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Goals of this project Edit

The goal of the Greek and Roman artillery is to bring together scholars, enthusiasts, re-enactors and artesans, all interested in Greek and Roman artillery. The emphasis of the project is on reconstructions of torsion-powered artillery. This is the area where all these groups can collaborate best.

Speeding up scientific research Edit

Progress in the field of Greek and Roman artillery research has been painfully slow. This project aims at helping solve that problem in two ways: by facilitating communication and providing a common store of knowledge.

Facilitating communication Edit

Quite often scholars - especially those who disagree on some key points (such as this and this) do not discuss their disagreements and potential solutions to them. Big part of the reason for this is the way much of the scientific discussion takes place: in traditional academic journals published on paper a few times a year. This means a couple of things:

  • The discussions can easily take years, when they would only take a few days using effective, electronic communication mediums.
  • Each researcher publishing articles in these journals has his reputation at stake. Good reputation allows one to get funding, take part in research projects, etc. If a researcher's main ideas are validly questioned by another, it may be psychologically very difficult to "just give up". Taking a defensive stance is much easier. This obviously hurts research by effectively forcing researchers to cling on to their original, often outdated views, instead of learning from their mistakes. Unfortunately this behavior seems to be pretty normal in the scientific communities.

How does this project help solve these communication issues, then? First, it provides tools to communicate with others in real-time or near real-time. This also helps avoid disagreements growing too big to create the defensive "them vs. us" mentality. This in turn facilitates neutral and productive research discussions.

Additionally, this project aims to gather together people from all fields of life. This allows us to benefit from each other's strengths. For example, traditionally scholars in this field have had very poor understanding of the practical issues of Greek and Roman metalworking. This has led some scholars to suggest technical solutions that would have been nearly impossible for the ancients to implement. This directly affects the quality of the knowledge obtained from these reconstructions. By facilitating communication between different groups of people the academics can reduce the risk of making unnecessary mistakes. After all, nobody is an expert in every field.

Providing a common store of generally useful knowledge Edit

Most of the research material on Greek and Roman artillery has been published in various journals from late 19th century onwards. Unfortunately the availability of these journals is often very bad and they're difficult and/or costly to obtain (see Bibliography). Also, this fragmentary nature of knowledge requires a researcher to obtain most of the available source material before it's possible to get clear view of current state of research or form his own opinion. Both of these issues translate to very high barrier of entry for new researchers - especially those not working in biggest and most respected universities with exceedingly well-funded libraries. What this also means is that those not 100% dedicated to research often have to rely on opinions of a single scholar - the one whose articles they've read. This causes unnecessary friction between these people and those who are familiar with some other scholar's views.

This project aims to help fix this issue by creating a general-purpose knowledge base of Greek and Roman artillery complete with proper citations and references. In addition, researchers will benefit from the list of Archaeological finds and from the common bibliography section.

Special emphasis will be given on documenting as objectively as possible the various viewpoints regarding various research questions. Unlike in Wikipedia, original research is encouraged: this project is all about it. However, sources have to be cited properly, or the value of the Wiki as a research tool will diminish. Also, any new ideas or opinions have to be explained in detail (justified), not simply stated as facts. Also, all original research also needs to traceable, meaning that it's source has to be verifiable. Although finding out the author is possible by looking at the revision history of the Wiki, that's pretty inconvenient for non-technical users. Also, only Wikia username is shown there. Therefore introducting yourself on the team page is a good idea. Then you can either add a Author section to your article (if you mostly work alone) or refer back to yourself when stating your opinion, e.g.

"According to John Doe(link to Team page), P.H. could also mean ..."'

Exceptions to these rules are non-scientific, practical articles, where no citations or traceability are required.

Exchanging and storing practical knowledge Edit

Very little practical knowledge about making, using, maintaining or shooting Greek and Roman artillery available. In part this is caused lack of common, accessible place to store this information. Also, the various scientific articles and books rarely discuss these issues or delve deep into the practical side of things. Although the scientific reconstructions tell us a something about the potential of Greek and Roman artillery, their real usefulness and impact can only be learned by practice. However, this kind on tacit knowledge is not always suitable for publication in a scientific journals, despite it's usefulness. This effectively forces everybody making reconstructions to reinvent the wheel, time after time. By sharing the lessons we've learned all this can be avoided.

Facilitating information freedom Edit

When adding content to the Greek and Roman artillery Wiki you agree to license your work under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA) license. What this means is that you can freely use (including copy and republish) any content on the Wiki as long as you oblige to the license requirements. This is discussed in more detail here.

The use of the CC-BY-SA license is intended to promote free exchange and use of knowledge. By giving up some of your rights (e.g. to sue somebody for "stealing" your text) you get the right to use other people's work within the constraints imposed by the license. This does not remove your copyright to your own work: for example, you can still publish the material you have written under a different license. It just gives other people some rights to the material you've produced.

Participating in the project Edit

Joining the project Edit

Although it is (currently) possible to edit most pages anonymously, it's suggested that all team members either create a Wikia.com user account and login using that, or sign in using their Facebook account. All of this can be done from this page. By logging in people can trace the modifications you make back to you, and as discussed here in most cases providing traceability is important.

In case of vandalism or spam the pages can be protected against anonymous editing: by logging in you can edit those pages.

Communication Edit

This project has two primary communication channels:

  • Integrated forums.
  • ballista@irc.freenode.net IRC channel. This is most useful for quick questions and discussion. If you want to reach all team members, using the mailing lists is a better choice; not all people use or watch the IRC all the time.

Unfortunately Wikia.com does not any more support mailing lists. This is a shame, because emails are easier to refer to and archive. External provider for a mailing list is being searched for.

Citations Edit

One of the cornerstones of scientific writing is citation. It allows other people to trace back the claims you make to their original source. It should be clear to the reader which part of your text originates from you and what is based on other people's work. Although providing traceability - not using some specific citation style - is most important, use of the Harvard citation style is encouraged: it is much easier to use in a Mediawiki-based Wiki than footnotes. If your work uses sources not listed in the bibliography page, please add a reference there - not into your article.

Note that there's no point in providing traceability for trivial changes, e.g. for fixing typos.

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