Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mayhem and Disruption Among Yahoo's "Responsible Collectors"

Tim Haines, who runs Yahoo's AncientArtifacts forum for them says he appreciates my contributions, but is scared what would happen if they (he) allowed me back...
Altogether I'm not too worried about a bit of low level Barford. I would not wish to censor the group so that his views do not appear in it at all: as members well know I am a strong believer in free speech. Paul Barford did in fact provide a very valuable contribution to this group and raised awareness of the ethics of antiquities collecting enormously here.
Having said that, the huge disruption which was caused by his presence here outweighed the value of his contribution to such an extent that his continued membership of the group was simply not a viable option, and he will certainly not be reinstated.
Well, it is not wholly clear from this, is it, whether he is saying that I disrupted his group by criticising no-questions-asked collecting, or whether he was unable to control his "responsible collector" members and prevent THEM from disrupting the forum when I did. Anyone who cares to log on and look through the archives will, I trust easily discover that it is actually the latter. As he admitted to me, he had had enough of "the bickering and bitching of others caused by your posts and your presence". The root of a lot of the problems with the Ancient Artifacts discussion list is poor list leadership on Haines' part. Anyone who cares to log on and look through the archives will find this a frequently expressed opinion among members whenever one of the frequent unpleasant arguments breaks out on various topics (often with nationalist overtones in this international group) - and yet Haines hangs on.

Obviously for Mr Haines, it is easier to get rid of the topic of how precisely to practice the glibly-claimed "responsible collecting" than to manage a frank and open discussion about the topic when in fact the vast bulk of his members have little or no interest in how responsible is responsible. However and whatever they collect, they all nevertheless consider themselves as "responsible" because they belong to a "responsible collectors' discussion list". That is despite the fact that responsible collecting is not really discussed there in any detail, but they "have" got a Code of Ethics (compare it with this). Big deal if it means nothing.

There is a clear parallel with UK metal detectorists who were all "responsible" until PAS produced a Code agreed with a number of other organizations defining that term. Then they found it necessary to write an alternative code so they could all fit in the alternative definition... Yahoo's artefact collectors evidently prefer just to shut their ears to any kind of questioning what exactly is meant by "responsible collecting" and cannot cope with their glib assertions being questioned. They start "bickering and bitching" amongst themselves.

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