WLOL Masthead
Wildlife Online-

Wildlife information at the click of a mouse--


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Content Updated: 24th July 2012

QUESTIONS:

  What's with the redesign? It seemed to take ages and doesn't look that much different.
  Ooooh! Those are nice pictures, can I use them in my project/on my website?
  The page doesn’t display correctly – what’s going on?
  There’s a lot of info on your pages making them daunting. Could you split them into ‘bite-sized’ chunks?
  I have some photos/drawings that I’d like to contribute, how do I go about it?
  How do I cite information I’ve taken from this website?
  I have some information I'd like to contribute to your website - where so I start?
  I have spotted an error or disagree with something on your website. What should I do?
  Why does it take so long to get each article or Q/A online? Can't you hurry it up?

Q: What's with the redesign? It seemed to take ages and doesn't look that much different.
A: Fair comment! The site's revamp did take much longer than I had anticipated; although in my defense I do work full-time and moved house in the middle of it all! Nonetheless, the idea behind the re-design was not so much to give WLOL a fresh look, although it does look a bit different and it's growing on me. Ultimately, the plan was to recode the site using as much industry standard code as possible. The previous incarnation of the site was created back in 2006, when I moved away from a framed design, using Microsoft Frontpage 2003. As most of you with any knowledge of web design will be only too aware, Frontpage was something of a coding 'loose cannon' producing a considerable amount of redundant code that served to slow the page loading and sometimes cause rendering issues. In addition, the table-based design was clunky and often difficult to format, as well as further slowing the site's loading. Finally, each page was independent and any changes weren't copied across the site, meaning some pages looked slightly different and a lot of work was involved maintaining the site's menu. Anyway, in essence, the new site has a cleaner code and incorporates CSS. It should be quicker to load and the results should be more comparable across browsers. The pages are also generated based on a dynamic web template, meaning that I can easily change the layout on a master file and it will be copied to all linked pages on the site. There are downsides to DWTs and I have no doubt there are easier or fancier ways of writing the site, but in the end WLOL is about the information more than anything else - I do my best to present the information in a visually pleasing way, but I'm not a web designer and don't really have time to train as one. I hope the new-look WLOL is a happy compromise between design and function. (Back to Menu)

Q: Ooooh! Those are nice pictures, can I use them in my project/on my website?
A: That largely depends to whom the picture belongs. If I took the photo, or drew the picture you’re after, then yes, you can use it – with two small conditions. The first is that you e-mail me to tell me where you wish to use this picture (which also enables me to send you higher quality versions of the image you require); the second is that you credit me as the author. I would also appreciate a link to my website if the picture is to be used for Internet material. It is important to point out that the fact that a picture is on my site doesn’t mean that I own it. Many very generous folks have donated their work to the site and, as such, permission to use the picture(s) is not mine to give or deny. If you’re after a photo that’s taken by anyone other than me, it is to that person you need to direct your request. This can be done via one of two routes. If the photographer/artist has a website, you can click their name on my Many Thanks page to be whisked to their site, where you will (quite probably) find an e-mail contact for them. Alternatively, you can e-mail me, telling me which picture you’re after and I will forward your message to the respective person. It will then be up to them to say “yay” or “nay”. Please bear in mind that some of the pictures featured on the site were donated several years ago and the contact e-mail I have for that photographer may no longer be active. I will do my best to contact him or her on your behalf, but I cannot guarantee to reach them or that they will respond to my e-mail. (Back to Menu)

Q: The page doesn’t display correctly – what’s going on?
A: Don’t you just love computers?!? Unfortunately, each web browser interprets a given chunk of Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) code slightly differently! Ergo, when viewing the homepage of Wildlife Online using Internet Explorer or Firefox, the page may look slightly different than it would were you to view it using Opera or another browser (although this is less of an issue now than it was five or ten years ago). When it comes to creating the code for this site, it is written and tweaked so that the site looks best in Firefox and Chrome. Why? The answer is simple: these are the two most popular web browsers currently in use. According to the latest survey by the Web developer site W3Schools Online, as of June 2012 some 42% of people surfing the Web use Chrome, while about 34% use Firefox. Some 17% use Internet Explorer (a massive drop when you think that 10 years ago almost 90% of Web surfing was done with IE) and only about 6% use either Safari or Opera, with the former having twice the following of the latter. Despite coding for Chrome and Firefox, however, I do also test the site with IE, Opera and Safari. I found that the site displays appropriately in all of these browsers, although the spacing between lines and paragraphs does seem to vary a little.

If you are experiencing major problems viewing this site, feel free to e-mail the Webmaster about it - please include details of your web browser, operating system and the date you experienced the problem. It may be that your browser is picking up a glitch in the code, which I may be able to correct. (Back to Menu)

Q: There’s a lot of info on each of your animal pages that makes them a little daunting. Could you not split the pages into smaller ‘bite-sized’ chunks?
A: This was a question raised by several people who viewed the original site design. As incomprehensible as it may seem, the information on each of the wildlife topics is only a summary of the multitudinous information that is available! As such, I am reluctant to lose any of the content and feel that it would probably swamp the website were I to split the pages into smaller sections (say, one page per section). I hope, however, that the splitting of each article into sections has provided a suitable compromise. Essentially, the main content pages has been ‘virtually’ split with the aid of a menu at the top. Thus, although all the information is still on a single -- in some instances, long -- page, the user can opt to jump to specific parts using the menu at the top of the page. Each ‘section’ has the option to return to the top menu by clicking the hyperlink at the end of the final paragraph. This format gives the user the option of reading the entire piece, or selecting specific categories that interest him or her. In addition to this, I have refrained from covering many of the topics associated with the particular species on their profiles; instead, I have sectioned them off as questions under the Q/A section. Finally, I have created a Speed Read page, which provides a basic overview of the species covered on the site. (Back to Menu)

Q: I have some photos/drawings that I’d like to contribute, how do I go about it?
A: Fantastic! I’m always on the lookout for some decent photos and drawings to further enhance the site. Check out my Photos Needed page, which sets out the terms for getting your images on to the site and -- if you agree to them -- e-mail me the pictures along with your full name (i.e. Christian and surnames) and the address of your website, or a website you’d like me to link your credit to.

With regard to the formats of your pictures, I leave this largely up to you. Having said this, I could do without receiving huge TIFF or RAW images, or images saved in a photo editing propriety format (which I can’t open unless I happen to have that program). The image formats I can accept are: GIF, JPEG, JPG, IMG, PCX, BMP, PIC, PCT, DRW, and PNG. I can open TIF, TIFF and (some) RAW files if these are the only format options you have, although my e-mail provider will bounce images larger than 10mb. (Back to Menu)

Q: How do I cite information I’ve taken from this website in my School/College/Uni project?
A: Taking information from websites is generally frowned upon by University lecturers, mainly owing to the amount of false material circulating on the Internet. I can, however, provide references for the majority of information used on this site (certain aspects represent personal observation by myself and collaborators) and I feel that the information presented herein is accurate to the best of my knowledge and understanding. Thus, I’d suggest using the format that my tutors at Uni wanted me to use when citing Internet sources. We were told to use the format of the following example:

In the main text:

“However, Golden eagles can only lift 4 or 5kgs (Internet Source 1). This suggests that only small…”

In the Bibliography, under the heading “Internet Resources”

Internet Source 1: Name of Website: Name of Page URL Address in Full. Accessed on: (date)

Therefore, for the above main text example, the bibliography would be:

Internet Source 1: Wildlife Online: The Red Fox http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html. Accessed on: 10th May 2003.

Different lecturers have different preferences when it comes to citing reference material and, if you’re going to use information from this site in a report, it is best to check with your tutor first and check the format that he/she wants you to use. (Back to Menu)

Q: I have some information I'd like to contribute to your website or I'd like to write a page on the natural history of my favourite animal for your site - where do I start?
A: I'm always open to new ideas for content and am grateful for the offer of assistance. That said, I have worked hard to create the content on this site and am proud of the way it has turned out, even if it is still very much a work in progress. Consequently, I am rather reluctant to 'throw the shutters open' and allow independent contributions unless I feel that they offer a unique insight that I would otherwise be unable to provide. Nonetheless, if you have a subject that relates to British wildlife that you are passionate about and would fit the style and content of this site, I am happy to discuss it further with you. Feel free to e-mail me an outline of what (and why) you want to contribute. Please note that any accompanying photographs or illustrations must be cleared for use on this site (i.e. the photographer/artist must give their written permission). (Back to Menu)

Q: I have spotted an error or disagree with something on your website. What should I do?
A: Please send me an e-mail stating the error or disagreement and I will endeavour to respond within 48 hours and update the site as necessarily.

Q: Why does it take so long to get each article or Q/A online? Can't you hurry it up?
A: Good things, as they say, come to those who wait! Seriously though, a considerable amount of time and effort goes into writing each article for this site and the research alone involves ploughing through books, scientific papers, abstracts, web forums, contacting experts, etc. and can take many months to complete. Indeed, I often have to track down and purchase out of print books, make trips to university libraries looking for papers or request reprints from the authors or the British Library. Once the research is complete -- well, it never gets truly complete but when I have reached a point where I feel I have something to write about -- I have to sit down and put metaphorical pen to paper. During the writing phase many obstacles arise, I suffer writer's block, I get frustrated or despondent at not being able to explain something clearly, the sun comes out and I want to get out with my camera and, perhaps more of an obstacle than anything else, I work full time. Work, as most of you will be only too aware, means that by the time evenings and weekends come around any enthusiasm for spending more time sitting at a computer has been drained. Once the write-up is complete it then goes through three stages of proof-reading by four (sometimes more) people who also have other time commitments. Once any corrections picked up by the proofers have been made, artwork and photos need to be sorted out and the article needs to be formatted for publication online. So, the upshot of all this is that it can take a while to prepare the articles. In the end, I hope that they're worth the wait! (Back to Menu)

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