Break only silence, take only photos and leave only footprints. The urbex community like to sum up the “unwritten rules” with some variation on this saying. In reality, there are a million and one rules, they change depending on who you ask and no matter what, someone will tell you you’re in the wrong!…
I will do my best to advise on how not to ruffle feathers in the community, but no guarantees. I am sure there are many urbexes who don’t share my personal views but that is fine!
Don’t Let It Get You Down
Let me start of by saying, there are lots of things you could that will contribute to places getting damaged, looted or closed up and people will not like you for it. That being said, don’t let people’s opinions stop you enjoying a hobby. You will find out, if you post anything up on social media, there is always someone who has something negative to say. I have been called out for posting too many pictures, not enough pictures, not sharing locations, sharing too much history, not sharing enough history… you name it. Accept that people have different opinions but don’t let them convince you their opinions are facts.
The Actual Rules (Not Just Opinions)
There are actual rules when exploring. Rules set out by the law which, if broken, can lead you in serious bother. The following actions are criminal offences and are not just frowned upon by the urbex community but are illegal (and rightly so)
Breaking and Entering – If you need to move something, break something, remove something then you are breaking and entering
Being equipped – if you are found with equipment that can be used to commit an offence (like breaking and entering or vandalising) then you can also be charged
Vandalising – you break it, you pay for it, so don’t do it.
Theft – try and take something, no matter what the value, If it isn’t yours then it’s theft.
Don’t Post Locations
The main thing that will turn people against you is sharing locations publicly or too willingly. Sharing locations with the masses is a fast track to have a place over run with people, trashed, looted, burned down or sealed. Depending on the location you may get away with naming it (if it is very well known or the name wouldn’t give away the location). Keep locations to your self or to those you trust and people will respect you more and trust you more, they may even be more willing to share in the future. Another point to mention is that you may give away a location in your pictures (for example sharing the outside of a building which has the name or is easily recognised). This holds the same weight as outright posting the location. If you make it too easy to find somewhere good then people will give you a hard time.
Posting History… Sometimes
Most people like to see a bit of history with a post, it gives context to your images and helps answer people’s questions, what did it used to be, why did it close etc. For some vulnerable locations which you don’t want to get out, you may not want to post any history as it is easy to use it to search for the location.
Another questionable rule is stealing people’s history. I am in two minds with this, on one hand all history is stolen, just reorganised and rewritten sometimes. Why try and recreate the wheel when it’s already there. On the other hand, someone has spent a long time researching a place and deserves credit. I will let you make your own mind up (but if people want to use my history then I honestly don’t mind). I try and rewrite history wherever possible but is there really a big difference copying someone’s text “the building was built in 1905” and typing out “in 1905, this building was built” … Yoda thinks not.
People Don’t Like Your Pictures/ Posts
This isn’t uncommon, people have different tastes and like certain styles. As long as you enjoyed taking them, they are in focus and actually photos of something then don’t listen to people being negative for the sake of it. Taking pictures of your explores is a personal thing, it captures your memories of a place in a way you want to remember them. If people have been there before, don’t care about it or whatever else then they don’t have to look at them. As mentioned above, understand that comments are just their opinion and are not facts.
Hopefully this has been somewhat fruitful. Will it stop people on facebook calling you names… no. will it reduce the amount of angry mobs that try to stop you exploring… hopefully.