As an undergrad student in the Earth Sciences I get really frustrated by the sheer amount of rock ID requests. Is this something we all tolerate? I feel like this site has the potential to be a great one, but the lack of actual science questions is driving me crazy. I think we should all make an effort to ID rocks on our own before throwing pictures of them at an Earth Science page. If you really, really can not ID a rock then ask the community. The same policy is used on sites like Physics and Mathematics. First, you must make an honest attempt to solve your own question. Then, show your reasoning on the site and explain your thought process. The scientific method is pretty helpful.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that they are too many, and have been for a while. There was a proposal to make them all off-topic, but community consensus (then) was not to do so. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ Answering the question on the title: I'd guess that most of them are not really into earth science and just curious about the rocks they have/found, so they don't feel the need to know about the facts... and some of them just want to know if it's something valuable (and perhaps can make money) $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 6:13
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    $\begingroup$ There use to be lots of science here. Somehow it became a rock ID website. If it was up to me, I'd just delete them on sight. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ I think with the amount of rock ID questions the site receives, the science questions get diluted. On the other hand, if a person starts on the site with a rock ID question and then starts looking at other questions/answers, then that is great. I might be good to look at how many people are just single rock ID questioners without any follow up afterward, versus people that after their first question become active in the community. $\endgroup$
    – arkaia
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ The solution is to ask more actual science questions. But I find that questions I have either can be solved through a bit of research or are too specialised for anyone here to answer. $\endgroup$
    – haresfur
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 23:30

2 Answers 2


Most likely because we show up third on the Google search for "identify my rock":

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These questions are also frustrating for me, but I don't know what to do. Closing them is not a solution, we would need to delete them, and I find that rude and inappropriate. I which there were a rock identification SE to take this burden. As a matter of fact, identification-request questions amount for 10% of all questions in Earth Science SE, more than geophysics, atmosphere, climate, oceanography and a whole lot of very relevant topics.

On the other hand, if we identify for somebody a massive gold meteorite, we could get share ;-)


Because it's a question that a person who learned some of the material in college but didn't get much practice at would actually want to try to get an answer for years later, and because looking it up in a textbook is hard.

Anyway I've got a stack of textbooks and studied the material very well but got stumped with a question looking very much like this form. Only in this case, I'm reasonably certain of the rock type involved but am asking a different question.


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