Date: 5/7/19 5:55 pm
From: Jay Withgott <withgott...>
Subject: [obol] Ebird--avoid using the "x" in checklists because...

Hi, all. I’ll be brief, since much has already been said, but I feel obliged to chime in since I kinda indirectly accidentally started this whole thing, I guess. My reason, as one of our state’s county-level eBird reviewers, for pointing Tom to the FAQ article on Xs was that if an observer has chosen to invest their energies into contributing data to eBird, then I want to help make them aware of how they can maximize the usefulness of their data. I’d encountered a typically high-quality list of Tom’s from Mt. Tabor that included meticulously compiled numbers for the 40- or 50-some species he’d seen that morning, but X’s for two species. In such a case, it seems a shame that those two X’s should render the rest of the perfectly good data un-useable for some types of analyses. My message to Tom was along the lines of: "Because eBird needs the kind of quality data that talented and experienced people like you provide, I'd hate to see your data not be maximally put to us
e simply because of an "X" or two. In the big picture, even though honesty and humility are always great and admired qualities, if it's only a couple of species with the "X", I'd venture that it's probably more helpful to make an approximate estimate for those than it is to use an "X". That way your data will be most useful and most used.” I’ve sent much the same message to a number of other folks during my time as a county reviewer, because I’ve found that many eBird users are unaware of this issue.

So that’s really all this is about. For those who already enjoy contributing data to eBird and want to make their observations count for something, this is one small, easy way in which you can make your data maximally useful.

I think pretty much all of us would agree that every person has the right to bird in whatever way they want to, to use or not use eBird, to count numbers or not count numbers, etc. — AND that if you want to have conservation impact and help bird populations, then there are a very large number of things you can do that are far more effective than just submitting eBird lists!

Cheers and happy migration, all,

Jay Withgott

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