Over the past two years we've been developing tools that showcase our users, and in so doing we've made more and more of the eBird data easily accessible to the public. One of the things we've struggled with is whether or not to show people's personal locations on a map. If you look at the eBird "High Counts" output tool, you'll see a mix of locations listed there. The "hotspots" are linked to a Google Map, whereas people's personal locations have no map link. We thought this would be fine, but it turns out that we're getting a lot of complaints about it.
If you look at "High Counts" for a region and see one that interests you, don't you want to know where the high count occurred? The problem is that for personal locations we do not enforce any kind of naming standards, so there's lots of places like "My backyard" or "Jim's Place". The problem with this is that when there is a record of interest to the public, they can't make sense of that location name, nor can they click on a link to find out more about where it actually is.
On our Google Rare Bird Gadget we display all locations on maps, personal and shared. We have had few complaints about this. I'm wondering how you all feel about creating links to personal locations in all the eBird output tools so that people can learn more about your data? We will still have the "hide this" option to hide checklists so users with sensitive data can keep their information private if they wish. We'd love to hear your thoughts, comments and concerns.