Mundane & Useless Threads

To: <>
Subject: Mundane & Useless Threads
From: "Stephen Ambrose" <>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2013 16:10:30 +1000
That's really good advice Chris. Thanks.

Someone else who contributed to this topic earlier in the week raised the
point that there are a few egotistical academics on Birding-aus who feel as
if they should promote their publications at every opportunity. I disagree
with this point of view.

Birding-aus is a broad church - bird-watching novices, casual bird
observers, keen bird-watchers, twitchers, professional bird researchers,
just to name a few - as already pointed out by a number of Birding-aussers.
Therefore, there are likely to be lots of threads on Birding-aus that are of
interest to one or several sectors of the Birding-aus community, but not to

I am one of the Birding-aus subscribers who occasionally refers to some of
my publications in a topic of discussion, just as I often refer to
publications and specialist websites of others. Those of us who do this, do
so to illustrate an ornithological point, or to give others who are
interested in delving into the topic of discussion further a starting point
upon which they can do this.  It has nothing to do with academic ego, it is
to do with scientific communication, which is an essential component of all
forms of scientific research.  There are so many scientific publications out
there in the real world that it is difficult sometimes to find the ones you
want, or even be aware their existence. So when there is an internet
conversation underway where a scientist has some published knowledge of the
topic, he or she will often say so and provide links to those publications
or websites.  Those links may only be of interest to one or two people on
Birding-aus, but often we do not know who they are and so the information is
sent to everyone on Birding-aus.  The information is also archived on
Birding-aus, so reference to particular publications may be accessed by
others who, in the future, may find them useful.

Collectively, the Birding-aus community is a great source of information
about birds and their habitats (and lots of other issues too!). I'm really
amazed at some of the bird observations and sightings that Birding-aussers
have reported over the years. Often these Birding-aus reports are the first
public records of those observations. These reports come from all sectors of
the Birding-aus community. I don't think for one minute that any of these
reports are ego-driven; they are provided because they are potentially of
interest to some, many or all of the Birding-aus community. References to
scientific publications or specialist websites should be viewed in the same

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde NSW    

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Chris Ross
Sent: Friday, 19 April 2013 2:09 PM
Subject: Mundane & Useless Threads

Hi All,

expanding on what Allan posted, I would suggest don't forget this is the

I've posted on quite a few forums and Birding-Aus is really quite tame and
people generally very helpful, if somewhat easily distracted into mundane
threads like myself.  I don't recall seeing any real full on flame wars or
other such phenomenon that happen elsewhere. (If you don't know what a flame
war is look at this link: )

People vary in their skills with the written word and can come across as
blunt, pedantic or even bullying, even when that is not the intent.  Forums
or mailing lists are also somewhat anonymous, where some people may be more
inclined to blunt or unpleasant than they would in other situations. Then
there is the lack of body language, intonation, timing which can change a
message or convey sarcasm or humour that doesn't happen real well in typed
responses, so make it easy to step on toes without realising it. This is
common to every internet forum/mailing list I have come across to a greater
or lesser extent.

Then there are the reports from people getting personal emails with
abusive/bullying replies.  I haven't received them on birding-aus, but have
received them from other forums once or twice, on one occasion I received a
near immediate retraction/apology.  Unfortunately this is part and parcel of
participation in internet forums, the anonymity encorages some people to
behave this way, it's generally only a small percentage but they tend to be
highly visible and can easily taint the whole feel of the forum.

My suggestion is that there is little you can do about people who misbehave
on forums other than ignore them, set your mail filter to delete their posts
before you read them and enjoy the posts that interest you. A little bit of
moderation and calling people to order does help but really on an internet
mailing list where you can send a personal email at the touch of a button
there is little you can do about it, other than recognise there are those in
the world, who behave that way and be prepared to delete their mail and
ignore them. 
It's no different to selecting your friends in real life.  In other words
don't let the misbehaviour of a few upset your enjoyment of what is on offer
from everyone else.

A forum type environment allows greater control compared to a mailing list
where personal emails are visible, you can hide email addresses, using
personal messaging instead and many forums allow blocking of messages from
individuals and moderators can definitely intervene and deny access to
people who refuse to play nice.  But even on a forum I've seen people take
offence at a post and leave even though they obviously enjoyed

Seems to me you have to be a little thick skinned to get the most out of
internet forums.  My philosophy is to ignore the 1% of bad apples and get on
and enjoy what is on offer.


Chris Ross
Helensburgh NSW


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