In a previous article, I talked about how to find credible sources of information. Sometimes you may have questions and simply cannot find any source you can trust.
Caveats for forums
I can provide some caveats for when you resort to visiting forums or blogs that have uncited information.
- People are far more likely to visit forums to report problems than successes with their birds. If one person reports a problem, it’s possible that many others did the same thing and didn’t have a problem.
- When someone asks “should I let my bird do xyz” on a forum, the answer you will likely get is no. People default to no because it’s a safer answer. But in the desire to provide rich lives for our birds, we owe it to them to not be reactionary.
Finding the good in forums
So, I’ve basically trashed forums, but they are sometimes the only place where certain topics are mentioned. So, how do you weigh the credibility of a posting.
- See how much a forum poster has posted and if there is a rating system, how is their past advice rated. Someone who commits a lot of time to a forum is likely to be more of a subject matter expert, although this is not a given.
- Ignore people that just say things. Pay attention to people who can back up what they say with personal experience.
- Even better, look for personal anecdotes that are confirmed by others. Even though it’s not as good as cited research, it’s better than just one person relaying their own experience.
- Even on a forum, sometimes people will provide a reference for their information or mention that it was offered by a vet. Links to where they got the information they are sharing show the person values actual research.
Forums can be hotbeds of fear and misinformation. But it’s possible to look at postings somewhat objectively and make reasonable decisions for our birds.