2019 has been an extremely busy time for those of us involved in the running of the Society. So many urgent tasks required our attention in order to keep everything working and supporting the membership. Some problems we have had to address, such as the website and the forum, saw some hard decisions being made out of necessity. Other important changes were made to how we announce and plan our monthly field meetings, how we advise membership renewals and how new members can join the Society. Of course the Newsletter is now changed to informative emails guiding members to news stories and announcements here on the main website.
Change will always attract some critiques, but also some praise from members. The important message I want to get across to members is we had no other choice but to solve the problems we were having administering the Society. What needs to be better explained, is the reasons behind those changes that have taken place during 2019.
Website and Forum. Some of you will be aware of the difficulties we were experiencing with both of these platforms. Both attracted the unwelcome attention of hackers, no doubt the prize was to try and obtain details held on both the website and forum of membership data. It was a constant battle to deal with these attacks. It became so bad that these sites were crashing every single hour, sometimes even minutes between each crash, we could no longer cope. Despite expert advice and assistance we were unable to stop these episodes and so we had to restructure the website and stop the forum. Of course, in more recent times, we now have strict legal requirements to compliment our own obligations to protect any member’s data we hold. It was frustrating, as a relatively small Society, that we were being targeted in this way.
Website: As you may be aware we can no longer support an open forum for members. Membership data, whether held for signing onto field meetings or renewing (joining) membership essential data is now held separately on the ‘Cloud’, not on the actual website. The website is now held by a provider rather than our own server, meaning the provider is responsible for protecting the security of our website. It is more expensive, but made necessary from past events. We very much hope that members will agree the new website is much easier to navigate and actually more comprehensive than its predecessor. For reasons related to not holding membership data on site, the facility of a member’s area had to be abandoned, a blow to us but we were left with no other option and ask for your understanding on this subject.
Field Meetings: 2019 saw our meetings being held in the regional provinces of Jaén, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Málaga and Sevilla. In fact 7 out of our 8 regional provinces. The only reason we were unable to visit Almería was the unavailability of a suitable guide to lead a meeting there. A successful year and all meetings were well attended by members. Of course changes are now in place for those wishing to find out more about future meetings and also to register for attending these meetings. I’ve already given reasons for the change and the removing of our old forum. Now it is a simple task to look under the main menu bar (at the top of the webpages) ‘Field Meetings’ and click-on the subheading ‘List of upcoming events’. Here you will find a list of future meetings and can visit each one by clicking on it for a detailed description and the meeting point. If you scroll down the meeting description you will see an area under the heading ‘Bookings’, here you can book your places for the meeting (important to also click the box agreeing to submit your booking to the Society). Have a look and let us know if you have any problems, also if you need to know the names of members signed up for meetings we can respond to your request with a list of attendees.
Newsletters: Our newsletters now take the form of an email once, sometimes more, each and every month. The email will contain links to upcoming events and also news articles, all of which are now held on the main website. Please do follow the links to keep up with Society news and forthcoming events. If you have any queries or questions about any of the topics mentioned in these emails, please contact us and we will do our best to answers these promptly.
Membership renewals and joining the Society: We have now joined the 21st century and can accept any credit or debit card. A method all will be familiar with when ‘shopping’ on the internet. The system we have is very secure and we believe simple to use. Information about credit cards is separate and only available via Stripe, one of the major credit card payments platforms. Nobody else other than yourself has access to your payment details. Like anything new, some will find it different and need some assistance, so again please do contact us and we will help to familiarise you with the process. Once you are registered on the system you can visit your profile and make any changes i.e. new email address (1) see below or postal address, even add your partner so they receive separate notices from the Society. To find your profile or if you want to join the Society simply look under the main menu heading ‘About Us’ and click-on the sub heading ‘Join us’. If you are already registered you will see a green box ‘Your Membership’ just click-on this to view your details, otherwise you will need to sign-in and using your email address you can then get your password for future ease of use. Contact us if you need any assistance. Note: The only information for members still on the website is about events bookings, because this is not essential, this information is not connected to membership data, but we advice to use the same password for your convenience
(1) You have access to your personal data like address etc (except your email address).
The key info for access to your membership information is your email address. If this changes, you need to inform us and then we will change the new email address in your account after which you have to re-establish a password. Using this procedure you are in charge to keep your data up to date.
We have tried our very best to be as thorough as possible with designing and putting into place all these changes, but sometimes when you are so heavily involved ‘you can’t see the wood for the trees’. If you can see how things might be improved then please do let us know. Constructive criticism is always welcomed as are suggestions.
Thank you for your time reading through this article and may I also take this opportunity to wish you all a Very Healthy and Peaceful New Year.
Good birding, Peter Jones – President ABS. Email: email@example.com