I anticipate several classes of nomenclature questions may be posed, some of which may not be suitable for the site. I have listed them with my thoughts interposed.

Simple 'name this molecule' type questions

I do not think these questions should be allowed on the basis that they, in effect, fall prey of the 'too localised' rule popular elsewhere on SE. Without a name to even describe the species, such questions may also have extremely vague or even identical titles that are not amenable to identification from the main listing and are impossible to search for.

'Draw this molecule' type questions

Similar to the previous category, these questions benefit from having a searchable name but may evince a lack of research effort depending on the species, and may also fall into the 'too localised' bucket. Questions on the correct structure of a species, when searches return conflicting results (paclitaxel is a good example) may be permissible.

What are the nomenclature rules for [class of molecule]?

These should be permissible, but may evince a lack of research effort in some instances.

What is the correct usage of [nomenclature notation]?

Distinct from the above, this class of questions is more general and would cover questions like 'how do I use κ notation?', which are less likely to be too localised.

  • $\begingroup$ It shouldn't be too hard to point people to sections of the Blue Book or the Red Book, if need be. $\endgroup$
    – user95
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see why people are against having one really good answer for these too localized of questions as an educational tutorial for others. How does a chemist attack a nomenclature problem in general for an unknown system? Then you'd only have to do it once well and then just direct the rest of these queries to the one good answer. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 0:53

2 Answers 2


Part (1) and (2) fall under "homework" questions, and should be closed as localised/off-topic.. Once we have a homework policy in place, that is.

Part (3),(4) is fine--nomenclature is sort of a meta-chemistry topic, but is pretty relevant and has nuances/concepts. But, as you said, make sure that the question isn't a "lack of research" one.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't think homework questions will be categorically off-topic, but as you mention it's the issue of them being too localized (as only one person may ever care). $\endgroup$
    – Nick T
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 17:03

I'd say (1) and (2) should be generally closed as too easy (We could make a template linking to software that will name them or draw them) but I'd allow special cases; There are lots of old bits of nomenclature that are just plain weird. There are lots of obscure compound classes, old, non-IPUAC names for compounds and similar things which are hard to find via google.

For example: How do I name the hexaflorobromine (VII) cation ($\ce{BrF_{6}^{+}}$): I did a presentation on it and a few similar species, and named it as Bromine Hexaflouride; However this is wrong since it is an ion. The prof of the class corrected me, considered how to name it, picked up an IUPAC handbook, then discovered it didn't have any applicable examples. I'd consider this to be a reasonable difficulty of question. Now, asking how to name this specific compound would be too localized I think: However, I could write a question (And can so we have a demonstration question) asking how one would name oxidation state 7, +1 halogens such as the hexaflorobromine (VII) cation and I think that would be acceptable.

  • $\begingroup$ "Special cases" are a given when formulating any policy. This one is sufficiently "special", being an obscure rule. Your example is also OK, IMO--not easily found by Google; though at first glance it looks like a RTFM question. $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2012 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ The manual we consulted didn't have any relevant examples for cations, only anions, which is why we gave up on naming it. $\endgroup$
    – Canageek
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 1:08
  • $\begingroup$ Ick. Multiple times I feel like giving up on proper nomenclature and calling every hard-to-name compound "thingy" ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2012 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ We went with "the hexaflorobromine (VII) cation", a bit better then thingy. $\endgroup$
    – Canageek
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 20:11

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