I wasn't going to comment on recent posts, but then things turned nasty.

Did you read Bob Fisher's message about our legal obligations?  The
legal agreement with the University of Missouri is the operative
document that governs the range of discussion topics.  Chris and Susan
are VOLUNTEERS.  Oh, my god, I used upper case--gee whiz.  I'm making a
point here.

You would not believe how many messages they get as listserve owners of
record.  If you are on Hotmail, for example, and your box is full
because you haven't read your messages lately, all transmissions are
bounced and they get notification on each bounce.  Any other problem
with a transmission or receipt--they get a message, and a high
percentage require them to send a message to deal with the problem.  We
all started as computer illiterate; we all make mistakes.  Chris and
Susan must deal with every screw-up.

These folks work full-time jobs and do this as a service to the birding

I currently, or in the recent past, have subscribed to 11 statewide
birding listserves from Maine to Florida to California, so I have some
examples to draw upon.

MOBIRDS is by far the most lenient as to straying from topic. Reallly.

Californians put up with Yahoo groups because they think it gives them
more freedom/lattitude, yet they are far more narrow in topics discussed
than we are (and Yahoo sells the list and porno purveyors have a heyday.)

One listowner (an individual with an arrangement with a university) goes
so far as to "approve" prospective list members.
One is so strict as to topic that when a message was posted warning
birders that a property owner did not want birders standing across the
street, much less on their property (a reasonable warning, I would
think, and directly related to birding activity), the list owner
chastised the sender, stating the subject matter on the list is birds,
not people, and that no more discussion of people would be tolerated.

On one, 2 messages from the same person on an off-topic subject would be
grounds for removal from the list.

Folks, we are people. We are interested in birds.  People are not
perfect.  Birders are quirky.  Birders are bright (I've never met a
successful, stupid birder--stubborn, yes, stupid, no).  Birders vary in
many ways.  Some are very sociable; others are natural loners; most are
in between--just like the general population.

Birding alone does not make one a superior being.  I know.  I bird alone

Not posting because it might be demeaning or because it might draw
criticism are equally sad sets of reasoning, and reflect the personality
of the decision-maker, not the deprived/depraved potential recipients.

When I volunteered to compile the Missouri Bird Alert I did so as a
contribution to the furtherance of bird knowledge and  to the birding

When I began the County of the Week series (arguably quite marginal as
to topic appropriateness) I did so as a contribution to the birding

When I lead a field trip, I do it as a contribution to the birding
community (and to have some fun).

When I post my sightings I do so as a contribution to bird knowledge and
to the birding community.

When I go to the trouble to document a sighting I do so as a
contribution to bird knowledge and the birding community.

When I use a cell phone to call in a sighting to be relayed to Mobirds I
do it as a contribution to bird knowledge and the birding community.

When I make (pitiful) efforts to help with identification problems, or
to give directions, or to suggest places to bird to visitors, I do it to
further birding and to contribute to the birding community.

You get the picture.  I do these things in recognition of what I have
received from others and in an effort to repay the birding community for
contributing to my knowledge and pleasure.

Perhaps it would be appropriate and even wise to ask ourselves before
hitting that SEND button, "Does this message contribute bird knowledge
or the birding community?"   The answer should be all the policing we

If you feel compelled to respond, please do it off list.

Edge Wade
Columbia, Boone Co., MO
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