggestion "use the sites we have to reclaim the word "mormon".) Why not in addition to the existing "LDS" sites, create thousands of new sites such as I suggested, each of them search engine optimized for the word "mormon"?

Is it technically possible for the Church to do what I suggested, or something similar?

In my experience many non-members who would immediately recognize the word "Mormon" say "huh?" when "LDS" is mentioned. Like it or not, we're branded "Mormons", and right now LDS critics are outsmarting or outnumbering us in the search engines. In my opinion we've got a problem SLC.

What can we actually do about getting LDS friendly sites only in the top 50 search engine results for that word that we should totally OWN on the internet - "Mormons"?
Every member online a Cyber Missionary!

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Postby mkmurray » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:04 am

Marcel Demas wrote:Why not in addition to the existing "LDS" sites, create thousands of new sites such as I suggested, each of them search engine optimized for the word "mormon"?

The only reason there are thousands of sites is because of individual efforts from members of the Church. The Church itself hasn't organized an effort to flood the internet with thousands of sites. Plus, I think that is bad practice for an organization or company to just keep creating thousands of sites so that they will be at the top of a Google search. Where would I go for the source of official information if there are thousands of sites hopefully presenting similar information?

It would be best if we were just the #1 top entry. That's all we need. So now I think it's a question of if the Church wants us to be known by "Mormon" in Google searchs for information about the Church. Perhaps placing the term "Book of Mormon" more prominently on LDS.org or having a site named BookOfMormon.org would get us to #1 for a "Mormon" google search.

As for the average member trying to create sites to help in the effort, I would say to ALWAYS link back to the Church's official site for more official information.

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Postby mkmurray » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:10 am

I should restate this:
mkmurray wrote:The only reason there are thousands of sites is because of individual efforts from members of the Church. The Church itself hasn't organized an effort to flood the internet with thousands of sites.

The real reason there are thousands of sites about "LDS" is because of individual members of the Church but also the Church being open to the new and media around the world and here in the US. Over time, that makes for quite a few appearances on the internet of the term "LDS".

Plus, I'm sure many people use "LDS" as an acronym for something else besides the Church.

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Postby jdlessley » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:44 am

I'm having a problem with the concept of controlling the internet or even controlling how the internet appears to someone who uses a search engine to get some information. This appears to be a waste of resources that could be better used to promote the Gospel rather than to contend with detractors and the disenfranchised.

The Church has established an official presence and official sites on the internet. They also have policies regarding using the internet in any official Church capacity. What is suggested here would imply that the myriad of sites that exist or would come into existence because of this effort would be under the official umbrella of the Church. This just cannot happen.

Let's focus on the possitive means of proclaiming the Gospel rather than falling into the muck and mire of Satan's design which detracts and distracts. I can relate to the feelings of frustration and the desire to jump into the battle against lies, deceit, and disinformation. But that is playing into the desires of Satan to get you down to his level.

Just because the uninformed about our official designation as Latter-day Saints call us Mormons we do not need to reclaim a title we do not want to own. The Mormon title is another topic that has nothing to do with technology and therefore I will not persue it any further.
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Postby jdlessley » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:42 am

Elder Ballard's address that I think prompted Marcel Demas's initial posting to this thread is taken a bit beyond what Elder Ballard had intended. The address was to a graduating class at BYU Hawaii. In it he identified the internet as a publishing tool that can help us in our efforts to proclaim the Gospel. He was talking about one-on-one efforts. How you can and should get involved to get the truth out there. Elder Ballard also recognized that his audience at BYU Hawaii is of the generation in which the cyber tools of today are commonly used and understood. He was emploring those graduates, and any others who would eventually read his remarks, to get involved in this new medium - a medium that has an immediate distribution and a long lasting distribution of information. He gave examples of what those listeners and readers could do. He also mentioned things to avoid.

I stand by my previous post in light of Elder Ballard's address to BYU Hawaii's graduating class. I think we have to remember he was talking about individual efforts in a one-on-one basis.
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Postby rmrichesjr » Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:50 pm

Marcel Demas wrote:Thanks for responding.

So what are you suggesting we do then if there are in fact more "LDS" sites than anti-Mormon sites in the search engines but they are not coming up when someone googles "Mormon"?

Can you provide instructions for the owners of those LDS websites, many of whom may not be techies? (I personally don't understand what would be involved in actualizing your suggestion "use the sites we have to reclaim the word "mormon".) Why not in addition to the existing "LDS" sites, create thousands of new sites such as I suggested, each of them search engine optimized for the word "mormon"?

Is it technically possible for the Church to do what I suggested, or something similar?

In my experience many non-members who would immediately recognize the word "Mormon" say "huh?" when "LDS" is mentioned. Like it or not, we're branded "Mormons", and right now LDS critics are outsmarting or outnumbering us in the search engines. In my opinion we've got a problem SLC.

What can we actually do about getting LDS friendly sites only in the top 50 search engine results for that word that we should totally OWN on the internet - "Mormons"?


I am a bit doubtful it would be practical to create a large number of domains for this purpose. In PR terms, it could just as easily backfire. The anti crowd would undoubtedly find out about the effort and could spin it to their purposes.

It seems to me that one way to put a positive message at the top of the search engine page would be to purchase a sponsorship for the search term in question. Over the years, the Church has purchased ad space in periodicals and on TV and radio. I wouldn't be surprised if the Church might decide to purchase sponsored link space on the most popular search engines. Alternatively, I think it might make sense for a group of interested people to organize an effort to gather donations to purchase sponsored link space. I would be willing to make a modest contribution to a credible effort in that direction.

If I remember correctly from the grad course I took on Information Retrieval and the Internet, search engine 'relevance' is based largely on the number of inbound links to a document and the number of times the search term appears in the document. Inbound links would be links found elsewhere that point to the document in question.

So, one way to make mormon.org and other positive sites and pages show up in search engine results is for large number of people to make links from their existing personal web pages to the pages we want to show up in search engine results. For pages that have the word "Mormon" in the document contents, perhaps something like farms.byu.edu might be useful.

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Postby russellhltn » Sat Sep 06, 2008 2:29 pm

Marcel Demas wrote:So what are you suggesting we do then if there are in fact more "LDS" sites than anti-Mormon sites in the search engines but they are not coming up when someone googles "Mormon"?


Yes, search engines don't know to equate "mormon" with "lds".

Search engine rankings are a complex formula that's kept secret for obvious reasons. "More sites" doesn't necessarily equate to higher rankings. There is a whole class of "marketeers" out there that work to get websites ranked higher and the search engine companies keep tinkering with their formula to try and defeat them.

Any attempt by the church to create a number of sites to increase their ranking will be seen as so much cyber spamming. Given the cookie-cutter nature of such sites, it's likely the search engines will pick up on that and actually decrease the search ranking. Let's play the game honestly and let the search engines do their job.

Besides, more "weak" sites is likely to simply increase the number of results found, but not bump any popular anti sites down the list.

Marcel Demas wrote:Can you provide instructions for the owners of those LDS websites, many of whom may not be techies? (I personally don't understand what would be involved in actualizing your suggestion "use the sites we have to reclaim the word "mormon".)


I'm not that up on web page design. But a google on "tags and search engines" (without the quotes) would be a good start.

Another step would be to use the word "mormon" more frequently. For example, always spell out The Book of Mormon rather then just use the acronym "BOM"

Marcel Demas wrote:Why not in addition to the existing "LDS" sites, create thousands of new sites such as I suggested, each of them search engine optimized for the word "mormon"?


I'd call that spamming. I think most net citizens would agree.

Marcel Demas wrote:In my experience many non-members who would immediately recognize the word "Mormon" say "huh?" when "LDS" is mentioned. Like it or not, we're branded "Mormons",


Point taken. But that's a PR decision that made at the top levels. For a time our ads ended in "brought to you by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - The Mormons". I don't know if they still do that or not.

Lastly, I wouldn't be that upset about the antis. The public is quite used to seeing strong polarization on different topics. I think they expect the true church to have opposition. The church really doesn't have the need to "own" anything.

And since my post is drifting away from technology, I'll leave it at that.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Postby russellhltn » Sat Sep 06, 2008 2:33 pm

rmrichesjr wrote:It seems to me that one way to put a positive message at the top of the search engine page would be to purchase a sponsorship for the search term in question. Over the years, the Church has purchased ad space in periodicals and on TV and radio. I wouldn't be surprised if the Church might decide to purchase sponsored link space on the most popular search engines.


They have. Or at least someone has. It popped up during my search.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.


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