Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Online Rating Expands: Yelping for Religion

One learns every day that there are still things that one would never think could exist. I’m sure one can say it about the first computers in the beginning of the 20th Century or about the bikes in the 14th Century. Every day things are invented and trends and brands are created. Some – we follow, some - we disregard, but in both cases – we take a notice.
Pope Benedict XVI checks the new Vatican web portal on an iPad.

In the age of social media, as it seems nothing more can surprise us – our lives are slowly moving from offline to – online: shopping (Amazon, eBay, Overstock - you name it), friendships, jobs, travel, reading and drawing, and even – relationships. And all the above can be rated and the opinion can be shared with the others – online as well. So, it is no surprise that from rating our restaurant meals, make up, doctors, lawyers and tax accountants, movies and concerts, we can now rate a PRIEST.  At least, in Germany – you can.
Hirtenbarometer ( - available in German only) or the "shepherds' barometer" is the first online platform where priests can be rated for their performance at church services, on projects for youths and the elderly, on their credibility and on how up to date they are. 
 "Pastoral work should be qualitative," Andreas Hahn, one of the founders said of the original idea behind the site”, adding they hoped "to stimulate dialogue to improve pastoral work." Reuters reports.
According to Hahn - "many parishes work well but their performance doesn't become public". Obviously, it should, since the priests’ service should be no different as the service of a tax accountant and/or a restaurant’s chef. What it all comes down to is that a person deserves to know if he/she is making a right choice about a church to go to – and this, I’m telling you – would be widely accepted and soon adapted by the Americans.
The founders of Hirtenbarometer hope the site could also contribute to some kind of an early alert system, so that potential problems might be recognized before they become actual problems.
Launched in April, the site has been well received by users. With 25,000 parishes and some 8,000 priests registered so far and the option to add more, the site's reach is growing. Now you can ZU SUCHEN and ZU FINDEN (to look and to find) a priest you'd like to attend the services of.
But while the site has proven a hit with users, reaction from the Roman Catholic church, which has been rocked by abuse allegations in the past year and witnessed a record number of parishioners leaving the church, has been more muted.
Neither the archbishopric in Berlin nor the German conference of bishops wanted to comment on the website.
Reuters writes, the protestant church said that it found the rising interest in public feedback as embodied by the hirtenbarometer concept a "positive development," - according to a recent press release.
Ratings for priests on the site are represented by sheep, whose woolly coats range from white to black to visually express a priest's rating. The pope and other prominent German priests so far sport light to middle grey wool.
Unbelievable what’s happening to today’s online space. Seriously, is there ANYTHING that does not exist anymore? Try to Google whatever you’d come up with and you’ll see – at least a few choices would come up in the Search Engine.
That reminds of a recent scene from the movie “Crazy Stupid Love”. A boy tells his mother that he heard her cry in the bedroom at night and that he didn’t know what it means and what to do about it, so he “googled” it. The mother (played by Julianne Moore) asks the son: “So, what did it [Internet/Google search] said?” The son replies: “Ahh, a bunch of weird things in connection to “mothers crying in a bedroom” [Fab, Tech and Media – yes, there are a lot of people out there with kinky preferences for a crying at night mother]….
What do you think, would this kind of site be popular in USA? I did express my opinion in the text…

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