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Old 12-27-2008, 12:46 PM   #1
Fearless Weeder's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2008
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We have conscientiously chosen to remove virtually all elements of social networking save the friends feature because we share many of the same concerns as our membership. All ranking has been disabled other than that associated with post count. We believe social networking serves little or no purpose here. We have provided private messaging although we will be revisiting visitor messages currently available to those who wish to enable them.

A valid concern regarding the friends feature was recently posed. The friends feature was left in place to enable members to work together on projects privately. Point in context, there are two members currently working on a power point presentation, five members working on articles with the editor, and staff members working on anchor photos for the site. While I would agree this "friends" title is confusing, I do believe a need exists for some of the features it affords and I know of no way to rename it.

Regarding profiles, any member registered and logged on can see them. Same deal for the members list and the "Introduce Yourself Please" forum. No one needs to be anyone’s friend to read a profile but one does need to be registered and logged on.

We have provided basic small smilies packages. We have no plans to add any additional smilies packages although we have been asked to do so. The basic smilies package is present because of the caution symbol contained therein. The caution symbol was our attempt to acknowledge that nature can be a little messy. No attempt to be politically correct by offering the basic smilies package but more so an attempt to be considerate of members who might end up with butterflies in their tummies viewing a photo of wolves taking down an elk and there is the added benefit of
helping some members compensate for the greater understanding usually gained by seeing facial expressions in an ordinary person to person conversation. No one has to use them if they prefer not to.

Collegial discussions are most certainly welcome and encouraged although we’re not going to be dictating that members use a collegiate level of citation. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out to all members that there are no beginner forums anywhere at Wildlife Gardeners. This was by design. Segregation is inconsistent with our Mission statement. It serves to divide not unite. Entry level questions will be welcome in all forums. Although the vast majority of members have good solid experiences; not all who join will. A WG staff member best summed it up when he made the following statement, “As a participant at this site, I hope that the more knowledgeable people in the forums for which I would be considered a beginner would welcome my participation, rather than telling me to go to a beginners forum.” We believed the philosophical concept of being all inclusive is most likely to be of greatest benefit to all members of an educational site.

A lot of time and thought went into our Mission Statement which appears on our home page.
"Singing to the choir" may be comfortable and enjoyable, but it doesn't accomplish the implicit goal of inviting more people to become environmentally friendly. We want to do more than exchange knowledge; we want to make it available to as many people as possible. We want to expose more people to it, and encourage them to put it into practice. Being friendly and pleasant is going to help accomplish that. Friendly conversation is an effective way to make people more receptive to the message.
Collectively, we need to do a better job making it clear that everyone is welcome in all forums regardless of their knowledge level on any particular topic providing they are sincerely interested in North American flora and fauna and/or sustainable practices, productive discourse, stimulating conversation, and the sharing of resources. Passion and curiosity make the world go round.
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