The asker is the original poser of the question. The compound is the desired result of the synthesis on which the question hangs. The synthesis is the synthesis of the compound.


  1. There must be at least one synthesis route proposed by the asker.
  2. There must be at least one constraint on starting materials.
  3. The compound must have some significance in biology, industry, other areas of research or homework (in the case of it being part of homework the asker must add the appropriate tag 'homework'). [That is, no random compounds conceived, along with their corresponding questions, for no reason aside from passing time]
  4. The synthesis of the compound in question cannot be easily found by simply typing the compound name and synthesis into the Google search engine.
  5. The compound's synthesis must be simple unless constraint 6 is satisfied.

    Simple is defined in this setting as:

    • In the simplest, incontrovertible theory available it cannot require more than 15 chemical steps (i.e. steps in of which a chemical reaction occurred) for its synthesis from the starter compound(s).
  6. The asker must have attempted the synthesis and detailed this attempt in the question or have an authentic document that records an attempted synthesis of the compound unless constraint 5 is satisfied.

  • $\begingroup$ Yep, this seems pretty good. Regarding point 3, we don't mind if it comes out of the context of homework, as long as the asker has shown us an attempt (and we may only provide hints), by the normal HW policy. $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2013 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ I'll edit it accordingly, thanks, Manishearth. (Can I just call ya manis, it'll save a lot of typing rofl) $\endgroup$
    – Josh Pinto
    Jan 28, 2013 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ It's Manish, but yeah :) $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2013 at 14:18

1 Answer 1


No. I disagree with all of the constraints. In detail:

  • constraint 5. What is simple? The elegant and non-simple ways are the ones with less step count. Simple transformations could be much longer while an elegant route is only two step. Does simple mean non-convergent per se? Are we counting the longest linear sequence or something else? This constraint is pointless and unenforcible.

  • constraint 4. I would be rather surprised if Google referenced all total syntheses reported in literature. At least attempt to use Google Scholar but even that gives me pretty bad results unless I fine-tune the search terms a lot. This constraint is of little use (but possibly mildly useful).

  • constraint 3. What is ‘significance’? The most arbitrary choice ever. A significance can be invented for practically anything especially with the long list of possible areas. This constraint is arbitrary.

  • constraint 2. Why? Starting materials must be commercially available or their syntheses published — is that really a constraint? Every synthesis is like that. This constraint is useless.

  • constraint 6 and constraint 1. They basically ask the same thing. And in neither case do they do any good. If the author has attempted the synthesis in practice, they are a natural product chemist and their boss will slap them in the face for even asking here (secrecy!). If they have attempted the synthesis in theory, it is an exercise can sufficiently covered by the existing policies (homework etc.). And what is the document supposed to be? A lab journal entry? An exercise sheet? Would they really upload it? These constraints are useless.

Synthesis questions should be allowed or disallowed just like any other question. That is, they should clearly identify a single issue, be clear and not to broad and abide by the homework policy and any other policies in place. There is no need to consider them separately.

This includes questions, even though there are separate posts for these.

  • $\begingroup$ "A significance can be invented for practically anything" Especially when grants are needed? $\endgroup$ Nov 13, 2017 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol Especially then ;D $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Nov 14, 2017 at 4:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There really is no need to be harsh like this. The post is old, from a stage where the community was still trying to identify a scope. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2017 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン True, but it did not have one, so I thought I would add my ¥2. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:22

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