Read Part One Here
Wow, what a great batch of comments, first I must commend Shyloh, Mike, and Kenny for publicly sharing their views.
The 11 anonymous posters had a varied mix of feelings and thoughts, and some obviously didn't want to share their names despite such strong convictions. I want to respond to every comment so bare with me while I go through them...
This seems like pretty blatant trolling--you say you don't care, but the time you took to post this with your feelings shows otherwise. You say, "I know what I saw", which is fine, but if your sightings seem questionable, and have little details, their addition to the public data poll is a bit careless. Like I mentioned, I am okay with people using eBird to just track their personal sightings for themselves--its a great tool for that. However, for anyone that feels this way, I highly recommend going into preferences and checking the "hide my data" checkboxes for eBird Alerts, and Top 100 under the data privacy section. If your sightings are just for your personal use as you say they are, there is no need to have them included in these very "gamified" areas of eBird as one other commenter noted. My last criticism of your response was not having the time to enter a bunch of lists. You have time to go birding, you have time to enter at least one list, and you have time to comment on this blog. So time is on your side I would argue, and the little amount of time it takes to break 1 list into 3 or 4 seems well worth it this day in age.
Great comment. As I mentioned to Anonymous 1 this is the logical thing to do for others, and for yourself for a multitude of reasons.
I see the first comment got you riled. I have to say I disagree with your first point--eBird has many uses, and personal lists are a valid reason to use the program--its unfair to tell someone to use a notebook because they don't give a shit about science when the software is available for free and their data can be invalidated from the pool. As to your second point, I do tend to agree, but if someone doesn't use it to help with the scientific effort, their data is so minuscule in the bigger picture, that in 150 years it really won't matter. Those "Rare" birds they report, probably were mis-identifications, so their exclusion from the data pool is probably for the better. And as to your 3rd point--haha, spot on my friend.
I think in general in our local area--Utah, or even just northern Utah, the majority of eBird users are aware of what sightings are legitimate, and which are questionable. I would be lying if I said I didn't brush off a number of alert species based of the observer. In our community there are a handful of eBirders who don't so their sightings justice by taking photos of rarities they reports, or providing any meaningful information on the sightings for both eBird and their peers. Before eBird it was much the same with the "RBA" or just on the listserv's. In birding credibility is earned not through documentation. If a supposed great birder never documents his/her sightings, but constantly reports rarities, it begs to question the legitimacy of the sightings. IF other give chase and can't track down the reports, it also leaves you to wonder. But a photo, and re-chaseable birds create reputations and credibility amongst the community. I expect every level of birder from beginner to expert to provide the same level of documentation in eBird for the sighting to really resonate with me. This is completely aside of the scientific aspect of eBird, but more on the who is full of shit front.
As I mentioned before, this is an opinion, and someone who just uses it for themselves is not breaking rules or being selfish---eBird has many uses. I do believe people who use the applications should contribute more, but by no means do they have to, and by no means are they "doing it wrong". But they should take care to remove themselves from alerts and listing.
This is true--however an X can denote a count that is too high for a decent estimate. Many birders don't feel comfortable, or can't estimate high counts of birds. It sounds crazy but I have done this exercise with people to see how they estimate, and counts are wildly off sometimes. If it wasn't an easy to count exact count, it may be best to leave it as X--this data is still important and useful. I always try to put a number in, and in 99.9999999% of my individual sightings there is a count, whether exact or an estimate. It definitely adds value even with estimations though!
Woot an name and a face! You are nuts, a nutty nut job, blah blah blah. Just kidding of course, I just figured a name made it easy to call you out! In general it seems like you feel how I feel. I'm okay with people using the program how they see fit--I love when there are more details, and it lends credibility, and its better for the data pool.
You really are crazy... Crazy in a good way. I think a lot of people miss the communal aspect of eBird--whether or not you want to be part of that community, you are if you report rare birds, and take part in the Top 100. These things are far less important that high value checklists, but they have become a big part of eBird. You said it best though, "We should all strive to be a better part of the birding community since who can understand the highs and lows and adventures of birding best than other birders?" Providing better data inherently makes you a better part of the community--and our growing community here is proof of that!
Where do I even start with you man... You're the dude. You make the point right off the bat, "THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SELFISHLY USING EBIRD!!!" And Like I said, I agree--use it as you see fit, its there for many different reasons, so to each their own.
At the end of the day it really doesn't matter--like I told you, they're just birds man. But I like to think that striving for a strong community, with birders that respect one another includes some great self checking, as well as community checking--which helps build a great data pool. If someone reports rarities often, or even not so often, but rarely produces chase-able birds, or documents their sightings it effects not only the data pool, but chasers and listers--the community. Regardless of how people use eBird, if you report a rarity on a checklist, you should expect some level of scrutiny from others, that's just human nature, and a big part of birding--and quality documentation and information helps eliminate some of that.
I would never tell anyone "this is how you should use eBird", but I sure as hell think there are ways we can all make our checklists more valuable not only for the community but for ourselves! And I think that is a lot of what others are getting at too--just a tad more forceful.
Shyloh, wanted to tell you "LOL"...
Holy moly. I will just say this, well played sir. You hit the nail on the head.
This is a great point with all others aside--as volunteers, having to wade through the muck, it sucks. Whether a user cares about listing, or conservation, or whatever, a sighting that lacks documentation makes their lives harder. I have talked to several moderators who routinely throw out specific users sightings because they are so riddled with mistakes, and absolutely no documentation that it's better for the data pool to just remove them. I can see eBird eventually coming up with a way to block certain users from the data pool based of reviewer recommendations because of just that.
AND NOW MY FINAL THOUGHTS...
Let's just be real about our sightings for a second--on a personal level. In the end on either side (community/data pool versus selfishness), it comes down to do you care about being right, or thinking your right?
I personally would rather be able to look at my sighting, have documentation, and be able to say I am 100% sure of that--and so is everyone else that sees it, than have a sighting with no documentation that begs the question, is this reliable data. Simply putting a tick mark on a checklist for a rare birds shows a lack of understanding why that bird is rare/flagged, and the importance of documentation for data quality, especially when its not just a checklist for keeping a life list, but one used for building a data set for a location. In the end the reviewer can simply invalidate the sighting, but then it seems counter intuitive to the whole process. I don't think its asking to much for even a crappy photo--almost everyone carries a digital camera with them, and rarely are birds so flighty that even a distant, blurry, out of focus, or partially hidden bird can't be photo'd. It seems so simple, and useful to the whole idea of building the data pool.
One solution to this is creating user groups in eBird for different types of players in the "game". For the selfish, I use it to keep my life list, there could be a user type where all data is separate from the community pool. Then there could be scientific users, and typical users, so on and so forth. You could even go to a pay model which is a whole other blog post...
No matter what reason you watch birds, if you are using eBird you have made yourself part of that community, and we're glad to have, and I hope we all can work to make the community stronger in the long run! At the end of the day every birder is different, and uses eBird for many different reasons--I just hope that everyone realizes that we can all strive to make things better!