Since we're in the Stack Exchange Beta, it's always stressed that easy questions should be avoided, in order to attract experts. I'm not entirely sure whether the questions I have fall into that category, though.

These topics include:

  • spdf notation
  • Atomic Structure
  • VSPER Diagrams
  • VB Theory
  • Periodic Trends (EN, Pauling scales, Electron Affinity, Atomic Size)

Are these topics considered "too easy"? If not, what kind of chemistry topics are? Does the easy mark stop at high school chemistry, undergraduate chemistry, or graduate chemistry?


3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I would consider the level of a "good question" to be anything that can't be soundly answered with a link to a Wikipedia article or by cracking open a general chemistry textbook. Even a K-12 student could come up with a good question by asking something that is relevant but diverges strongly from the usual pedagogy of ChemEd.

Limiting questions by academic level doesn't seem tenable as I, for example, have graduate-level knowledge of biochemistry, but as far as organic and inorganic are concerned, I'm an undergrad (or probably worse).

Yep, other sites close obvious Googles. –  ManishEarth Apr 26 '12 at 17:57
This is an excellent answer. I'm going to have to steal... er um, I mean "reuse with attribution" this answer next time the issue comes up. –  Robert Cartaino May 1 '12 at 16:45

If its googleable, burn the question with fire.

If not, keep it.

I can think of some conceptual questions on all topics you mentioned (except the first, but spdf notation is hardly a topic.*)

We ought to allow lower level questions, as long as they are conceptual.

So we shouldn't filter by topoc, we should filter by question.

* Simple, principal, diffuse, fundamental. That's where it came from and it has no further meaning

What do you mean by conceptual? Is it unfavorable to ask questions that have specific, definitive answers? –  Zolani13 Apr 26 '12 at 19:33
I think the idea is to ask a question because the concepts surrounding it are unclear (as explaining them could help others), not because the answer to the question itself is. –  Nick T Apr 26 '12 at 20:02
@Nick exactly... –  ManishEarth Apr 27 '12 at 0:52
@zolani see above –  ManishEarth Apr 27 '12 at 0:52
Makes sense. Much Thanks! –  Zolani13 Apr 27 '12 at 2:38
The trouble with burning "googleable" questions is that it isn't clear cut where to stop. Even wikipedia-answerable isn't a good cut off. Answers elsewhere are often incomplete or lack rationale. It would be good if we judged whether this site can produce the best answers even when alternatives are available. So some simple questions, in principle googleable, should stay if they prompt better than googleable answers. –  matt_black Oct 22 '12 at 22:27

I would like to point out that there is only a small number of users for the site. Comments similar to RTFM (read the manual, or use google) are not constructive. And if we want to encourage students to use the site, we should encourage questions, even if they are simple and stupid (IMHO Everything you can formulate into a question is simple, formulating the question is hard).

A person can be expert on other areas, but completely uneducated on others. For example: I don't have a chemistry background so I tend to ask simple questions.

The pointing system takes automatically care of the too easy questions. Assuming that nobody wants to get negative points. I would recommend the policy of:

accept all, give positive feedback only to good questions.


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