The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Moderator: Ian Knox

Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby admin » Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:52 am

It's perhaps worth taking up the first paragraph of Roy's considered response. It is easy to forget the fundamentals of why the ABFG (now FCT) was launched. Back in the mid '90s there were increasing grumbles at the old group leaders' meetings in Forest of Dean that although BMS officers attended, took notes of the aspirations of the field community, rarely if ever did anything get done. We were severely lacking in a forum of field interest communication, reagent supplies, insurance for field groups, and . . . . a system of data management that would serve adequately for future conservation needs, especially Red Data assessment of fungi, which for years had languished while other wildlife disciplines made better progress. It was with those needs in mind that a group of like-minded people decided to set up the ABFG in 1996. The Association invested in, and provided all of those missing elements - we gave the field community a good magazine, we provided an insurance scheme, we set up chemicals supply, and we launched a data management system worthy of the name. Why do we spend a comparatively massive amount of time and effort on CATE? It is not to build ever more records per se. One of the priorities is, and always has been, to provide the right (adequate) resources in order to progress with the infinitely important task of properly assessing critically endangered, endangered, near-threatened, and vulnerable species of UK fungi, in short, with Red Data listing. The FRDBI, through decades of inattention, is not fit for that purpose, nor may it ever be, something even agreed by its own supporters. It has taken the CATE team nine years to clean the UK data to something approaching a usable state.

Today, we publish a quarterly magazine, run a reagents service, maintain public liability insurance, operate a diagnostic service, produce high quality educational videos, run the mycological toxicology consultancy for the National Veterinary Poisons Information Service, offer an online forum . . . . and maintain successfully what is still among the best online wildlife databases and data recording systems that 'does what it says on the tin' (try comparing it with one or two others!) But critics should remember that a limited number of volunteers can't do everything. Getting things done relies on hands-on, and alas sometimes there is just not enough of that.

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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Ian Knox » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:44 pm

Hi

Just as we are discussing the demise of the forum we get the highest ever number of users as can be seen from the statistics below.

Most users ever online was 72 on Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:58 pm

Regards

Ian
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Roy Betts » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:51 am

That's a bit strange; no one seems to be posting anything!
The 'UK Fungi' site has had half our max. hits at one time (36) but has 43 "Fungi ID requests" since Jan. 1st. whereas this Forum has had 2....
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby GeoffDann » Tue May 03, 2016 6:01 pm

Roy Betts wrote:Does a forum have a natural life span?


No, but it is becoming more difficult to keep them going.

The golden age of internet forums has been and gone. Their heyday was as a replacement for Usenet newsgroups, before the rise of facebook, twitter and countless other forms of social media that I only know the names of. But they have one massive advantage over most other forms of social media in that they are easier to search for historical posts that are relevant to some question you have. You can easily follow lengthy and complex debates, because of the way you can selectively quote other people's posts. Facebook is useless for finding historical stuff, twitter is limited by available space and a lack of quotability, etc... So there is probably a long-term future for some internet forums if the subject matter they deal with is of the right sort.

What is the problem with this forum? I don't know, but I suspect it is partly because people don't know it exists. If somebody wants a fungus identified, then their chances of ending up posting on this forum are fairly remote. If their interest is primarily foraging rather than conservation then they are far more likely to post their query on one of the foraging websites, especially if they can post without registering, or if they can register without providing a full name. I get more requests to identify fungi sent to my own email address, found via my foraging blog/website, than get posted on this forum in total. Many of these questions aren't even from foragers - they are often about possibly-poisoned dogs/horses/other, or parents worried about fungi growing on a lawn where their toddlers play, fungi growing inside people's houses, or even just people who have found a fungus and are interested in finding out a bit more about it.

So I guess the problem is three-fold - a general lack of interest in fungi conservation as opposed to other reasons people go to the internet to find out about fungi, relative "difficulty" in posting here compared to other places online, and the existence of various sorts of competition.
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Ian Knox » Fri May 06, 2016 3:30 pm

Well put Geoff.

My only concern as moderator is that if we deregulate the membership it would be nigh on impossible to manage, today for instance I have had to look through over 150 applications and not one of them was genuine, this is done on a regular basis so that we do not allow hoax or bogus applications through onto the forum where they can cause disruption.

We have had cases in the past where the Forum was infiltrated and less than desirous posts left, fortunately we stamped on this member pretty quick so opening a forum to everybody without some form of control would not be an option in my view at this time.

We have to keep in mind that the 150 bogus applications for membership every 3 days are spamming our security to get as far as they do and the intention of these people or machines are only intent on gaining access for no good reason.

Regards

Ian
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby GeoffDann » Tue Sep 13, 2016 11:17 pm

OK...

Due to the need to promote my new book, I have been inhabiting the myriad facebook forums relevant to fungi and wild food. And I now believe that if this board isn't already dead, it probably will be soon. I am no fan of facebook. But it is killing forums and other social media websites. WildMushroomsonline.co.uk is also dying.

I think serious consideration should be given to transferring the activity of this forum to a facebook group.
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Ian Knox » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:10 pm

Hello Geoff

Many thanks for your input, I will bring this to the attentions of M.J.

Regards

Ian
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Re: The demise of the Fungus Conservation Trust?

Postby Roy Miller » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:32 am

I do not think Facebook is the answer, it's full of banal witter and speculative guesswork on species (not so much in the BMS group). Have you ever tried sequentially searching for something on Facebook, it's a nightmare (it's search engine is useless). Personally, I for one cannot be bothered with it. One day Facebook will lose its attraction and we will be none the better off. My mate only uses Facebook but will forward topics to me, should he consider I might be interested in it.

What I think is an Achilles Heel in this forum is the limitation on picture size. Nowadays, with resolution of cameras being so much better, a considerable bit of editing is needed to ensure a picture can be posted, and the result is often a picture with not enough detail. Besides there may be some members who are fazed by having to edit a photo, and so never post here. Can the picture size of submitted pictures here be improved?
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