Sunday, June 14, 2009

Metal detectorist Wikiwonkydom

In general I am (unlike most of the academic world) a fan of Wikipedia, its a great idea, but obviously is prone to the whims of the Tom, Dick and Harriets that create it. Any text on Wikipedia related to "metal detecting" tends to be highly tendentious, as they are written by "metal detectorists". It's a waste of time trying to edit them to give a more balanced presentation (which in any case should be under the heading "portable antiquity collecting") and generally personally I have never never thought it worth the effort as they'd only change it back again.

Washington coin collector Peter Tompa found a Wikipedia page called Paul M. Barford and seems to believe that it is an accurate presentation. He is apparently not a very critical reader. Just as its author (one Steve Welton) is not a particularly fastidious author. He'll obviously write any old crap to try and discredit those he sees as his enemies. Personally I was not even aware until yesterday that there ever was a "Steve Welton" in the world. But I do now. He does not however restrict his attacks to me, he brings in another group of people concerned with the protection of the heritage, Heritage Action. I see that in the discussion page attached to the Wikipage concerned, its Chairman is objecting in no uncertain terms to the imposition. He writes:
In general terms, I know Paul Barford well, which the author doesn’t, and I confirm the article contains many distortions and lies which lead me to believe it is of malicious intent.
In specific terms I wish to cite the section titled “The Heritage Counter”. As Chairman of Heritage Action I should like to
point out 1.) that its title is not as suggested but is “The Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter” 2.) that it is not designed to highlight “various odd bits of metal unearthed by metal detectorists” but, in the words on our website “recordable artefacts” 3.) The quote from our website "The counter may or may not be a precise reflection" was cut short mid-sentence, deliberately to mislead in my view. It goes on “of the rate of depletion. The broad picture it paints, of millions of artefacts being progressively removed and society being deprived
of the associated knowledge of its past, is certainly accurate.” 4.) Paul Barford was NOT it’s creator – I was. It was my idea, my design, my accompanying text and Heritage Action’s algorithms. Paul was consulted, as were many others, and supports it, as do many others. In my view, since the true facts are freely available, the false facts were not mistaken but deliberate and intended
to both mislead regarding the nature of metal detecting and to blaggard one of it’s critics. As such, it should not be allowed to stand here. It reduces Wikipedia to a farce.
Should the author or any like-minded British metal detectorist wish to create a page about Heritage Action or me, Nigel Swift, they are free to do so. However, it would seem to me that in view of the global reach of Wikipedia its effect will not be as they anticipated. In the rest of the world people who are in favour of archaeological conservation are well thought of whereas metal detectorists, who help themselves, are despised. The prospect of the latter attempting to discredit the former will be seen for precisely what it is.
Heritage Action (talk)
11:36, 14 June 2009 (UTC)
Mr Welton may think that by launching this ill-researched, ill conceived and thoroughly objectionable personal attack, he is strengthening the position of metal detecting in the United Kingdom. Instead he is simply compromising it, showing the milieu for what it is. If Mr Welton or Mr Buffy wish to "respond" to the issues raised by those who suggest we need to take a closer look at the long term archaeological effects of artefact hunting and collecting on the archaological resource, then I suggest that if they do not want to get laughed right out of court for their ridiculous aggressive posing and strutting, then they should responsd with proper responses, not attacks. the same goes for Mr Tompa and his coin collecting mates over the other side of the sea.

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