ArchaeoSeek bills itself as a new “Social Network for Archaeologists” with an exclusive membership policy:
This network is for real archaeologists, i.e. those engaged or interested in the study of archaeology. No creationists, or crackpots need apply. If you do try to join, be aware that you will be removed rather quickly.
It’s common — and very sensible — to establish criteria, and require account login or other identity mechanisms, for members who can author and post to web sites. One might observe that the language of this policy is pretty provocative, but what really surprised me was the discovery that ArchaeoSeek’s archives and web feeds require a login too. It really is a “members-only” site.
Now, how much of this lock-down is about ArchaeoSeek’s own policies, and how much is inherited from Ning, I don’t know. Maybe someone from ArchaeoSeek will post a comment here to explain …
I had hoped to be able to subscribe to the site’s web feeds, thereby getting notices about new sites, excavations and the like, but not being a “real” archaeologist (professional, student or avocational) myself, I’ll never get to read what’s posted there.
This experience is good food for thought as we move toward an early 2008 public launch of Pleiades (which is, admittedly, not a “social network” but a collaborative workspace and digital publication system). Nonetheless, mutatis mutandis, the question of which information and behaviors to make public and which to keep “under wraps” is a very important one. It speaks volumes about the role you want your web resources to play in society at large.