Date: 5/7/19 9:10 am
From: David Irons <llsdirons...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Ebird--avoid using the "x" in checklists because...
I agree with Alan, aside from some obvious exceptions there is no wrong way to enjoy birding, but there are plenty of ways to misuse eBird, as anyone who reviews eBird reports will quickly attest.

Birding and eBirding are not one in the same. The mission of eBird was not to create a listing playground, although some competitive and gamey elements have been added to make it more appealing to the birding masses. The mission of eBird is to create a useful scientific database of global bird distribution through the collective observations of millions of birders and professional ornithologists.

As with any science, meaningful participation requires the following of certain protocols. Upon discovering eBird it is easy to get seduced by the ease of personal record keeping, listing and sharing of rare sightings. Unfortunately, many become avid users without, or before taking the time to learn the eBird protocols and best practices. The result is the input of many checklists that are scientifically useless. It would be one thing if it took no effort or minimal effort to identify and cull out those checklists, but that is not the reality. Thousands of volunteer reviewers spend an unknowable number of hours interacting with observers in an effort to keep the database as “clean” as possible.

Some of the most common protocol errors involve distances traveled, location inaccuracy and checklists reported as “complete” that aren’t. Problematic checklists are often not found out unless one goes actively looking for them (a very time-consuming scavenger hunt). These protocol issues do not typically trigger a review like an unusual species or exceptional counts, which are caught by existing filters. Designing filters to catch some types of protocol issues has proven more challenging.

My intent here is to be informative, not to discourage anyone from using eBird. As one of the statewide coordinators for eBird review in Oregon all I ask is that you invest a little time in learning the proper protocols so that your checklists are more useful in the scientific sense.

Dave Irons
Beaverton, OR

Sent from my iPhone

> On May 7, 2019, at 6:39 AM, Alan Contreras <acontrer56...> wrote:
> I agree with Mike. There is no wrong way to enjoy birding. There are different ways of approaching our hobby.
> Those who want to learn how to use eBird (or to be effective on a CBC or a BBS or a ____) can do that. It takes some extra energy and focus.
> Hope to see many of you at Malheur. Speaking of which, there is something strange singing outside my window....
> Alan Contreras
> Eugene, Oregon
> Temporary address:
> Malheur NWR
> 36391 Sodhouse Ln
> Princeton OR 97721
> <acontrer56...>
>> On May 7, 2019, at 6:30 AM, Mike Patterson <celata...> wrote:
>> While I also have reservations about qualitative claims for statistical
>> differences between x's and estimates, I ALWAYS do estimates because:
>> a) I know how
>> b) one needs to do complete checklists to qualify for the monthly
>> challenge and win a pair of binoculars.
>> And thank you Tom for using the word "avoid" rather than "never".
>> Ebird was designed to capture data generated by birders, not change
>> their behavior. Every time somebody makes a declarative statement
>> about how we should or should not be using eBird; every time we try
>> to turn recreational birders into our ideal of the proper data gathering
>> machines, we frighten off people who do not see themselves as
>> scientists. It's our job to find a way to harness that collective
>> energy without chasing folks off.
>> I say this as someone who has worked with citizen scientists for more
>> than 30 years and genuinely believes that all those folks who are out
>> watching and enjoying birds in their own peculiar fashion are, in fact,
>> doing science in the same way other citizens scientists like
>> Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin and Teddy Roosevelt (to drop some
>> recognizable names) were.
>> Whether it's meant that way or not, every time we tell eBird users
>> they are "doing it the wrong way" we are also sending the message to
>> many of them that they should go away.
>> I don't think that's a very useful message to send.
>> --
>> Mike Patterson
>> Astoria, OR
>> Bald Eagles - a gateway bird
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