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PLEASE Take a few Minutes to Read This

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  • PLEASE Take a few Minutes to Read This

    Dear forum friends and colleagues
    [This is a duplicate of the post in the News section. It is posted again here to improve the likelihood of people seeing it and also because items posted in that section are automatically locked such that member comment is not possible]

    Hopefully, you will have noted some significant changes on the forum. These are part of an ongoing programme and we aren’t done yet.

    Phase one of the work is well under way - the establishment of the INFORMATION CENTER, with primary focus on the typology of arrowheads and points and secondary focus on other areas of interest. Phase two will be the re-organisation of the discussion and conversational sections of the forum.

    It’s time to give you more explanation about where we’re going with the Information Center. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have been shed by the forum moderators behind the scenes in agreeing the framework and modus operandi. :blink: In some cases the “vision” of what we wanted has been constrained by what the forum software allows as a structure, but such is life. Here’s a few Q&A’s that should help you get your mind round what’s going on:

    What is the Information Center?

    Let’s talk about what it isn’t first of all. It is not simply a place where nice pictures of nice artefacts can be posted (whether they are your personal finds or not). It’s not a digital “coffee table” book you can look at and go “ooh, that’s nice!” It’s not a discussion forum where you can comment “I found one of those in North Dakota but mine is broke” or “great find, nice material”. It’s not a place to post items where you want assistance with identification. Those kinds of things belong in the discussion sections of the forum and that hasn’t changed. It’s also not a “free-for-all” where anyone can post whatever they like… it has rules.

    What it is intended to be is a digital reference library where information, pictures and links to external sources can be filed in a logical manner, indexed by topic. A place where you can look for authoritative information that assists in identification and gives you helpful background information about artefacts.

    As a general principle, it is our intent that all entries should aspire to:

    - Have an intuitive title which is self-explanatory to anyone searching for information
    - Be on-topic, not rambling
    - Cover frequently asked questions and mainstream topics, not obscure areas of limited interest
    - Have longer-term value beyond amusement or entertainment
    - Present factual or scholarly knowledge, not anecdotal or unverified information
    - Be generally accepted, not speculative or disputed (unless presented as respectable theory)
    - Be neutral or balanced, not self-promoting or opinionated (unless presented as original thought)
    - Be specific and detailed, not general and vague
    - Be clear and provide relevant references, not ambiguous and unattributed
    - Be respectful of copyright and credit to original sources

    There is more detailed information at the very end of this post that expands those criteria (but you don’t need to read it if you have grasped those principles above). There will be a test next Tuesday. :laugh:

    Why Am I Locked Out Of The Information Center?

    Actually, you aren’t. Within the Information Center, there are a number of category headings in capital letters… eg “ARROWHEAD & POINT TYPOLOGY (NORTH AMERICA)”, “ARTIFACTS FROM OTHER RELATED GEOGRAPHIC AREAS” etc. If you open up any of those categories, you can post into those areas by clicking on "New Topic". The categories themselves are unlocked and your post will also be unlocked – allowing others to comment and allowing you to add to it or make edits. Your post will appear at the bottom of the category heading, underneath all the subcategories.

    BUT whatever you post there will be regarded as a suggestion of something for inclusion into the indexed structure of the Information Center. It will be subject to moderation which may result in any of the following:

    - Re-titling in the interests of clarity.
    - Editing in the interests of brevity, clarity, accuracy, or for copyright reasons
    - Combination with an existing thread that already covers the same subject
    - Movement to a different area of the Information Center (if deemed more appropriate)
    - Movement to one of the discussion sections of the forum (if the general criteria above are not met)

    Think of those unlocked sections where you can post as a kind of “waiting room” for the moderators. Anything you post which meets the criteria we are working to will be moved by one of the moderators into an appropriate subcategory. It may take a few days before that happens, but the moderators are committed to reviewing those posts on a weekly basis at minimum (subject to the volume of posts).

    Each of those categories has a number of subcategories in lower case letters… eg “Desert South”, “East Central” etc in the arrowhead -and- point typology section. When a moderator has moved a post to any of those subcategories then it becomes locked. You can no longer add to it or edit it directly. Neither can you post a new topic directly into any of those subcategories.

    Why Are The Subcategories Locked?

    It’s a simple matter of discipline. The indexing structure has been pre-determined by the moderators. While suggestions for changes and improvements are welcome, we do not want the disruption and disorder that would inevitably arise from opening it up for everyone. You may already have noticed that “newbies” joining the forum have a habit of posting their questions all over the place in the forum, failing to insert their pictures at full size and even making claims for items that are at odds with the views of experienced collectors. We simply could not tolerate the workload that would ensue from monitoring and cleaning up rogue posts to ensure that the Information Center remains tidy and authoritative.

    Doesn’t That Seem A Little Elitist? A Bit Like Censorship?

    It would be disappointing if it is seen like that. We absolutely welcome suggested posts into the categories with information that qualifies as true reference material. But it is not in the greater interests of us all to have unreliable information treated as if it were factual or to have it filed in places where it is not easy to find, under titles which are not easily recognisable or which duplicate subjects that are already present.

    We’re trying to act as an editorial team, not a board of censors.

    Is This A Done Deal?

    We’ve had a couple of “false starts” on this already where things we wished for didn’t quite materialize in the way we expected.
    A lot of thought has gone into the framework that has now gone live. We firmly believe that what has been introduced is the best compromise between the “vision” for a reference source “par excellence” and the capabilities of the forum software, as well as workload for the moderators. The general framework and modus operandi are pretty much a done deal.

    But, this is work in progress and we are learning as we go. There are still some anomalies in the structure that need to be ironed out. There are categories and subcategories which are needed but not yet present (some we are already aware of, and some will doubtless be identified later). Some of the existing headings may need re-titling. There are various typos, spelling errors broken links and other areas of untidiness which we will ultimately correct. Some of the subcategories are currently empty. Worry not… there’s no hurry to populate everything straight away. Getting the indexing structure set up was the first priority and the immediate focus is on populating the point typology subheadings.

    Who Do We Have To Thank (Or Curse) for This?

    We hope it’s thanks rather than curses. You know the saying: “success has many fathers, but failure is a b*stard!” :rolf: so let’s just say that it has very much been a team effort. There are too many people to name, but a huge credit goes to Matt (Hoss) for the groundwork in exploring the software possibilities and setting up the pilot work for testing. And a huge credit goes to Milan (chase) for ultimately taking things by the scruff of the neck and setting up the framework we are currently working with. Neither of these guys do these things for their own benefit… they’re doing it for you!

    It ain’t perfect, but we all hope you will agree that it’s a huge step in the right direction.

    NON-ESSENTIAL READING: Additional expanded criteria for an entry into the Information Center]

    An entry should ideally fulfil one or more of the following criteria:

    - Assists identification (eg describes artifacts of a particular group, type or region and provides images showing classic examples or features, distribution maps etc).
    - Assists identification of fakes, reproductions and non-artifacts (eg provides details of known modern items and origins thereof, or gives details of discriminatory tests that can be employed, or debunks pseudo-artifacts, or describes and illustrates typical examples of things mistakenly believed to be artifacts).
    - Provides background information (eg brings an artifact type or group to life by giving the cultural story behind it and the usage to which it was put, or how it was made and from what – also encompassing helpful pictorial information or maps concerning identification of lithic types and where they were sourced).
    - Explains terminology (eg gives a detailed understanding of the technical language of the artifact world via useful glossaries or descriptions and illustrations).
    - Condenses complex concepts down to essential details (eg by summarising current knowledge on a particular topic into a readily digestible form).
    - Assists hunting and collection of artifacts (eg gives specific locations or detailed information about finding good sites - where and how to look, or sound advice for those who purchase artifacts).
    - Helps give our hobby a good name (eg providing solid information on ethical considerations, good practice and the legal aspects of collecting, buying, selling or owning artifacts – both at national level and by State).
    - Gives insight to a culture (eg informs about native beliefs, practices, technologies or lifestyles).
    - Provides information about the people themselves (eg published theories with factual evidence - whether archaeological or genetic - concerning the population of the Americas, chronologies, native migratory and occupation patterns, relationships and interactions with other populations etc).
    … or – in any of the above cases - provides a link to other expert sources for such information with an explanation of where the link leads.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.