Mindat Logo
bannerbannerbannerbanner
Welcome!

PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!

avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 03:42AM
    
I suppose that you have two kinds of experts that respond to identification questions. One, the expert that is familiar in geology, mineralogy, a person that was educated in it. Then there is the expert that is very familiar with a certain site or region, a collector. Both are valid & necessary.

Both workign together are really necessary to identify things properly.

Not an easy thing to change, but maybe leaving this the way they are on the forum is really the only thing that can be done.

Any solution will take a lot of work & planning.

I for one keep an eye on how long a member was registered when they make a comment. At least i did very early on when i joined this database. Perhaps beginning members to this site do also.

Michal.
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 04:08AM
Part of what I like about Mindat is that the forms are (I suppose by defenition) a place for discussion. When someone posts a picture, all we can really do is discuss the possible identity.

Besides, if 2 or 3 people have already explained their reasoning, followup "short answers" can serve as votes.... there is no sense in everyone repeating explenations when a simple confirmation would suffice.

Also, when people post blurry, impossible to identify images, someone inevitably makes the "you need better images" suggeestion, but after that what else can be done but guess?
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 04:13AM
And just a thought... but if people are unhappy with their free identifications (which it seems that some contributors expend real effort on), perhaps they should consider paying for EDS or XRDas well.... it's not too expensive these days.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 04:38AM
    
Ibrahim Jameel Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And just a thought... but if people are unhappy
> with their free identifications (which it seems
> that some contributors expend real effort on),
> perhaps they should consider paying for EDS or
> XRDas well.... it's not too expensive these days.

Hi Ibrahim,

I really don't think it's a case of people being unhappy with what they are offered as ID's, but more so that some of the so called "experts" have been found to be way off the mark with some of their ID's. In a good majority of the cases here on the ID section we never really come to a solid conclusion, or there is no feedback from expert testing, so we never really know what the end result was therefore making it extremely hard to offer strong ID's on similar materials in the future.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 04:47AM
    
Hey why don't we get together with the prominent expert testers here on Mindat an offer a reduced rate on testing for specimens that have had ID requests here on the ID section.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 04:57AM
Perhaps a notification can come up when people click to post questions in the identification forum, notifying them that all replies should be taken as suggestions.

I know mindat doesn't meet the standards of a scholarly database like Jstor or a peer reviewed scientific journal, due to the open nature of it, but it's the open nature of it that has made it so comprehensive. In my mind, there is more benefit to having it as open as it is, than not.

Personally, I feel that if one wants to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what they have, and can determine that is isn't something common, then they should send a sample out for testing.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 06:38AM
    
Here's my few comments:

1. Many of the photos posted for identification are of abysmal quality making correct identification impossible. I would suggest that guidelines for minimum standards are published, otherwise the ID request should be declined.

2. Many of the requests come from relatively inexperienced people (not their fault) who ask questions about fairly common minerals (calcite, fluorite, hematite, etc). Maybe a short one-line answer will suffice for them.

3. Many of the requests come in the form "was walking along a road and found this in a ditch". This is not conducive to a full identification since relevant location and context information is often unknown.

4. Anything more complex is almost impossible to identify visually from a photo - unless detailed location is given, in which case many people should be able to identify the mineral themselves by consulting the relevant location sections of Mindat (or a decent location book or magazine for that matter)

5. Cheap XRD or ERD are available for about $40 - if you need the info about providers please let me know.

6. Mindat 'experts' are not infallible - hence the often interesting discussion and debate. 'Experts' at shows are often not much better either - and I've known mistakes made at shows as well.

7. If Mindat has an 'Expert' ID section who is to say whether someone is an expert or not - Many people here are very knowledgeable about many things but no one knows everything. Its likely that someone who is not a perceived 'expert' knows a given location or mineral

8. I for one, thinks the current system generally works, but a little polish here and there would serve this forum well. Also, a bit of empathy and politeness goes a long way smiling smiley

Cheers

Matt
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 07:09AM
    
Maybe a system where you recieve a star beside your name for a positive ID, alternatively a skull and crossbones for a wrong or I agree ID, no joking ;), but maybe just a cross or something for a wrong ID. This would of course be determined by proper testing, Hopefully reduced price testing thumbs up .
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 07:39AM
    
Hey Craig, for us Tasmanians it would be two skulls over cross bones:)......I will let other non-Tasmania Aussies explain..:D

Now for a serious comment; fortunately I will never be considered an expert, the opportunity to get it wrong is too high to carry on my mind. Yes some of us have a good idea on some deposits or species but in my few short years I know how odd things can occur at a single site. I have spent many years collecting from a couple of Tasmanian localities, and I am still amazed what turns up. Had I not been on the site when the specimen was unearthed I would have never believed it had been from that locality.

I strongly agree with J about guesses not being acceptable and arguing amongst ourselves even less so. I always remember, in the end only a test will confirm the compound structure, and these can sometimes change with time and exposure to certain environments.

Yes a "specialist" ID process has merit, but I would still like others to be included in the discussions.

Andrew T
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 07:46AM
I prefer guesses to nothing. They usually give me a path to follow on my own to confirm or reject them, and I might learn a thing or two in the process.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 08:40AM
    
Hi. Would it not be helpful/a prerequisite for any "What is this" request, to have a short list of questions to be filled in by the submitter.
Good picture, size of specimen, size of crystals, where found, hardness, acid test, etc. Regards Rolf
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 08:55AM
    
Having read the entire thread I think many people have made valid points. I think Rolf has it right when he says that there should be a standard form that has to be filled in before any help for ID is posted to a thread. That way, the "experts" should be able to have a much better idea of what the mineral is if they know the hardness, streak, reaction to acid, etc. etc. If filling out a form was a prerequisite then it wouldn't waste the "experts" time trying to guess what something is from a picture. Similarly, the photos should be vetted and deemed to be of suitable quality before the request is posted online. The only thing that bothers me is who will be defined as being an "expert" and who will not? There are many little known collectors who are extremely knowledgeable about a particular mineral or locality - more knowledgeable than those more well known and respected collectors or mineralogists. So.........do you need something like a "test" that you have to pass before you can be classed officially as an "expert". As one of my university lecturers used to say: "Never call yourself an expert - an "ex" is a "has been" and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure.

Alan
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 09:57AM
    
I think it's a great idea.
[www.mindat.org]

EMJ
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 10:09AM
    
Alan Barnes (2) Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

"Never call yourself an expert - an "ex" is a "has been" and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure.

------------------------------------------------------

Great quote Alan!

I too think a prerequisite form is the way to go but in the meantime Jolyon can't you ask for some volunteers to help moderate these a little more ? Or at least lay down some basic rules to help members judge what's acceptable & encourage members to hit the report link when things get out of hand.

:)
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 11:28AM
I think this thread is showing quite clearly one of the huge problems with online messageboards - that people don't read messages properly before they reply!


I said quite clearly at the beginning that I was AGAINST a system of "experts" replying to messages on the site. It had been suggested, but I have rejected it.


All I want is for people to pay a little more care and attention to what they write (and clearly in reading properly what has been said before!)
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 11:47AM
I do think this thread should have been locked following the initial post. A problem was identified by the site owner, advice given, and a potential solution was floated in the event the problem becomes worse then it is thought to be.

Now, if the goal is to cut down on annoying, threadbare requests for identification, by all means, create a form as others have suggested. I think you will soon see traffic plummet as many folks are not going to fill out forms. But, that solution has side effects. Many other people, myself included will not be filling out any forms. And then many folks will miss out on potentially interesting inquiries.

If you ask me, and you haven't but I'll pipe up with my(insert numismatic(sp) equivalent here) opinion anyway, I think a roving moderator or three(not managers) who can delete threads with fuzzy photos or the like would be a good idea. I recall another board where if you joined, your first few posts on certain forums were moderated/vetted before they were posted. Food for thought?

As for tone which Norman brought up. We all have our way of responding. Some enjoy brevity-I do. Some enjoy long winded responses. Some insist on making comical comments mixed with helpful information. Others respond with a ferocity more suited for political debate-guilty-sometimes. But you are not going to totally change the way people respond. Impossible. If that upsets you, well, there's always the Scrapbook Forum. That Forum always seems to be pleasantly civil.

Your witness..I like saying that-sorry.
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 12:59PM
I got a bit tired of looking at blurry pictures with little info, but sometimes have a go if its an area I know. In that respect I suspect a lot of us are more expert than we may give ourselves credit for. Having a degree just means you know a lot about very little. And an expert should be someone who can admit he does not know something. I usually like to ask questions and get the collector thinking and learning a bit for themselves.

Regards,
Ralph
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 01:13PM
    
Good morning all.

I have read this thread with interest. Decided to make a couple of comments. I agree with most of what has been said. I like the idea of a form to complete for identification help. I am NOT the best at pictures so feel I can comment on the quality. It does not take much to make a good clear picture. I use a small Cannon point and shoot digital camera and it make good clear pictures. The folks who submit pictures need to take just a little more care with the photos so we have a reasonable chance to do a sight ID. I am not a geologist but have been learning minerals for 50 plus years. I learn something new every day.

It only takes a few more keystrokes to be nice and not hurt someone feelings. Some of the posts come across as hurtful. We do not need that kind of information. Remember that the newbies are who will follow us! Or the hobby will die out.

Please read the post carefully before you comment and if there is not enough information to make an informed observation please ask first (nicely!) It takes no more time to be nice that blunt and you will get better results. I do rock shows and people bring me all kinds of rocks and minerals for identification. Remember always that the material is “precious” to them. Let them down easy if it is “Leaverite” (for those of you who do not know that mineral it is Leave it rite where you found it).

For those of you asking ID help – sight ID is VERY difficult and not always accurate. Cut us some slack and give us good pictures to work from, location if available, a hardness range and any other information available. That will help narrow down the possibilities. Always remember that a hobby is supposed to be FUN!

Danny Jones
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 01:16PM
I'm not an expert. I'm a passionate mineral collector, but most of my specimens are purchased rather than self-collected. I rarely offer any opinion in the Identity Help forum, but try to make an informative contribution if I can. Before I post in any topic, I read the entire thread. I'm here mostly for my own education, after all. Rarely am I able to help when the question is about a self-collected specimen (so few deal with Florida localities) so I leave those topics to ones who know better. But this thread is so far avoiding the common newbie questions about COMMERCIAL specimens - of which there are many. "I bought this at a gift shop. What is it?" That kind of thing. A much larger pool of possible respondents are pretty well qualified to answer these - in many cases non-experts such as myself.

And what about Money Grubbers where the identity of the specimen appears to be different than claimed? Is it wrong to helpfully informatively suggest that the ID may be wrong? I recall the yellow sapphire/ zincite thread - do I get a gold star for that one? And in the fulgarites thread god knows I tried to help, but to no avail.

I for one like the unstructured and open nature of the forums - more people can contribute more information.
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 01:19PM
    
If I may add my two pennyworth.
I have sometimes asked for help, mostly when I haven't a clue what it is I have found.

It is a painful experience when finding a nice looking mineral, and not having a clue what it might be.

I turn to mindat for help.
I usually get a variety of suggestions by way of reply, some of them wide of the mark, but I always value them greatly.
I value them because they are all educational, and I do not look for, or expect, a definitive identification.

I value the suggestions that give me a guide as to where to start looking, so I know what page to turn to in my books and on mindat, for a more positive ID.

I can then, by a process of elimination, often find the correct ID, or at least an ID that I am happy with.

So my vote is to keep the ID help as it is, every suggestion is of value, even the wrong ones.

Thank you,
Eric B)

United Kingdom, Cornwall
Sorry, you can't reply to this topic. It has been closed.
Mineral and/or Locality  
Search Google  
Copyright © Jolyon Ralph and Ida Chau 1993-2014. Site Map. Locality, mineral & photograph data are the copyright of the individuals who submitted them. Site hosted & developed by Jolyon Ralph. Mindat.org is an online information resource dedicated to providing free mineralogical information to all. Mindat relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters. Mindat does not offer minerals for sale. If you would like to add information to improve the quality of our database, then click here to register.
Current server date and time: November 21, 2014 08:37:01
Mineral and Locality Search
Mineral:
and/or Locality:
Options
Fade toolbar when not in focusFix toolbar to bottom of page
Hide Social Media Links
Slideshow frame delay seconds