PestNet seems to be coming to the end of its usefulness. I write to ask you what you think.
In its heyday PestNet had between 60 and 80 emails a month asking for advice on pests and diseases and often requesting identifications.
We noticed a reduction in the number of requests about 4 years ago, and as you can see we are hardly getting any at all these days. Last month it was one, and this month none so far.
We have a new system now and had hoped that that would stimulate a bit more activity but it seems it has not. YahooGroups changed their way of operating so we were forced into developing a new platform.
We have also seen the same downturn with other email groups. The Coconut list started by Hugh Harries at about the same time as Pestnet and using Google groups also has little activity.
Why this tapering off, we don’t know. It may be that there are more places to go for information, or members like to use social media rather than email. No idea.
We have tried to retain interest by giving out information that Google Alerts deliver, but this is not the reason for PestNet, although I would like to hear from you about that.
Next week I will be meeting with LUCID people in Brisbane and also the Pacific IPM project that backstops us, to discuss what we might do.
I would be very pleased to have ideas and comments from you. Obviously, if we can’t turn things around and be useful, as we think PestNet was previously, we will call it a day.
Grateful for your comments
Dear Dr Grahame,
I appreciated your sincere comments on the reduced activities in Pestnet.
Speaking personally, I found it easier opening my mail box and reading the post on Pestnet than on the App.
This however, does not mean that Pestnet has outlived its usefulness. The reduced number of requests doesn't mean that also. It possible like me we are not faced regularly with difficulty in ID of Pest yet.
A forum like Pestnet is still required now and in the future to assist in the proper ID and management of Pest.
Sorry for the delay in replying. I think there are a number of reasons for the reduction in emails. I think the new platform did take a bit of persistence to get used to it, and some may have found it a bit difficult to use? Also, yes, nowadays there are so many sources for information on ID of pests and diseases. Many will go to Google, etc., and get a satisfactory result without turning to Pestnet. That's a pity because the Pestnet forum has some real world experts in their field. That is the main reason that Pestnet should continue. Pestnet may also be a victim of its own success. It may have reached it's key audience being the local field advisers and agronomists who have access to the comprehensive number of factsheets, and along with a bit of google, get the answer they need. I think you may have reached the English reading audience in the Pacific and SE Asia, where the number of English literate field advisers would be limited in number. BUT, what about the 1000's of farmers who could use Pestnet and the factsheets? The problem here would be language. In our NZAID projects in SE Asia, we are translating all our factsheets into the local languages, being Khmer and Vietnamese. We can then reach 1000's of farmers. So, I think the challenge is to get beyond the English literate field advisers and get to the huge audience, being farmers. They have phones and are hungry for knowledge about what is infesting their crops, being good and bad insects, etc.
Hope useful. Graham Walker
From Dagmar Hanold, Adelaide