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Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From the Tales Inbox: A Ward YW Blog?

I am a newly called YW secretary and one of my jobs is sending out an electronic newsletter each month. The past secretaries have done either a plain text email or, the most recent secretary, sent a full-on PowerPoint presentation. She felt this might help the girls actually read it since so often they were not.

I was thinking about starting a ward YW's BLOG. This would be a place for the monthly newsletter. News items. Upcoming events. A place to post pictures from activities. A place for spiritual thoughts. I would send a reminder link each time there was something new for the girls to see.

My questions about this are many. Is anyone else out there doing this? Did you have to go through an approval process? If so, what kinds of things were worrisome to the leadership?

If approved, do i leave comments on or off? Do i make it a blog that is "for invited readers only" or can i just leave it open? (i feel like if there's one more step of actually registering and logging on, i may lose some girls and their parents). Is there a safer blog site to use?(i'm only familiar with Blogger and know my mother-in-law once--and only once!--hit the "next blog" button and got an eye-full). It would be for the girls, but i was thinking I would only allow the YW leaders the option to post on it. What other potential issues do i need to consider?

Thoughts on this idea?

Thank you,



  • My daughter set up a blog for the young women in our ward as part of a personal progress project. It's been wonderful! She did have to have it approved by the YW presidency and the bishop, but it was just a formality. Comments aren't allowed and it's a private, non-searchable blog. All the girls have been given the admin log-in, so instead of commenting, they just add a post of their own and sign it with initials.

    I helped my daughter think through all of the privacy issues. We wanted every girl and her family to know it was completely safe. I didn't think about clicking on next blog, but that hasn't been a problem.

    Some of the leaders read regularly, but the girls write all the posts. They put up pictures of recent activities, random stuff about their lives, and sometimes information about YW activities. It's much more a community for the girls than it is a reminder newsletter like you're talking about. But I can see both ways working.

    I thought no comments would be a huge pain, but the girls haven't minded. And they're very creative with text color, etc. It's been a grand success!
    posted by Anonymous Ahna at 10/14/2008 07:01:00 AM  

  • Technically speaking, the YW in our ward have a blog, but no one really regularly posts to it, much less reads it (it is a private blog on Blogger). We only have two YW, though, and neither one is very internet-minded. If you have girls like Ahna, it sounds like it'd be a blast!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10/14/2008 07:40:00 AM  

  • Our Stake Young Women Leadership set up a blog to keep everyone updated on events. It is where they post a monthly message, keep the calendar, put up reminders for girl's camp, etc. The secretary sends out an email every time she updates it for those who don't have a blog aggregator. Comments are allowed and I don't think it is private, but I think that is mostly because the leaders are a bit naive and don't think anyone would look at it or post questionable comments.

    A ward blog would be really fun if your girls would get involved. We only have three young women in our ward so that probably wouldn't work too well.
    posted by Blogger Natalie at 10/14/2008 08:26:00 AM  

  • Set up a private blog. Where they have to log in to view and you should be just fine.
    posted by Blogger Angela at 10/14/2008 08:56:00 AM  

  • thanks for the advice so far.

    i've been waiting to hear back from my bishop on this for a couple weeks now and got a response today. basically an "I don't think so" but he forwarded my request on to the Stake Public Affairs person and Stake "computer guru."

    One of them responded with another "I don't think so" attaching a letter from the 1st Presidency from 2004 saying no other websites are authorized outside the realm of lds.org.

    but he said he would forward it on to the Stake Presidency.

    the wind is sort of being knocked out of me on this! i was excited and felt like it could be a fun, positive place for the girls. more their type of "thing." something they could enjoy and contribute to.

    but keeps the comments and advice coming. thanks again!
    posted by Blogger Ashlee at 10/14/2008 09:39:00 AM  

  • I have run into the same situation in previous callings in a young single adult ward, and was referred to the same letter from the First Presidency. Another option that may or may not get approved, but would maybe be a little more helpful functionally would be to form a Yahoo group. Our local stay-at-home-moms group uses this, and our ward Relief Society has one as well. If you go to http://groups.yahoo.com/, you can create one pretty easily. People can get individual e-mails, daily digests, or no e-mails all and just go to the website to get updates at their convenience. There is a calendar you can post events to, and you can even set reminders to go out to people about the events. You can also post files and pictures to the site, and even have fun polls if you wish. You can also set as much security as you wish, where only certain moderators do posts or where anyone can do a post. The whole group can be limited to people that are invited and once you have been invited and accept, if you choose to get e-mails, you don't ever have to login again.
    posted by Blogger Team Carroll at 10/14/2008 11:02:00 AM  

  • I work with the YW in our ward and my experience has been that email and blogs are what old people like us use. The YW use MySpace and texting to communicate. If we made a blog for our YW I don't think they'd use it. I'm on Facebook but am a MySpace novice. Can you make groups or something similar on MySpace? Or is there some twitter site that can send texts to their phones? (I have never done either and probably have the lingo all wrong and sound like some dinosaur that needs to know the aol keyword to look something up on the internet...) If someone knows how to do some automated texting I'd be really interested.
    posted by Blogger Gina at 10/14/2008 07:05:00 PM  

  • The trick to getting the girls to use the blog is for one or more of them to set it up and be excited about it.

    I wish my stake would do a blog like Natalie's. That's a great idea for leaders.
    posted by Anonymous Ahna at 10/14/2008 09:29:00 PM  

  • OK, I'm a lurker, but I was intrigued by this. I'd bounced around the idea of some kind of digital YW forum in a previous ward, and there was a fair amount of enthusiasm about it. However, we decided against it as a presidency because most of the online sites require users to be 13, and we didn't want to put any parents of 12-year-olds in awkward positions. And we knew one of our girl's parents had such strict internet filters on their computer, they couldn't use any social networking sites we were familiar with, and we didn't want to leave her out.
    I still think it could be very effective with many YW organizations out there, as long as you have good, strong security measures in place. And it made me happy to read about wards where it did work well! Good luck.
    posted by Blogger Erin at 10/15/2008 12:33:00 PM  

  • Make sure you remove the "Next Blog" link from the banner. You'd be amazed and appalled at what they might find. Yes, I know they can find it anyway, but it needs to not be your fault.
    posted by Blogger Marta at 10/15/2008 06:39:00 PM  

  • What about a Facebook site?

    Could you use the My Family site or is that off limits too...?
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 10/15/2008 11:29:00 PM  

  • I was going to say Facebook too, because I know all the YW in our ward are more on Facebook than MySpace...
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 10/17/2008 12:39:00 PM  

  • here's a talk given by M. Russell Ballard at the BYU Hawaii Graduation in 2007 that talks about using "new media" as a way to further the Lord's work. Maybe you could print it out and pass it on to the Bishop.
    posted by Blogger Ann M. at 10/17/2008 02:05:00 PM  

  • I agree that YW are not going to be as jazzed about the idea of a blog as their leaders. Go with Facebook.

    One suggestion I learned about recently - this might be more involved than you want to get, depending on your computer skills, but there is a plugin for Wordpress blogs that allows Facebook users to imbed the new information from the blog into their Facebook pages. So if you decide to put up the ward YW information on an installed Wordpress blog, Facebook users can then get the updates as a kind of RSS feed on their Facebook pages. The plugin is called WP Book. The only drawback is that you need the kind of blog that's hosted on a server, not the free kind hosted by Wordpress.

    If that last paragraph made no sense at all (and it wouldn't have to me, when I first started blogging), then I can explain more - you can email me at bnjeans at gmail dot com.

    There aren't a lot of ward YW blogs out there, but as the comments suggest, I think those that are, are private non-searchable ones, which is what they probably should be.
    posted by Blogger jeans at 10/26/2008 12:14:00 PM  

  • Also, someone got entrepreneurial and started a texting-management service for church youth groups called Simply Text. More info here.
    posted by Blogger jeans at 10/26/2008 12:17:00 PM  

  • this idea was totally shot down. i'm only allowed to send a newsletter. how very boring.

    but thanks for all of your comments.
    posted by Blogger Ashlee at 10/26/2008 02:55:00 PM  

  • Not even allowed to set up a Facebook group?
    posted by Blogger jeans at 10/27/2008 09:18:00 AM  

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  • A place for spiritual thoughts. I would send a reminder link each time there was something new for the girls to see.
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