TWEETERS-ALERTS AND TWEETERS : TWO SISTER LISTS
Tweeters-Alerts and Tweeters are two separate but related birding email lists. Anyone may subscribe to either or to both.
Tweeters-Alerts is a moderated list with several content restrictions. Postings are limited to current field reports of significant sightings. Tweeters, by contrast, 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. Most members choose to subscribe to both lists.
The posting guidelines below are for the Tweeters-Alerts list. To read the guidelines for Tweeters, click here.
THE TWEETERS-ALERTS CHARTER
Tweeters-Alerts is a communications center for recent reports of noteworthy bird sightings in Washington State. Membership is composed of active birders and others who want to keep up with the latest field bulletins and discoveries.
Tweeters-Alerts is a moderated list. Initial submissions from subscribers not known to the moderator will be held for review before posting to the list. The criteria for an appropriate posting are three: timeliness, brevity, and significance. When subscribers have shown that they are comfortable with these criteria their postings will no longer be moderated but will go directly to the list.
Postings are expected to be timely. These are birds that may not stay around and that other birders may want to make an effort to go find for themselves, so there is normally no point in posting a sighting that is more than a day old. Exceptions might be made for circumstances such as a state rarity observed in a place remote from Internet access, but in most cases belated reports should be posted to the Tweeters list instead. Updates on the continuing presence (or the disappearance) of a rare bird are welcome on Tweeters-Alerts, provided that they, too, are timely.
Postings are expected to be brief, limited to the minimum information needed to name the bird(s) and describe the circumstances of the sighting (observers, location, time, etc.), with no non-essential discursive commentary. A few additional notes about field marks, behavior, access, or context will often be appropriate, but full details and the "personal touch" should be reserved for publication at leisure and at length on the Tweeters list. Tweeters is also the place for discussion of any issues that may arise concerning the correct identification of a reported bird, although a simple notice about a revised identification may profitably be posted to Tweeters-Alerts as well, unless the bird is long departed.
Postings are limited to field reports of significant sightings, that is, birds that would be considered rare in any part of the state in any season, or that represent unusual species (or numbers, or mixed-species aggregations) for the date and locality — the kind of event that is worthy of a place in the permanent ornithological record. Illustrations of unusual reports that are not state rarities might be a Long-tailed Jaeger discovered in the Columbia Basin; a Sage Sparrow that shows up on the Washington coast; a Tundra Swan in August; or a Wilson's Warbler in January. Other good subjects for a Tweeters-Alerts posting are unusually high numbers of a single species observed on a given day or at a given place (e.g., quantities of Red Phalaropes wrecked along the outer coast) and large mixed-species aggregations (thousands of shorebirds gathered at Lind Coulee, representing 17 species). However, selectivity is essential. Only a few sightings, at most, on any outing will be noteworthy. Blow-by-blow trip reports and long inventories of all species seen belong on Tweeters, not Tweeters-Alerts.
Rarity is not always easy to define, and no set of definitions can replace long experience in the field for developing a sense of what constitutes a noteworthy sighting. However, any species of less-than-annual occurrence may certainly be reported to Tweeters-Alerts. This includes all species on the Review List of the Washington Bird Records Committee as well as species never before seen in the state. At a more local level, the County Checklist compiled by Washington Birder is a helpful reference for determining degrees of rarity county by county. The bird checklists of the ecoregions pages of BirdWeb, based on biogeographic rather than political boundaries, are another useful resource. Seasonal rarities are also reportable. Good touchstones for these are the BirdWeb ecoregional checklists and the Seasonal Occurrence Bar Graphs from A Birder's Guide to Washington, published by the American Birding Association in 2003.
Species that occur every year in the state but are seldom seen—whether because they are present in very low numbers, or frustratingly difficult to find, or occur in seldom-visited habitats — are also strong candidates for a report to Tweeters-Alerts.
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 :
You can also disguise your email address by making it literal. For instance : jesseb at mist dot net.
In the interest of brevity, please do not include any other information in your signature block (postal address, job title, website, favorite quotations, etc.).
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.
No duplicate posting between Tweeters-Alerts and Tweeters. Decide which of the two lists is the proper place for your posting, based on the guidelines, and send it ONLY to that list. IF YOU SEND A POSTING TO TWEETERS-ALERTS, DO NOT ALSO SEND AN IDENTICAL ONE TO TWEETERS. Most members are subscribed to both lists and would receive your posting twice.
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.
For Tweeters-Alerts, the typical subject line will probably include the subject bird and a location :
Subject: Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Dungeness
If your report concerns an event involving more than one noteworthy species, consider including the rarest one in the subject line :
Subject: Red-eyed Vireos, migrant fallout in Washtucna
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 in 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-Alerts default REPLY TO setting). A reply to a Tweeters-Alerts posting should convey new information about the sighting described in the original posting, and it should conform to the same standards of timeliness, brevity, and significance as for a new posting (see Tweeters-Alerts Charter, above).
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," requests for clarification (such as directions to locations), 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 or those who read postings on the Web. 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."
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 any of the above. Acceptable topics are strictly limited to current reports of noteworthy bird sightings, as described above in the Tweeters-Alerts Charter.
Other categories of objectionable postings include chain letters, commercial advertising, and virus hoaxes and other urban legends. If you believe that a virus is menacing the list, contact the listowner directly.
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-Alerts is a forum for recent reports of significant bird sightings, not for the discussion of guidelines.
The listowner will not publicly chastise or humiliate an offending subscriber. A private message may be sent, reminding the member of Tweeters-Alerts guidelines. If the violator continues to abuse the guidelines, the listowner may set the subscriber to MODERATE. Serious or repeat offenders may be banished at the listowner's discretion.
You may contact the listowners at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Guidelines Committee of BirdChat was the source of some of the Tweeters-Alerts guidelines above.