Recently, I had a question regarding the systematic name of $\ce{FeI2*2FeI3}{^{[\text{*}]}}$. Because the inquiry would be simple and short, and due to the possibility of sawed–off replies, I chose to seek answers in chat instead of the main site.

This had numerous advantages.

  • direct back and forth between asker and answerer
  • prompt replies
  • less trouble with formatting

English language and usage community blog states on a similar note that

Many times people wander in with simple questions, questions that might not be suitable for the main site, and ask them in the chat room. This is fine, encouraged even.

Nevertheless, I do wonder that this does a disservice to future visitors. Not only will they not be able to find the information they are looking for, but they will be forced to ask the question once more. And this time even on the main site, be they lacking the necessary reputation.

What is the general guideline for asking short and simple questions?

By short and simple it is assumed that

  • the question is not homework;
  • the answer is not easily found using search engines.

$^{[*]}$ For those interested, it is iron(II) iodide—iron(III) iodide (1/2). See IUPAC Red Book 2005 IR-5.6 (page 81). More briefly, the same information is contained in iron(II,III) iodide (1/2). If the exact composition is not required, the name may be shortened to simply iron(II,III) iodide.

  • $\begingroup$ This is probably not just a question for Chem.SE. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 11:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's okay @Linear. This is perfectly fit for meta.chem. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 11:47

1 Answer 1


The good thing about asking in chat is that there is no closing questions in chat. So if you can chat (i.e. have gained 20 reputation on at least one site in the network), and if you are not sure whether a question is suited for the main site, you can always ask it there with no negative side-effects.

Other users in chat will often have a pretty good idea of which questions they would vote to close on the main site and which ones they would upvote and/or leave open. It has happened to me that I asked a question in chat that I was sure it would be insta-closehammered quickly put on hold if I asked it on the corresponding main site. I was told, however, that the question would probably not have been closed.

Here on the Periodic Table, we have had the odd question asked in chat with the subsequent recommendation ‘I think that would be a good question for the main site.’ As far as I know, the result has been favourable.

Sometimes, however, a question seems short, simple and hard to find via search engines and is not homework. However, it is considered something that students learn within their first two terms. That would lead a lot of the more experienced users thinking ‘homework’ and casting close votes. This is why getting feedback from chat is often a good idea.

I conclude that:

  • Asking in chat (if you can) is always a good idea.
  • If your fellow chatters think that the question is a good one for the main site, they should suggest asking there.
  • If you get the recommendation, feel even freer to do so!

On the topic of iron(II,III) iodide: I’m not even sure if that exists, since it all boils down to a few Russian sources. That could be an interesting side effect of said question. A better one might ask for iron(II,III) oxide or some other spinell-structure ;)

  • $\begingroup$ Cool answer Jan. I wouldn't have typed this much. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ @TIPS Write up your short answer for sportsmen ;) $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 11:47

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