Church Feedback and this Forum

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The_Earl
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Church Feedback and this Forum

Postby The_Earl » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:51 am

lajackson posted a number of questions about this forum over here:http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=13854&postcount=17

I will take a swing at them.

lajackson wrote:Perhaps this discussion should shift to a different thread with a different title. If it does, please include a link. [grin]

But, I understand the frustration in post #1.

Something that would be helpful for me would be to know what effect, if any, these comments have in what I would graciously call the "improvement and change" process. For example:

Are these comments read?
Are these comments considered in any serious sort of way?

Is it worth the time to post here at the forum with the hope that comments will be used to contribute to positive improvements in whatever it is we are commenting about? [with apologies to my 7th grade English teacher]

Or is it better to count time spent here as merely entertainment (or venting, which is, of course, discouraged)?

Are there any words of encouragement that might convince us that we should stay and be involved?

As anyone brave enough considers responding to these questions, I would suggest honesty, evidence (if available), and as much forthrightness and detail as you are allowed without losing your job.

...

So, is it worth the effort to participate here?

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Are they listening

Postby The_Earl » Fri Jul 11, 2008 10:51 am

First, I am not a church employee, nor do I have any insider knowledge of what goes on over there. I do live in SLC, so I have had some face time with the familysearch wiki user group. That group's meetings are now available online, so it is likely you can participate in those remotely now.

Some examples:
Ward Mapping:
On 1/31/2007 (almost 2 years ago), kevandcan posted a prototype of software that would map his ward members. That thread quickly became one of the hottest threads on this board. It spawned a number of child threads, long discussions, and is still one of the most active topics on the board.

9/28/2007, tomw posted some stats: http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=6179&postcount=1
Of interest was ' Most viewed thread - Ward Maps', I replied with:
Originally Posted by tomw Image
[align=left]Most viewed thread - Ward Maps

[/align]

Any guesses as to the next most needed feature in LUWS?

:)

The Earl
That feature was recently rolled out as beta. The beta does not do everything discussed here, but it is a start.

HT/VT Web reporting tool:
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=3998&postcount=1
5/22/07, Brad O. posts a HT/VT web application he has been working on. The app is VERY functional, and is in use in alpha at a few of his local units. Lots of discussion occurs as to the look and feel of the app. Community help is used to test the program.

Concerns about privacy of data, and violation of church data policies forces the project to be taken down. Workarounds are discussed, but no workable solutions are found. This product needs to be rolled into the Church's web site to be useful and effective.

9/28/07, Brad expresses frustration at the slow progress in getting this application rolled out. TomW follows up with what is holding things up. In effect, the church wants to implement an API so that Brad's app can pull data directly from MLS / LUWS. This is a MAJOR project, and is going to take a while to get rolling.
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=6182&postcount=263
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=6195&postcount=268

11/16/07, GarysTurn posts asking for feedback on nFS
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=7060&postcount=1
Discussion finds some concensus, but someone (me) hijacks the thread :). I think Gary's suggestion is implemented in production nFS. (unconfirmed)

9/30/07 rmrichesjr posts about an idea for training extractors with handwriting samples
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=7406&postcount=1
Idea is vetted, and found to be of huge complexity. At issue is the disparate environments and skills of those doing the extraction. A solution is possible, but not trivial.

Additionally, the single most requested MLS feature I have seen is space for per-person phone numbers. That has not been implemented.

LUWS fields a request about 1/month to help with email address verification / enable disable. That has not been implemented

We get lots of questions about the meetinghouse internet rollout. Some of these requests have prompted a response from Church employees about publishing clarifying documentation. A FAQ is in progress on this forum. Official publications have not been made (to my knowledge).

So
Are these comments read?
Yes!

Are they considered seriously?
Absolutely!

Are things moving as fast as I would like?
No. In particular, the HT / VT reporting solution is long overdue for feedback. I speculate that the intended solution is an API by which Brad's app can talk to MLS. I think an API is a great idea, but much to revolutionary to be implemented quickly. I worry that the delay will disenfranchise people. I do not know if a simpler solution would delay the API, and so impede other good projects. I am frustrated that we have not heard anything about adding phone numbers to MLS, or email handling to LUWS.

Is it worth my time to participate here?
Yes!

Are we 'communicating' with the Church?
Not really. They listen, but there is precious little information coming out.

The familysearch wiki has made HUGE steps toward including the community. They publish their 'backlog', or list of features waiting to be implemented on the wiki. They have made an EXTRAORDINARY effort to include users in their process.

They have struggled a bit, because they are still implementing policy that needs to be cleared by other parts of the Church. It is hard to include the community in a discussion with the legal department :). They will soon get over those hurdles and start taking off.

I think the winds are changing, and we are about to see a big change in the feedback loop I think.

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brado426
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Postby brado426 » Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:13 am

The Earl wrote:HT/VT Web reporting tool:
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=3998&postcount=1
5/22/07, Brad O. posts a HT/VT web application he has been working on. The app is VERY functional, and is in use in alpha at a few of his local units. Lots of discussion occurs as to the look and feel of the app. Community help is used to test the program.

Concerns about privacy of data, and violation of church data policies forces the project to be taken down. Workarounds are discussed, but no workable solutions are found. This product needs to be rolled into the Church's web site to be useful and effective.

9/28/07, Brad expresses frustration at the slow progress in getting this application rolled out. TomW follows up with what is holding things up. In effect, the church wants to implement an API so that Brad's app can pull data directly from MLS / LUWS. This is a MAJOR project, and is going to take a while to get rolling.
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=6182&postcount=263
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=6195&postcount=268



2/1/08: Brad is put in contact with the Church's Priesthood department where next to no interest is shown in all the work he had done. Brad is told that the Church doesn't have the resources to even set up a server for a pilot test. However, Brad is thanked for all the work he has done on the project. Brad is told that the earliest that anything would happen with this project is 2009. Brad gives up and puts the project aside and moves onto another project.

3/28/08: Brad is approached by a Priesthood Holder that encourages him to not give up and to modify his application to comply with Church policy and re-launch it. Brad is convinced that this is the right thing to do and abandons the other project he had moved on to.

4/10/08: Brad modifies his application to comply with Church policy and re-launches as ReturnAndReport.org opening it up for anyone to test with or use.

The Earl wrote:Are things moving as fast as I would like?
No. In particular, the HT / VT reporting solution is long overdue for feedback. I speculate that the intended solution is an API by which Brad's app can talk to MLS. I think an API is a great idea, but much to revolutionary to be implemented quickly. I worry that the delay will disenfranchise people. I do not know if a simpler solution would delay the API, and so impede other good projects. I am frustrated that we have not heard anything about adding phone numbers to MLS, or email handling to LUWS.


All that I have gone through with this project has convinced me that it was never realistic of me to think that it would be possible for me to work with the Church on this project. My current plan is to run ReturnAndReport.org as long as it is needed and allow the Church to look at it and build their own application based on it whenever it becomes a priority. Once the Church has a comparable solution in place, I will bring ReturnAndReport.org down. It would be nice to get permission from the Church to tell the users of ReturnAndReport.org to export the assignments from MLS rather than asking them to manually enter everything, but I have no hope of that ever happening.

This application is like a second full-time job for me and I would not be spending the time on it if I didn't think it was extremely important.

Brad O.

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Postby The_Earl » Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:22 am

Thanks for the update!

The Earl

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Postby lajackson » Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:27 pm

The Earl wrote:Some examples:

Ward Mapping
HT/VT Web reporting tool
space for per-person phone numbers
LUWS ... email address verification / enable disable
questions about the meetinghouse internet rollout

So
Are these comments read?
Yes!

Are they considered seriously?
Absolutely!

Are things moving as fast as I would like?
No.

Is it worth my time to participate here?
Yes!

Are we 'communicating' with the Church?
Not really. They listen, but there is precious little information coming out.


Thank you for your examples.

I guess this last item is what bothers me. I understand that CHQ does not report to me, but without some type of feedback, I am not effective in focusing my efforts, either. My only conclusion must be that I am wasting my time. And I wish that were not true.

For example, you mention two items that clerks and admins have been asking about for nearly five years now. A brief response would save a whole lot of time and effort by a whole lot of people. Something as simple as, we have the request and are considering it, or we hear you and we are not going to do it, or it is a wonderful idea but we cannot get to it until ten years into the Millennium.

Something. Otherwise, we poor misguided folks fool ourselves into false delusions and hopes. Should we keep asking? Frankly, I have better things to do with my time.

The Earl wrote:The familysearch wiki has ... made an EXTRAORDINARY effort to include users in their process.


I give them credit for doing better than any other area, although I have not been able to participate because of a mistake I made in setting up my login from which I could not recover. I asked for help from the help desk. It took them two months to respond. I had long since given up hope that they would but, out of the blue last week, they fixed my problem, for which I am grateful.

The Earl wrote:I think the winds are changing, and we are about to see a big change in the feedback loop I think.


I hope. I do see glimmers from time to time.

And now, I owe a success story. The MLS folks will remember a time when printing was a nightmare. First, printing took forever until we solved printer driver problems and finally talked the help desk into sharing them with others. Then, there were sections of pages that would not print. To their credit, the MLS developers were wrestling with a hole in the underlying Java program they were trying to work around. Nevertheless, those of us who needed to print could not print worth beans.

I called the help desk in the middle of this fiasco with a box that would not print at all using MLS. Any click of any MLS print button took the computer to the desktop, as if Java and MLS had never been running. It was consistent, every time. I could duplicate it. It happened over and over. I could not reinstall or make the problem go away. It was also incredulous to the help desk folks, every one of whom I knew by the sound of their voice before they even gave their names, and none of whom had the slightest clue how to solve the problem. Suggestions from higher levels of support did not work, either. They had no solutions.

But, I had a branch president an hour away who could not conduct tithing settlement using his computer, could not write checks, and crashed after every deposit without knowing if the Send/Receive was successful. It was bad. I copied his unit data onto the ward computer in my building and overnighted a batch of donor summary reports to him so that he could do tithing settlement.

In the midst of all this, I finally told the help desk that if they could not solve the problem, I was going to take a ward off-line, make two of them in the same building share a computer, and put the other box out in the branch so that they could function.

I guess a light finally turned on that I was not going to go away. A few minutes later I got a call asking me to box up the branch CPU and overnight it to Salt Lake, that they were ordering a replacement box for us, and that they wanted me to do it without turning on the branch machine again.

So that very day I sent the branch computer out west to the promised valley. By the next Sunday, the branch had a working computer and the two wards were back on their own machines.

The best part of the story is that two days later I got a call from SL thanking me for sending the box. They told me that they had figured out the problem and were recoding MLS to work around it. And from the very next release of MLS, printing was almost never a problem again.

So yes, I have had a success story. (I have two more just like it.)

I do not think I should have to be a squeaky wheel to get help. Asking should be sufficient. I appreciate feedback, even a very small amount. And my most favorite line, we will no longer be sending any finance deposit or membership information. Call me when you have a solution that will work.

(Five weeks. I just knew you would ask. And that leaves one other success story.) [grin]

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Postby garysturn » Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:00 pm

The Earl wrote:
Some examples:

11/16/07, GarysTurn posts asking for feedback on nFS
http://tech.lds.org/forum/showpost.php?p=7060&postcount=1
Discussion finds some concensus, but someone (me) hijacks the thread :). I think Gary's suggestion is implemented in production nFS. (unconfirmed)


In the thread mentioned above we identified the problem and had lots of people participate in offering solutions. In Feb 2008 the nFS update did provide a solution to the problems which were identified. I do not know if our discussions here in the forums assisted in that solution but the identified duplication from the previous method was solved. Some of the ideas expressed in the discussions were included in the solution. The solution is what we have now where we can select in the Summary view the default record to be displayed in the pedigrees and family views. Prior to Feb 2008 the default record was a sorted record and was often different for each person because of the order of the sort.
Gary Turner
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Postby JamesAnderson » Sat Jul 12, 2008 1:35 pm

Recently I had to send feeback on a probloem in nFS where, when you got to the parents and siblings page, one of the children showed up earlier in the order than he should have.

The top assertion showed 1906 as the birthdate, there was a sibling born in1905, and another assertion showed the birthdate in 1904, causing the 1906 date to show as the earlier birthdate (even said 1906 before 1905 on the screen) and this was all because the earlier birthdate was the result of the individual lying about his age on his marriage license application/certificate. Anyway, one can see both assertions by looking at the combined records, it was the birth order of the siblings that had the issue.

Actually got an email back about the issue, they are looking into how this can be averted, especially with something like this where there is better data than was first available.

I hear alot all the time about things that are found, and resolved, or that are being worked on. Things are discussed regularly on FHCNET and the LDSFHCConsultants mailing list and others as well about the problems and fixes that appear.

Even between the big updates that occur about every three months or so, they still do little updates all the time to fix a thing or two. Heard that between .91 and .92 there were six minor updates to address small problems.

It also looks like a posting I made to this thread never made it yesterday for some reason. There I asked if it might be possible that the data be grouped into larger groups to ensure that there is a way of finding the ordinances, and while the groups would have to be at the limit of 80 entries right now, lets say there were 240 duplicates, one could have three folders for that name at least until everything can be resolved, then they could see if the ordinance work was done and when, and even though the 'ready for temple ordinances' icon was showing for one or two of the folders, the third folder for the name had the checkmark or attention symbol indicating in progress, then the individual could avoid the duplicate that way, and which could be a workaround to avoid duplication until such time as they felt it OK to combine it all together whether it be 240 or 500 entries for that individual or whatever.

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Postby WelchTC » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:55 am

Thanks The Earl for putting this together.

The Earl wrote:Are we 'communicating' with the Church?
Not really. They listen, but there is precious little information coming out.

We still have much work internally to get two-way communication going. Keep the faith! Information is getting to the teams but we are still struggling getting information out. One of the problems is that we (the Church) do not like to announce to anything until it is publicly ready.


Tom

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Postby WelchTC » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:03 am

Brad O. wrote:All that I have gone through with this project has convinced me that it was never realistic of me to think that it would be possible for me to work with the Church on this project. My current plan is to run ReturnAndReport.org as long as it is needed and allow the Church to look at it and build their own application based on it whenever it becomes a priority. Once the Church has a comparable solution in place, I will bring ReturnAndReport.org down. It would be nice to get permission from the Church to tell the users of ReturnAndReport.org to export the assignments from MLS rather than asking them to manually enter everything, but I have no hope of that ever happening.


Your efforts have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. You are doing the right thing. Keep up the great work Brad.

Tom

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Postby brado426 » Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:18 am

Thanks Tom! Your support means a lot to me.


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