Journal entry #5
The online community I have chosen to review is the Numism-L list based on the University of South Carolina's listserv site.This list is dedicated to the discussion of Ancient and Medieval numismatics on the web.A portion of the archives is located on Yahoo's e-group site, which is easier to use than the listserve site (especially for getting statistics on the site itself - how many users, message traffic, etc.), but the complete archives and active files for the list exist at the University of South Carolina site.
This list began in January of 1998 on the University of site (apparently they changed over to U of South Carolina at some point before January of 1998.)and has a complete archives that is organized at first by month and then by week from that date to the present. The Yahoo e-group archive mirrors the list from January 2001 through March of 2002 when it was closed due to file transfer changes on Yahoo. Within the first month of its existence, the list had 583 members. The traffic on the list went from an initial 169 messages in the first month to a rough average of something over 100 messages a month - the busiest months have up to around 300 messages. Currently, the average seems to be around 40 to 60 messages a month, suggesting that the list may be slowing down.
The members of the list include collectors, dealers, and scholars, many of them well known in the field (Frank Kovacs, the late Harry Bass, etc.).The topics covered range from the announcement of numismatic events such as auctions, websites, etc., to the posting of questions relating to the history of ancient and medieval coins and the identification of specific objects. The great advantage of the internet list for this numismatic community is the ability to ask questions to a large group on potentially knowlegdable listmembers. This would not be possible without the internet under normal circumstances. Previously, comments on ideas and questions of the sort asked and answered on this site could only get this kind of review and audience at large numismatic symposia or conventions or by the tedious process of asking specialists one at a time as one had time to visit or write them. Projects like the Parthia.com website gained further impetus through the author's ability to vette his ideas and take suggestions from specialists he had not known previously, thus improving the resources and scholarship of his site. Give the long-term membership of some members (Bob Whiting) and the relative stability of the list, I would categorize it as a form of online community.