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PhotosGraphite photo descriptions far too innaccurate/fanciful

4th Dec 2019 21:30 UTCMark Heintzelman Expert

This is very likely a specimen from the famous Plumbago mines in the Kurunegala District of Sri Lanka, some of the largest and purest deposits in the world. Not at all uncommon, nor are they related to the gem deposits of Sri Lanka as it would seem is suggested in this description. Other specimens provided by this dealer have similar fanciful, inaccurate descriptions provided. For accuracy sake, it wold be nice to see them fixed or removed.

5th Dec 2019 00:25 UTCEd Clopton Expert

Rob has been very generous in support of Mindat, and for that he deserves thanks from all of us.  In the interest of scientific integrity of the database, however, it would be only right and proper for his exuberantly marketing-oriented captions to be toned down to "just the facts" when the photos are uploaded.  This one is a good example of where that treatment is badly needed.

5th Dec 2019 13:49 UTCChester S. Lemanski, Jr. Manager


Rob does not have to upload his photos on Mindat yet he does so at his own expense. He is a businessman and a mineral enthusiast. Editing the captions before upload would be an additional expense that we have no expectation of his business absorbing. He has generously agreed that we can edit the captions as we see fit. His volume of photos is amazing and the quality is excellent. Editing them all when they are posted is impractical with the size of the Mindat management/expert review staff. Continued criticism may just convince a valued contributor that his efforts are not appreciated. Aside from the commercial buildup of the specimens, the captions often provide detailed data regarding interesting characteristics of the specimens. I have adjusted the caption of the photo at point.

Chet Lemanski

5th Dec 2019 15:04 UTCBranko Rieck Expert

Well said, Chet! Thank you!

I hope that Rob does not take offence and continues to provide us with good photos of often interesting and significant specimen.


5th Dec 2019 17:39 UTCMark Heintzelman Expert

The point is not to publicly shame anyone by simply trying to keep content here fair and accurate.   Yes, an option to point out and address these issues in a "less public" forum would certainly help avoid that perception, but I also place a good deal of value in getting consensus for any such changes.  

Simply ignoring these inaccuracies, or being critical of those who point them out, isn't really resolving anything.

5th Dec 2019 16:48 UTCRolf Luetcke Expert

I have heard from them that Rob actually is not the one posting the photos but his staff.   
I have actually gotten used to the flowery sales language on his photos.  
One little complaint I have had myself with those posted by his staff is that if I am trying to identify any associated minerals on his pieces, the information is almost always lacking.   Since I often try to identify associated species I move onto others photos.

5th Dec 2019 20:01 UTCJolyon Ralph Founder

I think we have far worse descriptions than this one.  The comment about gems in this was more to remind people that there are not just gems from sri lanka. 

I don't want to get into any arguments about how remarkable the piece is or isn't, but I don't really see any desperate need to edit this.

5th Dec 2019 20:21 UTCGareth Evans

I enjoy Rob’s descriptions, but I think the real author might be Monica Kitt. I have exchanged some lovely emails with both Rob and Monica, and both exercise a lot of poetic license in describing their minerals. But this is OK!!!

I have attached a photo of one of my graphite specimens from the Bogala Mine, so my only query would relate to the actual locality or if both localities are indeed one and the same. My graphite was sourced from a crystal healing store in the UK for only a few dollars (<$10AUD).

5th Dec 2019 22:30 UTCPaul Brandes Manager

Chet hit the nail!

Rob has been gracious enough to provide us with an almost countless amount of high quality photos of specimens that would otherwise be lost. In addition, their crew has given Mindat full control to edit any descriptions as we see fit without having to notify them of the fact. I don't believe anyone has been critical of those that point out these errors, but what will catch the attention of folks is someone who points out an error, then proceed to berate that person (or group) about it, when all that is required is a "hey, I noticed an error in the description, please check it out".

5th Dec 2019 22:48 UTCAndrew Debnam

Right on Paul, politely point out the factual error with your supporting argument. Not a person or group. As far as fluff or pontification most of us are commit  that sin once in a while. Including me I am sure.

6th Dec 2019 00:03 UTCFrank K. Mazdab Manager

Eh, I have to agree with Mark on this one.

Just because Rob and his staff have supplied us with many high quality photos (of which this one is certainly not... a photo such as this, in fact, with both the fingers and the scars of hardness tests past jarring the image, would have almost certainly been relegated to the user-only gallery for any other contributor!) doesn't mean we couldn't still politely ask that he and his staff stick to "just the facts, ma'am" for the accompanying specimen descriptions. Sure, we all commit the sin of a bit of fluff or pontification "once in a while", but from the numerous times this issue has been brought up, this can't really be considered a once in a while occurrence (and the not-so-subtle sales pitch undercurrent I personally also find a bit unsettling).

I understand Rob has given us his blessing to re-word descriptions as we see fit, and that's kind of him to allow us to do so. But has been pointed out, Rob has contributed a lot of photos, so potentially that's a lot of re-wording if we opted to undertake that effort.  It's been put forth here that he or his staff editing the captions before upload is an expense his business shouldn't have to undertake... well, that's fair enough, but then if the captions started out as simply observational descriptions of the samples, without the hyperbole and the sales pitch, then no editing would be necessary and those hypothetical "expenses" would not be required.

I find many of the arguments put forth here, by other managers no less, to be perplexing.  Is it public shaming when someone clicks on the "complain about this photo" link accompanying every photo and then complains about said photo? (if so, then we need to eliminate that button, because many photos [and by extension their uploaders] have been publicly criticized, for wrong IDs, wrong localities, etc.).  It was suggested that Rob and his staff "upload photos when they don't have to, at his own expense".  Does that matter? Isn't that true of all of us?  Or does the volume of photos he and his staff upload make him "too big to fail" in mindat's eyes?

Look, I appreciate the photos he and his staff upload and find most of them stunning, and agree that it would be a huge loss if he opted to not contribute anymore. But I also don't feel he should necessarily get a volume-based special dispensation to upload photos or captions, which if we had received those same contributions from someone else who only uploads 1 photo each year, we would likely have not permitted (or would have immediately edited) that user's upload. Unless it's his (or our?) intention to have mindat as a secondary buyer's showcase for his business, I can't imagine he would object to a polite request to at least try to limit his photo descriptions to more dispassionate summaries of what's present on the samples, for the sake of our scientific integrity.  And I doubt anyone would be too concerned if an occasional "best", "biggest", "nicest" or the like slipped by "once in a while".  I recognize I'm taking an unpopular position here (and actually I'm rather surprised by that), but feel it's important to nonetheless offer a counter-argument to the "this is just how it's always been" and "we shouldn't rock the boat" arguments I'm mostly seeing in this thread.

6th Dec 2019 00:36 UTCLuís Martins

I agree with every word. It's unsettling to see the difference in criteria on Mindat depending on the provenance of the photos.

6th Dec 2019 00:59 UTCKeith Compton Manager

Rob is a major contributor in both funds, advertising and photos and I see nothing wrong with his descriptions. As pointed out by Chet and in many other discussions, we are at liberty to amend/adjust any of his photos and he is happy about that. Whenever I have made a change to one of his photos I have also sent Rob a courtesy note if it related to locality/identity - but not when changing a description. 

I think that everyone who has ever used mindat appreciates the photo contributions of Rob and other dealers. This site would be so more poorer without them


As for a private forum to query/discuss a photo - I don't think it's necessary - you can always private message one of the managers to take a look see.


I think you watch too many repeats of Dragnet ("just the facts, ma'am") ((-:)

We also get hundreds of photos from collectors that are often over exuberant in their descriptions and no-one complains. I don't recall seeing over the top descriptions by "ordinary collectors" being edited or placed in user gallery simply for exhuberant descriptions (athough there may be some). Certainly poor quality photos have been moved to user only - yes.

Virtually all complaints about photos are about locality / identity and these are generally corrected via private messaging.

Many collectors who purchase specimens from dealers who have uploaded photos (not just Rob's) use that photo and minID for their cataloging purposes. I know I do ('cos I often can't take as good a photo myself). So we can't really move his photos to a user gallery. 

Sometimes I think that the reason we don't have more dealer photos is that they not only have to make the effort to upload them but then they have to put up with unnecessary criticism.

6th Dec 2019 03:38 UTCGareth Evans

This is another specimen of Graphite from Sri Lanka. Like the other it was obtained from a crystal healing store in the UK for a mere $7 AUD.

I was planning to use it in my element collection but decided to keep it in my native element collection.

It has a very seductive ‘metallic’ luster.

Who else feels graphite from Sri Lanka makes good collector pieces?

6th Dec 2019 03:55 UTCMatt Courville

opinions in this thread are both right and wrong at the same time

One thing is for certain in that just because someone runs a business, does not mean that their time in correcting or uploading is any more valuable than any other common collector.  This should also go for the level of financial contributions... but lets be honest who would ever run a business or website and criticize a major player?  It is like 'biting the hand that feeds' and no-one with something to lose would do otherwise.

I'm sure I'd be thrown to the wolves (or the user only dungeon) if I had posted for myself some of the descriptions I have read, but such is the reality of a small fish in a big ocean...;)

The only descriptions that absolutely must be altered are the ones which are flat out dishonest or incorrect.  For example: claiming a mineral is rare from an area when it is quite simply not, only for financial gain, and then further propagating this type of statement for millions to read.

Robs photos are certainly great - the minerals for each locality some of, if not the best available to view - but the descriptions now and then remind me a little bit of the Extenze suppliment commercials ;) ;)

6th Dec 2019 04:24 UTCDebbie Woolf Manager

Thank you for all comments, your feedback is important and noted. I think enough has been said and closing this now. Please continue to report errors to make this an even better database than it already is.
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