The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Moderator: Ian Knox

The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Roy Miller » Sat Mar 19, 2016 1:43 am

Okay guys what is going on?

Without an active forum that attracts members and contributes to material for the Forayer mag, then membership and hence interest in the Trust will dry up. Why interest in the forum has died, who knows, has the politics between competing parties driven people away or have other mycological parties got more appeal, whatever the reason it needs addressing.

I cannot believe the membership has nothing to say here. I am somewhat surprised that the prominent members are not contributing anything when it is blatantly obvious we are in dire need of material. Surely, the forum is the main recruiter for the Trust, and more focus should be aimed at it, rather than obsessively targeting CATE and neglecting all else.

I expect flack for this post, but I doubt I am the only member who thinks this, but perhaps one of the few who has the nerve to express his concerns and worries

Roy M
Last edited by Roy Miller on Sun Mar 20, 2016 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Mal Greaves » Sat Mar 19, 2016 6:38 pm

Roy
It is always going to be a bit quiet at this time if year but I agree that there does seem to be a shortage of posts here which is a shame. I use here, AscoFrance, fungi UK and Facebook and each of them has its advantages. There seem to be more European experts on the other sites which is a big advantage if you are searching for an difficult I'd. We all ought to make an effort to mak a regular post.
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Ian Knox » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:25 pm

Hello Roy and Mal

As forum moderator I have also noticed a decline in usage, in actual fact I would estimate around 99.9%of applications are bogus spam which I clear on a weekly basis, I have also mentioned the lack of interest in the forum to Michael and am awaiting a reply.

You are not alone Roy, I to have worries and fears for the forum, it is a lack of interest from new members which appears to be the problem, how to recruit without further cost and expenditure has also to be taken into consideration plus the amount of non active members to the forum amounts to a high percentage with many members joining and not using the forum at all.

In my own opinion there has to come a time when the usage of the forum is outweighed by the costs of running and maintaining this online presence.

Regards

Ian
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Roy Betts » Thu Mar 24, 2016 4:40 pm

My main presence on the forum has been answering questions under the "Determination: what is it?" section.
I thought there had been a sudden drop in these posts. However, when totalling posts requesting determination of species for the month of October (normally the peak of fruiting) there was a surprisingly gradual decline. Beginning with 2010 there were 78 posts in Oct., in 2011 only 37 and down to 27 in 2012. By 2013 there were only 11, a mere 2 in 2014 and just one last year.
Does a forum have a natural life span? Is there more competition than there used to be? I'm not on Facebook, but have recently started regularly looking at UK Fungi which seems the most active forum at present. I never used WAB but do look at it's replacement WABI. There is also the Fungi & Wildlife Forum and it's interesting to monitor some of the Foraging websites! But how do you re-start a forum that has dropped out of use.
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Ian Knox » Fri Mar 25, 2016 6:56 am

Hello Roy

That is a good question, we have to look at the competition, there are plenty of available links on Facebook and even some websites that include a database for identification which basically leads an enquirer through a step by step identification, I am in no way suggesting that can ever replace the human number one eye ball and experience but things move on.

I feel that although we have an internet presence and can be found through searches is the forum as it stands enough to attract interested parties as new members or away from other website forums and websites, as I said earlier the list of bogus and spam applications far outweighs genuine membership applications and is checked and cleared on a weekly basis, it is clear to all by clicking on on the latest member link on the index page that our newest member joined in January 2016.

I have just looked through the stats, we have 249 Members in total some of those members have never been active on the forum so they joined and never used the forum so the 249 members is a distorted number, I will investigate how many active members we actually have and report back to Michael.

Regards

Ian
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Roy Betts » Fri Mar 25, 2016 11:49 am

Perhaps this is something that should be talked about at the forthcoming AGM?
Our Group has, I believe, 8 people (including me) who are FCT members, but to my best knowledge (through using the forum myself) none but me use it.
I guess I could enquire of the others as to why they don't.
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Ian Knox » Sat Mar 26, 2016 10:12 am

Hello Roy

Many thanks for the input.

I think I am safe in saying those in this thread are the only active members at the moment.

Regards

Ian
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby admin » Sat Mar 26, 2016 2:38 pm

It is a bit of an over-reaction when people refer to the 'demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust'. Let's keep to the facts, and leave the idle speculation where it deserves to be.

The Trust benefits from considerably more field members than our 'rival' mycological organisation, and is in a healthy state; FCT membership has actually increased in the last 12 months; we have developed the next authoritative Red List in the same 12 months; we now have a qualified Red Data IUCN assessor on board; we have produced another excellent training video - Fungi with Spines; the Trust's UK database, CATE2, now holds in excess of 1.4 million cleaned and corrected records and if you disregard all the dross on another 'British Fungus Records Database' it is the largest and far and away the most reliable UK mycological database; additionally the Trust is now acting as the official mycological consultancy to the UK Veterinary Poisons Information Service, and has dealt with more than 55 cases of fungus toxicity in dogs the last 12 months. So 'obsessively targeting CATE and neglecting all else' indicates a lack of understanding of what is actually going on in our world. CATE2 does receive quite a lot of attention but it also a success story that exemplifies how hard work and dedication to quality pays off and actually benefits field mycology and conservation, so please don't knock it!

That an online Forum declines in usage, perhaps temporarily, is regrettable, but we need to keep this in proportion - it constitutes one facet of FCT activity, and to suggest that it is somehow a barometer of the well-being of the Fungus Conservation Trust is not very realistic. I have to correct the assumption that the Forum is 'the main recruiter for the Trust'. Evidence is fairly irrefutable that the main recruiters are the main website and local groups. Roy Miller makes some useful points, and we do need to give the Forum a shot-in-the-arm, but lack of support for the Forum is hardly evidence of the Trust in decline!

Let us look at this constructively at the AGM, to see how we can boost interest in the Forum. We don't want to lose it.

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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby admin » Sat Mar 26, 2016 4:07 pm

In the short term I have updated the Index (home) page of the main Trust website with a 'plug' for the Forum.

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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Roy Miller » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:47 pm

admin wrote: ... CATE2 does receive quite a lot of attention but it also a success story that exemplifies how hard work and dedication to quality pays off and actually benefits field mycology and conservation, so please don't knock it!

That an online Forum declines in usage, perhaps temporarily, is regrettable, but we need to keep this in proportion - it constitutes one facet of FCT activity, and to suggest that it is somehow a barometer of the well-being of the Fungus Conservation Trust is not very realistic. I have to correct the assumption that the Forum is 'the main recruiter for the Trust'. Evidence is fairly irrefutable that the main recruiters are the main website and local groups. ... Let us look at this constructively at the AGM, to see how we can boost interest in the Forum. We don't want to lose it.

Michael Jordan


From my prospective it certainly looks like too much time or emphasis is placed on CATE, yet I am more than aware of its usefulness, though as I have mentioned before, CATE, whilst it has a lot of data, as a functional database it only only rates as average, as for knocking it, I don't think so (though I could go to town on that, top databases have many more functions and far better search algorithms). I see it as constructive criticism, but I think such points should be discussed on the CATE forum.

The point you made about 'the website being the main recruiter', I concede that when I implied the 'forum' was the main recruiter', that was a too loose statement, and I should have included 'the'website' as well as 'the forum'. I am glad to see that the main website has been updated with a plug for the forum. The main website has over the years been somewhat static and once visited, if they were not a forum-kinda-person, then there would be little incentive to return as nothing much changes. I suggest that if there was a dynamic section on the main website, for instance, something like fungus groups having a report blog, then it may have more appeal.

Let's not forget that is most likely that the majority of people have never heard of the FCT (ex-ABFG) if they have no interest in mycology, natural history or other conservation interests, etc.

As for other forums, I often used my brother-in-law's computer when I visit and check Facebook forums, but I cannot ever work out how to effectively search the sequential posts, so I am not a Facebook fan. May I suggest that if one wants to paste on other forums, then consider posting it here first, then place on the other forums a link to the post here, so they have to visit this forum to view the data/photos etc. I assume that is an acceptable practice and surely a way to bring in viewers and who knows, potential members.

Could the plug for the forum on the main website may be reciprocated by putting a link on these forum pages to go back to the main FCT website, is that possible?

At least this thread has kindled some activity, which cannot be a bad thing, keep it going.

Roy M

Edited to add (i) originator of post and (ii) crass spelling mistake of exceptable for acceptable
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