Thursday, February 17, 2011

To share or not to share, that is the question

We' like to take an informal poll here, since you all are some of our most active and thoughtful eBirders.

A couple years back we released "Checklist Sharing" with some fanfare. this was something we wanted for a long time an allowed to friends (or 20 friends) to go birding together, to have one volunteer to do the data entry, and then to copy the checklist automatically to their friend's account. The others that received copies could still edit the checklist and eBird would be able to track the changes and still store a master copy that was essentially the sum of all the lists, and all are linked together in our database. Checklist sharing has been a huge success, and is a great way to expose new people to eBird, especially since you can share a checklist with someone who doesn't have an eBird account yet by just entering their email address.

However, we are wondering whether we picked the right term to describe the process. Checklist sharing might suggest that you just want to let someone know what you saw, whether or not they were there. In fact, this has been a problem, since some people have clicked "share" and entered a listserv address in the sharing field. I'm sure you all have seen this at least once on the listserv. And the problem is that anyone who clicks the link then gets a copy of the list in their eBird account, implying that they actually saw the bird. We have the "email" link to allow people to post their lists to listservs, and checklist sharing was obviously intended for another purpose. It is clear, that the term "Share" does not instantly convey what is going on.

So our questions for you all are as follows:

1) Is there a better term or way to describe this process that would make it clearer what is happening. We are considering an "Add people to this checklist" after data entry as an alternative. Of course, we'd need to have short links (on the "Checklist Edit" page and the "Manage My Observations") too, and those currently read "Share". Would "Add others" be better?

2) Is the term "checklist sharing" already too ingrained in the eBird lexicon that changing it now would just make things even more confusing. We of course need to cater to our long-term users, our occasional users, and first-time users we hope to attract tomorrow.

Any and all thoughts are welcome. Please just comment below, let us know what you think, an why. We aren't sure what direction we'll go, and your feedback will help. Thanks!

23 comments:

  1. "Add People", or even better "Add Observers". "Add Others" would be confusing - other birds, other people, other what?

    People who are used to "Checklist Sharing" will get used to the change.

    If adding the checklist to the wrong accounts is a significant problem, you could program in a routine that would check the shared email address against a list of known listserv addresses, and ignore them. Besides the known listserv addresses, you could also use wildcard matching to filter out any email address that contains "listserv", "mailman", etc.

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  2. I think "share" may have been a good word choice, originally, but the popularity of social media has now emphasized the "distribute" or "disseminate" aspect of the term. Changing to different terminology would probably be a good idea and I think current eBird users would quickly adapt.

    "Include Other Observers" is the best I can come up with on short notice. Or "Include Observers" as I agree with Ned that simply using the term "others" could be confusing.

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  3. I agree, "Add Observers" or "Include other Observers" is easier to understand. I think it would be a good change.

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  4. Dont' have any real good suggestions, but as another data point, I was definitely among those who misunderstood the purpose of checklist sharing when I first started using eBird regularly.

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  5. How about a button that says Share. Click on it or mouseover and it gives options for sending email, or adding observers. Both are sharing so it makes sense to put them together and it makes an easy place to add more ways of sharing in the future

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  6. I agree with Ned's suggestions

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  7. I agree with Ned's suggestion of "Add Observers" for a shortened form on the "Manage My Observations" page. Perhaps that could be lengthened to "Add other observers to this checklist" or "Add birders who were with you" or something similar on pages where space is less of a constraint.

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  8. The word "share" definitely puzzled me the first time I saw it. I agree with the majority that we should "Add Observers".

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  9. How about "Give to..."?

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  10. I know how hard it is to get over the traditional use of the word sharing, but FWIW, your decision should take into account the standards being practiced in the online world.

    For a social media/technology perspective, "sharing" means a collaborative sharing of data/information between two or more people. E.g., A Shared Google Calendar, Shared Documents...

    Sharing means that you add people to collaborate with on the data, and they are given certain level of permissions to view and/or edit the data. (In this case, yes, for two people on the same walk who saw the same birds, it's a 'shared' list).

    When you want to simply send the data for another to view (but not in a collaborative effort), Google (for example) calls it "Export" or "Email as attachment." Another cool thing is that you can "publish as a web page" and then invite others to view it.

    Good luck!

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  11. Thanks everyone for all your thoughts on this. We are continuing to think about how best to make this clear on the checklist pages and manage my observation pages, and all your comments will help us to come up with improved terminology. From this group, at least, it seems like there might not be backlash if we moved away from the term "checklist sharing" in favor of something that would hopefully be clearer.

    Thanks again to all for your comments!

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  12. "Send as e-mail" is a nice way of saying "they can see this, but they weren't there" - if there's an "Add Observer" option, it'd make sense that they'd have seen the birds, too.

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  13. I think "Add Observers" would be a great name! However, I wish that there was a share option that would allow you to simply click and then post your observations to a website such as Facebook or Twitter.

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  14. Hi,
    I have had problems with the share tab right from the beginning. It was confusing and misused by myself and I'm sure to many others. I would vote for changing it to add observers.
    I would love to see a tab for sharing my e-bird observations with my County Compilers for seasonal records. I do two counties and it gets cumbersome e-mailing myself then forwarding it on to them.

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  15. Maybe this over-complicates it, but what about a pop-up/warning, similar to an 'excellent observation', that would say "Are you sure you want to share this checklist, or are you intending to email it?" Then allow people to disable the pop-up once they understand how it works. This would hopefully prevent first-time or beginner users from "sharing" when they meant to "email", and by disabling the warning, experienced users would not see any adverse effects. Of course, anyone experienced enough with eBird should be able to adopt to any change you guys make.

    -Justyn

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  16. Or what about simply "Merge"?

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  17. "Party size" is one of the effort fields.

    If an eBirder can understand that concept, "Share with party other members" might get the intent of "Share" across.

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  18. How about "share with attendees" might be better than observers. Or "share with other attendees".

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  19. I often list the other observers in the notes of a new report. So "Add Observers," appearing after the report entry is complete, might be a little confusing. Of the other suggestions I've seen, "Include other observers" is good. "Share with other party members" is better. "Send to other party members" is good, too. Let's try to keep the number of terms at a minimum to reduce confusion. If "party member" and "attendee" and "observer" all mean the same thing, then let's use the term ("party") that already appears as part of data entry.

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