eBird and Merlin Community Guidelines: Promoting responsible, respectful birding

By Team eBird 5 Jul 2024
Eurasian Linnet Linaria cannabina

We are excited to share significant updates to the eBird Code of Conduct. These changes aim to promote responsible data collection practices that ensure eBird and Merlin remain an inclusive, positive space for bird enthusiasts worldwide.

Why Update the Guidelines?

eBird and Merlin empower millions of people to learn and contribute to our collective understanding of birds. The platforms’ success is built on the accuracy and integrity of submitted data and our robust global community. As our community continues to grow, it’s crucial to ensure our standards of conduct evolve to address emerging challenges and opportunities.

Along with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Values, Terms of Use, and eBird Best Practices, our updated Community Guidelines lay out the basic ground rules for participation as well as recommended behaviors for respectful, responsible bird observation. This document is not intended as a comprehensive Birding Code of Ethics. Rather, these policies support and complement existing Codes of Ethics established by regional birding organizations. The Regional News & Resources sections maintained by eBird regional partner networks are a great place to learn more about relevant Codes of Ethics in different areas (for example, check out this Birding Ethics resource published by eBird Northwest).

Key Changes

The updated Code of Conduct is separated into two sections. One outlines Community Guidelines, or suggested actions to support a safe, accessible birding space. The second identifies Prohibited Behaviors, such as abuse, data falsification, copyright infringement, and explicit content, that can result in the discontinuation of public participation on the eBird and Merlin platforms.

These updates are designed to benefit all members of the eBird community by:

  • Promoting data quality: Ensuring the data collected is reliable and valuable for scientific research and conservation efforts.
  • Enhancing clarity: Clearer guidelines and expectations make it easier to contribute productively.
  • Encouraging respectful observation: Behaviors that everyone can engage in to protect birds and their habitats, contributing to broader conservation goals.
  • Creating a positive experience: Supporting a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone to enjoy birds.

Community Feedback and Involvement

The eBird and Merlin team values the input of its community and global partners. We have incorporated feedback from users and regional organizations worldwide in these updates. Moving forward, our team will continue to engage with the community through the Help Center to respond to concerns about community guideline infringements, and ensure that policies remain effective.

Looking Ahead

eBird’s commitment to community engagement ensures the platform remains at the forefront of participatory science. These updated community standards mark a significant step in that journey, reinforcing our shared dedication to data accuracy and responsible birding.

As we embrace these new guidelines, we invite all members of the eBird and Merlin community to join us in fostering a positive, respectful, and scientifically-accurate birding environment. Together, we can continue to make valuable contributions to birds and biodiversity worldwide. Thank you for your support!

To review the updated community guidelines, please visit them here.