The Decline of BA

To: 'Greg and Val Clancy' <>, 'Peter Shute' <>
Subject: The Decline of BA
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 2016 02:25:23 +0000
More on this....... I would be surprised if diplomacy is often lacking
(emphasis on "often"). And if so, surely not intentionally. Corrections are
usually offered simply to be helpful - to assist in doing better next time.
I will give and take them in that spirit. Of course best to remember to be
positive to the good points as well (commend, recommend, commend).

Either way to carry the analogy to print, as Greg has done, it is so much
better to have your writing checked and corrected before it appears in print
than being picked up for sometimes silly errors after. If suggested
corrections are not correct, it is often not because the original intent was
wrong, as much as that it could be expressed more clearly. Then at least you
have the opportunity to clarify. It is well worth doing. My experience is
similar to Greg in this, also based on often refereeing and editing others'
writing, before publication, also writing reviews of published works. It is
so much worse to have to point out errors in published stuff (mine and
other's) that should have been picked up earlier. Although on this email
list we don't need or expect to be so correct as in proper publication.
Emails are generally done quickly and so not always us at our best.

I have at various times offered corrections to items sent in to this line.
Not when trivial, as "typos" can be ignored. Sometimes when amusing, because
that can be entertaining. Mostly though in an attempt to reduce promulgation
of errors. Things like often Dr Horsfield's name being given as Horsefield
or just as bad, missing the apostrophes in the bird's name when the name is
in the context of naming after a person. Or the strange randonmess of
inserting a meaningless apostrophe in plural words for bird's names. Where
does that come from? And yes that just happens to be something I care about.
We even had the non word of someone writing recently about "sitings" of
birds, when what clearly was intended was "sightings", unless they meant
"sites". Or people writing about "decimation" when they mean devastation and
when decimation (10% reduction - if done once) is actually generally
trivial. Individual mistakes don't matter much but I sure wouldn't like it
to be repeated.

Placement of hyphens etc also does matter. A good example is someone writing
about "Red-collared Dove" which ordinarily sounds like a good bird's name
for a dove with a red collar. It caught my attention at the time as it
seemed so odd. However it is not right description or spelling as it has a
black collar and is a variant of the other black collared doves but with
overall red plumage. So it would be Red Collared Dove, which means something
entirely different from Red-collared Dove, although usually called Red

I have sometimes commented on that I think some items (in particular "bird a
day") are dopey, because they require a lot of effort and cost and don't
achieve much that is useful and prescribe that once a species in on your
list, then it becomes uninteresting. (To me a bird becomes more interesting
as you get to know more about it.) I wrote that in the context of that the
general public often think birders are weird geeks. If indeed it is true
that birding is about things like "bird a day" (and its weird protocols)
then I would be forced to agree that we are weird. I don't see such a
perception as useful to our public relations or the greater good of bird
study or conservation.

Just bits of my opinion which are no more important than anyone else's. But
I have been diplomatic in expressing it.


-----Original Message-----
From: Greg and Val Clancy 
Sent: Sunday, 10 January 2016 11:56 AM
To: Peter Shute; Philip Veerman
Cc: birding-aus
Subject: The Decline of BA

I agree that with the correction of mistakes often it is diplomacy that is
lacking but the other side of the coin is a strong objection by some to
being corrected.  As someone who has published many papers in refereed
journals I have become used to having my writing severely corrected.  At
times I believe the reviewers have been unfair in their comments so I have
stuck to my guns.  However the critical evaluation of data and information
is essential to good science and although the BA site is not a scientific
site it is desirable to maintain a high standard of accuracy as mistakes can

be perpetuated as Philip states.  So the lessons to be learned are - correct

mistakes but be diplomatic and accept corrections if they are well founded.
Personalising comments and criticisms is not appropriate.

Dr Greg. P. Clancy,
Ecologist and Birding-wildlife  Guide
| PO Box 63 Coutts Crossing NSW 2460
| 02 6649 3153 | 0429 601  960

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