This weekend's tip: No "DNC" on membership records

Discuss questions around local unit policies for membership (creating records, transferring records, etc.) This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
jdlessley
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Postby jdlessley » Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:08 pm

seanmcox wrote:I also have some concerns about this message. I'm a little bit concerned about the fact that the message cites no authority.
Any message sent from Church headquarters through the MLS messaging system such as the one being addressed in this thread has the purpose of informing MLS users as to the use of MLS. Authority does not need to be cited. There can be no other source than Church headquarters.


seanmcox wrote:This thread speaks of the message as a "tip", but this does not seem accurate, as it is not worded as a "tip". It is worded as a directive or policy statement. (What is it then?)
You will find that many tips in the past have been restatements of policy or procedure as a reminder that needs reinforcement. I would consider this tip in the same manner. It is a reminder of the procedure that should be followed when keeping records of members in MLS. In this case the reminder is not to make adjustments to membership records or for the records to be coded in MLS in any manner to identify the member as DO NOT CONTACT.

seanmcox wrote:Considerations of the importance of a "Do Not Contact" list seem far too shallow here. I, for one, agree with many who might feel that "Do Not Contact" lists have been abused. However, they can also be important. Some individuals can be violent (I see a shotgun mentioned above). Other individuals can have violent relatives. Among certain muslims, having members inadvertently make contact might mean the difference between life and death.
The issue of the tip is not to prevent priesthood leaders from identifying those individuals that want their needs from being addressed with sensitivity and care. The tip is not addressing or readressing the permissability of DO NOT CONTACT lists. It is stating the procedures that are acceptable in MLS. Granted, one can surmise the connection to a some Church policy since MLS closely mirrors Church policy. Extending this tip beyond anything else other than MLS procedure is pure conjecture.

seanmcox wrote:Now, one interesting point is that the communication does not actually state that "Do Not Contact" lists are forbidden. It simply says that they can't be maintained by modifying the member's record. Hence, we can hack a list by creating a "Do Not Contact" HT zone/route. (Would that screw up our statistics?)
Arranging members into home teaching zones do not in any way affect the unit's statistics. Either they did or did not receive a home teaching visit. The question about statistics should not even be a concern. When statistics are placed ahead of the members then there is a real missunderstanding as to the purpose of those numbers. Having low home teaching numbers with a large number of inactives with special contact needs should be of little concern as long as those members willing to receive home teachers are visited.

seanmcox wrote:This would seem to suggest that the issue is with flagging the record in such a way that it might be misunderstood when transferred. That makes sense, but if that is so, it should have been made more clear.
When guidance is provided from Church leaders the reason for doing so may not be stated or explained. It would be nice to know why but not necessary to carry out the procedure.

seanmcox wrote:Members who request no contact are usually not worried about privacy issues (which is the only concern addressed by the wiki).
The first part of this statement is a bold, reckless and highly speculative statement that cannot be supported by fact. I would not like to be the one to make that reckless assumption and then be on the receiving end of a lawsuit. The second part of the statement is also false. The wiki states
Members who request no contact may not want their phone number, address or other information shown on the ward website.
This is an additional consideration for members not wanting contact and not the only concern.

seanmcox wrote:It is hard to know what we can do or ought to do when we are not really given a solid idea of what is really wrong.
It is quite clear that the membership record should not be adjusted or coded in MLS using any method designed to show the record as DO NOT CONTACT. What is wrong is adjusting the membership record or coding in MLS to show the record as DO NOT CONTACT.
JD Lessley
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lajackson
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Postby lajackson » Mon Sep 21, 2009 6:57 am

seanmcox wrote:We NEED a way of recording this information for the benefit of other members who might visit and for the benefit of the members who might be visited.

. . . can we use the annotation "Annual Contact Only", "Do Not Contact Until 2010", "Threat to Life if Contacted", "Violent Relative", or "Violent Tendencies"?


In my own personal opinion, some of those annotations will get you sued.

While there may be a need to record this information, I think the memo is a reminder that using the membership record is not the place to do it.

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LUWS disclosure options for MLS

Postby atticusewig » Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:50 am

As I mentioned earlier, our ward will be following the
directive. It is probably a re-statement of something
official, but it would be nice if the local units didn't have
to look up the source material.

In LUWS, members can op-out on disclosure of information
in degrees (ex. Do not show my Phone number, Don't show
my address, don't show anything, buster!)

It would be nice for MLS to mimic this functionality for
some of the pre-generated reports. When I print out
an Abbrev. Ward Directory for someone in the clerk's office,
it should suppress information about members who opt-out.
This opt-out info should be bi-directional with the LUWS.

The problem with the omission of opt-out controls, is that
the extreme cases of people who do not want contact
are not properly communicated. I have yet to find a ward
where information is freely shared. So without someway
to mark or omit certain people from specific lists, we
put our members in harm's way. But fortunately, we have
God on our side.

- Atticus

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Postby lajackson » Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:50 pm

atticusewig wrote:I have yet to find a ward
where information is freely shared. So without someway
to mark or omit certain people from specific lists, we
put our members in harm's way. But fortunately, we have
God on our side.


Most directories should be going only to leaders who, through Priesthood Executive Committee meetings and Ward Council, should be aware of those members who do not desire to be contacted. These are the same meetings where plans to actually contact (or not contact) the member would be made.

The LUWS is generally available, and has the ability to restrict data. Since the MLS directories are not normally widely distributed, the need to restrict data, while still present, is not as compelling.

I do fully agree with you that it would be wonderful to have a way to suppress certain information in MLS directories. The workaround of using spreadsheets or other means is time consuming and should not be necessary.

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Postby RossEvans » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:37 pm

lajackson wrote:Most directories should be going only to leaders who, through Priesthood Executive Committee meetings and Ward Council, should be aware of those members who do not desire to be contacted. These are the same meetings where plans to actually contact (or not contact) the member would be made.


There is a more general issue than that. Even if the "Ward Directory" report is not generally disseminated, there are a plethora of reports in MLS that can contain member contact information. These reports might be given to home and visiting teachers (the most likely to make contact) or even youth and primary leaders. Just as callings are spread throughout the ward, so is information incidental to those callings.

I am not saying I have an answer to the tricky question of which callings should be informed of such special situations, or how they should be informed. I am just stating scope of the problem. We do know that whatever the answer is, it is not to annotate the member record in MLS with such a status.

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Postby jbh001 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:50 pm

seanmcox wrote:... can we use the annotation ... "Threat to Life if Contacted" ... "Violent Tendencies"?
If these are real scenarios, then that bishop should likely review the handbook (see CHI book 1 (2006), page 109, item 3).

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Postby seanmcox-p40 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:35 pm

jdlessley wrote:The issue of the tip is not to prevent priesthood leaders from identifying those individuals that want their needs from being addressed with sensitivity and care. The tip is not addressing or readressing the permissability of DO NOT CONTACT lists. It is stating the procedures that are acceptable in MLS. Granted, one can surmise the connection to a some Church policy since MLS closely mirrors Church policy. Extending this tip beyond anything else other than MLS procedure is pure conjecture.


Conjecture just happens to be the way we fill in the holes in our understanding left by information gaps. Now, hopefully, the spirit steps in and clears things up, but at the same time, we are also expected to exercise our due diligence and seek out what information we can. (Which is part of what I have been doing here.)

jdlessley wrote:When guidance is provided from Church leaders the reason for doing so may not be stated or explained. It would be nice to know why but not necessary to carry out the procedure.


Assuming the procedure was communicated clearly and understood correctly, and I'm not the first person to have sought clarification here.

jdlessley wrote:The first part of this statement is a bold, reckless and highly speculative statement that cannot be supported by fact. I would not like to be the one to make that reckless assumption and then be on the receiving end of a lawsuit. The second part of the statement is also false. The wiki statesThis is an additional consideration for members not wanting contact and not the only concern.


I think you overextend my assertion. My statement is well qualified, and is thus not really all that bold or wreckless at all. Oddly enough, your supposed "additional consideration" is not really an additional consideration at all. It is the same privacy concern. Being worried about the publication of PII is a privacy protection issue. (Being annoyed by home teachers stopping by is not here being considered as a privacy issue, per se, though perhaps I can see some cause for confusion.)

jdlessley wrote:It is quite clear that the membership record should not be adjusted or coded in MLS using any method designed to show the record as DO NOT CONTACT. What is wrong is adjusting the membership record or coding in MLS to show the record as DO NOT CONTACT.


Right, but as I have mentioned there are other ways to do nearly equivalent things, and it is necessary to know more in order to determine whether those other things also qualify for the prohibition.

For example, based on the communication received it would seem logical that redistricting to hack a no contact list should be forbidden.

Perhaps this doesn't affect the "member record" per se, but that's all a matter of how systems engineers decided to organize data. It really has very little to do with what we might conjecture from the citation of Moroni provided as context for the policy.

If we take this context at face value it implies not only that we shouldn't tag member records as "do not contact", but that we should also not use any other method to indicate a strict avoidance of contact. This may not be within the purview, authority, scope, bounds, whatever, of the specific body within church headquarters which had this statement issued, but on the local level, it is nonetheless important because our call to apply correct principles is not restricted to MLS.

Hence, when we are given direction, and the principle seems unclear, then it behooves us to inquire more into the principle so that we might arrive at a sound understanding.

Now, I happen to agree that a strict "do not contact" list is a bad idea very generally. Nevertheless, I have never used a "strict" "do not contact" list. I never had the slightest insight into how a "do not contact" list was created and thought that the lists I had seen in the past which said "do not contact" were created due to the existence of some standard "do not contact" flag in the database. I discover that this was not the case, and if not, I wonder as to why such a term was ever used by my former units.

Anyhow, based on Moroni's comments as a context for the policy statement, it would seem to me that playing around with districts in order to hack a "do not contact" list is a bad idea. Nevertheless, I find in this thread, that such a procedure has received praise, and I don't understand why. (Though I would like to.)

On the other hand, creating alternative markings (which I came up with off the top of my head, but needn't be so alarming) would seem to be permissible as it does not create a "do not contact" list at all, but instead provides a method for individualized handling of special contact considerations, which would seem to be in line with the policy. Nevertheless, my hypothetical procedure is criticized.

I do not discount the possibility that I am missing something, but telling me that things are clear does not make them clear for me, and picking apart incidentals is also not helpful.

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Postby Mikerowaved » Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:11 am

seanmcox wrote:On the other hand, creating alternative markings (which I came up with off the top of my head, but needn't be so alarming) would seem to be permissible as it does not create a "do not contact" list at all, but instead provides a method for individualized handling of special contact considerations, which would seem to be in line with the policy. Nevertheless, my hypothetical procedure is criticized.

OK, so I'm a bit confused with your idea. How do you propose a method of "creating alternative markings", without actually making the MLS record "adjusted or coded" (as stated in the document)?
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Postby RossEvans » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:37 am

seanmcox wrote:Anyhow, based on Moroni's comments as a context for the policy statement, it would seem to me that playing around with districts in order to hack a "do not contact" list is a bad idea. Nevertheless, I find in this thread, that such a procedure has received praise, and I don't understand why. (Though I would like to.)


If the quorums, under direction of the bishop, actually do treat a subset of households with special care -- for example, with special home teaching districts or companionships assigned to quorum leaders -- those home teaching assignments certainly should be recorded in MLS. (It is not possible to assign a home teacher or supervisor named "Do Not Contact.")

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Postby seanmcox-p40 » Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:11 pm

Mikerowaved wrote:OK, so I'm a bit confused with your idea. How do you propose a method of "creating alternative markings", without actually making the MLS record "adjusted or coded" (as stated in the document)?

The memo/tip/policy/whatever does not say we are not allowed to mark records. It says we are not allowed to mark records in any way that would "show the record as DO NOT CONTACT". (or any equivalent)


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