Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

15.6 Joining an Online Community


15.6: Joining an Online Community

Being mindful of the "safety tips" noted on 15.1 (required to earn this badge), you might encourage your older, more computer-savvy kids to join an online community in an area of specific interest. Such communities can put them in touch with knowledgeable hobbyists and experts around the world with like-minded interests, offering blogs, message and bulletin boards, discussion groups, news updates, photo galleries, and more. Kids can find answers to their questions, suggestions and tips, leads to further resources, and even opportunities to trade specimens through the mail.

The downside is that discussions held on such sites don‘t always proceed in a grown-up manner as the occasional "flame war" erupts, in part as a result of misunderstandings arising from the nature of online communication, where, for example, an effort at humor may get interpreted as a insult. You‘ll also trip over people engaging in ego trips now and then. Still, the benefits outweigh the occasional downside, and online communities can be both educational and fun if you look past the banter that sometimes goes off track.

I recommend consulting your local librarian to help discover good, established, reputable groups. Fellow club members might also be able to advise. To give you a flavor, here are a few I‘m aware of:

LA-Rocks, an on-line group of Southern California rockhounds who share information on gems and minerals, collecting sites, shows, and field trips.

Rock Tumbling Hobby, a site for over 4,000 rock tumbling enthusiasts to trade tumbling tips, share photos, and arrange swaps of tumbling rough.

Club Space Rock, a site which bills itself as "the world‘s largest meteorite community", with folks ranging from rank amateurs to world-class scholars.

Bob‘s Rock Shop, billed as "The Internet‘s First ‘Zine for Rockhounds", this includes a 'Rock Talk' discussion group and message forum, along with all sorts of other information, photo galleries, links, and more.