Instructions on sending messages

Messages can be sent directly to the Forum my using the Send Message form.

Although we try and post all messages, sometimes too many are received at one time and I have to leave some aside for the time being. The reasons they are put to one side are many - some I need to check with other experts, or I need to study in some detail. However there are a group I leave because they are just time-consuming to prepare for posting because the sender didn't follow instructions or send any meaningful information.

Some people treat the Forum as just an identification service. It is much more. We don't mind identifying photos, but in return I hope messages contain useful information on the biology and geographical distribution of the animal, so that we can gradually accumulate a storehouse of new knowledge on these fascinating animals. The best chance for your message to appear quickly is for it to follow the simple instructions outlined below. A message that doesn't need a lot of editing is always attractive to an editor.

  • One species per message
    Where possible please make a new message for each different species. If they are all collected together at the same time then repeat the message and locality data in full in each message. Of course if your message is about one species eating another or about 3 species living together then a single message is appropriate.
  • Locality details
    Please check other messages to see the information required. We need enough locality information so that the people not familiar with your particular patch can find where the animal came from relatively simply. A lat/long is useful but not necessary. Start with the actual place - Joes' Reef or Shelly Beach, then to the nearest identifiable village or town, then province or state and country. We ask for Ocean or Sea because some countries have coasts on different oceans - Mexico, USA, France. Please don't use abbreviations such as WA. - to some that is Washington State, USA, to others it is Western Australia.
  • Multiple localities
    If you have photos from different localities, use the Locality details boxes for Image 1 and then list the data for Image 2 and Image 3 in your message. If only the date or length changes do something which is clear and easy for me to edit
  • Depth, Specimen Length
    Please remember to give units and leave a space between the number and the unit - 1 mm NOT 1mm. If you use decimals, half an inch should be 0.5 ins NOT .5 ins. If the zero is missing it can easily become 5 inches in editing.
  • Date information
    The forum is an international site. Unfortunately abbreviated dates mean different things in different countries. Despite specifically asking for a specific format, many persist in sending 02/01/06 which is ambiguous. Please use the following format 01 February 2006.
  • Your Name
    In different parts of the world there are different conventions concerning our names. Out of simple courtesy I would like to make sure that I am displaying names in the way participants arrange them in their own society. That is why I have 4 boxes for your name. Unfortunately the Citation Name still causes confusion. What I need is the format of your name as it would appear in an official alphabetical list, such as an index, or a list of publications. In my culture the format is Smith, J.B. where Smith is the Family name and J.B. are the initials of the Christian or given names. For people from cultures that don't follow that convention I need help.
    Some people are capitalising their Family name. For example John SMITH. Please don't use capitals except for their normal purpose. It is a form of internet shouting!
  • Images
    For sending images, follow the instructions on the form. I am often asked what size images to send. Although we display images at 400 pixels wide or less, I prefer image files that are larger than that - up to 2000 pixels wide is ok. This gives me the chance to look more closely for particular characters, to prepare 'close-ups' and to reorient the picture in some cases to better fit the Forum design layout. Should you crop images before sending? If the subject is a small speck in the middle of an expanse of uniform sand then some cropping might be helpful, but on the whole I am happy to receive the whole picture - it is surprisng how often the background has an interesting story to tell.
  • Receipt - identifying your message
    After you send your message, an automated receipt will be sent to the email address you included in your message. This receipt will include a copy of your message - without the images. It is also a way we can check that you really did send the message and your computer isn't under a virus attack. At the bottom of the receipt there is a message identification number:  MessageID = 15718

    This 5 digit number is the unique message number which will remain attached to the message forever. If you want to inquire about your message, or refer to it in a later message, please quote that number.
  • When will my message be posted?
    We try and answer messages in the order they arrive but that is not always possible. Messages are first checked to remove the few that are not genuine or are offensive. The remaining ones then need to have their messages and images edited. Then any questions need to be answered or interesting observations commented on. This can be quite time consuming and may involve preparing a new species Fact Sheet. Although we try and post messages within 10 days,  this is not always possible.

Bill Rudman

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2006 (February 1) Instructions on sending messages. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from