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Charlie Spencer

Suggested 'How to ask for an ID' post

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The text below is my proposed post advising new members how to help us help them.  Get out your red pencils and razor blades and post your suggestions, edits, etc.  Hopefully we can come up with something to make it easier and faster to answer ID questions.  Thanks!

New Members - How to Request a SUCCESSFUL Bird ID!

Welcome!  We understand you're excited to learn about that mystery bird you saw, and we're delighted to help.  Some of our members can give you an answer based on a surprisingly small amount of data.  Still, the more information you can provide, the more likely we'll be able to give you a correct identification.

At a minimum, please include these items:
⦁    Where did you see the bird?  Please tell us what state or province you were in.   Other useful items are geographic region, city or county, local or national park, body of water, etc.
⦁    When did you see the bird?  Often the month is enough, although the day or week is better.   Time of day is also useful (early morning, middle of the night, etc.)
⦁    If you don't have a photo, tell us the physical details you remember.   What colors were the head, body, wings, and tail?  Can you compare the mystery bird to a bird you're already familiar with?  Was it smaller, fatter, longer necked, shorter tailed, etc.?
⦁    If you do have a photo, you can link to most popular photo sharing sites.

That information is usually enough, but some birds are very similar.  These items can be useful in narrowing down the options:
⦁    If you think you know what the bird is, please include the bird's name and location in your post's title.  For example, "Carolina Wren in Eastern Kentucky?"
⦁    What was the local environment?  Was the bird in a forest, desert, beach, urban area, etc.?  Was it raining, snowing, windy, etc.?
⦁    What was the bird doing?  Was it hopping, flying, singing, sitting still, etc.?  If it was eating, could you tell what it was having for lunch?
⦁    Were there other birds?  Did they look like the mystery bird or were they different?  Were there a few of them or many?

Please limit your requests to three birds per post.  When there are more than three ID requests in a single post, it becomes difficult to follow the discussions for each bird.  Also, please submit only three posts at a time.

Please be patient.  We have many active members, but we aren't Facebook or Twitter.  It may be a few hours before our members respond, especially your request requires research.   If you don't have a reply within 24 hours, feel free to 'Bump' your question.

Sometimes a bird can't be identified.   All of us here have had sightings and photos that left us scratching our heads.  That's just part of birding.

Thanks for joining us!   We hope you come to enjoy birding as much as we do.

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Just now, Mike_56 said:

@Charlie Spencer  its nice ,i'm not sure  everyone will read this but can recommend made this post sticky .  

That's the plan.  I discussed it with Aveschapines before I posted it. Once we get it smoothed out, he'll pin it.

Yeah, I don't know how many will read it but I don't think it can hurt.  I was motivated by a rash of questions this week that didn't include locations or dates.  I tried to keep it relatively short, so let me know if there's any fat I can cut. 

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Excellent points @Charlie Spencer! I think this was a very helpful and much needed post, especially given all the recent threads lacking location or other info.

My opinion differs in just one way: I personally don't mind having more than three birds in one post.  I definitely see what you mean about the clutter aspect/confusion, but three seems a bit on the low side in my opinion. Personally, I think that four or five birds in one post would be okay, and in theory, it might even slightly reduce the number of posts for ID :classic_smile: I'm definitely open to hearing what others might think!

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11 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

That's the plan.  I discussed it with Aveschapines before I posted it. Once we get it smoothed out, he'll pin it.

Yeah, I don't know how many will read it but I don't think it can hurt.  I was motivated by a rash of questions this week that didn't include locations or dates.  I tried to keep it relatively short, so let me know if there's any fat I can cut. 

Sorry, I didn't see the post last night, but it's pinned now. 

@Mike_56, I once a final draft has been agreed on, I can either pin a post in the ID forum or add a moderator announcement (Look at the ones at the top of this page, rules and why doesn't my old account work). I can set the moderator announcement to only appear in the ID forum(s). So opinions about which of those options people would prefer are welcome here too.

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Perfectly said, @Charlie Spencer!!  I agree with @akiley, 4-5 birds per post would be fine. 

I like what you said here.......

14 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Please be patient.  We have many active members, but we aren't Facebook or Twitter.  It may be a few hours before our members respond, especially your request requires research.  

 

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Nice draft!

I think five IDs per post is OK if they are well-organized; but newbies don't always do that. If you hace to resort to "the yellow bird next to the red flower" it can become difficult, and sometimes people substitute photos without warning. Seasoned members know to put all the photos in one post and number them; but when people put them in replies and change them out, and sometimes other responses appear before all the photos have been posted, things can get complicated.

Also: do we need to limit people to 3 ID posts? What is the rationale there?

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I tend to agree with Charlie, I would prefer people limit their requests to three birds per post, but if most people vote five then I won't complain.

43 minutes ago, Aveschapines said:

Also: do we need to limit people to 3 ID posts? What is the rationale there?

I'm asking the same question.  I would much rather people submit five posts with one bird ID in each than one post with five birds to ID.

15 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

It may be a few hours before our members respond, especially your request requires research.

And it appears an "if" needs to be inserted between "especially" and "your" in this sentence. :)

Everything else looks good to me!

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1 hour ago, Aveschapines said:

Also: do we need to limit people to 3 ID posts? What is the rationale there?

Just a notion to keep one person from overwhelming the board.  Basically, I copied the limits suggestions from other boards.  I can certainly leave the 'three posts at a time' out, and up the number of birds per post to five.

I'm not committed to any single line; it's all open to debate as far as I'm concerned.

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This is a very nice post, here are a few comments:

- This text is long and I'm sure not all new members will read it entirely before they post. It might help to "summarize" it in the title, something like: How to Request a SUCCESSFUL Bird ID - WHERE - WHEN - PHOTO or DESCRIPTION. These 3 steps will always be displayed at the top of the first page as a reminder.

- For now, there is only one forum, for North American birds, with a broad "Help Me Identify a Bird " title. Maybe we could mention this again in the "Where" paragraph, and ask to tell the country/world region until there is another forum for world birds available.

- Photos: this was a big problem with the previous host. I feel that we could explain a bit how to post pictures; it could be done in a separate pinned post.

- I agree with The Bird Nuts on a low limit of birds per post. Not only it helps, I'm sure, people who give IDs, it also helps people like me, who are still learning. I remember it also helped me on the previous forum, forcing me to group similar birds per post, one for song birds, one for shore birds, ... instead of dumping a lot of pictures without making a pre-screening. It is a learning tool of sorts.

Thanks for doing this.

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35 minutes ago, PascalNJ said:

- This text is long and I'm sure not all new members will read it entirely before they post. It might help to "summarize" it in the title, something like: How to Request a SUCCESSFUL Bird ID - WHERE - WHEN - PHOTO or DESCRIPTION. These 3 steps will always be displayed at the top of the first page as a reminder.

The overall length has been my biggest concern.  How about we put the following sentences in bold purple?  That should draw attention to them.

⦁    Where did you see the bird?  Please tell us what state or province you were in.   Other useful items are geographic region, city or county, local or national park, body of water, etc.
⦁    When did you see the bird?  Often the month is enough, although the day or week is better.   Time of day is also useful (early morning, middle of the night, etc.)
⦁    Tell us the physical details you remember.   What colors were the head, body, wings, and tail?  Can you compare the mystery bird to a bird you're already familiar with?  Was it smaller, fatter, longer necked, shorter tailed, etc.?
⦁    If you have photos, you can link to most popular photo sharing sites.

39 minutes ago, PascalNJ said:

- For now, there is only one forum, for North American birds, with a broad "Help Me Identify a Bird " title. Maybe we could mention this again in the "Where" paragraph, and ask to tell the country/world region until there is another forum for world birds available.

- Photos: this was a big problem with the previous host. I feel that we could explain a bit how to post pictures; it could be done in a separate pinned post.

Respectfully, I think these are beyond the scope of this project.  I don't know if the Powers That Be intend to revive forums for outside North America.  i believe that' still being decided.  As you note, the mechanics of posting pictures has always been a bit of a challenge.  I'd prefer to leave that to another discussion entirely, and perhaps link to it if / when someone decides to tackle it.

I've already changed my working copy to '5 birds per post' and no limit on the number of posts.

Thanks.

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I agree about the length being the biggest issue, but it's pretty concise so unless it went to something very brief (a sentence or two) I don't see an easy way to shorten it. I like both the idea of adding the the 3 key items to the title for people who don't click through and read it, and also the purple highlighting.

As far as the issue of different forums for different areas, it will be very simple to edit and customize when/if that happens, whether it's a moderator announcement or a pinned post, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. For now it can say to give country, and later be different for each forum (state or province, country).

Also agree that the picture issue should be dealt with separately. I think it's important to keep it short.

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Posted (edited)

I've made these changes.  Right now they're only shown in my working copy, not in the original post above.

⦁    Added 'if'  to '... especially if your request ...'. @The Bird Nuts
⦁    Increased the number of birds per post from three to five. @akiley, @Aveschapines, @PascalNJ, @MerMaeve
⦁    Removed 'Also, please submit only three posts at a time. @Aveschapines, @The Bird Nuts
⦁    Used bold purple text to emphasize questions.
⦁    Changed title to 'What, Where, When!  How to Request a SUCCESSFUL Bird ID!'. @PascalNJ, @Aveschapines
⦁    Rearranged paragraphs in What / Where / When sequence
⦁    Changed the wording in the 'What' paragraph slightly.
⦁    Removed the break between the 'What' paragraph and the 'Photo Linking' paragraph, combining the two.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, MerMaeve said:

I like what you said here.......

 

I think we've all seen second and even third posts from people asking why nobody's identified the birds they posted ten minutes ago.  :classic_rolleyes:  If they want to become better birders, learning to be patient will be a valuable skill.  :classic_biggrin:

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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1 hour ago, Charlie Spencer said:

The overall length has been my biggest concern.  How about we put the following sentences in bold purple?  That should draw attention to them.

⦁    Where did you see the bird?  Please tell us what state or province you were in.   Other useful items are geographic region, city or county, local or national park, body of water, etc.
⦁    When did you see the bird?  Often the month is enough, although the day or week is better.   Time of day is also useful (early morning, middle of the night, etc.)
⦁    Tell us the physical details you remember.   What colors were the head, body, wings, and tail?  Can you compare the mystery bird to a bird you're already familiar with?  Was it smaller, fatter, longer necked, shorter tailed, etc.?
⦁    If you have photos, you can link to most popular photo sharing sites.

 

Yes, I like the bold purple idea! it makes it very easy to read and understand. 

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@Charlie Spencer, nice job...coming together nicely. I had one thought. Occasionally someone comes with an ID request and adds it to an existing post. it would generally be better to start a new post.

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2 hours ago, Mike_56 said:

b) links to share website

I don't know what you mean by 'links to share website'.  Would you explain that?  Which website do you want to share?  Thanks.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I don't know what you mean by 'links to share website'.  Would you explain that?  Which website do you want to share?  Thanks.

IMGur ,Flickr ....to help people upload picture

Edited by Mike_56
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Posted (edited)

Please see the earlier comments.  We've decided that details for linking to photo sites should be covered in a separate topic.  I'm not qualified to cover that one.  Thanks.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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2 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Please see the earlier comments.  We've decided that details for linking to photo sites should be covered in a separate topic.  I'm not qualified to cover that one.  Thanks.

I only think -if its will be on the (somewhere ) in you post -its will be more helpful -nobody have to  search for it. 

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1 minute ago, Mike_56 said:

I only think -if its will be on the (somewhere ) in you post -its will be more helpful -nobody have to  search for it. 

When a guide for linking photos is written, we can add a link to it.

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The updates look good, @Charlie Spencer!  Thank you for doing this for our sake.

15 hours ago, HamRHead said:

 Occasionally someone comes with an ID request and adds it to an existing post. it would generally be better to start a new post.

AGREED!!!!!

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Can we suggest that posters asking for ID help add a tag to the photo or the post, that indicates some of things like the species they think it is, the location they saw it, etc? Tags help when you want to search for the forum.

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Okay, here's the rewritten version of the subject line and the first half.  There haven't been major changes to the bottom half yet, so I didn't include it this time.

What, Where, When!  How to Request a SUCCESSFUL Bird ID!

Welcome!  We understand you're excited to learn about that mystery bird you saw, and we're delighted to help.  Some members can give you an answer based on a surprisingly small amount of data.  Still, the more information you provide, the more likely we'll reach a correct identification.

Please start a new post for your bird; your request may be overlooked if you add it to an existing discussion.  At a minimum, please include these items:

  • What did the bird look like?   What colors were the head, body, wings, and tail?  Can you compare the mystery bird to a bird you're already familiar with?  Was it smaller, fatter, longer necked, shorter tailed, etc.?  If you have photos, you can link to most popular photo sharing sites.
  • Where did you see the bird?  Please tell us what state or province you were in.   Other useful items are geographic region, city or county, local or national park, body of water, etc.
  • When did you see the bird?  Often the month is enough, although the day or week is better.   Time of day is also useful (early morning, middle of the night, etc.)
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