The US 'Task Force for Metal Detecting Rights' exists to promote and defend people's "right to enjoy the recreational hobby of metal detecting on public use lands and waterways". They place great store on "educating the public on responsible practices within our hobby, including the Detectorists Code of Ethics". In order to show that US detectorists too can be responsible, they have a 'Get Task Force Certified!' section.
Why would being Task Force certified matter? Being “certified” by the Task Force means you will have documentation showing that you have taken the time to educate yourself in responsible metal detecting practices and that we, the metal detecting community, are united under a set of principles and guidelines.So what is it, a course involving instruction on best practice (applicable in the varying geographical and legal situations applicable across the North American landmass), reading material on legislation and ethics, conservation etc, a written exam, requirements to demonstrate compliance? How much does it cost? Answers to all those questions and more can be seen here.
a series of online training materials to provide instruction in responsible metal detecting practices including:
Please take a few moments to complete our training program. Upon completion, you will be able to print your own Task Force Certified ID card to carry with you into the field and a full-size Task Force Certification to display publicly showing your support of responsible metal detecting practices.
- Honoring local laws and property rights
- Reporting artifacts of historical significance to the appropriate authorities
- Ensuring a respectful interaction with the environment.
This "training programme" however, turns out to be nothing more arduous or intellectually taxing than reviewing a Code of Ethics which makes no mention of the conservation of the archaeological record, then watching a folksy 3-minute You Tube video on digging neat holes and filling them in and another (also three minutes long) online chat: 'Minelab - Montpelier archaeologists partner with metal detctorists in artifact recovery and research' on the Montpellier archaeological project with the use of 'metal detecting technicians' (take away message: "really as far as the grid hunting and things like that, that's just what everybody should be doing no matter what").
Apparently reviewing the Code, spending six minutes watching the two videos is enough for 2014 trainees to be considered as having received "instruction in responsible metal detecting practices" and this is regarded as having covered local laws and property rights issues, the procedures and methods to be followed for reporting artefacts of historical significance to the appropriate authorities (including where to find them) and instruction on "ensuring a respectful interaction with the environment" (like what to do with unwanted finds). Sure enough when you reach the end of the second off-topic video, you get a message:
Then you have to acknowledge that you've looked at the three items laughingly called 'training materials', by clicking a box:
[ ] YES, I pledge that I will abide by the Detectorists' Code of Ethics, and will practice responsible techniques in procedures at all times when engaged in the hobby of metal detecting [Please note, certification will add you to the Task Force Mailing List if you are not already a member].
and that's it, you get to print out your own "Task Force Certified ID card to carry with you into the field and a full-size Task Force Certification to display publicly showing your support of responsible metal detecting practices". Both of which, when you see the basis on which they are issued have absolutely zero meaning except the carrier belongs to a group which seems to be characterised by total superficiality and cynicism. Is this really the best US artefact hunters can do when left to their own devices? Pathetic.