Historic channels

To: Peter Shute <>
Subject: Historic channels
From: James Mustafa <>
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2014 10:16:11 +1100
Hi all,

Most people are aware, as has been highlighting in this discussion, that
recently a few of us started a group on Facebook called "Australian
Twitchers". This group has been a phenomenal success as it is instant,
allows conversation/discussion, sharing of pictures and I even put up a 2
minute of the Long-billed Dowitcher feeding from Monday night. I think the
debate of what is better, or who likes what and blah blah online ads this
and that is actually pointless in this regard. For those that weren't on
Facebook, you missed all of this information that came pouring in
constantly. As mentioned in another email, by the time Long-billed
Dowitcher was on BA, I was already halfway to Lake Tutchewop thanks to the
instantness of Facebook. Because such a portion of the twitching community
is on Facebook the reality is that the conversation and instant reports
will be started here. Facebook was vital in the discussion of the LB
Dowitcher discussing things such as where the currently was "bird has moved
to NE corner" etc. These are instant luxuries that make twitching a little
bit easier - especially on tough birds and situations such as that. On that
Dowitcher Monday, I had Mike Carter on the phone a few times and I was
pretty much relaying to him all of the posts and discussions from Facebook
and some of the information from when we were actually in the field.

If I throw Eremaea Birdlines into this discussion - quite often reports are
shared online through Facebook way before published on this site also.
Instead of shaming and feeling negative towards Facebook, those that are
really twitchy and want to chase every bird, you've got a much better
chance of learning about vagrants first thanks to Facebook. To take a few
examples the following birds were posted and shared on Facebook before BA
and Eremaea in the last few weeks - Long-billed Dowitcher, South Island
Pied Oystercatcher, Eastern Yellow Wagtail (tschutschensis), pretty much
anything of interest in Victoria (can't speak for other states!) and even
way back to the North Lakes Little Bittern. I'm pretty sure I had booked my
flights to Brisbane before that made an appearance on other birding

It's just a 'new' technology that twitches should be rejoicing in. I can
only imagine what twitching was like before mobile phones.....
Elect whichever online platform you wish to use, but I can assure you that
I will relying on Facebook for the fastest updates.

All the best fellas and fellarettes!

On Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 9:43 AM, Peter Shute <> wrote:

> 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 them.
> > >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 accident.
> Peter Shute
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All the best,

James Mustafa

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