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When watching TV, I admit I do that quite a lot, it is almost impossible not to get exposed to some kind of fictional depiction of chemistry or sciences in chemistry. Playing computer games is probably another factor. As a consequence, there will always be some questions spawned about the possibility of this and that. I personally think that is a good thing, as it allows chemistry to infiltrate popular culture and raises awareness and maybe eventually lead to a place where people don't raise their eyebrows in disbelieve when I tell them I am a chemist.

I think one of the main contributors is the TV series Breaking Bad, which coincidentally has its own tag on our site. There was even a meta discussion on this: Can I ask Breaking Bad questions?

In the last couple of days similar questions arose, which were not quite as well-received. Maybe also due to the fact, that they were a little misleading, but that shall not be the topic here. (Is so called "Polymerized LiNb (Lithium Niobocene)" a possible compound?, What are the effects of Lithium Dioxide on the body?)

I think those questions are well within our scope and when asked properly, they can contribute quite a lot to general knowledge and in the worst case scenario we can at least debunk some TV myths. I'd like to start a discussion here about if we would want to have a new tag for that. It seems rather unfair that one TV show gets one, while others don't. Since this is already a meta tag that hardly contributes to the classification of questions, I don't want to have tags for different shows. I'd rather have a more general approach (suggestions welcome) or the removal of .

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  • $\begingroup$ I thought about that - maybe sth like "reality check"? $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Aug 27 '15 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ How about 'pop-culture' or 'science-fiction'? $\endgroup$ – jerepierre Aug 27 '15 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Jere I have no idea about pop-culture but science-fiction could cause some mistags, as in, some really off-topic questions would hit us. Hmm, it seems like people really want this tag. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Aug 27 '15 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M Do people really look at the tags and then decide to write a question? I'm sure the Breaking Bad questions were asked first, and then got tagged. $\endgroup$ – jerepierre Aug 27 '15 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Jere no, I meant when a visitor sees Oh, this site has a "sci-fi" tag! Let's ask who came first, star wars or TV. And yes, there are people like that on the internet. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Aug 27 '15 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M How about 'fictional-chemistry' or 'chemistry-in-fiction' or 'chem-in-pop-culture'? $\endgroup$ – jerepierre Aug 27 '15 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Jere of course they could work. I would stress myself about the tag name though. :) (Note that the tag can't be more than 21 chars) $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Aug 27 '15 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ I'd never forgive myself if I didn't use this an another opportunity to put forth my "What If?" tag idea...In any event, whatever the tag gets called, I think it's a great idea to nix the "Breaking Bad" tag and create a more catch-all one. $\endgroup$ – Todd Minehardt Aug 27 '15 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Mart the mod we need your superior tagging skills to quickly give us a tag name. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Aug 27 '15 at 22:10
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    $\begingroup$ @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M If I had a good idea, I would have included it in the question, but I couldn't think of any good. I think fictional(ized)-chemistry or chemistry-in-fiction will work just fine. I like the latter more, since it doesn't sound like a branch of chemistry in the analogous line physical-chem, organic-chem... $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Aug 28 '15 at 5:22
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    $\begingroup$ @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M I remember saying leave it dangling for about a week... you obviously were really bored... $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Aug 30 '15 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Mart yeah well, I didn't think it was gonna get anymore comments. It's 2 days already, and there's not much point in leaving this hang. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Aug 30 '15 at 10:56
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Let's burn .

Some things are okay-ish to do when we're a small community, not so okay-ish when our community grows bigger. Now that we're in the bigger phase, we should be consistent with a lot of what we do.

IMO burninating is a must. Let me (AKA the rest of the community) know whether you'd like an alternative tag instead in the comments.

Ideally, this alternative tag would be applied to "popular science" questions. It could be something like or or whatever. I'm not good at choosing names.

The downside of adding this new tag would be that it's really, really meta. The upside would be that it does a decent job in categorizing the related questions.


That being said, I believe the questions weren't received poorly. One is standing at +2/-2 and the other at +3/0. They were just meh.

I believe in these types of questions, primary research has a strong correlation with question quality and it reception. Also, maybe the "scary" question had some effect on these "curious calls"; i.e. people getting more cautious about these.


Final decision: It seems that the community favors a tag name that has the work "fiction" in it. As Martin said, or can be a bit misleading or inappropriate, since they rhyme with or and there isn't really a branch of chemistry that deals with fiction. Let's make the tag and name it .

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think 'popular-science' is quite right... 'is-it-true' is closer to the mark, I think. $\endgroup$ – jerepierre Aug 27 '15 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ 'bad chemistry' perhaps (keeping the lineage, but emphasizing the, well, fiction)? $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Aug 27 '15 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ Hehehe I find it amusing how we're looking for a tag name. "Bad-chemistry" is a weird name though, if not bad. Tags should have wikis to explain what they're about, but without the wiki they have to at least show some relevance. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Aug 27 '15 at 22:10
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    $\begingroup$ My vote is for fictionalized-chem, or just fictionalized $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Aug 28 '15 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ I'd suggest "fictional chemistry" but "fictionalized" works too. $\endgroup$ – Geoff Hutchison Aug 28 '15 at 2:31

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