Rockhounds Unite! The Best Online Communities and Forums for Rockhounds to Gather

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If there’s one thing every beginning rockhound needs, it’s a community! Forums and other groups are one of the best ways to dive headlong into the hobby and create a more immersive experience for yourself. But the internet is massive and in constant flux, so it’s important to make sure that you find active, helpful boards.

So, let’s take a look at some of the best rockhound forums, and help you find a like-minded community that fits your needs!

1. Rock Tumbling Hobby Forums

Older readers might remember a time when internet discussions were largely hosted on old BBS systems. These boards are scattered across the internet, often derelict with posts having weeks in between and some subboards not being touched in years.

The forums at Rock Tumbling Hobby are still lively and active. Most boards, even the lesser used ones, are still fairly active and the main boards are downright brimming with activity. They cover everything from stone identification to basic smithing skills depending on which board you hop into.

These old VBBS systems are great for those who’d prefer to remain anonymous. In a world full of social media that’s a rare blessing. While the board isn’t as active as it used to be, it’s a great first stop for those who are looking to get some more information on their favorite hobby.

2. Mindat’s Message Board

Anyone who does a lot of research on stones online will be making regular visits to Mindat. The website is an enormous repository of information on all aspects of the hobby. Stone localities, formation, and variants are all discussed in just the information on the main page.

Mindat also uses a notoriously dated UI. The information is great, but the system it’s placed in is close to having its very own place in the fossil record. It can be a bear to navigate, especially if you’re only used to Web 2.0 sites.

But… hidden inside of all of this is a real wealth of information. Because of this, knowledgeable individuals flock to the site and it’s boards. If you can get over the dated web interface, the boards offer lively, high-level discussions between actual professionals with moderation having little patience for nonsense. If you’re interested in things that go further than simple identification, then you’re in good hands.

I’ll admit it’s a bit of an intimidating place to post, but I’ve learned a lot of things that go much deeper than your average Wikipedia entry simply by clicking around on anything that interests me.

3. Facebook Groups

Facebook has a bad reputation, sometimes well deserved, but it’s become one of the better places for hobbyists to gather regardless of their tastes. It’s easy to find groups that cover just about any topic, no matter how obscure. And rockhounding, as a hobby, definitely isn’t that obscure.

It’s just a matter of finding the right groups. I advise sticking away from the “no rules” groups, which are generally just open bazaars of people selling dubious materials.

Some that I’d recommend from personal experience:

Please be advised that some Facebook groups are more focused on inter-group drama than the hobby itself. Just leave if you find that’s the case. Despite Facebook’s best efforts, moderation is often sketchy. I don’t recommend hanging around groups with a lot of negative comments.

The above is just a starting list, there are hundreds of large groups on there devoted to rockhounds. If you’re selective, then it’s easy to find a place to fit in.

One other thing to note if you’re using Facebook: it’s fairly easy to find groups focused on your area. These can be invaluable, especially for newcomers, and can even lead to some real world connections.

4. /r/rockhounds

Reddit gets a bad rap, but the more specialized hobbyist boards are often really cool places to hang out. The nice thing about the site is that numerous niche communities have been carved out over the years for every specialized interest.

/r/rockhounds is the largest of the rockhound-related subreddits, boasting over 200k members. It’s a fast-moving board, with people asking for advice and posting pictures of their finds and creations. Like a lot of Reddit, there’s also a fair amount of memes and nonsense but it’s generally good-natured here.

You may also want to take a look at /r/lapidary if working stone is your thing. The board, and related ones, are a bit slower than those that are focused just on collectors but there’s a fairly large and knowledgeable community in place.

Those with more interest in technical discussions will want to check out /r/geology. It’s still a subreddit, so it’s not going to be on par with the expert data on Mindat, but it’s a lively place where you can learn more about rocks and geology in general. 

5. Friends of Minerals Forum

While not as active as it once was, and sporting a very dated format, the FMF forums remain a great place to check out. It’s probably the slowest of the forums on this list, but a quick perusal shows that most of the boards are moderately active.

What it does have going for it is a long history of great posts. For many of these older boards, the archives contain the real gold. At one point we didn’t have easier options for communicating our hobbies, so tons of high-level discussions took place far outside the centralized hubs of the internet that exist now.

It’s worth a shot for the serious rockhound, and even in the more recent posts, there’s a pleasing amount of high-level subjects with good commentary. The interface is, admittedly, a bit convoluted and hard to get used to but the information? Top-notch and only beaten out in most cases by Mindat.

6. Rockseeker Rockhounding Club

Of course, we’re going to have to talk about our own rockhounding forum here. While there is a low cost for membership (just $5/month or $50/year), it helps keep everyone on the same page and makes sure scammers and other problem children from the wider internet don’t make it in.

The discussion group is the main draw. People can also buy, sell, and swap minerals in the marketplace and there are regular giveaways. There’s also a ton of information that you can access in the archives.

The format is modern and easy to use, something of a cross between older forums and modern social media. There are tons of friendly and helpful people around as well to help with questions about identification and localities.

If you’re looking to get away from the centralization of the internet and make sure that you’ve got a great place to discuss your hobby, well.. here it is!

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