The Yellow Bittern Threads - Analysis of a Blamestorm

To: Laurie Knight <>
Subject: The Yellow Bittern Threads - Analysis of a Blamestorm
From: David Clark <>
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2014 22:00:28 +1000
Email can be a fraught method of communication; no body language, no facial
expressions and the constraints of expressing oneself by typing rather than

Hopefully everyone can move on and focus on more important things than who
flushed what.



On Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 7:44 PM, Laurie Knight <>

> G’day
> Speaking as an online researcher of Australian birdwatchers, the Yellow
> Bittern threads provide a useful example of social group dynamics and a
> reminder of how things can blow up (bushfire metaphors are quite
> appropriate for this subject).
> The first thing is that emotive language and finger pointing create a fuel
> load that is easily sparked into a blamestorm.  Naming and shaming has a
> righteous feel to it, but it has to be accurate and measured.  It can
> easily develop into a lynch mob mentality and result in law suits.
> The second this is that sweeping statements tend to confuse the situation
> and make things worse [throw away lines have a tendency to blow up in
> people’s faces].
> In the case of the Yellow Bittern we had "Due to the selfish and careless
> actions of these few anyone wishing to view this bird has now had that
> privilege denied.  …. Birders are now asked to refrain from visiting this
> site.”
> The identification of the irresponsible birders as photographers exposed a
> fault line and the claim that people would not be able to see the bird set
> it off.  While the post gave the impression that birders were supposed to
> refrain from visiting the site, the reality was that birders shouldn’t
> stray onto the golf course.  Being a public place, the Wallaroo Ct pond was
> never off limits.  Due to the urgency of a rare chance to see a mega,
> people got worked up.  Feeling they were being picked on, birders with
> cameras got their backs up ...
> The initial reactions of people to a problematic post can determine
> whether things are sorted out amicably or it blows up.  Beware of making
> quick judgements and strong assertions.  Above all, think twice before
> adding to the fuel load or creating a strong wind current.
> Regards, Laurie.
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