Historic channels

To: 'Russell Woodford' <>, Ashwin Rudder <>
Subject: Historic channels
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2014 09:43:13 +1100
In among some quotes from Russell and Ashwin below are some disjointed comments 
from me:

> Someone on the Facebook discussion of this same topic said 
> they didn't want their posts pushed to birding-aus. An 
> interesting point. Facebook owns everything that is posted 
> there, but as far as I can tell there is no
> *technical* barrier to taking a feed from a FB group to Birding-Aus.

That was a response to my call for comments on the idea of posting a daily or 
weekly summary of Facebook group "comments" here. This would just be a list of 
the initial comments which start the conversations, not any of the "replies" 
(which is what Facebook calls the rest of each conversation) because to include 
it all would probably just be annoying. 

But if any Facebook group members don't want their comments duplicated here 
then that's a bad idea. It would be very hard to automate the digests but 
exclude postings from people who don't want them included.

Also, as someone in the Facebook discussion pointed out, lots of the comments 
are meaningless if the accompanying photo is omitted.

> > Perhaps this is digressing from a birdwatching topic, 
> however it's a 
> > somewhat meta topic on the value of birding-aus in 2014 and 
> probably a 
> > discussion worth having. 

I started this thread because it's obvious that some information is now barely 
reaching birding-aus. It's a bad thing that certain information has become hard 
to find, so I think this is very relevant to birding. 

It's not just quick access to the latest news that's a concern to me, it's 
access to historical information. It's been pointed out that Facebook Groups do 
have a search function, although it doesn't seem to be available in the 
iPad/iPhone app (Android the same?), so it's not easily available to everyone. 
I know one can use the web site on a phone, but it's really tiny and painful.

I don't think the content is searchable via Google, and of course it's only 
available to Facebook members.

Trying to channel it all back to birding-aus is pointless. Aside from the fact 
that there have always been other regional lists and forums, it's obvious that 
the advantages of Facebook to those who use it mean it's here to stay. 

What's the answer then? If regular digests of Facebook stuff being posted here 
is unacceptable, perhaps just the posting of links that might be of particular 
interest? James Mustafa is has already done this recently.

Or do we only need an index somewhere explaining which are the relevant groups 
and lists to get information from? Can someone tell be which Facebok grups are 
relevant to Australian birding? They seem to be springing up all over the 
place, and the only way to know which ones are worth reading is to hear about 

> >It's a fact that those following 
> b-a alone to 
> > find out about vagrants have been privy to a tiny fraction of the 
> > discussion on the location of this dowitcher, its ID features, the 
> > photos of it (in fact, you wouldn't have seen them at all). By the 
> > time the first post to this page about the bird was made, the first 
> > car was already halfway to the site. And the first post to birdline 
> > wasn't made until well over 12 hours after the debate on 
> facebook had 
> > started. Say what you will about facebook, but it's now the premier 
> > place for these discussions, and the fastest way of getting 
> the word out.

I first became concerned about this when the AGP was at Point Cook in Victoria 
earlier this year. I'm not sure if it even got mentioned here before it was 
gone, because most of the discussion was on Facebook.

> > This is not to bad-mouth birding-aus. I think it's an 
> invaluable resource.
> > It remains a far better place than facebook for trip 
> reports (although 
> > these seem few and far between now). But it needs to find a way to 
> > remain relevant, and if that way isn't as a noticeboard for 
> sightings, 
> > then it's worth noting here that there are better sites elsewhere.

True. If it turns out not to be practical to allow photos to be posted here, is 
the posting of links to Facebook photos here a useful substitute?

I suspect Facebook's sudden popularity among birders is more to do with easy 
access via smartphones, not its suitability for the job. It would be a pity to 
lose years of archives just because we stumbled into something new almost by 

Peter Shute
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