Phone number fields in the MLS system that feed into FamilySearch

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
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pbarrus
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Phone number fields in the MLS system that feed into FamilySearch

Postby pbarrus » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:25 pm

:mad:I have discovered a serious problem with the phone number formats in
the MLS system.

When the members of our Stake are registering and using the New
FamilySearch genealogy program, it pulls the members' addresses and phone
numbers from the MLS system. The problem is that it is our Stake policy to
NOT enter the area code in the MLS system. It is "understood" that if the
area code is different than the prevailing area code, only then it's entered into MLS.
The reasoning for this is to have shorter phone numbers in the various reports
and lists.

(Yes, I have brought it to the attention of the Stake Priesthood holders responsible
for this information. Other big problem is that our Stake President is going to be
released this weekend and they are focused on other more important matters at present.)

Then trying to figure out how to change that one little piece of information in
the New FamilySearch is extremely challenging. In the New FamilySearch, if you want
to change your phone number to include the prefix, you have to uncheck the box
(pulls all the information from the MLS system) that states you don't want
to use the MLS address. Then you have to fill in all the address fields. I
didn't want to have to reenter my address (which should be populated from MLS) into
the system again nor want it displayed. Then I had to figure out that I had to use the
next tab to make sure that only my phone number and email address were
going to be displayed to other users. I shouldn't have to fill out
another address or the same address (under the first tab) in order to
correct the wrong phone number information from the MLS system.

In the U.S. there should be a uniform format in the MLS system whereby
the Wards have to put in the phone numbers in a uniform format, complete
with area code before accepting the membership entry.

By not having the area code prefix, other members using New
FamilySearch will not be able to determine the correct phone number to
call or make contact with those working on the same lines/genealogy. I know.
I've already experienced that problem. No one could see my area code until
I had someone show me the steps above.

I am VERY computer literate, so if I'm having an extremely hard time
with this, the average person won't be able to figure it out.

I have reported this issue to the support staff at New FamilySearch, but
this is really an MLS issue.

Sister Phyl

scion-p40
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Postby scion-p40 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:45 pm

Are you telling me that without my knowledge or consent my address & phone number are being posted online at the New Family Search? I definitely have a problem with that.

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fergie34-p40
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Postby fergie34-p40 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:23 am

scion wrote:Are you telling me that without my knowledge or consent my address & phone number are being posted online at the New Family Search? I definitely have a problem with that.


The new Family Search doesn't post your address or phone number online. I just checked to make sure. The only information that is posted is the email address of the person who contributed the information so that they can be contacted about submitted information.
Robert Ferguson
South Shore Ward, Plainview New York Stake

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:39 am

Regarding this issue of not having a uniform phone number format in MLS, I have to agree this is should be implemented. Perhaps what would also be helpful is to have a separate field that is a custom view of the phone number, something that each individual unit or stake can decide how they want phone numbers viewed on reports and directories they print out. But there should be an official, uniformerly formatted phone number underneath.

jenkinsja-p40
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Postby jenkinsja-p40 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:24 am

In response to all comments on this issue so far, MLS is a program used by a global church. With more members of the Church residing outside the United States than inside it, it would be hard to justify creating a uniform phone number specifically for US members of the church. What happens when New Familysearch goes global? Should this standard US format be applied to all individuals worldwide? Should the format include country codes? What if a member wants to contact a member in another country, but does not know the code? These are some of the questions that should be considered before rushing to change a system that already works.

There is no standard global format for phone numbers, therefore MLS does not enforce one. MLS offers a free-form text box so your phone number can include numbers, letters, and punctuation if you want. I have seen this used to enter cell-phone numbers for a member and his wife, distinguishing each with the first letter of their names so you can tell which is which. Enforcing a standard format would disallow this, and given the widespread use of cell phones, and the inability of MLS to associate phone numbers with members rather than households, I do not think this would help a lot of people. In my opinion, it is not worth locking down phone numbers to a specific format, and causing a lot of people a lot of grief, simply to ensure that an area-code shows up in Family Search. I would much rather see improvements made to MLS which improve functionality, enhance security, and increase productivity for the Clerks and Bishops.

jbh001
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Postby jbh001 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:52 am

jenkinsja wrote:In response to all comments on this issue so far, MLS is a program used by a global church.
True, but since MLS allows other localizations to be set by the area office (navigate from the menu bar to Edit > System Options > System > Locale Options to see them), why not have telephone number format mask be one of those?

MLS also already allows setting default country, city, state/province, and postal code for addresses (navigate from the menu bar to Edit > System Options > System > Default Address Values). Why not add default country code (and area code if that country belongs to Zone 1) to those options?

There is little reason not to enforce a telephone number format mask on all units that are part of the North American Numbering Plan Area. MLS could be modified to require initial digits of a telephone number conform to the local numbering plan. For units outside Zone 1, the field could be left free form. The remaining digits following NPA-NXX-XXXX could be free form to list extensions and such (e.g. x25300, home, work, etc.).

For units that might have members with phone numbers in two different zones (e.g. landline in Juárez [Zone 5]; cellphone in El Paso [Zone 1]) there only needs to be the option to override the default country code (which could be as simple as a checkbox to override the default), which would then convert the the whole telephone number field to free form.

On a different note, placing a local call from a cellphone without including the area code can produce mixed results. 10-digit local calling is even affecting the Wasatch Front. Because of things like this, the rationale for not including the Zone 1 area code in local telephone number listings is disappearing.

chadstephenson
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Postby chadstephenson » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:30 pm

I have been STS in two stakes. In one stake 90% of numbers were the same area code and in the other about 99% of the numbers had the same area code. In both stakes they had all unit clerks enter phone numbers in MLS in the format XXX-XXX-XXXX. This makes phone lists on the LUWS look uniform as well as on stake MLS printouts. Anyway, in the U.S., ten digit dialing is becoming more common. It is required in many areas for land lines. Many VOIP and some cell carriers require this as well. It is best to be ahead of the curve. And in this case, it helps with Family Search registration as well. If I were you, I would help to encourage the new stake leadership to make this timely change. It would be nice if a 10 digit phone number format was required in MLS similar to how it requires addresses to be entered in a certain format in the U.S.

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Mikerowaved
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Postby Mikerowaved » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:13 pm

I agree with jbh001 that a standard mask would be a great help, especially if the numbers in this field are going to be used outside the local unit (as we are finding out). In the US today someone might enter...

555-1212
801 555-1212
801-555-1212
1-801-555-1212
(801)555-1212
(801) 555-1212

...or any other variation. I've seen many variations even within the same unit, depending on who entered the number.

A few weeks ago in THIS post I suggested the option of being able to select a mask for your localized area. (A default area code would be nice also, but I'm not going to be greedy at this point. ;))

Being as we don't have a standard right now, (I know this will open some debate), which of the above formats should be the standard for USA units? I would choose the 3rd one down, but I'm only one voice.
So we can better help you, please edit your Profile to include your general location.

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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:40 am

I vote third one down as well. Although, should there be room in the mask for putting in an extension (x102)? I doubt this scenario would come up very often however (or at all for that matter).

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:05 am

I'd like the ability to enter it as 801.555.1212 and become the correct format. That way you can 10-key the phone numbers.


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