Saturday, March 25, 2017

eBird Community Photo Ratings

Recently eBird announced community photo and audio ratings for media submitted directly on eBird checklists through the Macauley Library. Only some people have been rating their own photos as to quality. Now every eBird member can rate the photos of others. "Is this photo a 3 ("average") or 4 ("good")? Now you can have more than just your own subjective opinion. The more people rate your photos the more "accurate" the rating becomes as to its aesthetic value and suitability for identification.

How do you look at the photos and start rating them?

Log in to eBird, if you aren't already when it opens, and select "Explore Data" from the menu, and then "Search Photos and Sounds" from the list. This brings you to the Media Search page and the 2.66 million photos and audio recordings currently added to eBird checklists. Click on the photo and rate it. Then keep going!

Oh, first you should understand the rating criteria. 1 is "terrible"--if you squint just right you may be able to make out the correct identification. 3 means you can see and identify the bird but it is small in the frame, turned at a funny angle, partially blocked by vegetation, slightly off-focus, or otherwise just an average picture. 5 is magazine cover worthy. I chose a photo at random just uploaded below--a wonderfully close and sharp photo of an American Three-toed Woodpecker from Canada. It had one rating already, perhaps by the photographer, of 5. I'm picky; for a 5 I want all of the bird in the frame, or a portrait of just head and shoulders, with nothing distracting in the background. So I rated it a 4. The next person that rates it may call it a 4 or 5. I don't think anyone would call it a 3--it's certainly better than average. With more people rating it, it will probably come out at about 4.8, but that's not a value one person can put in. By the way, the official eBird rating guidelines are here.


Perhaps, though, you only want to rate photos in your local county or only a nearby Hotspot. You can filter by Location at various levels from Country all the way down to Hotspot. You can filter by any Date or range of dates. You can choose to show, or not, recently reported rare birds before they have been vetted as to accurate identity ("Unconfirmed"). You can even choose to rate just the photos by your favorite eBird Contributor.

What is eBird? Every birder who ever keeps track of the birds they see, home or away, should be an eBirder. eBird is a real-time online worldwide citizen-science community checklist program, and so much more! Want more explanation of what it is all about? Click here.