Posting Guidelines for Tweeters

Revised April 2, 2015

THE TWEETERS CHARTER

Tweeters is a general birding chat list. It has liberal posting guidelines and is unmoderated, meaning that subscribers may post freely and that postings are not screened.

Tweeters includes a broad spectrum of people, from novices who want to share their enjoyment of birds and find out more about them, to expert birders who spend all the time they can in the field, to professional biologists. All postings are intended both to convey information and to stimulate others to ask questions, respond, join the debate. The goal is an opening toward genuine understanding of birds, ourselves, the world we share, and how we talk about these things, conducted in the finest tradition of civil discourse.

There is room on Tweeters for anybody who is interested in, or has something to say about, birds and bird-related topics. Informational postings on conservation topics are acceptable. Discussion of ecology, and of wild critters other than birds, is acceptable, indeed encouraged. Anything having to do with the science of ornithology is acceptable. Bird sightings, trip reports, field identification issues, and the status, distribution, habitats, natural history, and biology of the birds of Cascadia provide the prevalent—but not exclusive—subject matter of the list.

IDENTIFYING YOURSELF

Your real name and your e-mail address must appear at the end of every message you post, as well as your city and state/province (and country if other than Canada or USA) so that other subscribers can place your message or questions in a local, regional, or global context. Example :

Jesse Birder
Washougal, WA
jesseb@mist.net

You can also disguise your email address by making it literal. For instance : jesseb at mist dot net.

Most e-mail programs include an option to use a signature text file so that this information can be added automatically.

MANAGING OVERLOAD

With a list as large as Tweeters, it is important to manage the information flow so as to maximize effective communication and minimize the overload phenomenon. Here are some helpful habits you can acquire to do your part in accomplishing this.

Subject line. Not all topics are of interest to all subscribers. The subject line is the main guide to weeding out posts. If the topic is new, choose a brief, informative title. Remember that many people (and many search engines) look for key words in the subject line, so give some thought to this often-ignored aspect of your message. Do not leave Subject: blank. The subject line for replies should start with "RE:" followed by the original subject line of the post to which you are replying (most mailers do this automatically when you hit REPLY). Do not change or edit the subject unless the topic changes significantly from the original. If you are responding to a message in the DIGEST, please paste the subject of that message into the Subject: box rather than Subject: DIGEST.

Replies to the list. If you are replying to another posting, please consider carefully whether your reply will be of interest to the list as a whole or whether it might more appropriately be sent privately to the original poster (Tweeters default REPLY TO setting). When you do send a reply to the list, please delete all or most of the original posting you are replying to. Not only will this cut down on overload, it will also make life much easier for those who have to scroll through many messages archived in a single file. If you keep the original subject line subscribers should have no difficulty following the thread.

Private replies. Private posts are always appropriate for "me-toos," "attagirls," and information not meaningful to other subscribers. Do not send such content-free posts to the entire list, please.

Attachments and formatted text. Please DO NOT send a message to the list that has a formatted attachment, such as a graphic file or a Word document. These do not come through to many subscribers, and they may also cause major headaches for DIGEST subscribers. If you want to display digital photographs, upload them to a website and point users to it. Also, remember that HTML will be converted to PLAIN TEXT by many email programs and list archives, with the resultant distortion of special character sets and the loss of formatting such as boldface and italics. It is always better to send only PLAIN TEXT messages, not HTML.

OBSERVING BIRDING ETHICS

Think twice before disclosing the exact location of, or directions for finding, sensitive or endangered species—especially during the nesting season. All postings should be guided by the American Birding Association's Code of Birding Ethics, which has this to say about the subject: "Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance can be minimized, and permission has been obtained from private land-owners. The sites of rare nesting birds should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities."

PRACTICING NETIQUETTE

Posts that offer intelligent, reasoned debate in a civil tone, or argue a different point of view but are respectful of the poster and the list as a whole, are welcomed.

Posts that belittle, nitpick, ridicule, attack, or insult another poster and his/her ideas are unacceptable.

Subscribers' expertise, both in Tweeters topics and in the use of the Internet, varies widely. Show tolerance of posts by new subscribers and posts that are occasionally off-topic, poorly written, or not up to your personal standards.

Be slow to take offense to a post. You may have misjudged the poster's meaning. Tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language—especially to convey humor—are absent in this forum!

If you do take offense, allow yourself a cool-down period before you hit SEND. Even then, consider sending your message privately rather than to the list.

AVOIDING INAPPROPRIATE TOPICS

The list is open to all, regardless of profession, place of residence, gender, age, ethnicity, economic status, educational background, political persuasion, lifestyle, religious beliefs... but it is not a forum for airing opinions about the validity of any one particular belief system, lifestyle preference, etc., compared to another. Specific examples of inappropriate topics include:

Posts on such subjects all too often provoke unenlightened "debate" of a purely adversarial nature, and sometimes degenerate into personal attacks couched in terms and language offensive to the whole list. Therefore, these topics lie outside the Tweeters charter, are strongly discouraged, and can be expected to trigger rapid intervention by the listowner.

Other categories of objectionable postings include:

ADMINISTERING THE GUIDELINES

If you are in doubt about the appropriateness of a proposed posting, please contact the listowner. If you are in doubt about the appropriateness of a posting that has already appeared on the list, PLEASE do not post a public comment or question about it, but PLEASE do send a message to the listowner. In most cases the listowner will have already privately contacted the sender of a questionable message, and in ALL cases it is neither necessary nor desirable to start an on-list discussion about such administrative matters. Remember, Tweeters is a forum for discussion of birds and birding, not of guidelines.

The listowner will not publicly chastise or humiliate an offending subscriber. A private message may be sent, reminding the member of Tweeters guidelines. If the violator continues to abuse the guidelines, the listowner may set the subscriber to NOPOST. Serious or repeat offenders may be banished at the listowner's discretion.

You may contact the listowners at tweeters-owner@mailman1.u.washington.edu

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The Guidelines Committee of BirdChat was the source of many of the Tweeters guidelines above.

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