NABA’s Troubled “Butterflies I’ve Seen” Database

LepLoggers who record their sightings using the North American Butterfly Association’s Butterflies I’ve Seen (BIS) records database to archive their field trip data have been more than usually frustrated the past few weeks.  Since the middle of August a note has appeared on the site warning of a couple of days interruption in service while the site was updated — welcome news to many of us who found BIS clunky, error-prone, and subject to periodic inexplicable outages.  But when the service interruption date came and went with no changes, we breathed our collective — and regular — sigh of exasperation.

But then suddenly a note came from the (volunteer, so we can’t complain THAT much) web administrators that the site had migrated to a more spacious server and that some of the more annoying glitches — like a trip report form with a date that always defaulted to tomorrow — had been fixed.

Unfortunately, along with the fixes came a cascade of other problems — some users were locked out, some (like me) found years of data missing, some (again me) had locations in Alaska and the Carolinas show up when we clicked locations we’d added from our home states.  To their credit, another heroic all-nighter fixed most of these problems.

There are still issues. As of today, the “email trip report” function is still not back online, and formatting problems concern some users.  Some problem areas were never addressed.  I remain completely puzzled, for example, where the list of available “types”of field locations in the drop-down menu for recording field trip data came from, an issue I’ve raised before. Seriously, “bench”?  (no, not a typo for “beach” — it’s there too) “Swamp” but not “marsh”? When was the last time we had reason to report from the following locations:  church, tower, arch, hospital, lava, or pillar?  And what are location types “ppl” and “po”?

All of which leads me to wonder where the good standalone butterfly list recording systems are?  I know of a couple that tag into existing birdlist software, and maybe I’m expecting too much but they seem all to be PC-specific but not Mac compatible.  The one Mac-friendly software listing package for leps I know gets terrible reviews.  I don’t mean to cut and run on BIS, but this latest experience (and the months and years of complaints that often never received responses, or got an email weeks after the problems were raised) makes me think I’d like a more secure eBird type database even if I have to pay for it.

Suggestions more than welcome!

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