by Jeff Burright
ne of the best things about the Internet is the way it can create communities across great distances. The online tilapia discussion group now hosted by Yahoo! is a case in point. With almost 600 members, this group hosts lively conversations about tilapia genetics, reproduction control, feeds, production systems, and markets. Tom Frese, president of AquaSol, Inc., founded the list and has moderated the group since its outset. Active members include CRSP researchers, individuals affiliated with nongovernmental organizations in developing countries, and tilapia farmers from such locations as the US, Thailand, Philippines, Brazil, Zimbabwe, and Jamaica.
This global platform hosts numerous collaborations and discussions on aquaculture-related issues worldwide. Recent topics have included immediate advice to a producer regarding the reduction of off flavor in brackishwater tilapia, a debate on the current prices and production capabilities for Brazilian tilapia exported to the US, and numerous instances of collaboration and sharing of aquaculture experiments and findings between various projects. People have even added outside articles related to aquaculture to the list as a method of spreading news and outreach information to their fellow aquaculture enthusiasts.
The tilapia mailing list has an archive of over 1,800 messages dating back to the lists inception in August of 1999. Each post is numbered and dated, with a message title and the authors name, and they can be viewed by month or through a keyword search of message content. This search feature can be extremely helpful when searching for old correspondence considering that some months have had nearly 200 postings. Membership is free to anyone who establishes a Yahoo! username identity (also free), and the four options for message delivery include individual emails sent to your specified account (the best way to receive instant messages); a Daily Digest, which sends all of the days posts in a single email (to avoid clutter); periodic special messages and updates from the groups moderator; and a direct interface with the mailing list website in lieu of receiving email.
Yahoo! also hosts a 600-member shrimp mailing list which benefits those involved in all aspects of shrimp farming. Access it by visiting <groups.yahoo.com/group/shrimp> or sending an email to: email@example.com.
|Since the webhost of the tilapia mailing list changed from egroups to Yahoo! in late 2000, a variety of new services became available to the subscriber that can increase the capabilities of online aquaculture collaboration.
Chat capabilities allow the possibility of online real-time conferencing about selected topics.
A file repository and database allow the user to place common files or discussion-related tables, figures, etc. in a centralized location for easy downloading. Current files include fish photographs and a fish farm simulation.
A listing of bookmarks will guide users to related aquaculture sites, or they can add their own websites.
A polling feature allows subscribers to vote on important aquaculture topics. Poll questions include: "Do you feel that a monthly price survey for all major tilapia products would be a valuable tool to help you determine a fair market price for your tilapia product?; and Has a tilapia farm or hatchery that you own, work for, or affiliated with experienced a major disease outbreak within the last year that resulted in significant mortality and/or economic loss?"