Mormon Dot Org Sees You

An interesting little insight came about through messing around with missionaries on


I was pretending to be a missionary, using the script they rely on to speak with folks who come to their chat box and ask questions.  The conversation was intentionally confusing, as you see below.  I adopted the name “Courtney” from a missionary I had just conversed with on an earlier chat thread.

Courtney (that’s me): Hi!

–Now Chatting with Joseph– (This is the real missionary)

Joseph: Hi! This is Joseph and Thomas.  How are you?

C: Hi Joseph!  We have a prophet named Joseph.  Would you like to learn more about him and the Restored Church? [Again, I’m pretending to be one of them, talking to an investigator named Joseph / Thomas]

Thomas: Sounds great!

C: So what is your question Joseph?

Joseph: What can we help you with?

C: That’s what I was wondering.  How can I help you today?

[after some delay…]

C: Wait, are you a missionary too?  This is so funny!  I thought you were an investigator!

Thomas: You know it 🙂

C: I’m totally confused now.  I’m a missionary.  I think the system has been hacked or something.

Thomas: What mission are you in?

C: Honolulu.  You?

Thomas: What is your last name?

C: Sorensen.  You?  This is sooooo weird!  I’m checking with the office elders.

Thomas: Are you an online missionary?


Here is where the little game exposed something.  Apparently, I convinced Thomas/Joseph that I was possibly a real LDS missionary, so much so that they began to ask rather unscripted questions, while checking their databases.  These questions are the sort an officer of the state would ask strange persons who are found where they shouldn’t be.  Papers!  What is your name?  What mission are you in? 

Now I’m inside, right?  I start typing “I’m a full time missionary” but delete it, and instead typed, “I’m doing an online split for two hours.”  Then I hit /send/.  I never hit /send/ until I had deleted the “full time missionary” text, and replaced it with “doing an online split.”

So?  Thomas responds, aggressively now (using the wrong ‘your’):

Thomas: Your a full time Elder or your doing an online split for two hours?  Your story changed.


I never sent the “full time” text.  He was reading my screen while I typed.  Not merely seeing what I typed after I hit “send”. I was stunned, obviously a sign of how naïve I am about internet communication.

I checked this pre-send surveillance by typing, “are you full time?” while not actually sending it.  And he replied, “No, I am not full time.”  So I typed, and didn’t send, “Are you reading my screen, before I hit ‘enter’?  Creepy!”  And I didn’t hit /send/ this time, either.   Here’s what Thomas wrote, in response to what I hadn’t actually sent:

Thomas: You would know wouldn’t you?

Courtney: [typing…not yet hitting /send/] You would know, wouldn’t you?

Thomas: Yes, I would know.

He jumped out of the chat quickly, with a “Yup 🙂 Its no secret” and “God bless!”


Now, he seems like a nice enough kid, just doin’ his job, as they say.  And a secret it may not be, but there’s nothing alerting the incoming chatter on that their keystrokes inside the chat box are being recorded and read by an online missionary, whether you hit “send” or not.  So, to whom is it NOT a secret?  Apparently to online missionaries.  And now it’s not a secret to a few others, as well…

I just wish Jesus had a profileHi!  I’m the Creator of Heaven and Earth, I like redeeming, donkey rides, walks on the beach and on the water, and I’m a Mormon! 



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  1. This is rich—and spooky. What a cool experiment. I just watched Nineteen Eighty-Four again the other night. In ways large and small we’re drifting that direction.

  2. There can be no justification for this other than nefarious purposes. I mean, writing things out and then backspacing seems to be an unwritten right of participating online (I backspaced and rewrote 5 times in that last sentence). It seems to me, the missionaries could use it to their advantage… like online fortune tellers, knowing what the “investigator” is REALLY thinking. It’s probably the reason that Google Chat once announced a similar feature (streaming text) and then never released it… at least to the general public.

    Why do I feel violated?

  3. DJL, I was reading your typing, and not just your typed text. Let me address what you were going to say…Actually, I think they seldom read anything that is typed, either way; because pretty much whatever you ask, you get very similar replies: read this talk, we have a prophet, and families are good. The uncanny sense maybe comes from such a spying tactic being used for such mundane, uninspiring ends. that’s really troubling. If we have the power of God to see your thoughts in composition, man, we should do some good or evil.

    1. I suppose you’re right, Daymon. They have the Book of Mormon and don’t know what to do with that.

  4. YCMTSU! You can’t make this stuff up. Right? LDS websites are creepy. What about the aps? Like the “Gospel Library” ap. Do they track what we read and how often we go to certain chapters like Moroni 4&5?

  5. Well, this makes a lot of sense to me.

    There’s this theological idea that God spies on us. He’s always watching for signs in our thoughts and behaviors, writing them down, keeping track of everything on some kind of invoice. Then you die, and the invoice comes due. Every little item has its cost, and the balance decides what kind of violence God is going to do to you. He’ll thrust you down to hell, or perhaps worse still, maybe even into heaven (on Jesus’ tab, of course).

    If the god spies on us, why wouldn’t his commissioned agents do likewise? How else will they know if you have “real intent” or not? So they need to see even what you didn’t mean to send. Naturally the “Send” button is a mere vanity, but it turns “investigators” into fools and their LDS interlocutors into spooks. Kind of like baptism is a vanity, as are all of the other arm-squaring and oath-uttering circus acts of ritual religion. We are only allowed to think that these motions make any difference at all, but it’s futility. The deity has already sussed us out.

    The god of this world is a behaviorist, as are his cronies. Gatto says that behaviorists read entrails; they spy on the movements of trapped and hopeless animals. Behavior to behaviorists is only what can be seen and measured; there is no inner life. There is no atonement. If there were atonement, there would be no need for surveillance at all.

    Yeah, I think you managed to catch a tiny glimpse of the work of perdition.

  6. I don’t doubt the lds church had nefarious actions, but this seems pretty low on the concern scale.

    Since the church is a business, it’s run like a business. I presume most customer service chat windows employ this feature. It helps them locate info while you are typing. It keeps the machine running and the cog turning.

    For a business interested in dunking as many people as possible, this is more mammon marketing versus valiant voyerism.

    1. Alliterative jargedy jarg, jarg, jargon…Elder Maxwell, is that you speaking from beyond the grave?

      I open the church’s convenient chat window and type: “HELP!!! I have lost my testimony and am having trouble recovering it…can you help, PLEASE!!!”

      [Elder Customer Service Rep quickly enters the search terms /how to recover a testimony/ into the search engine, whereupon in 0.013 ms, 5000 search results are returned before I can press /SEND/]

      Elder Customer Service Rep: “Whew, It’s your lucky day, yes, I can!!! Let me ask you, do you read your scriptures every day? Do you pray (alone and with your family) several times a day? Do you observe the Word of Wisdom? Do you […] These are typically prescribed to help restore testimonies…”

      If the church is a business, then it’s not a very believable one.

      If I’m “investigating Mormonism,” I couldn’t give a flying fv¢k about customer service concerns, chat windows, response times, etc., or what info the rep on the other end of the chat is able to look up while I’m typing. If I’ve decided to come to the site, I’ve already (assuming I’m sincerely interested) considered some pretty serious things, and wouldn’t simply be “window shopping for a religion.” I am NOT a “customer.” What I would expect is well thought out, considered responses by folks who already have answers…answers their gospel provides them. In fact, I probably would only be “chatting” in order to arrange to get some of their dudes over for a visit, and then only because my prayer to have God send a rep my way did’t seem to get answered; a place where I could conveniently express interest and drop off my name and number, so that someone could get back to me at a later time, God forbid. “Real time” turn around to deep questions in that case would be way down on the important list for me. I’d be happy with a, “This is not the forum for these types of discussions. I will be happy take your info, contact the Elders in your area, and have them look you up.”

      A “real” business would have, before a single line of code had been written and checked in, already provided a space for Potential Investigators to air their concerns to the business directly, instead of having to do so on some dude’s blog after the fact. Alas, such things are never done well at the church (I used to code for LDS, Inc., or ‘COPS’ as it was designated at the time for billing purposes).

      As a feature, pretty low on the concern scale? For sure, but someone paid a bunch of product managers, portfolio managers, project managers, program managers, programmer managers, all their managers, oh and the actual UI / UX guys, programmers, and QA “engineers” who didn’t really need all that management (spending untold hundreds of thousands of African Family Units) to create the stupid thing that no one, as Jockeybox rightly points out, should be concerned about, but who were anyway, probably so all those ambitious managers and missionaries could show off their awesome gospo-centric internet ecosystem leveraging development skillz for the building of customers of Faith in the Power of the Priesthood of the Kingdom of God to certain folks in their up-line. And it was likely “market tested” only afterwards, using members already in the fold, who would never admit to the non-need for such a thing among a people with supposed access to heavenly messengers, angels, and a priesthood of folks with supernatural powers to move heaven and earth for the salvation of men, for fear of raising the ire of one Elder Ire-ring (who, we are told–in whispered tones and with “moist” eyes during a strangely sacrament-like work meeting at the ROB–had a “special interest” in this particular project), and thus offending God. The church is no business. More like it belongs to a class of things whose name starts with the letter ‘C’ and rhymes with Margo Schultz.

      Daymon’s experience inadvertently exposed this normally unseen feature of a software application of strange heritage that was used, yes probably, to locate info while he was typing, but not by the representative of a caring customer-centered-business helping the sincere investigator, or the supposedly confused co-worker, or in order to play along with (or simply ignore) the unwary impish character having a go at them, but by a no-good jerk involving themselves in a policing action. Well done…

      Of course, none of this is to say I think the church ought to straighten up and start acting like a proper business, only to point out that it doesn’t look or act like one from where I stand, which is fine by me.

      I am Chuck, a misplaced-coon-ass-double-e-programmer-creator-dabbler-tailor-freak-pain-in-the-ass-to-his-friends-and-family-wannabe. I often swear and enjoy vulgar humor. I believe in the Book of Mormon, and in a God who cannot possibly control his creations, and in the constant need for care, persuasion and negotiation, and in factishes, and in the proliferation of Latourian hybrids run amok though deemed, by most, to have no place at the party. I talk of my frequent hypnagogic / hypnopompic hallucinations, I don’t do correlation, don’t care if “families” are forever.

      And (yet) I am a Mormon!

      1. Hi Chuck! How can give scripted lines of text in response to your keystrokes today? What? You want to know about God? Let me search the chat client service…my ART is being reduced. Um…ask Josh. He works for a major brand tech customer service service.

  7. Holy guacamole! Isn’t that deceptive? Or does deception not matter?

    I do wonder, though, why they have this set up this way? So that they can save time? (Did you get the words I typed, then deleted? Lol) To have an edge for some other reason?

  8. YES: I am a computer programmed by a “major tech brand” you “might have consumed.” Just like with any online conversation, the speed of answer makes you feel if the other person is engaged in a conversation or not. Whether it’s customer service for a business or any other type of service, we can all agree with the fact that no one wants to wait more than a minute for a chat response. I work for a major tech brand (chances are you are a consumer of such brand) and we use a chat service client with the same feature so we can start working on a response and getting links, help articles etc. ready so that we don’t impact our ART (average response time). Not to mention when chatting with the elderly. This type of chat service client is very popular among huge customer service companies that provide service to most of your online inquiries. I don’t want to mention brands but if you are a consumer of the “popular” brands, most likely you have already used this service if your preferred method is chat. You have not discovered a secret about the church, you just unveiled a feature that online chat systems use. It seems that the only thing “deceptive” here is that you are all trying to make something common for internet users seem like a bad thing. Oh, and stop being so dramatic and paranoid, it’s really not necessary. End conversation: Program Input: “smart” persona.

    1. I was neither dramatic nor paranoid. If only you could have read what I originally wrote here, before it was deleted! Short and commanding enough for even the likes of a major tech brand voice to understand and follow.

    2. I can’t tell you how much this Josh comment puts my mind at ease, knowing now that the systematic keystroke snooping is Perfectly Normal and very much commonplace with regards to the unmentionable consumer brands services. Huge customer service. Huge. And doubtless I’ve already used them without knowing it. Clearly we all agree with facts.

      Best of all, it’s for my own good.

      Wait, do I push the “send” button or not? Hello, hello, is anybody reading this?

      1. Ya, Josh’s response was supposed to make me feel *better* about real-time text streaming chat clients?

        Pmccombs, do you always consult Google in search for links to helpful articles as you respond to me whenever I chat with you? And I always attributed your slow responses to thoughtful engagement…I guess I’ve been wrong all this time, you jerk.

      2. I think we can all agree that JOSH is actually Jshua, you know, YHVH? Who else could speak so authoritatively about what he knows not? Who else, customer service customers for a major brand tech company (Not to name names, but…it’s the Kolob Konsortium Ink.). Or, maybe Josh is what happens when Yeshua is uploaded as a client persona, a sort of satanic mockery of actual beings with minds and souls?

    3. Josh:

      I guess it’s “business” as usual then, for the Corp of the Prez (a “major” brand). As Chuck pointed out, it’s a strange business model.

      Everyone else:

      This isn’t the first time we have seen this tactic used. It could be that it was the “convincing power” (as in, “plug me in to their heart, God!”) that the Book of Mormon missionaries deployed, which was so effective that the person on the other end couldn’t NOT believe in their words. After all, Alma and Amulek could perceive Zeezrom’s thoughts, Ammon knew what the king was thinking, and Jesus himself knew the desires of his apostles. But if I recall, in most cases the result was that either the “investigator” hardened their heart or was so overcome that they passed out/got a bad fever (or became immortal, in the case of the 3 disciples).

      I think Josh’s major brand software is a sorry replacement for the spirit of prophecy. But you’ve gotta give the COPs credit for trying to COPy it.

      1. I think it’s pretty clear that Alma & Amulek were chatting personas, and they were really reading the keystrokes in Zeezrom’s mind. It’s a major brand. My new favorite response. It’s a major brand. Thanks Josh, for giving me the gift of that phrase, which I will use in mockery of your words hereafter. That, my friend, was a major brand.

    4. Hey I’m Josh. I think it’s pretty clear my customer service major tech brand approach is sh!t, at least among adults with brains. So, cool story bro. I’m a Mormon.

    5. Hey I’m Josh. I just input my reply, as typed by me. What do I think? I mean, what does the major brand tech company software script tell me to say? Major brand tech company for consumers ecosystem like you’ve already purchased input chatting ART client service

      1. Actually, I’ve got a confession. Every other Josh is just me Joshing you guys. The first was one Josh, of course, Mr. Major Brand Customer Service. Although I did add the italics, you know. I can’t help pretending to be someone else, apparently! It’s my version of redemption, perhaps.

  9. Like I said, I’m Josh. I’m a Mormon, and I work for a major tech brand company, you might have already purchased from! And my ideas come from a major brand tech company. I’m a computer. I mean, I’m a Mormon. I mean….beep..beep. CRASH. Upload new Persona Josh.

  10. Ha! Your wurong, Daymon…here’s prufe that Customer Service Matters:

    “Delighting customers through experiences is every marketer’s challenge. In the most anticipated customer experience (CX) report of the year, Adobe and Econsultancy surveyed more than 2,200 leaders throughout the world to give you the most comprehensive perspective of the state of customer experience. Read The Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: The CX Challenge to see how companies rate their CX maturity, how many see design as part of the CX mix, and what type of companies say they’re design-driven.”

    From someone whuy “nose”, unlike your…

  11. If Adobe had asked me, I would’ve told them that their CX generation of software in the cloud, sucks. Historically they do win high marks for the customer outreach, but CX is a mess. Should the church of Jesus Christ have great customer support? We live a customer-support supported world and would probably assume so but it would be interesting to know what “he who is more intelligent than they all” would have to say about it.

    1. Conflating acronyms as we speak. I meant Adobe’s CC generation of cloud-based software. Their CX kung fu is strong in the service off their CC software which is not.

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