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    ABA Debuts Birding News!

    Birding News banner

     

    Since the early 1990’s at least, birders have been sharing news via e-mail subscription lists. These lists were a great way to keep up with the birding scene in a given region. But they weren’t always the most convenient things to work with, especially if you just wanted to check in on what’s going on in a region but didn’t want to go through the process of subscribing, figuring out settings, managing e-mail flow, and so on.

    Enter Jack Siler and Birdingonthe.net. Jack is a Philadelphia birder and ABA member who long ago saw a need for a single place where all these user-generated news feeds could be aggregated and easily accessed. Nothing like that existed, so Jack, who isn’t officially a web programmer, went ahead and built it himself. His groundbreaking site, especially the BirdMail page, quickly became one of the most heavily trafficked and most beloved birding spots on the entire world wide web.

    And for years, Jack has maintained the site with incredible dedication and attention to detail on which thousands have come to rely. But the time has come for Jack to move on to other things including, we hope, getting a well-deserved break from tending these particular fires.

    We’re thrilled that Jack has honored us by passing the torch of his inspired marshaling of local, regional, national and international birding mail lists to the American Birding Association. The result is ABA’s Birding News (birding.aba.org). We’ve worked hard and are working hard to preserve Jack’s vision while building an entirely new site that incorporates the expanded possibilities of rapidly evolving web technology. We hope you’re as excited by the initial results and the possibilities for the future as we are.

    We have updated the inner workings of the site, allowing us to archive more messages on each list (30 day’s worth, instead of just a couple dozen), and to filter the messages so you can easily see reports of rarities based on the ABA checklist codes. Additionally, we’ve plugged in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, so you can easily share messages that you find interesting, funny, provocative, or otherwise worthwhile with a huge audience that would have been highly unlikely to see them previously.

    We at the ABA have always believed that the birding community is an immense storehouse of incredibly valuable and hard-won knowledge. And that birders know an awful lot about how to have a good time, plus some great stories of having some not-so-good times. We’ve always tried to shape and curate that knowledge and experience into useful things like the ABA/Lane Birdfinding Guides. Birding News is an attempt to do the same thing for the millions of bytes of birding information that go winging around the web every day. We want to make it all easier, more useful, and more fun.

    The best part is, this is only the beginning. We can’t wait to see what you, the birding community, make of Birding News. We promise to keep making it better, responding to your comments and suggestions, learning together as we all move forward. It’s what birders do, after all.

    We’ll be talking a lot more, here and elsewhere, about Birding News. For now, go on over and have a look around. We think you’re going to like what you see.

    The address is easy. Say it with me: BIRDING dot ABA dot ORG! birding.aba.org Remember it. Visit it. Bookmark it, and the individual lists you visit often. And tell your friends.

    Special congratulations are due to ABA’s David Hartley and Greg Neise for their painstaking work setting this all up. They were aided by a succession of contract programmers, especially Greg Mahoney and Andy Sheppard. Thanks, too, to Carrie Hartley for a fresh but classic new look.

    And finally, once again, thank you Jack Siler! For your hard work, your creativity, and your involvement in the birding community. We can’t begin to express our gratitude that you’ve trusted the ABA with your baby. We aim to make you, and all birders, proud.

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    Jeff Gordon

    Jeff Gordon

    Jeff Gordon is the president of the American Birding Association. There's very little about birds, birding, and birders that he doesn't find fascinating, though he's especially interested in birding culture and the many ways we all communicate our passion for birds, including this Blog.
    • http://10000birds.com Corey

      Congratulations!

      I see that birdingonthe.net is still up. Will it be taken down? Will it redirect to birding.aba.org?

    • Barbara Volkle

      Thank you, Jack, for your years of tireless ervice!

    • http://profile.typepad.com/offshorebirder Nate Dias

      What about the ‘Seabird-News’ and ‘Shorebirds’ Listservs that Birdingonthe.net carried? Are they going to be added to the ABA web feed in future updates?

      Also – I will miss the non-bird Listserv feeds (Butterflies, Dragonflies, etc) carried by Birdingonthe.net. I can understand why the ABA would not carry non-bird Listservs – but Siler’s site was the only portal I knew that aggregated non-bird Listservs – losing them would be too bad.

      If anyone knows another portal site that carries Lep and Ode lists, please let us know in the comments.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/offshorebirder Nate Dias

      Being able to perform searches based on ABA Rarity Code is a neat feature.

      Question: will users eventually be able to do ABA Code searches on all lists / nationally, or just on a per-list basis?

      Even being able to do them on a regional basis would be an improvement over visiting individual lists and doing multiple searches…

    • Chris W

      Ok, a couple things to help improve this.
      First, when I navigate to the Arkansas list and click on ABA Code 3 birds to narrow it down to just posts about the Brown Booby, the date and time disappears from next to the posts unless I navigate to each individual post. Date and time of each post would be a useful thing to keep around. Especially for posts about vagrants. Makes it quick and easy to scan if you’re just looking to see if there are reports from that day without having to read each post.

      Second, when I enter a bird species to find (in this case I just entered a random one; Eastern Bluebird) I find that all the posts containing sightings of that species are all lumped together. This can get confusing if you’re trying to sort out what state each sighting is from. If the posts could be sorted by state when you search a certain species, that would be a lot clearer and easier.

      Also, I second what Nate D said about the code searches on all lists and I also second the motion to keep the Lep and Ode lists available. A lot of birders are also into Odes and Leps.

      Pretty well done otherwise tho. Great work guys!

    • Todd A. Watkins

      Just got redirected here from the birdingonthe.net PENN birdlist archive.

      Overall this looks like this new site will be super useful; particularly like the addition of the social media feeds and the filtering options. Well done.

      However, a minor suggestion: in the old archives the messages were possible to scroll through without additional clicks. So far this new system looks like it will be necessary to click to each next or previous message. That is more of a hassle than ideal, particularly in large states like PA, where the counties 5 hours away are not the posts I want to be looking at. Both on my smartphone and on my desktop I’d much prefer to be able to quickly scroll through the messages all together, or at least have the option to select one way or the other.

    • Todd A. Watkins

      Another reason the scrolling option would be helpful is that, at least on my smartphone, the text/font size on the lists are generally too small so I resize on loading the page. However, each new page click wants to resize back to the small. So keeping it to one load would be significantly better.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/birding David Hartley

      Great comments and suggestions so far! We’re taking note of these and will implement those we can. More lists will be added (including butterflies/bugs) in the next few days as permission is granted.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/rickwright Rick Wright

      Great work, David and Greg and all of you! Really happy to see this.

    • Robin Leong

      BIG THANKS to Jack for passing his very useful website (I use his site to check for species to report for my Solano County, Northern CA North American Birds) to ABA. I hope others see this as another reason to join ABA just as Jack trusted ABA to continue the information flow on where birds can be found in our ABA area and more.

    • Alan Wormington

      Shouldn’t “province” be included in that introductory paragraph under the ABA’s Birding News header?

    • http://profile.typepad.com/offshorebirder Nate Dias

      Good to hear – thanks David.

      * User feedback: for what it’s worth, I would not mind a bit if the ABA ran banner ads on the new pages.

      Jack Siler’s website ran Google Ads, so obviously other birders did not find it disagreeable, judging from that website’s popularity. I would not mind seeing small one-line text-based ads like Birdingonthe.net ran; nor would I mind seeing full-blown banner ads containing images, etc. like on the main aba.org web page.

      This could be an additional source of revenue for the ABA – one that this particular curmudgeon would not mind at all – food for thought.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/chaetura Chaetura

      Awesome!

    • http://profile.typepad.com/doncrockett Don Crockett

      This is great! I’m glad to see Jack Siler’s efforts continued and improved upon.

      Some constructive criticism.

      “Birding” is the name of your magazine with the url aba.org/birding. Even though it’s a few more characters I would have gone with birdingnews.aba.org for the URL to reinforce the name and to avoid confusion with URLs and with the name that will be burned into people’s heads or used when they discuss it. “Yeah! You should checkout ABA’s Birding News at birdingnew.aba.org!” Simple and once it’s bookmarked the extra characters don’t matter.

      URLs in the posts should be clickable.

      Jack’s basic web page format of a list of all available messages for each mailing list made sense because he only retained a relatively small number of posts for each list. When you expand the number of messages retained, you need a better interface to interact with them to provide structure.

      I also developed a service for viewing birding mailing list called B-Mail for The Virtual Birder in the late 90′s. Though never as successful or as ambitious in its coverage as Jack’s, I did create a UI that dealt with maintaining more posts per list by grouping posts by the day or week depending on the list’s average activity. With B-Mail when you went to the URL for a list you saw just the posts for the current day/week in chronological order. That made for easier catching up since you could scan down through the list and then the actual posts without having to keep clicking. And clicking previous or next took you to the previous or next day/week. A lot of people said they liked my UI. I couldn’t invest the effort to keep the service going so it eventually ground to a halt. Not a happy day for me. But the remnants still remain if you were interested in some ideas on a different user experience. I’d be willing to suggest additional ideas to improve the Birding News UI if you were interested.

      Best of luck as you evolve the service!

      Example B-Mail List (Massbird): http://www.virtualbirder.com/bmail/massbird/latest.html

    • James P

      Being able to scroll through the messages was great when on a cellphone. The new format is very cumbersome.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/tfloyd Ted Floyd

      James P., you’ve pressed a button of mine.

      If people put care and thought into their subject lines, this wouldn’t be a problem. Folks, if you’re posting about a rare bird in the USA, please always include *in the subject line* what, where (esp. county), and when. It’s so easy. It’s so helpful. It’s so courteous.

      This way, you would know whether or not to click on the message for more details.

      Here’s a subject line that’s really helpful:

      “Red Phalarope, Pyramid Lake, Washoe County, Sept. 22nd”

      Here’s one that’s not so helpful:

      “Re: re: Subject: Psosible [sic] Phrarope [sic] YES!!”

      Here’s one that’s even worse:

      “Re: Was: Announcement: Upcoming NDOW waterbird survey, Oct. 1st.”

      Worse, that is, if the content is actually about a Red Phalarope seen Sept. 22nd.

      Say after me: Species. Location. County. Date.

      Easy. Helpful. Courteous.

    • Clara

      I don’t like the new set up at all. You only get one message at a time and can’t scroll down to several at once that allows you to see what’s going on quickly. It takes too much time to go in and out for only one bird siting!!!

    • http://10000birds.com Mike

      Awesome! Commendations to everyone involved. I can’t wait to see how this valuable resource evolves as we all get to play with it.

    • Ellen Cantor

      I was just redirected to the ABA site from the Siler’s Oregon site (OBOL), and I immediately saw that the ABA site does not have the most recent posts that the OBOL site did, which flashed by me just before I was redirected. I wanted to read the latest post, and now I can’t as it isn’t on the ABA site yet. This is especially important, as the timeliness of posts can be a critical factor in getting to see a bird…..thank you for your work on this new site

    • doc garland

      Why can’t I arrow back when finished.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/naswick Nate Swick

      Hi Doc, I’m not sure what your complaint is. You can always use the “back” button on your browser. Alternately, you can click any of the links immediately above the post you’re reading to get back to the listserv or to the original Birding News homepage.

    • Derek Courtney

      I must agree with Clara, James P. and Todd. It is great, and certainly a positive step forward, for the ABA to house the list-serv repository. But the format, as is, is not as efficient or user friendly as the old site. Subject lines at the top, with bodies of the emails below, all on the same page in a “scrollable” layout made it far easier on the user. I could understand if the site was intended only for mobile users and bandwith/loading times were the main issue. But even then as James P. said, it is at best a Catch 22. And though Ted Floyd’s point regarding subject headers is a good one, it doesn’t solve or apply to the utility issue mentioned here.

      The other more concerning item in my mind is that the “search feature” is severely lacking. From some, admittedly limited, testing, it seems the search feature only searches an extremely limited and recent time frame. The old Siler site at least had links to searchable archives of most (if not all) the local list-servs. For instance, if one were to search for “Lincoln’s Sparrow” or “Connecticut Warbler” for the WV list, one returns zero results. If the search feature doesn’t include past records, and there is no link the list-serv archives, this feature seems rather pointless. In other words, if the search feature only searches emails that appear on the main page of each individual list-serv, then there seems no real difference between the search feature and the “find” command from the browser in terms of functional utility.

      So far, the new site is a good thing for the ABA, but needs to have some more tweaks to be good for birders.

    • http://birdingfromportland.wordpress.com/ greg haworth

      I’m sure this will get lost in the message bulk. But, i’m not a member nor do i follow your blogs, web presence etc. Mainly because you are bird and list centric and tend to the competive birder — which i just don’t get. Whatever, you have your place.

      Now you have my attention! In my humble view you have totally screwed up my state’s (Oregon) listserv. Now when i check in, i get redirected to your page filled with crap i don’t want to see or know about. What’s up with that!? It is not even up to date!

      Thank goodness you haven’t taken over the archives — yet.

      Expletive.

      greg haworth
      portland oregon

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbe96abd970d Greg Neise

      Hi Greg,

      There is a problem, that we are working on, where OBOL and COBOL posts are getting mis-posted. This should be rectified soon.

      However, I think you are confusing (as many have) Birdingonthe.net with your listserve’s actual interface. BOTN is (was … Jack Siler has retired it, and passed the torch to the ABA) a list aggregator. Basically, a souped-up RSS service.

      In short, we have done nothing to your state’s listserve. It is exactly as it was.

      -greg neise
      ABA web developer

    • http://profile.typepad.com/jeffgyr Jeff Gordon

      Hi Greg!

      Thanks for getting in touch. I hear your frustration and I hope we’re able to help resolve it quickly.

      Rest assured, your message to us isn’t lost. We really do try to be responsive to all sectors of the birding community and we’re paying very close attention to how this transition is going. As you may have seen, our Web Developer, Greg Neise, has already beat me to the punch in responding to you. I’d say that having the President and one of the main web guys answering you within 30 minutes isn’t too shabby. ;-)

      As Greg says, we haven’t done anything at all to your state’s listserv, or to anyone’s. Jack Siler long ago set up the BirdMail section of Birdingonthe.net as a convient way to gather a lot of e-mail streams into one place. He wants to move on and has asked us to keep that service going. We’re doing our best to do just that. But Jack’s site, and our replacement for it, are not much more than picture frames, if you will.

      I regret that there’s apparently an issue with how OBOL and COBOL are displaying at the moment. Rest assured, we’re on it.

      I would also observe that a lot of your impressions about the ABA seem to relate to a long-ago era. I’d invite you to spend just a little time looking around on our blogs and web site here in 2012. I think you’ll see that there’s a heck of a lot going on here in addition to listing. We’re aiming to build an ABA that’s open and communicative and welcoming and useful to a really wide diversity of birders, not just one or two types.

      I’ll leave it for you to judge whether we’re making progress. In any event, on the LISTSERV front, please hang in there and give it and us a chance. We think you’ll find in a very short time that Birding News offers all you’re used to plus a great deal more.

      Good birding,

      Jeff

    • Ellen Cantor

      Would you please explain the distinction you’ve made in your reply to Greg. I’ve been trying to access Oregon’s listserv through sites other than OBOL (Oregon Birding on Line–a Siler BOTN page), but I can’t find any way to do so. I tried through Oregon Field Ornithologists, but the link on the OFO website just goes to OBOL. And everytime I go to OBOL, I get tempted by up to date posts which flash by as I get redirected to the ABA site which does not have current posts….how do I access Oregon’s listserv, other than via OBOL? thanks

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbe96abd970d Greg Neise

      Ellen, if you read Jeff’s post below, his description, “a picture frame” is spot-on. The “official” OBOL archives can be found here:

      http://oregonbirds.org/pipermail/obol_oregonbirds.org/

      (note that the most recent posts are at the bottom, when viewed by date.)

    • Steve McDonald

      Ellen, I had the exact same experience,except that sometimes, all the latest posts appear on the ABA website, but most of the time, only a few from each day are shown. Rather than a one-click access to OBOL on Siler’s website, it’s necessary to scroll down through all the regions to get to it. The specific listserve groups don’t seem to have separate URLs that can be pinned to a link on a toolbar application. It will be neccessary to enable E-Mail for each message directly from OBOL or get a daily digest, unless the ABA implements its service to provide the same options as Siler did.

    • Derek Courtney

      Steve, I am pretty sure the individual state/province list-serv’s do have unique URL’s. I have bookmarked the usual ones that I follow. It seems the Oregon List’s URL is: http://birding.aba.org/maillist/OR01. I don’t like toolbar apps, so I can’t comment on the “pinnability” but logically couldn’t see why they couldn’t. But who knows? Hope they get the Oregon listserv issues fixed soon for you guys.

    • Vjera Thompson

      Ellen,

      I think I found OBOL on the new site here:
      http://birding.aba.org/maillist/OR02

      It sounds like pretty soon OBOL will be here:
      http://birdnews.aba.org/maillist/OR01

    • http://profile.typepad.com/jeffgyr Jeff Gordon

      Thanks, Vjera!

      I believe OR02 is COBOL and OR01 is OBOL.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/mlretter Michael Retter

      A big thanks to David and Greg, who have been working on making this a reality for many, many months!

    • http://birdingfromportland.wordpress.com/ greg haworth

      Greg and Jeff:

      i appreciate your responsiveness and apologize, in retrospect, for my harsh initial reaction. You probably don’t need, or deserve that during a transition.

      I wish you the best in your new enterprise.

      greg haworth
      portland oregon

    • http://profile.typepad.com/jeffgyr Jeff Gordon

      No problem, Greg, and thank you.

      We realize it can be a real jolt when a change like this happens. No harm done, and do keep in touch.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0177442d28e2970d Murray Lord

      I have been using Jack Siler’s site for seventeen years so I understand him wanting a break. And thanks to the ABA for taking it on.

      I’d like to echo the people who preferred having on page with the headings at the top and the body of the emails below, instead of having to click on a link for each message you want to review. It lets you skim through all the messages very quickly, see what is rubbish and move onto the interesting stuff. If you have to click on a link to bring up each message then (1) it takes a lot longer and (2) it doesn’t let you download things once and read through them later if you are using a mobile device. I might as well just subscribe to the email service in that case.

    • drewbec@aol.com

      I think Jack Siler’s birdingonthe.net was wonderful, and thank him for the incredible and useful service he provided.

      I don’t have anything positive to say about the ABA takeover. I find this takeover to be an attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken. I don’t think it’s user friendly. I don’t want to spend the next several days trying to figure out how to navigate through all the crap.

      Thanks for nothing, ABA. I don’t think I’ll be using this. I’m really pissed that you’ve ruined a fine web site.

      Drew Smith

    • http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/northcoastdiaries/ Mike Patterson

      The only problem with Siler’s site was that Siler wanted to (deserves to be able to) retire. The most pragmatic response from ABA would have been to simply clone the site onto an ABA server so that it look and acts more or less the same then ease us into the ABA bells and whistles.

      Instead, we get a dysfunctional site that is decidedly less useful designed (it would see) by folks who never used it all that much. It’s missing mail (OBOL for example is not posting all messages. It dropped Harry Nehls weekly bird alert and responses to several posts from today as if maybe a SPAM filter was left on). It appears to be missing ID-frontiers and all the cool non-bird stuff. But at least all the ABA advertisements work!!!

      Having ABA take over was arguably a good thing. I know your heart’s in the right place, but this was badly executed and it’s no surprise that folks are upset.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/jeffgyr Jeff Gordon

      Drew,

      Dude!

      I have to say, I find your comments to be unhelpful and uninformed. I get that you’re unhappy, but your reasons don’t make much sense. Then again, I suppose they don’t have to. You’re pissed. That’s the bottom line. Still, I think a couple of responses are in order.

      1. There’s no “crap” to “navigate through.” The interface is very much in the style of Jack’s spare uncluttered look. Even Jack’s site had ads, announcements, etc.

      2. Your use of the term, “takeover” is odd. Jack *asked* us to take this on. You can say we’ve failed, or done a poor job, if you really believe that. But takeover is not really an apt term for what’s happening here.

      3. It’s true that Jack’s BirdMail wasn’t broken. Yet. My Toyota with 215,000 miles on it isn’t broken either. But I know that it won’t run forever and I have to be thinking about what comes next. Jack’s BirdMail was written in PERL, and it was a great piece of work. But it’s over a decade old, an eternity in the digital age. At some point, it had to fail, or be abandoned, or be updated. We’re glad that Jack chose option #3.

      Anyway, I hope a little time changes your initial bad impression.

      Good birding,

      Jeff

    • http://www.surfbirds.com/community-blogs/northcoastdiaries/ Mike Patterson

      Ah, I see now that all the OBOL messages are being posted to COBOL (Central Oregon Birders). God knows where the COBOL stuff is going…

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbe96abd970d Greg Neise

      Mike,

      As stated several times above, on the OBOL list, in personal emails, and on Facebook: we are aware of, and working on the OBOL/COBOL problem.

      We’re also taking all of the feedback (the lion’s share of which is complimentary) and suggestions into consideration, and will be making some changes and updates accordingly.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/doncrockett Don Crockett

      Jeff,

      I think drewbec may be expressing frustration in a less diplomatic and clear way than the suggestion by 6 people including myself that there was an advantage to having a list of subject lines followed by a list of full posts. Having the list of full posts makes it efficient to scan those messages, you’re “improved” interface is less efficient because it requires a lot of clicking to see the same number of messages. Clicking is less efficient than scrolling. To imply this redo is better just because the backend technology has been replaced ignores that you have lost something on the front end. This is not just an initial bad impression. You have eliminated something that people appreciated. Have you heard us?

    • http://profile.typepad.com/jeffgyr Jeff Gordon

      Hi Don,

      We’ve definitely heard you. And the feedback that a sizable percentage of people liked the old system of all the subject lines grouped on top with the entire posts in a single scrollable document is a great bit of constructive criticism. We’re trying to figure out how to respond to it.

      I understand a lot of the viewpoints that have been put forward regarding the desire to quickly scroll through a lot of content. But I have two things that are holding me back at the moment.

      1. I don’t have the technical knowledge to know what exactly is possible here. I would guess something more like the old system is possible, but I can’t say for sure. Our guru on this sort of thing is on vacation and won’t be back until Monday, so I’m not sure we’ll have an answer before then.

      2. One thing I found a little irritating about the former system was just how many acres of text one would sometimes have to scroll through. Especially when posters aren’t careful and threads grow bloated with requoted text from message after message.

      I’m hoping that there’s a happy medium, rather like what my e-mail reader does: it shows the subject line, plus two or three lines of the e-mail. In the vast majority of cases that preview is enough to let me know the gist of the e-mail and allow me to gauge how important it is for me to tend to and how soon. I think that sort of system might offer a good compromise. How does that idea grab you?

      So yes, we’ve got this message. But I can’t say for sure just how we’ll act on it. Please stay tuned.

    • Lance

      Hello,

      Many other commenters have said the same thing, but I’ll chime in too just to put in my “vote” and hope that enough voices will bring change–this new format does not work for me! Having to click on the individual messages is very inefficient compared to speed scanning/scrolling through several days of messages on the old site. Please allow the option of scrolling.

    • Vjera Thompson

      Thanks for making sure this service continues and doesn’t retire with Siler.

      I have a couple of tiny suggestions:
      1) I’d love to have a cool ABA icon show up when I bookmark and click on the individual mail page. I’m in Firefox, and when I go to the ABA site, it shows an ABA icon at the top of my screen and when I bookmark it on my toolbar it shows the same icon. I’ve bookmarked the new OBOL page and it doesn’t have an icon yet.

      2) When I look at an email, at the top it says “Previous Message” and “Next Message”. Next message takes me to an older message. I think it would make more sense if it said “Newer Message” and “Older Message”.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/mlretter Michael Retter

      Great suggestions, Vjera!

    • Vjera Thompson

      Also, I normally keep Siler up at work and refresh when I have a minute between tasks. I’m not comfortable having this in the background on my work computer. It’s very distracting having the social media tags constantly changing. So I plan to change and shut it down after every refresh.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/naswick Nate Swick

      Good point on the searching. I would think a link to individual listserv archives would be a fairly simple thing to add.

    • http://www.xenospiza.com Michael Retter

      Vjera, I believe this issue is being worked on as I type.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbe96abd970d Greg Neise

      I just got the List Archives up…

    • NC birder

      Like many other others, I had been using Jack Siler’s site as a quick way of looking at my area’s bird (and lep & dragonfly) posts without receiving loads of individual emails. I, too, would like to see a return to that list style – clickable subject lines followed by a scrollable list. Ted Floyd commented that increased specificity on subject lines would species help with this problem when reporting rarities/birds of special interest. I agree, and not just for rarity posting. However I worry that this association with the ABA might result in a bias against reports that are not of rarities and discouragement of beginners or non-listers.

      In re the search by ABA code number although I’m not much of a lister (nor a current ABA member) and am not likely to use this feature much, but as a scientist I couldn’t resist trying it out. I noticed a few things:

      1. I’d second the suggestion for the inclusion of the date of the post in the result list and would think that the old Siler style would be good here too: clickable subject lines followed by a scrollable list.

      2. I don’t see an easy solution here but it seems that an ABA code number search will also pull up any mentions of species whether or not they were actually seen. For instance, a post about an upcoming pelagic trip that mentions rarities seen in the past will be found.

      3. It also might be that a current search will find bird names that are imbedded in other words or in email addresses, e.g. if I report that I ran into a birder named Mike Ruffin, it’ll show up as a Ruff report. I saw this happen yesterday with a search but was unable to duplicate today. Having the search engine require spaces before and after a bird name would probably solve this problem if it really exists

      4. The code search has bugs that cause omissions. I tried the Alaska Birding link and searched by codes 2 – 4. An initial White-tailed Eagle report shows up in re Short-tailed Shearwater (Code 2), but not under White-tailed Eagle itself (code 4). And sightings of WOOD SANDPIPER, SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER, RED-NECKED STINT & Eastern Yellow Wagtail contained within a report having a Dark-sided Flycatcher subject line are not displayed by the search engine. These 4 species are obvious when you read the post. However, under some circumstances if I were a real lister I could see skipping such a post if I had seen the species in the subject line.

      Obviously, I’m pleased to see Jack’s site preserved in any form and hope that the ABA will consider the diversity of birder types that might make use of its continuation under the ABA sponsorship.

    • Derek Courtney

      Thanks for putting up the link to the archives. It was definitely needed.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/chaetura Chas Swift

      First of all great work Greg and David (and Jeff for fielding the complaints and making assurances). It’s impossible to roll these out perfectly even with testing and users really make the best testers. No doubt the bugs will get worked out quickly. Lots of good suggestions above for enhancements but I really think the new format of individual messages is an improvement and guess folks will get used to it in time. Especially w/ single clicks to move to next and previous messages – I’d also put these links at the end of each message BTW. I think this will improve navigation especially for emails containing long threads which often (unfortunately) include multiple nested replies. Also 30 days of messages in a single web page will get impossibly large and perhaps slow to load. No doubt Greg/David can code it and provide as an option but I vote for keeping the individual emails.

    • che guevara

      thank god that birdingonthe.net still works. I was able to ‘favorites’ my sites before ABA took them over forever… Viva la revolution!

    • che guevara

      seriously, though…who choses which lists are no longer ‘valid’ and which lists are ‘cool’ enough to include….there are several lists that are no longer included…did they not pay the ABA toll?!?!!?!

    • http://profile.typepad.com/chaetura Chas Swift

      birdingonthe.net now redirects to the birding.aba.org after several seconds (just try clicking on any individual list). Presumably all lists will be migrated to aba site in time (as well perhaps as others that were never covered on the Siler site in the first place).

    • http://profile.typepad.com/drewweber Drewweber

      I for one am thrilled to have a more intuitive interface. I almost never used birdingonthe.net precisely because of all the scrolling I had to do to read through a conversation. A list of links at the top of the page for each email…so infuriating :) It is much easier to press the back button than scroll the whole way to the top each time I want to get to a different email.

      I really love what you guys have done!

      I do have one suggestion, on birdingonthe.net, there should be a much more prominent explanation for what is happening, especially on each listserv page. And maybe an explanation that the pages are just email aggregators. I know there was a lot of confusion about why the ABA messed with the listservs, and I think a simple explanation might help some folks understand.

    • jb

      Species. Location. County. Date.

      Easy. Helpful. Courteous….

    • http://profile.typepad.com/naswick Nate Swick

      Birdingonthe.net had its place and time, but as someone that used it heavily and often, there were several listservs present on the website that were long defunct. It’s good to prune them away.

      As for the lists not yet present, we are still waiting for permission from the list owners for some and they’ll be available shortly. But if there is one missing that is active, please let Greg or David know and they’ll add it.

    • Derek Courtney

      Jeff, “How does that idea grab you?” — Not well. I share your irritation regarding people who include an original email in their reply/follow-up. But the change in interface does nothing to address that, as it is a user problem. From my standpoint, I used the old Siler site mainly for checking the list-serv’s of nearby states, or states with rarities in them that I wished to see. My state’s list-serv messages were read through my email browser. So, once (or twice, thrice, etc.) a day I would click on another state’s listserv, see the last post I read, click on the next more recent post and then simply scroll up until finished. Then repeat the process for other states. This was simple and efficient. Only one page to load. And mobile friendly as there was only one loading period per list-serv and far less clicking required. Your proposal doesn’t really help in that regard.

      This is only my user experience, so others could differ. And no one will be completely satisfied with anything you do. You have offered more messages on the front page. So perhaps your team decided that more messages on the front page was more important than having the bodies of the postings all on the same page. It’s a tradeoff I wouldn’t have made, but at least I can see an argument. Drewweber likes it, though I strongly disagree on it being intuitive, and I am sure loads of others like as well.

      The important thing with any big change is that there are defensible reasons behind the shift, and if something is removed something (hopefully better) is added. And, perhaps most importantly, that everything is out in the open. For instance I still think the search feature is lacking, but if a scrollable format is not possible, too clunky with your programming, or simply not desired by the powers that be … then it becomes a much better feature.

      Thanks are due to the ABA for stepping up as Siler retires his duties. And thanks at the very least being attentive to those who have concerns or are unhappy with the changes. I am sure you’ll get all the bugs worked out soon, and many will be happier.

    • Darren Clark

      Not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but a lot of Upper Peninsula posts are finding their way into the Utah posts. Otherwise, things look great so far.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/doncrockett Don Crockett

      Jeff,

      Good to hear you heard the comments and are looking into alternate UIs.

      1. How easy it will be to fix will depend on whether the solution was built from scratch or basic libraries or more of a packaged solution. With a packages solution sometimes you are “out of the box, stuck in the box” where if the functionality you desire isn’t built then there’s not much you can do. That’ll be answered when your geek gets back…

      2. Did you take a look at my B-Mail interface:

      Example B-Mail List (Massbird): http://www.virtualbirder.com/bmail/massbird/latest.html

      I think I coded that in 1998 so I wouldn’t do it the same now but if you only have to scroll through one day’s worth of messages the scrolling is minimized. It also the advantage if you think I remember that bird I’m interested in was seen of Thursday you cn quickly get to those messages.

      As far as showing the subject line and the first few lines of text I think I’d still prefer the full message listed but that truncated body might work acceptably if when you clicked that it expanded in place rather than taking you to a new page where you would lose track of where you were in the list of messages. You could mock up a single page of messages and post it for people to try and see what the reaction was. If some people liked it and some didn’t there could be a setting saved with a cookie so users could toggle between the modes.

      Thanks again for you and your team’s effort on this and being open to make changes to address people’s concerns!

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbe96abd970d Greg Neise

      Here is a list of current issue and feature requests that we are ware of and working on:

      http://birding.aba.org/updates.php

    • Terry Bronson

      Users should be aware that postings are not quite in real time–at least for WV. The last 2 posts I’ve made over the last 2 days have taken just over an hour to show up in the WV list.

      Overall, though, I’m delighted that the ABA has taken over Jack Siler’s set of birding links. Of course, all such endeavors have inevitable birthing pains but in a few days I suspect all will be operating smoothly.

      Thanks to David Hartley and Greg Neise, and the others involved, for their efforts to develope and implement this service.

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