The Demise of the Metal Detecting Forum?

13th April 2015 — 29 Comments

facebook1-1024x1024A frequent question on many metal detecting forums, both home and abroad, is the one asking what has happened to all the members, and why so few post. This is then followed up by comments to the effect that the site is ‘dying.’

The usual response from those who do post is that there’s always a lull at this particular time of the year and that they’ll be back once the digs restart, or something of that nature.

Only last week the administrator on one forum I frequent was contemplating closure because of the lack of activity, but was persuaded to keep it open by the faithful. In some of these discussions I have noticed a lone voice plaintively bleating that the fault lies with the Internet, particularly a social networking site called Facebook. I now know that he is probably right.

I have always resisted calls to join Facebook for it seemed so intrusive and I’m basically a ’private’ person. My only contact was the occasional tirade of abuse between couples on The Jeremy Kyle show, when they repeatedly mentioned the site in their respective arguments. I wasn’t enamoured by the antics of the protagonists, but now something has changed, making me think afresh.

I was never an ‘early adopter’ in anything. I still have flares and kipper ties in my wardrobe that I was wearing long after the fashion had changed. As for one who embraces new technology before others, you can count me out. Instead of curious and adventurous, I am just the opposite! Not exactly a laggard but more a Luddite with a fear of new technology.


Martha Lane-Fox

I have now joined Facebook. And it’s all down to a woman who cajoled, caressed and, (metaphorically) beat me into submission. I couldn’t resist the charms of Baroness Martha Lane-Fox. Here’s how it happened:

Last week I watched, with keen interest, the Richard Dimbleby 2015 Lecture on BBC television. The lectures, established in memory of broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, have run nearly every year since 1972. They have featured entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and James Dyson, along with a long list of lords and politicians, clergy and academics. This time it was the turn of Baroness Martha Lane Fox.

In the lecture the inspirational lady, co-founder of and a cross bench peer, challenged people to understand the internet more deeply – from leaders and legislators to users – and be both curious and critical in their digital lives. Only then, she argued, will they be able to tackle the most complex challenges facing society.

Well, that was the catalyst for my conversion. You can read the lecture on DOT EVERYONE and, if you are in the UK, see the Baroness deliver her lecture on the BBC iPlayer, available for the next 16 days.



I’ve heard it said that Facebook is the most popular social networking site of all time and has experienced dramatic growth in its eleven year existence … and I’ve just found it! Tentatively I signed up and organised my page … well, made a page. It is far from being sorted and, if the truth be known, I’m not sure what I’m doing, but at least I now have a presence.

I have discovered that all those people I knew years ago from various forums are now on Facebook and that’s perhaps one of the reasons that detecting sites are on the decline. Conventional MD forums don’t allow so much freedom. This seems is a great tool for keeping friendships alive. I can’t say much because of my limited experience and will perhaps leave that for another time. I’m just exploring privacy settings and generally finding my way around.

I joined a metal detecting group somewhat inadvertently … don’t know how I did it! Already I have found that one of the disadvantages is that I open Facebook regularly to stay connected with friends, make comments and so on. This has become my displacement activity … and I have work to do! 

Martha Lane-Fox challenged me to understand the internet better, more critically, and make more – much more – of my digital life. She has provided the opportunity to easily communicate with old friends and keep up-to-date one what they’re doing. It’s fun to see their photos … but I don’t think you’ll see many of mine. 



Well, after two years I don’t profess to know FB any better. All I know is that I am a member of about twelve detecting sites (and growing daily), the majority of which have co-opted me. I could easily be a master of inspirational quotes, a top reviewer of ‘cat and dog doing strange things’ videos. On top of that I have amassed a horde of new ‘friends’, whose names I can’t even pronounce.

I get daily messages about birthdays of people I don’t know, somebody changing the name of their site, yet another picture of a detector leaning on a spade or other unwanted information. I’m not impressed. ‘Why do you stay? I hear you ask. I remain because I sometimes post my blog on there, see old friends … and because I’m nosy.

What you don’t get on Facebook is the sense of ‘family’ presence on a detecting forum, and talking about the hobby with people with whom you have built a relationship. Will the situation ever be the same again?



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29 responses to The Demise of the Metal Detecting Forum?

  1. I love Facebook (I don’t use it) but the wife is so addicted to it I can go out detecting for two hours and be back before she even realises I have been away.

  2. Over moderation by power pi55ed self important sad individuals is the reason.
    Forums need characters or they become boring.

  3. Part of the reason for the demise of forums is due to facebook,twitter,youtube etc. They are no match for the volume of people that you can reach on a forum though. The advantage one has on facebook is they can be the boss of their site and delete,arrange,include exclude etc.
    Forums are becoming,if they haven’t always been,too fake for some people and (with other options) not fake enough for others. That is a tough obstacle to overcome.

    I was following a thread one day on a forum and some guys made a video about detecting in a rough neighborhood as they called it. I believe it was in Las Vegas. the theme of the video was how dangerous the place was but these guys were going in and getting the coins.

    As I watched the video I noticed that besides walking past some people on a sidewalk that didn’t seem overly interested in anything (although i guess they could have stuck their foot out and tripped someone) there was no danger present. the small group (2 or 3) hunters were digging some coins, wiping them off,showing them off as if they were in the backyard of the White House with all the safety of a President.

    People were commenting on the thread,one after another, telling the poster what a great video it was. Before long I could take it no more so decided I was going to comment knowing I was going to be condemned even if I put it as nicely as I could.

    All I said was something like ” If you were in such a bad neighborhood ,why were you wiping off and showing off your coins ? ” That was enough to start the attacks on me and even though I ,as usual, kept my comments on a respectable level, I was belittled and condemned for even bringing up a counterpoint or stating the obvious.

    The thread went on and the original poster slammed me and told me that they were heavily armed,he was ex-military and he said he probably forgot more about “tactical warfare’ or something like that, than I ever learned to begin with, I didn’t bring up my military experience that include breaking in the newbies and separating the BS from facts ,even if in the barracks over some warm German beer.

    My point is that people want to get the recognition they seek but do not want to do what they need to to get that recognition. Everybody is an instant star and the newbies on the forum are to be treated with kids gloves so they don’t get their little feelings hurt. They can set up a facebook page and post some youtube videos on it and be whoever they want instantly. Not that there are not some good facebook pages and youtube videos.

    I told the person on the forum thread that I knew why he was there and I believe my comment said that he had over 400 views on his thread at the present time. Those views may have been in part because I was being “so disrespectful” to him so maybe he wished he was on youtube or facebook getting 10 hits. In closing, I’ll say that I know why there is a demise of the forums. It is all my fault.

    • Gary … there is a lot that people will identify with in your comment.
      Thank you for taking the time to express your views.

      I’m sure that your last statement isn’t true. 🙂

  4. I guess I am one of those people who never fell in love with facebook might be something to do with my age.
    On the other hand my children are never off the dam thing and that worries me.
    It’s one of the reasons I made the choice to stay away from facebook after all who wants their dad sticking his beak in on what happens in the course of your life.

    Because I help run our metal detecting forum I feel I was compelled like yourself John to keep up with the neighbours.
    Like yourself I feel a bit lost on facebook as a late starter and I still avoid my children’s facebook and their private life.

    I guess we need to keep the wheels turning with technology and move with them or get left behind.

    I find the problem with the metal detecting forums is you need a constant supply of new activities.
    People do have other hobbies and flip back and forward but the diehards remain.
    All forums need a good stable backbone of dedicated members who will be waiting for the old brigade to return.
    They are the same people who are knowledgeable and give their wisdom and time for free.
    I don’t think there is a quick fix for forum numbers you are either flavor of the month or not.
    I think we should forget the numbers and think of the quality of the people who give their time for free.



    • Good post Frank especially the last sentence. I just read the thread on a treasure hunting site where John posted a link to this blog. A moderator just stated the following-“You can see the stats of people on line. Many read and do not join but this site is always breaking new records for number of people on line. I read more than I post. I learn a lot! Every web site is driven by Google and your key words. They are what put you on top of searches.”

      A recent try by a member there to get people to log in and break an old record for what use to be considered “online” (members logged in) was a total fiasco as it was not even close to the record number. This term ” on line” by the moderator is guests that are visiting the site. I am only clarifying and I think the moderator explained it but there is a long understanding that “online” is actually used to denote members that are logged in. I think the term “guest” should be used as it more accurately describes what people are accustomed to in regards to the term.

      It certainly got my attention as it relates to your comment about people giving their time. I think there is less emphasis by those running the forums to get people involved than there is getting the right words to appear in a google search. I believe there are something like 265 sub-forums to the site in reference and I believe it is a more money driven site than it is a people involvement site. It will take people to provide comments for those key words to show up.

      I do think there is opportunity there for a person to be involved but a person should have the “right” view and be willing to adapt to changing rules even if those rules are not clear and not always written or enforced equally towards all members.

      I think the fact that numbers are mentioned and no mention of people that contribute to the forum speaks volumes. I probably have posted over 7500 posts on several different forums and I don’t believe authority ever thanked me for a post or indicated that they were appreciative of me being there. A site has the right to use people to get what they want and no one is forced to participate. I look forward to my Christmas card from google.

    • I think you’re right Frank … age has a lot to do with it. I am resistant to change.
      Thanks for your post.

  5. Frank’s post was good and if we were on Facebook i would give it a like.
    I do wish we had an Unlike button as well. I get to see some of my Grandsons post and We are not amused.
    Our prospecting club B.P.C has a FB page which i started. I had hoped to use it to give directions for field trips if tracks were washed out or outing locations had to change. I can only post locations once we are on site or the lurkers would get there before our members. We usually have between 50 to 75 financial club members but more than a 1000 show as watching the site. A lot of our older members aged 70 and up seem horrified that we would make anything public yet most clubs in Australia swap newsletters anyway. One of our members has recently died and i am helping his widow update the family iPad. I will get her connected with FB but i think she is in for some revelations.

  6. I see i got a little Off Topic.
    I am a forum Mod with over 13000 posts. I do get to do some gold prospecting but the iPad comes out around the campfire so i can see what’s happening. Core members leave, sometimes over very little and sometimes they return. It is usually new members who seem to stir things up and i wonder if they are used to a calmer site than the one i belong to.

  7. loved your comments Gary. I joined facebook when it started some years ago but only to stop the nagging from the Relliies in NZ and Oz, then they discovered Skype. I get constant reminders by email that there are comments on Facebook which is the reason I go back to it. truth be told I prefer the forums.
    I have used facebook to find a relative in the States so it was useful in that respect.
    thanks for another interesting post John.

    • I suspect I may end up that way.
      Mrs John and I find Skype useful for talking with the grandchildren … a good way to keep in touch. Ray (see above) and I have communicated on Skype when he was prospecting in the Australian Bush.

  8. I can’t remember how many years it took me to start using an ATM. I have just about started to trust those self service fuel pumps and as for supermarket self checkouts!

    Just last Saturday, I observed shoppers walking round my local Tesco with what looked like phazers set to kill. FaceBook………….perhaps some day; but not just yet!

    Now, Jurassic Park; I would probably fit in there rather well! 🙂

  9. I joined Facwbook during it’s infancy to use as a tool for locating “old friends” that for some reason or other I had lost touch with.
    Flicking through lists of similar named people I found “my friends” from school, old places of work and social areas such as pubs and clubs where I frequented in my youth.
    My “friends” list grew rapidly and So did my hunger for seeking out as many of these people that filled my life at some point or other, people who’s company I once enjoyed.
    I tried contacting a few of my closest friends from school with the intention of reliving the warm friendships we shared once a long time ago….. Instead what I got was people bragging about their holidays to the Domonican Republic or telling me how great their lives were now etc.
    I realised that Facebook is not a social site at all but, somewhere to brag or boast about how great life was for yourself or how great your kids are doing etc etc.
    What a waste of time.
    The Domonican Republic is a place people go who cannot afford a real exotic holiday..
    Your kids are doing as good or as bad as millions of others …
    And as for your life, well, if it were so great, why on Earth are you wasting it on Facebook ?
    My Facebook pages are closed and have been for over a year and guess what…..
    I’m as happy without it….. Makes you wonder what is lacking in those peoples lives who cannot live without it…….
    I can’t wait for the attacks to start……..

    • JohnW
      My reply is a little off track to Johns blog post about the Forums loosing out to FaceBook but at least the forums do have Moderators to control most of the mischievous comments and filthy language which is running amok on FB.
      Oh how true your words are JohnW, there is no one moderating any of the racial and filthy language on FB.
      I joined Face ache shortly after it was inaugurated because a Scottish born Englishman and his wife I had made friends with whilst sea fishing in the North Western Highlands of Scotland wanted me to join FB so as to keep in touch.
      I didn’t associate or “Like” with other FB users but did scout about to find out what it was all about and it wasn’t until the run in period for the voting for the Scottish referendum for independence was being held in Scotland on 18 September 2014 that I found out what a rat this so called friend actually was, he was there on FB with his filthy mouth calling the governing body of the UK English C????, English F??????, English B??????? & English T???? even though he was living and working in England, needless to say I found his true colours through FB and I responded through FB to him to sever the friendship.
      As for the FB users freely giving information out about where and when they will be away from home on holiday in some far off Caribbean Island they forget that every down and out and scum burglar under the sun also scout about on FB looking for the opportunity to relieve the holiday maker of their jewellery and valuables whilst the house is empty and they can forget about the house alarm being a deterrent because the police will not respond to an alarm sounding off.

      • I am going in with my eyes wide open, Randy.
        Time to give it a go … perhaps there’s another blog post due later … 🙂

        Thank’s to you all for the comments.

    • You make some valid points, John.

  10. There are groups for everything in Facebook. You can add them as favourites where everything is in one place and near at hand. I can easily click between groups for metal detecting rather than go off and find the bookmark, then open a new window, etc. It’s just so much easier and there’s no one telling you off for making your images too big or too small.

  11. I recently realised that I haven’t been on a forum this year, including the one on which I am a moderator. Why? Well, Facebook is easier. You can get to multiple sites (pages) easily, without remembering a long list of passwords. The format is fresher and more adaptable. It is also cheaper for those who own forums. I guess it is a natural technological progression.

  12. i would also add that the foul language and name calling is not always moderated on forums either. It depends on what one considers “moderated”

    Forums can be great for some if their interests are not in the more controversial topics. When a person gets into the areas of permission,legal issues and even detector choice the issues can become heated. The legal and permission topics could be beneficial to those that are not aware of what to expect while detecting. Unfortunately the topics often turn into moral issues and they are difficult to keep on track. That is something that takes a lot of moderation sometimes and I don’t think anyone wants to babysit those threads.

    A search of those type of threads will give a clearer picture of why they become locked. There are a lot of them that are locked and that means no one wants to moderate them.

  13. If I’m getting off topic here or if this comes across as a swipe to authority on a forum I’ll understand why it isn’t posted. To try to put it briefly, I think the forums have to be fun. When I participate in them I try to bring that across if I am allowed to and if people are interested. I’ve found that people were interested and I found that the moderators were the main problem from letting that happen and from keeping people from participating.

    • Thank you, Gary. Your main point that forums should be fun and not over-moderated is sound. The specific example you give has been edited out, because this isn’t the place for individual examples and the naming of forums. Hope you understand.

  14. ,
    The hobby its self does go through a seasonal phase ,and also the interest in the hobby generally has been great for a couple of three years , has it peaked has the enthusiasm wained ,I think it may well have ,could this account for the lack of interest in forums.

    • It seems to me that there are a lot of new people joining the forums. I don’t know how that compares to the distant past. I believe most people that join a forum participate very little if at all.

      There are lurkers that search the forums and try to use it to their advantage. A person finding a ring on the beach has to be more careful in posting their find as someone may try to claim it even though they are not the owner.

      A person has to be careful in posting their finds,especially if even a general location is mentioned as some will try to take advantage of that.

      There is also the archaeology factor where some finds may fall into what someone considers them to be of archaeological significance
      Some of the people that are new to the hobby don’t seem to be interested in sticking with their threads especially if they are not being told what they want to hear.

      I really don’t think the interest in the hobby has peaked as I see some newer detectors coming out at a lower price and targeting the beginner as they are easier to use.

      As discussed earlier the other forms of social media have played a big part as they afford a place to discuss the hobby with others that wasn’t present in the past.

      Most forums are set up to cater to a certain “type” of poster although others can fit in to a certain degree. Discussion of legal issues are limited as the forum does not want to be seen as promoting anything but the safe route. The new members are often treated softly by the forum as the forum is not as interested in “breaking them in” as a lot of long time posters would like to.

      You are talking about enthusiasm and interest. The things on a forum that generate those things are often in a sub-forum and not always directly related to metal detecting but are what people that are members seem to be interested in and get enthusiastic about.

  15. I must say that Facebook is great for contacts,work related or finding friends you might havent seenor heard from for decades. Also our Swedish detecting forum is on FB,and since I am a board member in this association I must comment on things,and watch out for trolls and other misbehaving creatures 🙂 But – it takes lot of my precious time that I could spend on more important chores. FB is just such a time sucking social media,and I have often deleted the application on my smart phone,but coming back again when you got messages on email. Really -I could live without it,and I think most people would actuallly be more happy without all this social medias that are so common. Just look at people..the face down generation.

  16. joined fb about 2 years ago but left it after about 2 weeks when I decided the antics of members generally did not suit my interests. I found that people there are inclined to spout off with information that they get in confidence. However, I now just recently rejoined with a mind to make some practical use of it, but to date I have done nothing nor joined with anyone on it. You would be correct in thinking that I know nothing about it really and if I don’t discover what to do with it soon then I will leave again. Oh! yes nearly forgot to mention that I am a long time keen Detectorist.

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