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1.0. All-purpose rec.birds etiquette


This article is from the Birds FAQ, by Lanny Chambers with numerous contributions by others.

1.0. All-purpose rec.birds etiquette

This newsgroup is for the discussion of wild birds. Here is a partial
list of possible topics:

Identifying birds in the field by appearance, behavior, and song
Birding trips
Attracting wild birds to feeders
Behavior of birds in the wild
Conservation of wild birds
Research into bird life
Bird taxonomy

rec.birds was created by Andy Rubaszek at the University of Toronto.

Discussion of birds as pets is not appropriate in rec.birds. The Usenet
newsgroup rec.pets.birds is specifically for caged birds.

Discussion of birds as farm animals is also not appropriate on rec.birds.
Posts on the husbandry of ostriches, emus, and peafowl may be appropriate
in misc.rural.

If someone posts an article to this or any newsgroup that is not
the proper response (if you feel you must respond) is to send that person
e-mail. Why? Because Usenet is a device for saying something to lots of
people. In this instance, you need to say something to only one person,
the offending article's original poster. That is what e-mail is designed

Please place your name and an indication of your geographical location, as
well as a working e-mail address, at the bottom of your postings as a

rec.birds is read all around the world. You will generate a great deal
of goodwill if you take a moment to internationalize your postings. Here
are a few examples of ways to do this:

+ When you write about a bird species, why not find its
scientific name in your field guide and mention it? It's
+ When you refer to measurements, include the units. For
instance, say "-10 degrees C" or "-10 degrees F" instead
of just "ten below."
+ When you cite a location, be specific. Think: "Could someone
on the other side of the world find this site on a map with
the information I've given?"
+ Remember that laws vary from place to place.

Please make your postings concise. When posting followup articles, do
not quote more than is necessary of the originals.

When you feel the urge to reply to a posting, consider whether e-mail to
the poster would serve your purpose, rather than posting your reply to the

If you write an article in anger, wait 24 hours before posting it.
After that time has passed, it will be easier for you to edit your
post down to what is constructive, or to decide that your post would
be better e-mailed or discarded.

In the past, discussions of falconry in rec.birds have generated
controversy. Falconry is the keeping of raptors for use in hunting;
birds kept by falconers are in a semi-wild state. After much debate,
a consensus emerged: if a post focuses mostly on hunting with raptors
or on their captive breeding, it is appropriate for rec.hunting. If
a post offers information about raptors that is of general interest,
it is welcome in rec.birds.

Continued hostilities among supporters, tolerators, and opponents of
falconry recently resulted in the creation of two new newsgroups:
alt.falconry and alt.sport.falconry. The presence of these newsgroups
does not automatically make mention of falconry in rec.birds forbidden,
but, as a practical matter, posts discussing falconry will probably
receive a warmer reception in the new groups than in rec.birds. If
your site does not carry alt.falconry or alt.sport.falconry, you may
wish to ask your news administrator to add them.

The more unpleasant moments of the debates over falconry posts happened
for two reasons:

+ Many people disagree over whether hunting for sport is moral.
+ Some birders suspect falconers of taking eggs or birds from
the wild illegally.

Regardless of your opinions on these subjects, please assume that your
fellow posters' respect for wildlife and the law is equal to your own.
Doing so will help keep rec.birds an enjoyable forum.

Another topic guaranteed to generate ill will on rec.birds is that of
domestic cats. If you must post on this topic, please read the section
below entitled "Are domestic cats Satan? --A Non-judgmental Attempt at
Consensus" before you do. Then make sure that your post is constructive
before you send it. Avoid making implications about persons who keep

Finally, be advised that Usenet is not a very good medium for expressing
moral outrage. If your goal is to get others to "see the error of their
ways," you'll obviously want to choose the strategy that's most likely
to work. Angry Usenet posts put their targets on the defensive; the
targeted persons, having been publicly criticized, often feel compelled
to reply publicly with their own harsh words. This phenomenon is what
we call a "flame war," and the demoralizing effect it has on a newsgroup
cannot be overstated. It also does not lead to many changed minds; in
fact, opinions harden and polarize further. If you must inform one of
your fellow Usenet readers that you think their behavior is morally
wrong, it's in everyone's interest for you to do so in a carefully and
humbly worded mail message.


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