From my diary

Updated versions of the translation of the Passio Petri and Passio Pauli from the Acts of ps.Linus have arrived.  I will need to read these tonight, but they must be nearly complete, which is good news.

I have been making enquiries about the supposed existence of a third volume of Maarten Vermaseren’s CIMRM collection of inscriptions and reliefs about Mithras.  The theory is that he had composed a third volume, to contain the literary testimonies; but this was unpublished at his death.  However I am informed that this is not true; and worse, that Vermaseren gave orders before his death for all his scholarly papers to be destroyed.  I am enquiring a little further, but I suspect that CIMRM III will have to be filed with the pseudo-biblia.

I’m also interested in exploring a little whether the CIMRM can be got online.  They are, admittedly, outdated.  Plans for a supplement never came to anything.  There are scholars interested in creating some new resource, but unable to get funding.  So, as the CIMRM volumes are out of print, I wonder whether Brill would allow them to appear online?  It probably depends on finding someone friendly at Brill to ask.

 I’m still reading some of the material at the Wikipediocracy forum.   There is a book in prospect about the history of Wikipedia.  One item in this will be details of the WorldTraveller incident.   WorldTraveller was a longstanding and valued contributor, who was forced out of Wikipedia by an admin who contributed nothing, and broke all the “rules” to do down his foe.  The details are sordid, and show clearly that Wikipedia’s policies do not work, even in very blatant cases.  As Peter Damian remarks:

So, a researcher at a top UK institution, later to become a professional astronomer, is blocked by an admin who knows nothing about astronomy, and whose contributions to Wikipedia include ‘paranormal’ topics, video games and comic books. I defy anyone to find a better example of admin abuse against content contributors than that.

The later block in March 2007 caused WT to pack his bags and leave for good.

Interestingly, the UK parliament has received representations about Wikipedia.   The hearings of the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions from January 2012 are online in PDF form here.  On pages 483 to 493 is the testimony of Andreas Kolbe and Edward Buckner, itemising two problems, with specific examples:

  1. Wikipedia facilitates the publication of anonymous defamatory material, and has no practical mechanism for the victim to get it removed.
  2. Wikipedia publishes significant amounts of extreme porn, and some of those at the top of Wikimedia UK are involved in this.

The witnesses call for moves to make Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation more accountable.  Specifically they propose that the Charities Commission should oblige Wikipedia to fund a small but fully independent watchdog similar to the Press Complaints Committee, as a condition of its charitable status, to help enforce the controls which Wikipedia claims are in place but which the evidence shows is not. 

These modest proposals seem very sound to me.  The problems in Wikipedia administration run deep, but these two symptoms certainly need to be addressed. 


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