Mundane & Useless Threads

To: Stephen Ambrose <>
Subject: Mundane & Useless Threads
From: Russ <>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2013 19:54:10 +1000
Thanks Chris and Stephen for your thoughtful comments.

One of the things I like the most about the Birding-Aus community is its
diversity. We are very fortunate to have such an eclectic membership, and
so many people willing to contribute. It is usually enlightening to read
what academics and tour operators, twitchers and authors, sound recordists
and photographers have to say. But it's also good to hear from people new
to birding, because sometimes their questions raise points that might
otherwise be overlooked. In any field of study,  there is always value in
revisiting fundamental concepts or confirming basic knowledge.

On the other hand,  just because someone has gone to the trouble of writing
something, doesn't mean everyone will read it. The better the content, the
more likely it will have a wide readership. Those who write just to be
controversial or argumentative will probably have their posts deleted
unopened by more and more readers.

So - read what you find interesting, reply to threads when you have
something to contribute, and make good use of the delete button. This is
only as good as the people who contribute to it  - and I'm thankful that
there are so many people with valuable things to contribute.

Russell Woodford
Birding-Aus Founder

On 19 April 2013 16:10, Stephen Ambrose <> wrote:

> 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
> others.
> 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
> way.
> Stephen Ambrose
> Ryde NSW
> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
>  On Behalf Of Chris Ross
> Sent: Friday, 19 April 2013 2:09 PM
> To: 
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Mundane & Useless Threads
> Hi All,
> expanding on what Allan posted, I would suggest don't forget this is the
> Internet.
> 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
> participating.
> 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.
> regards,
> Chris Ross
> Helensburgh NSW
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