Ward Domain and Google Apps

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jordanc
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Ward Domain and Google Apps

Postby jordanc » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:09 pm

I have thought that it would be simple for our ward leaders if I register a new domain (i.e. FirstWard.com) and set it up with Google apps for the purpose of email and Google Docs collaboration only. Again, I would not create a website for this domain, but just use the domain for Google Apps.

Church policy states that we are not to create any official sites, but this would not be a website - merely a domain to make it easier for email.

I would be the domain admin and I would create new email accounts as desired. If someone in the ward wanted an email, I would add them as a user, if they did not want to use it, we would not force them to do so.

I'm just curious to see what others think about this, and see if anyone thinks that this would violate church policy in any way.

Thanks!

techgy
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Postby techgy » Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:11 pm

jordanc wrote:I have thought that it would be simple for our ward leaders if I register a new domain (i.e. FirstWard.com) and set it up with Google apps for the purpose of email and Google Docs collaboration only. Again, I would not create a website for this domain, but just use the domain for Google Apps.

Church policy states that we are not to create any official sites, but this would not be a website - merely a domain to make it easier for email.

I would be the domain admin and I would create new email accounts as desired. If someone in the ward wanted an email, I would add them as a user, if they did not want to use it, we would not force them to do so.

I'm just curious to see what others think about this, and see if anyone thinks that this would violate church policy in any way.

Thanks!


My personal opinion is that you're splitting hairs in trying to circumvent the official policy. I would recommend against such action.
The church is making progress on the new lds.org web site and changes this year will no doubt see the addition of more features.
Have you read the Code of Conduct?

lionelwalters
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Postby lionelwalters » Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:41 am

I agree that Google Apps offers some great tools, but I don't think you need a dedicated Apps account for Church purposes - and would agree that this blurs the line as far as policy goes. We use some of the Google tools, including Google Docs, in our stake presidency, but our accounts are tied to our individual personal email addresses. Not only does this alleviate the maintenance overhead (by this I simply mean the time and individual accountability required to operate a Google Apps account), but it also allows for continuity after we are released. Remember, there's no such thing as "job security" in local Church leadership. It may be fine while you're in your current calling, but once you're released you can't guarantee that your successor will have the necessary skills and/or time to maintain the Google Apps account, and Google Apps doesn't currently support assigning ownership for docs, etc., outside the Apps domain.

As far as e-mail addresses for members, I think the same objective is achieved in the messaging functions being built into the leadership tools on LDS.org. In the meantime, you might consider Google Groups as a workable alternative.

I don't know what is on the road map, but I expect that much of what we currently accomplish with Google tools will eventually be built into LDS.org. So I'd stick with individual Google accounts for specific tools rather than going for the full Google Apps suite.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:03 am

Policy aside, what about cost? According to this "religious organizations" do not qualify for the free (educational) version.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

lionelwalters
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Postby lionelwalters » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:26 am

RussellHltn wrote:Policy aside, what about cost? According to this "religious organizations" do not qualify for the free (educational) version.


The basic edition of Google Apps is free. See:
http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html

MorettiDP
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Postby MorettiDP » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:15 am

When Google Apps are a free aplication only, I ordered a domain from Brazilian Government registrar "Registro.br" and setup a Google Apps account in this "estacasaocarlosbrasil.org.br" domain. I create a simple html site to send people to the various Apps features. I, then, create e-mail accounts for each stake officials and some high-rank ward officials, but the idea aren't so good. The people need some training and the time for this training are hard to find that time. Otherwise, some people begin to use his accounts.
Since a request from the stake presidency (I believe it come from the Brazil's ICS office in São Paulo) asked me to stop mantain and support the system, eleven months after, I deleted the Apps account and all its 500 clients available to setup. Than, I stop pay for the annual fees of the domain and it returned to the "future use available" lists at "Registro.br". Since than, we use simple e-mail lists to communicate.
I belive the use of Apps are a good way to work, but with the propper support.
MorettiDP
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ericlaw5
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Postby ericlaw5 » Sun May 08, 2011 11:16 am

As the OP mentioned, this would be for the purpose of email and document sharing and a website would not be set up.

I personally don't think we should discourage the use of interim collaboration tools solely on the basis they are web-based, and therefore might somehow be mislabled as an "official website". However there is a case to be made as to whether implementing and maintaining some of these free or low-cost solutions are practical for a given Ward and actually save time and effort.

caj27
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Re: Ward Domain and Google Apps

Postby caj27 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:39 pm

There has been no direction from the church telling us not to use cloud-based tools, so for now I don't see a problem. Obviously they don't want us confusing outsiders by setting up a ward web page that could function as a competing public relations department, but that would be extreme. How you would get the non-profit token and what-not to participate in Google Apps for Non-profits, I'm not sure how that is best completed. I may look at that later. And I'd be interested to see what you learn as discussion develops with official church departments.

We can manage and administer better using some of these free cloud-tools. Perhaps there is something about these tools that is overly complicated for some future leader who has no idea how to use cloud-based tools. On the other hand, we can use cloud-tools to make leadership transitions easier, if good records are kept--such as by scanning important documents into the cloud regarding service activities. The leaders of tomorrow can review the records of yesterday to make the next best step instead of starting over from scratch with each transition (or at least suffering from the risk of lost physical papers). We all have the ability to learn, and the calling of Technology Specialist is there to help those leaders who are techno-novices. If a future leader feels inspired not to use the cloud-tools then that's fine. In that case, the tools can always just lie dormant; but honestly it would seem unusual not to use these tools in 2018 in my West Coast ward. We are already using lots of free cloud-tools (in my service with the bishopric as a clerk and now in my service in a new EQ presidency). Hopefully we can finds ways of using various tools, including cloud-tools, that help everyone serve efficiently and in a way that is very inclusive. President Nelson has told us that we need to rely on revelation for each of our stewardships, and that the best revelation is the result of good information. So hopefully we can get this information together and make great decisions for our individual stewardships.

russellhltn
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Re: Ward Domain and Google Apps

Postby russellhltn » Tue Jun 19, 2018 4:35 pm

caj27 wrote:There has been no direction from the church telling us not to use cloud-based tools, so for now I don't see a problem.

From the Meetinghouse Technology Policy
4.9.3 The use of MLS data and membership information in third party software is prohibited, whether obtained from within or outside of a meetinghouse.

4.9.4 The use of cloud-based services for storing and/or backing up MLS or any membership related data is prohibited.


We also expect to hear something more detailed in the coming weeks. But at this time, I'd avoid storing anything dealing with membership, finance, or confidential situations in "outside" systems.

You mentioned service activities, I'd imagine things like that would be a possibility. However, I'm sure there's a concern that local leaders would start using those services to store things they're not supposed to storing and creating legal problems for the church. It comes back to the few creating problems for the many or "why we can't have nice things".
Have you searched the Wiki?

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

caj27
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Re: Ward Domain and Google Apps

Postby caj27 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:31 pm

Thanks for that feedback russelhltn. I hadn't seen this much of this technology policy before now, and I'll look forward to seeing "something more detailed in the coming weeks."

I'll provide some more details about what we're doing in my ward so we can analyze the factors at play. The bishopric is aware that the EQ presidency is using a handful of Google groups to open channels of communication between EQ members (since the Elders and HPG recently combined we've been making an effort to help them become acquainted, build trust, promote mentorship). A couple weeks ago, I surveyed the newly combined group for their social interests, and then I created corresponding Google groups: golf, basketball, frisbee, hiking, cycling, etc. Then I emailed invitations to the quorum members to join these Google groups, so now the quorum members can voluntarily join Google groups that match their recreational preferences. I call the groups Affinity Groups. The theory here is that brethren who know each other better will serve more readily together (which will further deepen the bonds of trust & brotherhood), and these preference groups are the low-hanging fruit (a phase one --> phase two will be building brotherhood among men that have little in common).

So should we be worried about this policy? Well, maybe, maybe not. In it's current form, the Affinity Groups don't store a ton of personal information: just names, recreational preferences, and email addresses (and users can remove their registration from the group at any particular moment). Also it's important to note that the affinity groups, as envisioned by our EQ presidency, are meant to expand beyond our quorum, beyond our ward. We have a vision of having groups that include non-members and members of neighboring wards and stakes. We want our quorum to shine like a light on a hill, an example of how to enjoy and generate healthy, wholesome sociality.

Our bishopric hasn't voiced any concerns so far, and in fact both of the bishop's counselors have joined one or more Affinity Groups. Do they know about this particular policy, though? I'm not sure. If they do, maybe they aren't speaking up because they don't consider the shared names and hobby interests to be "MLS data" or "membership information." Also, there is the fact that our EQ leadership merely encourages the brethren to join the Affinity Groups, as opposed to simply adding the data to a third-party database without anybody's permission. I've considered directly adding brethren to some Google groups, but based on this policy I think I'll keep it voluntary and opt-in only.

I understand that there is some risk of oversharing sensitive data with unintended parties. I won't plan on adding birthdays or other potentially compromising information: like family problems, spiritual challenges, psychological profiles, etc. I'll consider policy with my presidency. We have compiled some reports with such sensitive information within Google Docs, and now I'm wondering if we should print those and delete the electronic versions.

Lots to ponder. Thanks again.


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