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LISTOWNERS (to contact any listowner, send an email to birdchat-request at

The listowners are Chuck Otte, Laurie Larson, and Dave Rintoul.

BirdChat is hosted at Kansas State University. A searchable archive of list messages back to 1995,  and a web-based interface for changing your subscription options, can be found at the URL:

BirdChat is part of the National Birding Hotline Cooperative, which also includes the hotline lists BirdEast, BirdWest, and BirdCntr. For information about contributing to this volunteer enterprise, go to the URL:


BirdChat provides a forum in which to share knowledge concerning wild birds. Lively discussions on topics related to wild birds, birding, and birders are invited. These exchanges should be informative, entertaining, and respectful. Members are encouraged to feel a sense of community in which they can post without risking humiliation or personal attacks. Anonymity is discouraged, as we have found that respect of the opinions and perspectives of others is more prevalent when everyone is identified and known (see privacy statement below).

These guidelines clarify permissible and impermissible behavior on this list. The listowners prefer to guide BirdChat with a common-sense approach that permits free and open discussion; we assume that all subscribers are adults and will appreciate being treated as such. But that means that the subscribers have a big responsibility to know and abide by these guidelines, so please read them and bookmark this page for future reference.



New subscribers can receive posts immediately, but must wait 2 weeks to send a post. When the waiting period is over, each subscriber receives an e-mail message notifying them that a listowner has changed the subscription options from "NOPOST" to "POST." To verify the date of subscription and list option settings, use the web interface mentioned above. Address changes and returning subscribers are special cases and are welcome to contact the listowners for assistance (birdchat-request at


Format: Plain text (ASCII) only. Anything else may be unreadable to many subscribers and can wreak havoc with some subscribers' e-mail software.
Not allowed: HTML, UUENCODE, specially formatted documents such as Word, WordPerfect, and RTF, and ALL ATTACHMENTS.



SUBJECT: 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 line blank. If your post falls into any of the following categories, please use these formats:

RE: [subject]--Reply to previous post (do not change or edit 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.)
RFI: [subject; location if meaningful]--Request for information
RPT: [place name, dates]--Trip report
(Long): Append to subject if post is 2-4 pp. Divide posts of 5 pages or more into two parts.
ADMIN: [subject] -- reserved for administrative message from listowners

REQUIRED ELEMENTS -- Your real name and your city, state/province, country so that other subscribers can place your message or questions in a local, regional or global context. Most e-mail programs include an option to use a signature text file so that this information can be added automatically.

Optional - Your website link, GPS, or other info


BirdChat readership is international, although discussions are in English. Please bear in mind that not all subscribers are familiar with your country. Scientific (Latin) names for birds are recommended.


Wild birds, birders, and birding are the accepted topics. Unacceptable topics are virus alerts, chain letters, the practical aspects of bird feeding, practical aspects of pet/caged/domestic birds, and the ethics and/or morality of hunting or  falconry. Topics not recommended include scientific collecting of birds, feral cats, politics and arguments (but not news) about avian conservation-related matters, and exact locations of, and/or directions to, endangered species (especially nests) or any owls or raptors. Some of these topics (e.g. chain letters) are banned for fairly obvious reasons. For the others, a detailed explanation of the rationale for their inclusion on a list of banned topics is available by clicking on that topic if it is hot-linked, Many of these banned topics have been heatedly discussed too many times in the past on this list; some of these discussions (e.g. scientific collecting) even have generated their own web sites! All of these topics are almost guaranteed to generate more heat than light, unfortunately, and we ask your cooperation in keeping discussions of that sort off this list. Additionally, due to the fact that this is a large list with a global reach, conservation "action alerts", even those relating to avian conservation, are not allowed, since such messages could (unfortunately) quickly outnumber all other messages. Addresses for email lists where conservation action alerts would be more appropriate are available by contacting the listowners (birdchat-request at

Posting of copyrighted material for which the poster does not own the copyright (e.g. newspaper or magazine articles) is not allowed. If you think that the BirdChat subscribers need to read such material, please send a brief message to the list, indicating the topic and including the URL (web address) for the material.

Any offer of a product or service for sale is considered advertising. Advertising is not allowed on BirdChat, with the exception of brief one-time announcements by nonprofit organizations of events in which they participate or new products they produce. These should be in the form of a single sentence, indicating a link to either a person or a website where additional information can be obtained.

Reports on trips and comparisons or reviews of products/services by BirdChat subscribers who have no financial stake in them (in organization, operation, manufacture, marketing, or as a competitor) are not considered advertising.

The simple mention of a subscriber's occupation, business or employer, and/or webpage in a signature of 5 lines or less is permitted.

If a subscriber is in doubt about the appropriateness of a proposed posting, please contact one of the listowners. If a subscriber is in doubt about the appropriateness of a posting which has already appeared on the list, PLEASE do not post a public comment or question about it, but PLEASE do send a message to one of the listowners. In most cases the listowners 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, the name of the list is BirdChat, not GuidelineChat.

FREQUENCY & BREVITY (guidelines for posting)

Limit yourself to about one message a day or seven per week. This is not a hard-and-fast maximum, but a sensible guide.

If you quote a previous message in your reply, PLEASE snip unneeded portions, particularly the headers from forwarded messages!

Limit messages to 10 or fewer typewritten pages (about 10K).

It is not necessary to weigh in on every topic.

HIGH VOLUME (guidelines for reading)

Not all topics are of interest to all subscribers. The subject line is your guide to weeding out posts.

A thread has run its course when no one is interested in posting further. Use the DELETE key if you've seen enough.

Consider taking a break -- go on NOMAIL or INDEX (see LISTSERV COMMANDS).

NETIQUETTE (Behave like a responsible adult and you may persuade others to do the same.)

Posts that offer intelligent, reasoned debate in a civil tone or argue a different point of view, but are respectful of the poster and the list as a whole, are welcomed.

Posts that belittle, nitpick, ridicule, attack, or insult another poster and his/her ideas are unacceptable.

Subscribers' expertise, both in BirdChat topics and in the use of the internet, varies widely. Show tolerance of posts by new subscribers and posts that are occasionally off-topic, poorly written, or not up to your personal standards.

Be slow to take offense to a post. You may have misjudged the poster's meaning. Tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language--especially to convey humor--are absent in this forum!

If you do take offense, allow yourself a cool-down period before you hit SEND. Even then, consider sending your message privately rather than to the list.

Retain a sense of proportion. Most of the world, believe it or not, is totally oblivious to BirdChat!


The above rules of netiquette also apply to private messages from one subscriber to another.

Private posts are appropriate for "me-toos," "attaboys," and information not meaningful to other subscribers. Do not send such content-free posts to the entire list, please.

Be aware that no internet message is truly "private," and be careful what you reveal to unknown correspondents.



Post all commands to:


SUBJECT - You can leave the "subject" field blank when you send a command message

BODY- Use the following forms (either uppercase or lowercase will work).

To Subscribe:

SUB BIRDCHAT Yourfirstname Yourlastname

To Unsubscribe:


If your e-mail address has changed, two commands are required. (Note: If you cannot send from your old address, contact one of the listowners to make the change manually.)

SIGNOFF BIRDCHAT [from old address]

SUBSCRIBE BIRDCHAT Your Name [from new address]

Note: To avoid another 2-week waiting period, request an address-change waiver from one of the listowners.

Suspend Mail: (to turn off the BirdChat mail if you are going away for a vacation in Attu, for example)


Resume Mail: (to resume getting BirdChat mail when you return from that vacation!)


Daily Digest: (you get only one LONG message per day; this message includes all BirdChat  messages for a 24-hour period. N.B. If you use the DIGEST option, and want to reply to a message, PLEASE do not include the entire digest in your reply!):


Daily Index of Subject, Length, Author: (you get one daily message with only Subject, Length, Author):


Get Help:


More Info on Listserv Commands:


To get an index of all of the archived BirdChat messages:


To get a file from the archive:

GET BIRDCHAT LOGyymmx [yy=year, mm=month, x=week of month]

Archive Search (with WWW Access):

BirdChat messages are archived at Kansas State University. This is a valuable service, since it allows you to go back and search the archives for information on the many topics that have been discussed on the list over the years. However, these archives contain all the information in all messages posted to the list, including email addresses and names of subscribers. If you feel strongly that you do not want your name and email address associated in a searchable archive on the internet, PLEASE DO NOT POST MESSAGES to the list.

If you are a member of the list, but have not set up a listserv password, you will not be able to see an e-mail address when you look at a message in the Birdchat archives. This is designed to protect BirdChat subscribers from having their email addresses "harvested" by companies who then sell the address lists to spammers. But as an individual subscriber, you may want to set up a listserv password. Setting a password and logging in is something many people have not bothered to do, especially if they are long-term members and know how to use the old e-mail commands to manage their subscription. But it is useful for many reasons, including not just the ability to see email addresses in the archives, but it also gives you the ability to change your subscription settings.

Logging in and creating a password is done using the web interface. Creating a login works a little differently from many web forums, but isn't bad once you're used to it. The trick is to find the link, and then set a password in a 'cookie.' Once you've set it, you can forget it; you will now be able to change your own e-mail address, set yourself to NOMAIL when you go on vacation, and see the e-mail addresses in the archives!

To get started, go to and then click the third link, "join/leave the list or change your settings". When you reach the next page, find and click a link in the second paragraph, which says "login with your LISTSERV password (if you have one)". It isn't obvious at all, but this is where you will be asked to type a new password. Follow the instructions to set a password and confirm it via e-mail. It will be saved in a cookie. You will need to make sure that your browser is set to allow cookies. Also, if you use multiple browsers, you may need to store the same password in each one.

Normally you should only need to do this once. If you change your e- mail address, you must set a new password and a new 'cookie.' If you have set a password sometime in the past and have forgotten it, proceed as if you are setting a new one. You will see a button marked "change password."


If you feel abused by another subscriber to the list:

Use that DELETE key. Ignoring the offender is often the best policy. If ignoring doesn't work, try responding to the author that you do not wish to receive personal messages from him/her, and ask the person to desist. Then ignore again.

If the offenses continue, contact the listowners.

If the offenses take place in private e-mail, contact the offender's internet service provider and report the harrassment.

If you are threatened or menaced, call your local law enforcement authorities.

Responsibilities of the Listowners:

The listowners will not publicly chastise or humiliate an offending subscriber. If a message appears to be in violation of the guidelines, a private message may be sent, reminding the member of his/her acceptance of these community standards. Further discussion of the application of the guidelines to a particular message (by this or any other subscriber) should always be conducted via private channels, and never via the list.

If the subscriber continues to violate the guidelines, the listowners may set the subscriber to REVIEW (where messages are previewed by a listowner who will decide whether or not to send them to the list). In some cases, the listowners may set the subscriber to NOPOST (where the subscriber is barred from posting messages until further notice). Finally, serious or repeat offenders may be DELETED (unsubscribed from the list) at the listowners' discretion. The listowners would greatly appreciate it if, by voluntary adherence to these guidelines, you never cause them to exercise any of these three options.

BirdChat listowners cannot take responsibility for private communications from one of its subscribers to another. However, if necessary, the listowners may attempt to settle a dispute by following the above guidelines.

Although this seems like a lot of stuff to remember, it won't take long for it to become second nature for you. In fact, if you participate in other listservs, you will find that these guidelines are helpful there as well. Thanks for joining BirdChat, and please help us all learn about the fascinating world of wild birds and birdwatching!

(Thanks to all of the volunteers on Bird Working Group 3 (Bill Benner, Katrina Knight, Dave Lawrence, Darrell Lee, Sharon Nixon, Hank Pfeifer, Elizabeth Winter, and many others) who helped formulate these guidelines in the winter of 1999. Your contributions to this forum are indeed appreciated. - Laurie Larson, Chuck Otte and Dave Rintoul, co-listowners)

last updated July 19, 2005 (DAR)