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Where now for the RAUK website?

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    Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 5:37am

Hi all,

 

I've been musing recently about where RAUK should be going in the future. As my own commitments increase with work, I can do very little but monitor posts these days. (anyone remember the last RAUK newsletter they got? )

I've been considering forming a committee to run the site. Made up of say a chair, secretary and a number of 'officers' such as promotion, news, conservation etc. Very similiar to the ARG structure.

I feel this could work, but it would require voluntary input from the various committee members and perhaps a number of meetings each year. Anyone interested in this or think as I do that it might be a good idea?

I'm not really anticipating any changes to the forums (other than perhaps reaching a wider audience of the general public seeking advice) but would like to see the rest of the site such as the news pages becoming a little more dynamic and the site moving away from just being my own original concept.

Wouldn't it be good if we had a section on the site dedicated to herp conservation in gardens etc and a section dedicated to putting the message across to developers and the public regarding habitat loss? There may be other things members would like to see on the site.

 

Any feedback appreciated as ever,

 

Gemma



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote herpetologic2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 7:37am

 

Hi Gemma

I would be very happy to help with the RAUk forum - I wonder if it was possible to link up with the ARG UK coordinating panel to discuss how we could work together to develop the RAUK forum and the work of ARG UK - regarding the county arg's - I think that the ARg UK are looking to provide an ARG Support Officer post - this will be discussed over email and at our next meeting so maybe you could meet up with us so we can discuss ideas -

I am sure that other RAUK members would also be welcome to come along to the meeting which should be in October.

the forum I am sure everyone would agree is an excellent resource for herp conservation volunteers etc

so if anyone else has any ideas of how we proceed then please post here

 

Jon

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 8:24am

Hi Jon, sounds like the meeting of ARG UK could be a way to move this on, certainly it would be good if anyone else from RAUK who thinks this is all a good idea could attend also, though perhaps there should be a meeting beforehand to form a RAUK committee??

The main thing is to get some feedback from current members as to whether they think this would be a good idea and also if they are willing to get involved and give a few hours each week to put some spark into the site.

One area I would be careful of though is group politics. RAUK was devised as an independent resource for a number of reasons, not least the inter-group politics that seem to plague UK herp conservation (god knows why as surely we all have the same common goal and there are not that many of us!!!), this is something that will need to be discussed at a very early stage. I wouldn't want RAUK to simply become the ARG UK forum for example. In fact I would never let that happen! I strongly feel though that the site could be used to present a more united front of the various groups to the general public on the web.

(PS above comments to promote discussion, I'm not assuming that this was your aim!)



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vicar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 8:27am

Gemma,

Clearly I would help out wherever possible, a couple of issues spring to mind....

1. I would be in favour of working with close co-ordination with ARG UK, HCT etc, but would stress that the forum remains independent of other orgs, just in case personalities change and petty politics get in the way. An air-gap would imo be healthy.

2. An area where I think RAUK scores very highly is its accessibility to the general public. I would be interested in RAUK developing its own distribution database, based on public submissions, which could compliment, and contribute to NARRS, NBN etc. Not a trivial task, but possibly feasible.

3. It appears the majority of non-core posts we get are along the lines of: "I've seen this...what is it?". I think we could easily develop an ID tree, based upon location and 1st order characteristics, rather than the "go look at the ID pages" approach we currently use. I'm developing this approach currently...if it pans out its maybe something we could consider?

Steve Langham - Chairman    
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 9:20am

Hi Steve,

1. One concept I've considered in the past was RAUK hosting the 'UK Herpetofauna Ring'. Largely this would be a click through page that takes the public to HCT, BHS, Froglife, ARG UK individual ARG sites etc and of course RAUK itself. This would work if each group/organisation agreed to display a logo on their web sites that was linked to the page. It would also instantly provide a united front to the public on the web, regardless of who isn't talking to who at the time  

RAUK was provided as a resource to all groups and individuals, though use of the site has been patchy and often the resource is largely under used - finding out why and getting each group to use the site for a bit of self promotion etc. would be a good starter for the RAUK committee!

I totally agree RAUK must remain independent of any given group - though this is a good reason to have a RAUK commitee as in the past few years I've built up my own prejudices against certain groups/individuals  

2. I want to see this too, it will not be easy, but what an achievement eh?

3. The ID pages don't really work do they! Typical problems are if someone thinks they have seen a lizard they will not look at the newts even though it does mention that they are often confused. There are also some glaring mistakes such as stating that any bright green lizard is a sand lizard.. I should have changed that years ago!

An interactive key would be a much better way and  a lot more fun for the public, good chance to throw in some herp facts while they work their way through it also.  - so an interactive key starting with location, habitat and basic features of the animal would be a really good way to lose all those natterjacks in Essex, smooth snakes in Suffolk and Sand Lizards in Berkshire we get from the online form.

Keep them coming peeps  seems we now have 3 bodies for the RAUK committee

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 2:35pm

If RAUK got shy Tony due to having a committee I would probably nuke it.. and replace it with RAUK II a week later .

I actually think it is good for RAUK to explore contentious issues, I for one am astounded by the amount of petty politics and self promotional guff that goes on in our small world and the amount of damage it causes.. ooops lets keep the thread on subject for a change!

There is no reason why we couldn't have members in the committee who are not based in the UK, we have a method of communicating after all, something for the agenda of the first meeting??

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote herpetologic2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 5:51pm

 

Excellent to hear the views of others on this - I would say that the ring idea would really good - the ARG UK website has its two main referrers which are Froglife (1st most weeks) and this forum with not a lot of % between them.

So linking up with all the herp organisations will be beneficial I hope for all of them - a united front is much better than a fragmented approach which is currbetly existing - Of course RAUK should be independent - from other orgs - the ARG Uk have come to that conclusion last year - froglife no longer is the secretariat of the HGBI - we have become an independent organisation and we had a great herp workers meeting this year -

Next year's meeting will also be good and I would propose a possible workshop for the RAUK forum on the Sunday - or the new RAUK committee could be introduced to the participants - I would love to have a presentation on RAUK the last few years etc etc

Jon

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 6:26pm

That's 4 bodies then (5 counting Merv who will have to be the treasurer else he will get upset). Certainly would be good Jon if this could be got off the ground in time for next years Herp workers meeting  (does doing a presentation or a workshop get you in free then??)

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chris Monk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2006 at 6:39pm

A "UK Herpetofauna Ring" linking all the web sites would be a good idea, as at present the links listed on various herp sites are a very patchy list of all those present. If you manage to get a RAUK committee to manage the site then perhaps they could push for the establishment of such a ring with the other organisations. Main problem in forming a committee is finding enough people who can commit time on a regular basis to take part and actually do the work, even if it is by e-mail rather than meeting in person.

Not only are there a lot of "what is it" inquiries on the forum, most seem to start off a new thread so the number of topics under the main headings grows ever bigger. Rather than search to re-activate a relevant topic, I suspect most people just start a new one that repeats a previous thread. (I'm sure I have been guilty of this as I haven't had time to check all the previous topics under the main heading before starting a new one). Perhaps a "topic" for a new RAUK management committee to consider.

Main problem in forming a committee is finding enough people who can commit time on a regular basis to take part and actually do the work, even if it is by e-mail rather than meeting in person.

PS. Jon I agree ARG-UK needs to make the RAUK site more known to members of ARG groups, as I expect most of them don't know it exists. It also covers a lot more topics than the usual run of queries that ARG groups get.

PPS Despite only having a small number of native herp species, why do so many people still wrongly identify UK species?. They probably don't check the ID pages properly so perhaps an interactive key might work better to filter them before they jump to the wrong conclusion based on just looking at the photo's.

Chris

Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group

www.derbyshirearg.co.uk

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robert V Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Aug 2006 at 5:06am

Gemma,

I must say (for what its worth) that I agree with you and Steve, namely; that yes, cooperation with other orgs is very nice, but, the thing that attracted me to the site is its "inclusive nature" and "independence" from the large organisations that seem to "run" herptology, especially as I'd seen first hand how these orgs can disregard info/calls for help from "outsiders".

I would be willing to contribute time to a committee if founded, although I make no bones about it, my own 'expertise' relates mainly to Natrix and other more common species of herp and I would have little guidance to give on 'Smoothies' and 'Sandies'! (apart from where to find them and how).

I do agree with Chris about quite a lot of "new threads" relating to old topics, but it would be difficult to explain that to newcomers to the site, when they have "breaking news".

Gemma, the comment you made about the forum's use being sketchy, has a lot to do with; a). Summer sightings of herps are less frequent than in Spring/Autumn for reasons such as more herbage cover, less need to bask and Herps being quicker etc. b). Paradoxically, more foot traffic to Herp spots in Summer means fewer sightings because of the retiring nature of herps and c). The standard of report/photos/knowledge on RAUK is so high, that, incidentals such as 'slow worm found dead in road' is probably not thought of as "important" (just an example, not an opinion) so may not get reported. The committee may be able to sift through older posts (more than a year say) and take out stuff that has been covered/dealt with?

You're right, a news letter would help this and each news letter could have an ID page of a couple of herps in turn, with the basics. For instance, recently, there was a thread asking for advice on an Adders 'nest' containing eggs! It makes you wonder whether there is a large hole to fill in terms of Herp knowledge in the general public, and that other Herp groups/orgs have missed an opportunity there.

With the advance of Video film and the Steve irwin/Austin Stevens etc roadshows, there may be a niche to fill in producing a video of British herps (of course I would wish to front it LOL LOl ) and it wouldn't be too difficult given the Photo expertise that exists on RAUK to produce a half decent effort that could be "sold" to education authories etc as well as to the genarl public to highlight the sensitivities of the species and the need for greater understanding and empathy (sorry Jon, not a dig!).

If you think these sort of directions could be good to explore, then feel free to let me know.

Cheers

Robert

  

 

 

 

 

RobV
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