Comments in Church's HT/VT Application

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brado426
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Comments in Church's HT/VT Application

Postby brado426 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:09 am

I have expressed many times how important it is for Home/Visiting Teachers to be able to make comments when reporting Home or Visiting teaching in an HT/VT application. In fact, the comments are nearly as important as the acquired HT/VT statistics. Somehow, behind the scenes, a decision has been made to exclude comments from the Church's official HT/VT system for phase 1.

I find this to be absolutely absurd. It is especially absurd because the decision appears to have been made without using the knowledge that has already been gained by the work that I have previously done in this area. I have spoken to hundreds of people and seen first-hand how critically important comments are to the Presidencies using RAR. Perhaps it is a simple lack of communication, but to be informed that "Comments will not be included" with absolutely no explanation is a real slap in the face. This type of behind-the-scenes decision-making is certainly not a characteristic of a "community" project.

All i can do is once again encourage whoever is making these decisions to rethink their position and do what it takes to ensure that comments are included in PHASE 1. I implore you to Talk to Presidencies who have used RAR. I encourage you to use RAR yourself and learn what features work and what features do not before going down a path that will render a product that would be nowhere near as valuable as it could have been.

Please do me the basic courtesy of looking at what has already been done instead of completely reinventing the wheel.

Thanks,

Brad O.

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Ability to provide comments essential

Postby jerbarb-p40 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:09 pm

As a user of automated HT/VT reporting for the last 2 years, I totally agree with Brad. Without the ability to provide comments, the application would lose at least half of its value. One of the real values of the automated reporting is passing important information along on a timely basis. For example, when a HT learns that someone is sick or has surgery scheduled, we can immediately pass that information on to the Bishopric, the Relief Society Presidency, the Compassionate Service Leader, Auxiliary Leaders with stewardships for the family, etc. There is no waiting until PEC or Ward Council.

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Postby WelchTC » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:04 pm

The reason they were excluded was not to 'slap anyone in the face'. There are legal reasons. I'm not at liberty to say at this time but the legal issues are both domestic as well as international.

No matter how important a feature may appear to be, we are still subject to the law and to lawsuits should someone claim that we violated the law. More research is being done by the Church's legal department. The results of that research will then be reviewed by the brethren. Until that time, it has been mandated that we not collect any open-ended "notes" on individuals.

Tom

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Postby brado426 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:14 pm

tomw wrote:The reason they were excluded was not to 'slap anyone in the face'. There are legal reasons. I'm not at liberty to say at this time but the legal issues are both domestic as well as international.

No matter how important a feature may appear to be, we are still subject to the law and to lawsuits should someone claim that we violated the law. More research is being done by the Church's legal department. The results of that research will then be reviewed by the brethren. Until that time, it has been mandated that we not collect any open-ended "notes" on individuals.

Tom


An explanation of why certainly helps. When the only information provided to the community is "It has been decided that..." it comes off as being far less of a community effort.

As you can plainly see, to me this is an extremely disappointing development.

Brad O.

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Postby WelchTC » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:20 pm

Brad O. wrote:An explanation of why certainly helps. When the only information provided to the community is "It has been decided that..." it comes off as being far less of a community effort.


Valid complaint. We will try to be better.

Brad O. wrote:As you can plainly see, to me this is an extremely disappointing development.


Disappointing to me as well.

Tom

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Postby mfmohlma » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:26 pm

tomw wrote:Until that time, it has been mandated that we not collect any open-ended "notes" on individuals.


Could a reasonable substitute in the meantime be a few checkboxes for the home/visiting teacher such as:

- Please contact me about this family
- Urgency of request (within a day, within a week, etc.)?

This doesn't sound like it would be "open-ended notes" to me.

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Postby brado426 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:34 pm

oregonmatt wrote:Could a reasonable substitute in the meantime be a few checkboxes for the home/visiting teacher such as:

- Please contact me about this family
- Urgency of request (within a day, within a week, etc.)?

This doesn't sound like it would be "open-ended notes" to me.


That would certainly be better than nothing. With customizable Contact Types, you can sort-of already do that.

I am not seeing how the Church can be sued for comments when we have YouTube, FaceBook, and MySpace allowing people to make public comments about WHO KNOWS WHAT. No one is going to get sued unless the Church refuses to remove information upon request. This is how I handle RAR. In the rare instances that someone gets upset that their information is online, I promptly remove it.

I do not understand why this couldn't be included in a "usage acceptance clause" and agreed to by all users of the system. For international laws, this functionality could be disabled... but in the US, there should be no reason why we could not accomplish this. I'm no lawyer, but I know what I see on other websites is far more threatening than private comments for the Presidency.

My ward's Relief Society President was telling me the other day how allowing a sister to type in, "Had a great meeting with so-and-so and brought her a gift" brought a personal and fulfilling element to the online reporting process.

Once more, we have people in LUWS sending open ended Emails to all members. All of these examples seem far more threatening.

Brad O.

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Postby daddy-o-p40 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:44 pm

tomw wrote:The reason they were excluded was not to 'slap anyone in the face'. There are legal reasons. I'm not at liberty to say at this time but the legal issues are both domestic as well as international.

No matter how important a feature may appear to be, we are still subject to the law and to lawsuits should someone claim that we violated the law. More research is being done by the Church's legal department. The results of that research will then be reviewed by the brethren. Until that time, it has been mandated that we not collect any open-ended "notes" on individuals.

Tom


Legal issues are always a valid concern. However, right now there is a lot of ward and stake administrative & fellowshipping information being conveyed via email. Wouldn't this be subject to the same legal concerns?

With requests from Elder Ballard telling us to go viral ....now more than ever it seems imperative that the Church publish crystal clear guidelines that have been written for the Web 2.0 + era.

With this in hand it would enable us to build solutions which are compliant from the inception instead of prolonging development cycles, costs and wasting precious time of leaders trying to interpret was is legal, good or permitted.
"What have I done for someone today?" Thomas Monson

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Postby jbh001 » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:15 am

daddy-o wrote:However, right now there is a lot of ward and stake administrative & fellowshipping information being conveyed via email. Wouldn't this be subject to the same legal concerns?
No. email can be looked at as having a sort of common-carrier status, unless it originates from company/corporate sources. Then email becomes official legal records of the company/corporation.

If the Church starts sponsoring "open-ended notes" on members, because the Church is hosting the service, there are legal records retention requirements that might come into play, as well as those notes being subpoena-able.

Regardless of how well it is working on a non-Church sponsored third-party site, there is a huge potential for misuse and abuse which the Church many become liable for should it incorporate that functionality into official Church software.

I am not a lawyer (and I don't play one on TV), neither have I been a part of or privy to any of the policy discussions the Church has made over this. Yet even I can see how this could become a real headache for the Church if it doesn't examine this issue from all angles to minimize its risk.

Another difference with this is that MySpace and Facebook use an opt-in model. The individual assumes the risk and liabilities of participating in that service when they sign up for it. The opt-in model does not apply to HT/VT. You can imagine how well it would work if it was opt-in only. "Yes, I have 5 families assigned on my HT route, but none of them have opted-in to RAR, so I still have to call in my report to my priesthood leader, until they choose to do so."

And it's not fair to assume that because someone was baptized into the Church, that was the moment they opted-in to RAR. The telecom industry when through a similar issue over caller-ID about 2 decades ago. Just because people opted-in for telephone service, didn't mean that they also opted-in to having their unlisted or unpublished phone number displayed to the receiving party every time they made a phone call.

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Postby WelchTC » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:38 am

oregonmatt wrote:Could a reasonable substitute in the meantime be a few checkboxes for the home/visiting teacher such as:

- Please contact me about this family
- Urgency of request (within a day, within a week, etc.)?

This doesn't sound like it would be "open-ended notes" to me.


No, because these checkboxes imply a problem or concern which some would feel was conveying confidential information.

Tom


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