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PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!

Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 22, 2011 11:37PM
Dean, I think Boris gave good answers to the identity questions that were asked. The problem was more of a language barrier (as Rob noted) and a lack of basic knowledge of rocks on the part of the questioner. Identity - names - are not much use to someone who is a complete beginner in petrology, neither is a messageboard the best venue to commence a petrology course. Ralph suggested consulting a petrology textbook in the library - perhaps the best advice under the circumstances. All in all, I think Mindat fulfilled its function satisfactorily here, unless some contributor wants to improve on it by writing descriptions and origins for all the rock types involved, which I guess would be outside the time constraints most of us suffer under. Eventually we need rock type definitions and descriptions on Mindat - then ID Messageboard answers could just be linked to the appropriate page.
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 23, 2011 01:13AM
I have been following this thread all along and even though it kills me (:P), I have to agree with Jolyon in that there has been a lot of good and valuble discussion brought into this topic and not a lot bickering, which is always nice to see!!

Now for my one pence worth...

I suggest leaving the system the way it is; no "experts" panel, no lengthy forms to fill out, certainly nothing that would turn away potential new users (and/or donors) to Mindat. I do agree that the single word ID of a mineral may not be the best method, but for some replies this is really all that is required. For some of the lesser known minerals or minerals that may look similiar, a more lengthy discussion is necessary and indeed should be required. For me, unless it's something from the Great Lakes area which is an area I feel very comfortable with, or something very obvious, I will read the ID posts but will not respond because I don't want to give false information.

As far as poor photos: one thing to always keep in mind is that we are not PhotoDat. I am assuming we are not in the business to educate every person how to take a photo. Also, not everyone is Jeff Scovil when it comes to photography; certainly we can't expect every photo submission that comes to Mindat for ID to be great or even good. Mineral ID is tough from a photo no matter the quality, no one can disagree with that.

Ok, I'll throw in some extra change for a longer than expected message smileys with beer
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 23, 2011 02:16AM
Jolyon Ralph Wrote:
> I'm thankful for everyone in replying to this
> thread. I wanted this to be seen as a point for
> discussion rather than a set of rules to be given
> out from above, and I value all your
> contributions!

Exactly what mods and admin. should do on their forums. I wish I would see more of this in other forums I frequent. Well done!
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 23, 2011 03:18AM
In the Identity Help forum, the thread labeled (Mineral Identification (How to - PLEASE READ before posting questions) gives good direction on how to better your changes of getting specimens identified. Could you create a form for posting identity help threads where some of the questions must be answered to post the thread. Quite a few of the identity help questions I see posted are just a picture. I would think if more information was shared up front the input on identities would improve.

I should of read the entire thread before posting the paragraph above. That being said, I do believe even if none of the questions on the form were required to post for identity help (so as not to discourage anyone) the list of questions on the form would get people thinking about the characteristics that help in identifying minerals.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2011 03:43AM by Richard Felicioni.
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 23, 2011 08:38AM
I think a simple popup similar to the one appearing when you upload pictures to mindat should be enough:

"Important! All mineral photos must have a scale and/or specimen dimensions included in the description. If you have uploaded a mineral photo, are you sure you have entered this information here? If not, click CANCEL and you can edit this form and resubmit. Click OK if you know you have entered the correct information."

So the one for ID help could include the basic informations like:

"Does your photograph show a sharp image of the specimen?
Where did you find it?
Are there any more details you can see?"

And maybe include a link to a page that shows how to determine the basic informations like hardness, streak etc.

Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 23, 2011 01:15PM
I understand that people want a serious ID when they start a thread but i think there are those who just want to know what 'mineral X' is and there are those who want to know what 'mineral X" isnt, and why, and what it could be, and why, and then eventually what it probably is. I don't like the idea of people just guessing and waiting for an 'expert' to reveal the answer. However I really like to read the threads where someone will say what they think 'mineral X' is and give a reason why and then have somebody say it cant be that because of 'property Y' but it might be this because of.... and so on. For me, a love to learn newbie, i think a mineral ID by process of elimination is far more interesting so long as the 'guesses' are in the ballpark and explained, as are the 'shutdowns', and the people contributing to the thread are reading all the other posts. I only hope i can get my confidence and knowledge up to a standard where i can contribute to mindat ID's.
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 24, 2011 04:49AM

Translators work fairly well with some languages but not with others. On a volcano blog, during the last Merapi eruption, we took to calling it giggle translate. The same was true trying to translate Icelandic during the eruption last year. Even with the more accurate translations, enough meaning could get lost so as to give problems to someone not familiar with the terminology we use.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
March 24, 2011 12:09PM
Douglas, I hope you'll forgive me if I plagiarize your lovely expression "giggle" translator. Most appropriate! I find those free internet translation services to be amusingly semi-useful, with severe limitations, for european languages and utterly laughably hopeless for japanese. But, back to the topic of ID help messages on Mindat, I hope our native english-speaking users will be patient with those foreign users who are obviously using the current generation of pitifully inadequate machine translators (and for the most part we have been).
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
April 07, 2011 10:02AM
I only skimmed this I may be repeating an argument that has already been made. I'm no expert. I doubt I could pass any vetting required to comment under such a scheme. I try to only comment when I THINK I have something to that means only a few times a year smiling smiley I regreat once suggesting an ID based on a picture alone...once a close up was posted I had to retract. But should folks feel afraid of suggesting something least they are wrong and banned from making suggestions? And who knows who is going to turn out to be the 'expert' for any given question? If someone posted under the 'ask the experts' section, and no one had an answer, that doesn't mean someone on Mindat didn't have the means they were not allowed to help. I'm an "expert" in very narrow subjects/locations...and I am still learning. but if I am the only one on Mindat willing or able to comment on those few things I know, I need to have the freedom to do so when they come up.

I also would like to see a Mindat Rock database smiling smiley
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
April 07, 2011 10:21AM
Alfredo and Douglas,

I appreciate the translation problem because for many years I have done a lot of translation of scientific communications from French to English. It is not only machine translation that is the problem! Even before such techniques were common, I often went into alternating fits of laughter and rage looking through translations provided (at considerable expense) by commercial enterprises... The crux of the matter is that if you don't understand the subject, you can't provide a sensible translation. I could only translate papers in my fields of biological and chemical science, and I often had to spend days with the authors, sometimes assisting with lab experiments, before I could really translate their terms accurately.

So yes, questions are often poorly formulated due to language barriers. It might be an idea for those who have problems with English to append the same text in their own language. Mindat has participants from all over the world, and some might be able to help to 'clean up' the translated text...

I have had very useful comments from various people to my queries, and I thank everyone for their help and patience - and also Jolyon for providing the support and moderation.


avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
May 09, 2011 12:12AM
I believe that we should not discredit the local knowledge. I am probably one of the most knowledgeable members of our local mineral club on the identification of minerals however, there are many times when I am stumped on what it is and I have to go and ask someone else. This just shows that we have our limits with ID's. I have taught geology for over twenty years and been the field officer for our club for the last ten, and the number of times someone has bought a sample up to me for identification in that time I have lost count. I've always tried to help "newbies" as they are the ones who will be looking after our collections when we are gone. I am not an expert - however I would say that my knowledge on Australian minerals, especially those from Broken Hill, is pretty good and I can usually recognise this location. The reason for this is the association of minerals and I agree with Jolyon that an added sentence to help support your ID is a good thing. If anything it helps the newbie learn something for future reference and to point out why you consider a mineral is what you think is a good teaching method.

To just state what you think it is, doesn't help anyone and to bag out someone without an explanation as to why they are wrong, is just rude!

I've stood among a circle of geologists all arguing over the identification and origin of a sample, each with their own "expert " opinion when the sample in question was cracked and it opened up to reveal that it was artificial and had been planted at the spot for exactly that reason.

Let the people have their say. Listen to their advice and if you disagree with an identification, give a reason.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
May 11, 2011 01:01PM

I have read most of the thread with interest, and here is my Euros worth!

I have been aprofessional geologist for more than 20 years, mainly in the petroleum industry, but only recently have I started seriously collecting fossils and minerals. So I am a Newbie and an Expert (or Ex - Spurt?).

In recent years I have focussed on teaching professional courses on oil exploration and production geology, petrophysics, geophysics and so on. When giving these courses the students always assume that I am the "Expert", but I do not know everything. Who does? What I do have vast experience of is researching things, looking things up, finding the answers etc. So what I tell the students is that I will not always be able to tell them the answers, but I can always help them ask better questions!

I think that is what the "experienced" people should do: offer guidance in the ID process, according to how they would approach the ID process.

It also occurs to me that has a huge, systematically compiled database of mineral properties and localities. Would it be possible to build an advanced search engine to guide ID enquiries, i.e an "Expert" system. If the enquirer puts in, for example: the colour, the streak, the locality, associated minerals etc, then the expert system could pull up a short list on the fly . . . . . That would be more fun than form filling, and could lead to more systematic documentation of minerals in the database as well. It could even flag up some possibilities that the "experts" had not consdired. Real humans could then be asked to comment on the findings, and suggest further refinements to the serach or recommend analyses.

I am thinking along the lines of botanical keys: What colour is it? how many petals? pinnate or lobate leaves? etc.

Doctors are now having to do this sort of thing with diagnoses, because the medical profession has finally acknowledged that these "experts" don't know it all either.

It should be much easier with minerals . . . . . .



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/11/2011 01:03PM by Greg Samways.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
May 11, 2011 03:52PM
Greg - There is a "search minerals by properties" tool at the top of the left hand menu on the homepage that does pretty much what you're suggesting. Visual clues like "pinnate or lobate" can only get you so far with minerals. Some properties take somewhat specialized equipment or experience to accurately determine (e.g. specific gravity). Finally, as has been noted here many times, a lot of people are not inclined to make any effort on their own when they can put a fuzzy cellphone picture on the bulletin board and people are happy to throw out guesses,which are sometimes good enough when it's something like a piece of slag or a quartz crystal. .

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/11/2011 03:53PM by Kelly Nash.
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
May 11, 2011 04:57PM
@ Kelly Nash,

Thanks for the pointer to the mineral search engine - its very good!

However, even if I put in a wide range of characteristics, including such things as lustre and cleavage (which the uninitiated probably don't understand), I still get a results list of of several pages of minerals!

Perhaps a category of "Known Associates" might also help?

So I thought I would test the system by looking up the properties of what I think it is, then seeing if the search engine finds it. But of course the mineral I am looking at is "allegedly" fuchsite, which doesn't have a separate listing, because it is just a weird form of muscovite. However, the one picture of fuchsite on Mindat does look very much like the stuff I have picked up, and it apparently came from the same place, so I am guessing . . . .

Thanks for you help . . .

Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
May 11, 2011 05:25PM

Of course I have now dug a bit deeper and found the mineral identification key, which was also just the sort of thing I was talking about. It might be worth linking to this from the Mindat search engine (on the intro page - there is plenty of space), as it explains what each of the properties is and how to measure them.

what this mineral is.
June 02, 2011 05:04PM
hi sir this minerals is hard like quartz and its mine location is Shungas Skardu Pakistan.Sir you look so Expert can you help me in recognizing this mineral.

Best Regards
Sajjad Shakir
avatar Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
June 02, 2011 05:19PM
Sajjad. This is the third or fourth time you have posted these photos. In the intial posting Hambergite and pollucite were suggested. I mentioned that it didn't look very isometric, so probably not pollucite. It might be adularia. I think at this point you should consider analysing it as clearly no one here has any further ideas.

One of the appearances of these photos was in another thread asking for an identification of totally unrelated material. That is rude and is called "hijacking a thread". Please try not to do this. It is confusing.

As others have tried to tell you, these message boards are supposed to be free of advertising. Please buy an ad from Jolyon (he needs the money) as all the other dealers must do.
help identifing!
February 14, 2012 02:18AM
Can someone help me identify this rock? It is very hard I couldn't scratch it with a nail. I cleaned it with muratic acid so it came out a little dull. Could this be rhodonite?smileys with beer
open | download - laughlin22.jpg (128.9 KB)
open | download - rhodonite1.jpg (74.1 KB)
Help identifying
February 14, 2012 02:32AM
Can someone help me identifying these two rocks? They were both cleaned with muratic acid so I got them wet to show some of the detail. They are both very hard when I try to scratch them with a nail they don't scratch off anything but faint marks are on the rocks. these were both found in Nevada
open | download - laughlin13.jpg (127.4 KB)
open | download - laughlin 15.jpg (118.9 KB)
Re: PLEASE READ before answering requests for help!
February 14, 2012 04:26AM
Taking a stab at it, I'd say it isn't rhodonite, that second pic. It looks very much like a stone that a book on wisconsin geology called 'driveway stone,' a reddish feldspar w/ blueish quartz sprinkled i it, very common up here. The others look like a lot of what washes up on lake michigan beaches near here, chert or chalcedony (thus harder than a nail, hardness of 7, like most quartz types) with a mix of other silicate bits...Just a guess.

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