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A general guide for using the Forum with some rules and tips
When an inappropriate ID request is asked how about suggesting a rock/mineral website?
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 15:11    Post subject: When an inappropriate ID request is asked how about suggesting a rock/mineral website?  

Earlier this day a novice first time user of this site put a few pix of tumbled and polished stones on the site requesting help in identifying them. One of the site administrators said the website is not about tumbled and polished gemstones; said sorry, and locked her thread.

I have nothing against this but I think it might be nice to see some friendly advice like suggesting other websites that might be willing to take a stab at helping her with the stone's IDs. Just a friendly suggestion to promote harmony in all of the rock and mineral collector community. Anything against suggesting another website for all folks asking for rock IDs when FMF is not interested their rocks or gemstones? CHEERS.......BOB
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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 15:39    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

That would indeed be a polite thing for us to do. One problem is that it's a bit hard to find such a website--which is probably a reason why such requests end up on ours. I will take a look again to see about some sites we could refer such people to.
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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 15:43    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

Bob Harman wrote:
Earlier this day a novice first time user of this site put a few pix of tumbled and polished stones on the site requesting help in identifying them. One of the site administrators said the website is not about tumbled and polished gemstones; said sorry, and locked her thread.

I have nothing against this but I think it might be nice to see some friendly advice like suggesting other websites that might be willing to take a stab at helping her with the stone's IDs. Just a friendly suggestion to promote harmony in all of the rock and mineral collector community. Anything against suggesting another website for all folks asking for rock IDs when FMF is not interested their rocks or gemstones? CHEERS.......BOB

Hi Bob,

In the past, we always suggested Mindat to these cases, but they (logically) complained about it, so we prefer not to suggest any other website for these kind of things.
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Bob Carnein




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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 15:52    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

It seems like about once a week, we have this issue. Newbies post a picture with no information and ask "What's this?" Speaking for myself, I get tired of this--I'm glad the administrators discourage it and wish they'd sift out these posts before they appear.
Maybe they could just send a canned e-mail with the guidelines, or at least a list of simple tests that anyone can do before posting.

I also see "helpful" responses to these posts from members, that are just guesses. The recent posts about a "diotrite" pebble was an example. I don't think any of us mind trying to help new folks out, but they need to give us some basic information so we don't have a discussion based on guesswork. The end result of that is, at best, a confusing collection of opinions and, at worst, a fake identification that now has our "official" cachet.
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 16:41    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

Thanks for your replies! Actually I do agree with your philosophy and I myself get tired of being asked to identify "rocks" rather than minerals. And another thing I get tired of is posters thinking the weight of their specimen has some real meaning.
Rather than just my own "feelings", I wanted more input from the others on this subject. CHEERS.......BOB
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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 16:57    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

Bob Carnein wrote:
It seems like about once a week, we have this issue. Newbies post a picture with no information and ask "What's this?" Speaking for myself, I get tired of this--I'm glad the administrators discourage it and wish they'd sift out these posts before they appear.
Maybe they could just send a canned e-mail with the guidelines, or at least a list of simple tests that anyone can do before posting.



It seems to me that if you discourage 'newbies', you are, essentially pushing away folks that are excited & curious about rock hounding. Didn't everyone ask some pretty foolish questions when they first started out? How else do you learn?
I was always taught that there are no stupid questions, and I continue to ask for answers all the time if I don't have or can't find the information I need.
If you'd like sifting out of posts before they appear, perhaps you would like to volunteer to do so as I'm sure the administrators don't have oodles of extra time to do so.

Sometimes, in my opinion, newbies are treated in quite a snobbish manner on this site and I really don't see the point in dissuading people away from learning.
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 17:05    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

Bob Carnein wrote:
Maybe they could just send a canned e-mail with the guidelines, or at least a list of simple tests that anyone can do before posting...

These guidelines are sent to every new FMFer when they register. They are also very visible at the top of every page and marked in red : A general guide for using the Forum with some rules and tips
Also, this topic is always at the top of its section and marked in red and bold : FMF is a Forum about minerals", and the administrators also publish "ad nauseam" the request to the newbies to use and read : What is it? - Where is it from?

We do more than anybody would do, but the question is that many people just want "Internet help", so:
"Give me an answer immediately and from my side I will do nothing to contribute"
Add to this that as said before "FMF is a Forum about minerals" not about gemstones or polished stones.
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Bob Carnein




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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 17:23    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

I didn't mean to offend anyone; but I think the old saw about "There's no such thing as a foolish question" is just a way to avoid the real problem. The real problem is that anyone who is serious about minerals needs to know some basic tests that anyone can do themselves and that help a lot with the process of identification. From what I've seen, a little work on your part is likely to be met with respectful responses on the Forum. How do you expect to grow if you don't eat your spinach?
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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 17:28    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

The old saying is "You don't know what you don't know." If someone doesn't know what something is, then there is a great likelihood that they won't know that it is not a mineral. Maybe instead of recommending specific sites, recommend that they contact their local city or state "rockhound" association. Most newbies, and I am speaking for myself, may not have all of the abilities to conduct tests. And let's admit it. We all research differently. It doesn't make one way right or one way wrong. Is there testing that explicitly rules out that a specimen is a mineral?
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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 22:06    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

Forums have rules and its not unreasonable to expect people to read and abide by them. Many newbie posts clearly expect they have found something valuable, not a genuine interest in the hobby. As a stamp collector the same happens daily on the main stamp forums too.

Making some basic tests of a specimen before posting does not require special equipment beyond people's means, (for example a nail and a broken tile for a start), no special knowledge, (maybe the forum rules on basic testing need to be reviewed to teach people how to do a scratch test or hardness test a sample in idiots terms).

Again, it is not unreasonable to ask newbies to make the basic effort to test their sample before posting. Exact measurements may not be expected but can narrow down the possibilities for others to provide an answer. They may ask you to try something else at that point to narrow things down further so their skill and knowledge can be helpful.

Not all people learn the same way or have the same knowledge. A mineral that is common to one region may not exist elsewhere. One of the hardest things I find is reference books have photos of amazing specimens, yet they often bear little resemblance to the inferior forms we find. This sometimes makes identification difficult. Add to this the poor quality of photos people post for identification. In person, at a mineral fair, people can handle a specimen and feel it and turn it in the light and this all gives them important information to help identify. A blurry phone photo alone is rarely enough.

On Stampboards, poor newbie posts that don't follow the rules are immediately locked with a warning to reread the rules and post again when they're willing to follow them. This might be an option here rather than pander to those who want to be spoon fed.
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PostPosted: May 22, 2016 23:52    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

Facebook has several groups dedicated to rockhounding and lapidary topics that help people with ID of polished "stuff".
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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 01:55    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

The topic is a good one. I do not think it is such a simple matter. I would simply suggest a little bit more patience with newbies.
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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 03:28    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

Pierre Joubert wrote:
The topic is a good one. I do not think it is such a simple matter. I would simply suggest a little bit more patience with newbies.

It could be a good one but is also an old one ;-)
In the past we discussed a lot about this topic, publicly as well as internally, among the administrators. You can see an example of this past here : Identification needed

Just some thoughts:

- If we want to be a serious, consistent, a kind of reference Forum, we should be strict and avoid being overwhelmed by hundreds or thousands of people not interested in minerals but mostly interested in knowing the value of what they have.

- We lock ONLY the topics related to polished stones or gems.
If someone wants to take the effort to read all posts of the "FOR BEGINNERS: What is it? Where is it from?" and the "What is it? - Where is it from?" sections, he will see that the vast majority of the beginners are deeply guided and helped. We become "bad people" only when someone (who publishes a mineral) doesn’t follow any of the numerous guidelines we give to him.

- The day has only 24 hours and I work in both Forums (this Forum and the Spanish Forum) about 48 hours per day ;-)
All administrators from both Forums do what they can and they help a lot but they have a personal life, and the task of they all is made on the "bona fide" mode, so at the end of the day, the only person who takes care of everything 24 hours, 365 days per year is me, and the final person responsible is only me. This means that I need to reduce in some way the things that generate too much work, especially if it is a non-sense work as frequently happens with the numerous people posting pictures of necklaces, bracelets or blurry images of something that vaguely seems something ;-)
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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 03:48    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

Pierre is right, this is not a simple matter. The canned response I put out was something the administrators came up with for situations like this, but perhaps it could use work like pointing people to other websites, and maybe encouraging them to post again but with more information. The reason we point people to some simple tests is not just to be helpful, but also to try to sort out the people who just want an "instant internet answer" from those who are really curious.

Perhaps Bob was reacting to locking the thread. This does feel harsh, and I rarely do it, but locking the thread at least some of the time seems like the least worst alternative. There have been times when we get an inordinate number of posts that frustrate the regular FMF community. The administrators have had some concern that threads with helpful FMFers guessing at polished rocks and the like encourages others to come looking for instant internet answers. Newbies are always welcome to come back, start a new thread, and provide some more data so we can have the sort of discussion that would be more appropriate (less frustrating) for FMF.

This is a good thread because i am not sure how to minimize the frustration we all feel from polished or driveway rock threads while also expressing our genuine desire to help and encourage everyone who does and might share our passion.
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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 15:57    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

How about adding a note at the top of the "add" page, right below Subject and above Message body that states:

Please do not post any topic or photo dealing with tumbled or cut stones, fossils, rocks you found in your backyard or driveway. Any such posts will be removed.

When I first joined this forum, 95 percent of the posts were about mineral specimens or localities. Now, it seems like at least 25 percent are about random rocks and objects best used to throw at stray cats. I often check messages while traveling on my phone and I waste lots of bandwidth on such stuff. At first, I would respond asking people to do basic tests, now I am burnt out by this stuff, and don't bother looking at any posts unless it is one of the Collection posts (particularly Tobi, Pierre and Carles!!!, plus a few others.) Anytime the post says "What is It?", "Help with....?" I tend to ignore unless I have huge amounts of time. I also find all this stuff cluttering up the forum.

I had suggested in the past that new posters be moderated so their posts have to be approved to be seen. That would take care of lots of these problems, as well as the credit card, passport, and kitchen cabinet spam!
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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 16:17    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

The percentage of "rubbish rock" ID requests might not be such a bad thing... It means more beginners are finding this forum. Originally only experienced collectors knew about the existence of the Forum, and now the public is finding it. Collectors do not enter the hobby by getting interested in galkhaites and povondraites, they get an interest in minerals by finding a piece of broken quartz, magnetite, flint and slag glass. Do we want a growing number of new collectors, or would we rather have a shrinking number of old fart collectors?

(Incidentally, this topic - rising numbers of rubbish ID requests and shrinking number of serious mineralogical discussions - has been an occasional topic on the Mindat Managers' messageboard too. Mindat faces the same concerns and the same arguments going on from both sides.)
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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 16:27    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

GneissWare wrote:
...don't bother looking at any posts unless it is one of the Collection posts (particularly Tobi, Pierre and Carles!!!, plus a few others.)

Thank you!

GneissWare wrote:
I had suggested in the past that new posters be moderated so their posts have to be approved to be seen. That would take care of lots of these problems, as well as the credit card, passport, and kitchen cabinet spam!

This is the way Mindat works with the photos. For a short period your pictures are not made visible until being approved, usually the next day. When your behavior is proved to be okay you get an additional level of liability and are able to post them immediately.
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Pete Modreski
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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 17:57    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting another rock/mineral w  

I just did a little browsing, for "what is this rock I found?" type questions. Here appears to be one good site that gets a lot of questions and answers, and seems to be perhaps a "best place" to refer people who ask us about polished stones, rocks they found in their driveway, etc.:

https://www.reddit.com/r/whatsthisrock

For example, the site shows about 9 or 10 questions (and most or all, having been answered) within the last 24 hours, and an equal number the previous day. Perhaps we could include a link to this site in our 'standard response" when someone posts a picture of something that doesn't really fall into the categories of what we like to deal with on the FMF.
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: May 24, 2016 05:23    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked, how about suggesting a rock/mineral website  

GneissWare wrote:
I had suggested in the past that new posters be moderated so their posts have to be approved to be seen. That would take care of lots of these problems, as well as the credit card, passport, and kitchen cabinet spam!

Bob, the "credit card, passport, and kitchen cabinet spam!" people are profesional spammers and they know quite well the way to publish their spam. They do it in all Forums including the major ones. The difference between us and other Forums is that us we have our own system to announce new posts, so even if we delete quick the spam, the FMF users receive the announce of them so the people notice the spammer's try.

Carles Millan wrote:
This is the way Mindat works with the photos. For a short period your pictures are not made visible until being approved, usually the next day. When your behavior is proved to be okay you get an additional level of liability and are able to post them immediately.

Not possible, sorry. We did this at the start of FMF and it makes too much work to answer the complaints of the people ("why my photo is not published" "why not me and other people yes" "for what reasons I can't publish this nice jewel" ;-) a lot of traffic... Please remember that I'm not able to do more than I do currently and also that I don't want to sound arrogant not sending answers to the users requests. Thanks for the comprehension.

I'm managing both FMF from almost 10 years now and I tried a lot of different things to solve this kind of problem but unfortunately the background of the large Forums is complicated and not everything can be done in a perfect way. Not here, neither in other Forums.
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Jordi Fabre
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PostPosted: May 24, 2016 05:32    Post subject: Re: When an inappropriate ID request is asked how about suggesting a rock/mineral website?  

Pete Modreski wrote:
I just did a little browsing, for "what is this rock I found?" type questions. Here appears to be one good site that gets a lot of questions and answers, and seems to be perhaps a "best place" to refer people who ask us about polished stones, rocks they found in their driveway, etc.:

https://www.reddit.com/r/whatsthisrock

For example, the site shows about 9 or 10 questions (and most or all, having been answered) within the last 24 hours, and an equal number the previous day. Perhaps we could include a link to this site in our 'standard response" when someone posts a picture of something that doesn't really fall into the categories of what we like to deal with on the FMF.

Very good Pete! How about add also Minsocam? ( http://www.minsocam.org/ )
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