Suggestion: Preferred name should default to first given name

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
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jcarroll
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Suggestion: Preferred name should default to first given name

Postby jcarroll » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:14 pm

It's nice to have a preferred name; most members in the United States have two given names and one family name. Most members go by their first given name; in most cases, this is their "preferred name." You feel good when people call you by your preferred name.

As a diligent clerk who tries to cross every i and dot every t, I try to format all the phone numbers in the same way (hyphens, no parentheses); I try to unify the formatting of addresses: street number-street name-apartment number (all one line, don't put APT or UNIT on second line); I also try to get everyone's preferred name correct. Most members don't know that the field exists, but most members do appreciate it when we get it right. I don't know which reports or applications use the preferred name over the given name, but that's a separate discussion.

Every time I request membership records into the ward, it seems that the preferred name defaults to both (all) given names for the member. Since most members go by their first given name, why don't we reflect this in the software? Why not make the most common case the default case? I recommend an update to the membership software (lds.org/mls/mbr as well as MLS) which will, by default, assign a preferred name equal to the first given name. This would occur when membership records are created. Thereafter, the preferred name should remain with the record; when a user moves to a new unit of the Church, the preferred name goes with the member. (Question: Is this currently implemented--is the preferred name kept when a member moves, or is this lost?)

Some members go by their second given name, or their "middle name"; I acknowledge that this is not uncommon, but it is certainly not the majority of cases. Let's make the default settings in the software match the most common cases that we find in our work. This will simplify the work and help us better serve the individuals, families, and church leaders of our wards and branches.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:19 pm

The downside of the default is that you won't know when a preferred name has been set as opposed to simply defaulting to the first name.

When I see two names, I know to try the first name and be prepared to be corrected. If I see just one name, I have some confidence that it's correct.
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Postby jonesrk » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:02 am

jcarroll wrote:Thereafter, the preferred name should remain with the record; when a user moves to a new unit of the Church, the preferred name goes with the member. (Question: Is this currently implemented--is the preferred name kept when a member moves, or is this lost?

It is currently implemented. My preferred name came with me to my new ward.
Ryan Jones
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jcarroll
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Postby jcarroll » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:24 am

JonesRK wrote:It is currently implemented. My preferred name came with me to my new ward.


That's great to hear; it give me tremendous encouragement to keep chipping away. If we have 100 members move into our ward each year, then it will only take me 150,000 years before I have corrected the preferred name for all current members of the church (grin).

Besides changing the default in the software, perhaps another way to accelerate the process would be to include the preferred name on the IOS; as members review the accuracy of other pieces of information, they would also pick up on any needed changes to their preferred name. Here I am echoing a suggestion made previously (by whom I know not), which was considered in this forum long enough to make it on the MLS Suggestion page of the LDS Tech wiki.

I also feel to add here that it is the responsibility of the clerk(s) to actively meet the members of the ward, to learn their names, and to pay attention when members go by a name different than their full name. I believe I read and heard it in one of the Record Keeping Training segments. (I searched for it, but I couldn't find the source, sorry.)

Also, I feel to recognize that, in the grand scheme, this is a small bean. Ordinances are essential and must be attended to with great care; preferred names are wonderful, but not vital. Still, I'm hopeful that we can improve the system to simplify the work.

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:41 am

jcarroll wrote:Here I am echoing a suggestion made previously (by whom I know not), which was considered in this forum long enough to make it on the MLS Suggestion page of the LDS Tech wiki.


That suggestion was made on 14 Dec 2008. Back then people could add suggestions to that wiki page without first discussing the issue in this forum; as far as I can recall, it was not actually discussed on the forum (although it was noted in a parenthetical comment here three years ago).
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.

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Postby russellhltn » Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:10 am

jcarroll wrote:I also feel to add here that it is the responsibility of the clerk(s) to actively meet the members of the ward, to learn their names, and to pay attention when members go by a name different than their full name. I believe I read and heard it in one of the Record Keeping Training segments.


It's good that they stay alert for the situation, but to expect a clerk to actively meet with all members of the ward is asking a lot. There is a priesthood group with the goal of meeting with every household in the ward once a month. There's also an auxiliary whose goal is to meet with every sister in the ward once a month. It seems to me a better plan is to have a working relationship with these two groups to get corrections and information back to the clerk.

That's not to say that the clerk shouldn't be approachable and proactive in their job, but to stay on top of issues that affect membership records all by themselves seems quite a stretch.
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Postby giffordrb » Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:32 am

In reply to the original post: Are you suggesting not defaulting the preferred name on an individual in the Last Name(s) field - like below?
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