IMCA Insights – February 2006
Welcome to the February issue of IMCA Insights, and Part 2 of “Some Insights into the IMCA”. In Part 1 we introduced you into the IMCA, and provided you with a brief history of the International Meteorite Collectors Association – from its very beginning to our legal incorporation, and our first public elections in October 2005. In this issue we would like to tell you a bit more about our status and statutes, our objectives and our goals for the future.
Authenticity: a Matter of Ethics
So, what do we actually stand for? As in the early days of our association, our major concern is authenticity. In the Preamble of our Code of Ethics it reads:
"The primary purpose and aim of the International Meteorite Collectors Association is to endeavour to ensure the authenticity of meteoritic material provided by its members. If members wish to sell or trade meteoritic specimens, then those items must be 'actually and exactly what is claimed.' (Merriam-Webster-Dictionary) Our members agree to adhere to the highest standards of meteorite identification and proper labelling practices. The membership maintains this high standard by monitoring each other's activities for accuracy. It is every IMCA member's responsibility and pleasure to offer help and assistance to fellow members in order to ensure specimens are genuine. IMCA is all about honest business practices."
As the last sentence clearly points out, our commitment to authenticity is more than just lip-service, it is a matter of ethics that involves more than just selling and trading genuine rocks from space. To quote paragraph 2 of our Code of Ethics:
"As a Member, I will make every endeavour to ensure that I conduct my business affairs in a professional manner and avoid behaviour that could bring myself, the International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA Inc.) or its membership into disrepute. I shall conduct myself and my business affairs on sound, ethical principles, making every endeavour to conduct all sales, trades and other related transactions fairly and honestly."
We already had to expel members for not complying with these very basic ethical principles – we just can not tolerate severe and/or repeated violations of these simple rules dictated by common sense. Something that is also going to show that the IMCA is no “toothless tiger”, and that we are taking our affairs very seriously.
Members, and non-members benefit from our customer friendly policies which also include a return policy. Paragraph 6 of our Code of Ethics reads:
“I agree that if my customer expresses dissatisfaction with a transaction, it is good business to give the customer an exchange or refund. Any member accused of fraudulent practices or ignoring legitimate customer complaints will subject their membership to a review.”
Authenticity: a Matter of Education and Information
Members and non-members also benefit greatly from our expertise. Meteorite identification assistance is offered to members, new Ebay sellers, and to persons writing the Association. Meteorite education is promoted via our website, and volunteer speakers.
Please visit our Collecting Pages where you will find a wealth of information on meteorites and meteor-wrongs. There are also field reports, meteorite stories, articles about meteorites in history, meteorite books, and links to meteorite related websites, as well as a chronological listing of meteorites that have struck humans, animals and man-made objects (the so-called “HAMs”), compiled by Walter Branch, Ph.D. Besides that we have a special section dealing with Meteorite Scams that are currently going on, warning our members, and non-members not to fall pray to these more recent scams.
Innocent listings of meteor-wrongs, and deliberate scams are pretty common on Ebay, and the internet, and this mostly because of a lack of knowledge, and misinformation. To stop this, the IMCA encourages its members to be at the forefront of an effort to educate the public.
This can be done in many different ways, by simply answering questions, or making sure that a new meteorite is properly analyzed and classified, or by lecturing and teaching. Public education is one of our top priorities, and the best way to protect people against meteorite scams, and to avoid an increasing number of meteor-wrong listings on Ebay.
Goals and Objectives
One of the foremost goals of the IMCA at this point is to become more public, more visible. This is the very reason why we started this newsletter in cooperation with Meteorite-Times, and this is also the reason why we will focus on the re-design of our website in 2006. We already formed a website committee, and with the help of our member Geoff Notkin we hope to be able to present you with a brand-new IMCA web portal soon. It is intended to be more user friendly, and we also plan to update our site with lots of useful, and educational content.
Besides that, there are several long-time goals. In a message to the membership, IMCA President Anne Black wrote on Monday, Nov. 14 2005:
“On the outside, I hope that the IMCA will not be limited to watching an endless parade of meteor-wrongs on Ebay, and try to discipline careless members. I see much better things. The Meteorite world has always been seen as being made of three segments, the scientists, the collectors, and the dealers. The IMCA with members from all three segments could and should be a bridge between them, a common meeting place, and a go-between or facilitator. We could and should help collectors be protected from wrongs (and we already do that), we could and should help dealers and hunters get their discoveries authenticated, we could and should help students of meteoritics both financially and meeting other scientists.”
We are also thinking about a mentoring program, with seasoned collectors and dealers helping newbies, and answering their questions, as well as about a picture database that will help new collectors to identify – let’s say – a typical Allende, or a typical Gao, and to tell the real thing from questionable Ebay offers, etc. Way to go!
If you happen to be at Tucson show, you are cordially invited to meet our President, Anne Black, at the Inn Suites, room 230. Anne will be glad to tell you more about the IMCA, and to answer your questions. Fellow Board Members Adam Hupe and Don Edwards will also be attending the show, and are available for questions and additional information. Thanks for your attention, and hope to see you again, next month.