Hi Ian,
I have kept bird journals for many years. When E-bird first came about, one 
of the aspects I liked was that the comment section WAS personal and no one 
else could read it. That was emphasized to me at the time - that it would be 
like keeping my journal except that the number of species and number of 
individuals (and other impersonal information) would be shared. In fact, at 
that time, I was told that only administrators would be able to read the 
comment section, so there have been some changes already that I was not 
aware of. Some of my journal is personal and I would not want to share it 
with the general birding public.
Just my opinion.
Bonnie Dundas

-----Original Message----- 
From: Ian A. Worley
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2013 5:37 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VTBIRD] Important little known fact for eBirders

Hello all of you who submit checklists to eBird.

As an eBird reviewer I see many checklists.  And I note a
misunderstanding about one entry line when submitting a checklist.

When you are submitting a checklist there is the page that asks for
Observation Date and Type, for Start Time and Duration, etc.  The last
entry line is "Comments."

It is this "Comments" opportunity that is misunderstood.  Most people
enter comments here that apply to the whole birding event that created
the checklist being submitted.  So there are comments such as:  "Rainy
and foggy, viewing difficult."  "Remained on the trail."  "Christmas
Bird Count for Sector 7."  "Observers included exceptional birders
including David Sibley."  "Identifications verified by Sam and Sarah
Ridley who helped me immensely."  "Bird counts were all gross
estimates."  "Data collected with standardized UVM Grassland Bird survey
protocols."  "Nocturnal bird count from dormitory roof."  "Celebrating
Meg's birthday: Jane, Ralph, Izzy, Sapari, and Bo the Beagle."
"All-night search for Sedge Wren."  And so on.

This "Comments" opportunity is, in fact, the only place where you can
enter comments that refer to the whole event.

The problem is this --  The only people who can see the comments are you
the submitter and eBird administrators, eBird reviewers, and eBird
approved researchers.  No one else can.  When someone views a checklist
when finding it on an eBird map (via "Explore Data ....Range and Point
Maps") the comments are absent.  If someone posts a link to a checklist,
or sends you the link, on the checklist you are looking at the comments
are absent.  So you never get to know what the submitter thinks you
should or might want to know when looking over the birds on the checklist.

Soooo ..... most of us put comments in this entry box with the
reasonable and unquestioned expectation that anyone viewing the
checklist will be seeing the comments.  This becomes significant if we
write something there that is particularly important or helpful in
understanding the bird observations being reported.  But, in fact, most
users will never see the comments.  Awk!!!

While this restriction might be changed sometime in the future, at
present the restriction continues in place.

A poor but possible solution could be to take those comments that would
logically (it seems) to go in the general information about the
checklist and place them in the comments box for one of the species
included in the checklist.  That way, at least, everyone viewing the
checklist could see them.

Good winter birding to all ......