Thank you all for your great ideas, suggestions, new feature requests. We are working as quickly as possible and we thank you for your patience!! By end of next week we are hoping to have our "tagging" feature complete, which will allow for endless flexibility in sorting, organizing, and categorizing your sightings. We are also continually working on many other issues, so thanks for the feedback and understanding! We definitely consider this a community "family" effort. You guys are as much a part of the site's success as anyone. Every sighting posted on a map, every photo uploaded, every photo rated, every suggestion, every friend you add, every checklist you track, every piece of information you fill out on your profile makes the entire site better and more useful! Thanks again.
When you click on any species page, you can help rank the order that these pictures are displayed by rating pictures from 1-5 stars. For example, the Green Heron Species Page includes photos uploaded and taken by 9 different users (notice I said "and taken." You must be the owner of photos to upload them or to give Birdpost the permission to upload them). When you click on any picture, you see the picture displayed in a larger form in the "viewer" on the left side of the page, and there are 5 little boxes with stars where you can rate the photo. Every rating done by every user figures is computed, and these ratings determine the order in which these pictures are displayed, including the "lead" photo used as the default on all checklists. TomGroberg has 3 photos, for example that are "lead" photos (highest rated and therefore the default). Stuart Immonen has 13! These rankings matter, and it's fun to do! Happy Birding -- JP
OK - as of a few hours ago we've finally got the Profile website link feature ready to go. If you go to your profile and click the blue "Edit Profile" button, you'll see 2 fields, one to put the URL (link) to your website or blog and another to type what you want the link to say. Click my Profile Page to see the example. To the right of my picture, you'll see the words "Personal Web Site" and a link to Birdpost. Hopefully, those of you with Bird websites, photography websites, or blogs will take the opportunity to promote these sites through Birdpost.
While you're at it, take the time to fill out your profile page, including your Favorite Birds, Nemesis Birds (the ones you want to see but have eluded you), fill out the Q&A, etc. Take care!
A big thanks to those who have submitted their bird photos to build up Birdpost's database. We want this to be the most beautiful user-created gallery of bird photos in the world! As we've said previously, this section of the site will always remain free, and if you ever want to remove the photos, just let us know and we'll remove them right away. We're also creating a feature so that every picture has a credit linking to your profile page, that will display a link to your website or blog. We hope to really promote these bird photographers' great websites and Flickr pages!
Separate subject, crazy sighting this morning. My son Scotty got my attention at 8:00 a.m. this morning, and told me to run outside into our backyard. There was a Great Blue Heron perched atop our neighbor's roof! Not your typical sighting near downtown Palo Alto! Great way to start the day -- JP
Have your lifelist in a format that's too unwieldy to get on to Birdpost? Send it to us and we'll upload it for you. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax us your list to 650-240-3923 (make sure to include your username) and we'll upload it for you. A few users have done that and we're happy to do it.
Birdpost users - We have a huge hope that, with the Birdpost maps dotted with users' sightings, governments/academics/scientists will be able to create natural histories of any location to better protect and conserve wildlife everywhere. Here's something worth signing up for, from the Birdfreaks, the guys behind the top bird conservation blog on the internet. In their own words: "The One Million Birders Project is a lofty goal to get a list of names of 1,000,000 birders. This list is not to create a mailing list (your email is not asked for nor tracked in any way). Our goal is to quantify the number of birders there are in the U.S. It is the hopes that together, one million birders can create a big difference in conservation and habitat restoration efforts." With this being a primary goal of Birdpost, we definitely urge you to sign up for this!
We're so heartened by the positive response to the site, and we know there are a lot of new features you want (though I don't think there are too many "bugs".) Many people have asked us what are plans are regarding our "business model". "Are you going to keep it free, is it going to be a subscription service or what?" "Are there big investors in this thing?" "Are you out to try to make a bunch of money or what?" "Are you out to kill eBird?" "Are you trying to shake things up? What's the angle?" "Who are you guys?" "Are you scientists? Then who do you think you are trying to do a big site like this?" We love all questions and these are all good. Here is the answer to all of these in a nutshell:
We are nuts about birding. No, we're not scientists. We're husbands of Mandi (Ben) and Lisa (me - Jason) and parents to 8 kids altogether (me 6, Ben 2). We're involved in the real estate business. I'm a high school basketball coach.
Two years ago, after Ben had turned me into a birding disciple, we were eating dinner at a restaurant in Palo Alto. Ben said, "Jason, don't you think that satellite maps and birding are the perfect marriage? I mean, everyone's posting random stuff on Google Maps, but why not birds? If I knew where to look for birds it would be so much easier and fun!" That conversation was the beginning of a very exciting discussion about what would end up being Birdpost, and it included discussions about topic such as Lifelists, how to provide an opportunity for the social side of the hobby to flourish, how to get kids involved in birding and how to promote birding so that it would get the attention it deserves!
We wanted to create an elegant, fun, site. We decided to fund it -- ourselves, with our own money -- and that's what we did. We have not taken a penny from anyone. In fact, VCs turn their noses up at companies unless they can provide a financial return of "80x" their money - they don't invest in sites about birds. You could see this snobbishness at Techcrunch with the panel of "experts," even though the crowd gave us a huge response.)
We've talked about various ways that we would answer that endless question, "what's the business model??" - blah. It takes a lot of money to build and maintain a site like this, so it's not an irrelevant question. We don't have the backing of a big organization or university. We're doing this ourselves. Ultimately, we decided that we'd probably do a subscription service, because we didn't want to plaster the site with a bunch of ads, and we'll need to do something at some point. We're still open-minded about this and are definitely interested in your ideas. Subscription? Ads? Subscription for certain features? Make people pay for the iPhone App? Just keep it free forever? We'd love to but we won't be able to sustain it forever without a "business model". In any case, we'll always keep some parts of the site free (i.e. pictures).
Back to the point about "are you competing with this guy or that guy"? Look. We want birding to get the credit and attention and participation it deserves! It made my blood boil when one of those "experts" on the panel at TechCrunch 50 said, "Gee, I think the hobby is for geriatrics. I don't really know anyone who does it." Phooey. It was all I could do not to jump out of my chair.
We're happy to link to any bird website, yes, ANY bird website that is reputable and worthwhile, and that includes the ones run by the ones with the big universities behind them as well as the mom and pop blogs that try to bring a modicum of birding joy/information to people out there. I think a lot of people think that you shouldn't promote "competing" websites, but we don't have any issue with it. We're going to create a page of website links so our readers/users can go visit other sites. Like E-bird or Birdfreak or whatever. We're supportive of any site that promotes birding. Period.
P.S. If you want us to include your site or blog in the page of links we will be creating, just drop us a line, and we'll do it! We ask you reciprocate, naturally, but even if you don't and we like your site, we'll put it up there!