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By Nigel Swift
PAS says in a paper on The effects of internet ‘trolls’ on the participatory experience their forum was closed due to “aggressive archaeological postings” by several people. On which planet does that sound likely?! In fact, other than 2 or 3 PAS staff, the only two regular “archaeological posters” were Paul Barford and a taxpayer – me. So they must mean us! Blimey, I’ve shut down a 600-strong state-funded forum!
Truth is, we raised legitimate issues in a civil way, as opening the forum would show. Incidentally, here are 110 articles I’ve penned on detecting. Not a word in breach of any conceivable code of behaviour yet I’m said to have acted improperly on a forum PAS is keeping invisible! But the simplest proof is this: if we had acted inappropriately can you imagine anything more unlikely than that they’d close the whole forum instead of simply banning the two culprits?!
In fact, the forum was rendered unusable by a series of aggressive and abusive postings including pornographic images from a large group of detectorists. PAS banned a succession of them for doing it and PAS finally closed the forum because of it. Later, we opened a Heritage Action forum but quickly had to close it for the same reason. It’s an outrage a paper on internet ‘trolls’ falsely suggests archaeological posters were exactly that. Far worse and telling is such a presentation not mentioning a group of detectorists forced two websites to close.
Paul Barford may have spotted something quite extraordinary about the presentation (please take a look, it’s so awful maybe I’ve imagined it). He has also challenged PAS to make the forum visible. “Let us see again the crude comments and pornographic pictures posted by the Scheme’s “partners”. Let the wider public have the opportunity again to see what issues were raised by whom”. Unfortunately though, the public who paid for it aren’t being allowed to see it. I share his view that the reason for that is probably that it displays realities that don’t chime with some of the things PAS has been saying for many years. Such a lack of transparency leaves the public open to misinformation – and this casual and effortless transmuting of metal detectorist trolls into archaeological ones is merely the latest instance of that. Political correctness is one thing but I have to wonder, as I have been wondering for many years, what on earth is a taxpayer-funded quango doing constantly misinforming the public?