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Phone Number Standarization

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.

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Phone Number Standarization

#1Postby Mikerowaved » Sat Jul 26, 2008 5:18 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:...when we asked all the wards to standardize addresses and phone numbers.

I apologize for hijacking the thread, but what format did your stake use to standardize the phone numbers? Our STS asked CHQ for some guidance in storing 10-digit numbers and so far has not received a response.
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#2Postby russellhltn » Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:49 pm

Mikerowaved wrote:Our STS asked CHQ for some guidance in storing 10-digit numbers and so far has not received a response.


By in large, I don't know as it matters (much). However nFS has been using the membership information as "contact" information. I've heard reports that using parenthesis tends to confuse it. Which is too bad since I think that format is the one I'd prefer.
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#3Postby lajackson » Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:50 pm

Pilotfly wrote:I am the stake clerk, ...


At the stake, in addition to the monthly backup being sent to Salt Lake and the software downloads previously mentioned, there is one additional download you get each month.

Usually on the first transmission of the month, you will receive an update from every unit in your stake. This is particularly painful for us where there are 14 units. In effect, we receive the equivalent of 14 unit backups. If you have fewer units, the transmission will take less time. If you have DSL through the FHC, it will go even more quickly.

A unit can also force an update (the Send Data to Stake option) at other times of the month.
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#4Postby aebrown » Sat Jul 26, 2008 9:52 pm

Mikerowaved wrote:I apologize for hijacking the thread, but what format did your stake use to standardize the phone numbers? Our STS asked CHQ for some guidance in storing 10-digit numbers and so far has not received a response.


We just went with the simple 888-555-1212 format. It's compact, easy to type, and consistent with the way 7-digit phone numbers have traditionally been done.

In our area we're in the midst of a transition to 10-digit dialing, as we are adding an overlaid area code. So 10 digits will be mandatory in less than a year. I like the simplicity of that format anyway, and since there will no longer be anything optional about the area code, there seems to be no reason to set it off in any special way.

P.S. Don't worry about hijacking the thread, since I'm moving this part of the thread to a new thread :)
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#5Postby Mikerowaved » Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:33 am

RussellHltn wrote:By in large, I don't know as it matters (much). However nFS has been using the membership information as "contact" information. I've heard reports that using parenthesis tends to confuse it. Which is too bad since I think that format is the one I'd prefer.

Yeah, if it were a pure aesthetics decision, I would go with the (801) 555-1212 format. IMO, If parenthesis confuse a program that imports US phone numbers, then the program needs to be fixed, plain and simple.

Alan_Brown wrote:We just went with the simple 888-555-1212 format. It's compact, easy to type, and consistent with the way 7-digit phone numbers have traditionally been done.

I'll agree with the first two points, but I believe tradition leads to using parenthesis. However, your first two points are what is drawing me to recommend that format to our STS to use throughout the Stake.

Alan_Brown wrote: In our area we're in the midst of a transition to 10-digit dialing, as we are adding an overlaid area code. So 10 digits will be mandatory in less than a year. I like the simplicity of that format anyway, and since there will no longer be anything optional about the area code, there seems to be no reason to set it off in any special way.

We are going through the same overlay as you (and MANY other Stakes in our area) and that is what really forced the issue. These numbers are also going to be uploaded to the LUWS, so we have that to think about as well. I would think CHQ would make a recommendation, but so far I haven't been able to get them to commit to any.
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#6Postby russellhltn » Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:45 pm

Mikerowaved wrote:IMO, If parenthesis confuse a program that imports US phone numbers, then the program needs to be fixed, plain and simple.


I would agree with that. Hopefully the Family History department will fix it.

Now, if we wanted something easy to enter, we'd go with 888.555.1212 :D I've seen that in a few places. Mostly on the web. (Perhaps it's the standard in other countries?)
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#7Postby JamesAnderson » Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:36 pm

I'm surprised something has not been done sooner, overlay codes go back to 1995 when the 301/240 and 410/443 overlays in Maryland were announced.

There are a good couple dozen areas, mostly in large cities, that are overlaid, Atlanta has four codes, 404/770/678/470!

Given that, is anyone from those areas here that has worked in MLS, and has had experience with handling the overlays and ten-digit phone numbers?
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#8Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:59 pm

RussellHltn wrote:Now, if we wanted something easy to enter, we'd go with 888.555.1212 :D I've seen that in a few places. Mostly on the web. (Perhaps it's the standard in other countries?)


Yes, using periods to separate phone number components is common in Europe, and other countries. But it looks a bit odd to many people in the US, so I don't see any reason to adopt a European standard for a stake in the US. The audience that will see the numbers is 99.9% inside the stake, so my opinion is that it's best to use a standard your audience is most familiar with.
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#9Postby RossEvans » Sun Jul 27, 2008 5:50 pm

Pros and cons abound. I lean 60-40 in favor of hyphens. My gestalt impression from filling our lots of web-based forms is that they tend to use hyphens.

Since MLS has dfferent versions for different countries or regions. presumably the standard can vary with local practice. And if there is actually a standard, then conversion upon output to some other standard is doable.

But please, let's have a standard. And once there is a standard, how about some validation?
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#10Postby jbh001 » Sun Jul 27, 2008 6:44 pm

boomerbubba wrote:But please, let's have a standard. And once there is a standard, how about some validation?
The format mask of 000-000-0000 tends to work better on most printouts (both within MLS and in other publications I have seen) than does 000.000.0000. But the consensus on that may be changing. The guidelines I use is if the telephone book listed numbers as 000-000-0000 or 000.000.0000 which format mask is least confusing visually, especially once you start combining other formatting such as underlining (as in hyperlinks), italics, bold face, etc.

John Doe....................000-000-0000
John Doe....................000-000-0000
John Doe....................000-000-0000
John Doe....................000-000-0000
John Doe....................000-000-0000
John Doe....................000-000-0000
John Doe....................000.000.0000
John Doe....................000.000.0000
John Doe....................000.000.0000
John Doe....................000.000.0000
John Doe....................000.000.0000
John Doe....................000.000.0000

By "validation" are you saying that MLS should enforce a format mask on the telephone number? If so, I think that would be helpful during the initial entry of the phone number, but if the format mask can't be overridden, then I am against it. There are legitimate reasons for being able to override whatever format mask is used.

For now, I think MLS is just fine the way it is, and the rest of us just need to figure out our own solution instead of expecting a one-size-fits-all solution from CHQ. The flexibility of the current free-form fields just works. IMO, training and vigilance are the simple solution for this issue.
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