Is this forum the right place to ask basic physical chemistry questions?

I have asked three questions about physical chemistry, two of which got answered and only one is answered satisfactorily. (I have nothing against airpuff's answer. He might be correct but I need a bit more clarification) The other one is still not answered.

The question that got satisfactorily answered also took a long time to get answered.

Since I also got a warning not to whine about not getting question answered because no one here is entitled to do so, I don't want to bump my question unnecessarily to the front page.

So without whining much, I just want to ask, why don't my questions get answered? Am I wasting other people's time by asking such basic questions? What is the minimum education level one should have before asking any question? Where should I ask these questions as I think my teachers are not very competent in physical chemistry?

• Eh, since I was the person who first told you not to expect questions being answered (back in Sept '16), I feel a need to drop this comment. Truth is I can't remember exactly what made me write that way. So, I do personally apologise for the tone. The point however stands. You're welcome to ask here, and there is nothing wrong with asking basic questions (your questions so far are quite fine). However I'm afraid I really cannot offer any guarantee as to whether things will be answered or not.
– orthocresol Mod
Jan 10, 2017 at 5:08
• 'Amirite' questions are typically discouraged here.
– Melanie Shebel Mod
Jan 12, 2017 at 2:05
• If you meant "airhuff", I happen to know he, like others, gets busy and sometimes takes a few days to follow up. Sometimes longer, which is not good on his part, but he'll do his best when he chooses to answer. Jan 15, 2017 at 8:33

Basic questions are completely allowed here (so long as they're in keeping with the homework policy), and indeed there are many really great examples of basic questions that have provided great discussion and answers.

I think what you need to keep in mind is that writing answers is slow, especially when they're MathJax heavy, and as such people cherry pick questions that interest them. Whilst basic questions can be interesting, there is little satisfaction in copying a derivation directly from a textbook.

Looking at your questions, there's an element of "am I right", which, whilst not strictly off topic, isn't really encouraged. You might find more responses if you discuss why you think the book may be wrong, again, there's little satisfaction in someone repeating your calculations to check you're correct.

Anyway, I hope you do receive some good answers, and kudos to you for raising it sensibly like this on meta!

• So what should I do when I don't get answers ?Should I just wait ?
– user31607
Jan 9, 2017 at 21:48
• You could try and edit the posts with more details/thoughts, or applying a bounty may help encourage people to take the time! Jan 9, 2017 at 21:49
• I don't have rep to give bounty, I need atleast 20 more rep for it. But I can't do much. I will wait. Thanks.
– user31607
Jan 9, 2017 at 21:51

In principle, there is nothing wrong with basic questions. They should not be classifiable as homework as per the current homework policy, and there have been some reservations against amirite (am I right?) questions because they feel so … Well, just check out the discussion.

That having said, I have also noticed that this site has a relatively poor (by Stack Exchange standards) answering quota. Two other sites I regularly frequent — German.SE and Travel.SE — both have a $100~\%$ answer rate (ranking 5th and 11th, respectively, across the entire network). Chemistry.SE is sitting at an $81~\%$ answer rate — 116th of 162 sites. However, all of these sites still beat the ‘big three’ with $79~\%$ (SF), $72~\%$ (SO) and $68~\%$ (SU). So depending on which site you’re used to, Chemistry.SE either has a lot of answered questions or a rather low answering rate.

So why do people not answer? There are plenty of reasons:

• Some might feel just by looking at the title that the question looks ‘too simple’ and that answering will give them personally too little merit. I know I am guilty of leaving quite a few on-topic questions that I could have answered but felt it wasn’t worth it.

• Some questions just get low views in general, thus answers to those questions also only get few votes. For those who were captured by SE’s gamification model — like me — the ‘more interesting’ questions may prove more rewarding.

• Some users who wouldn’t be covered with the points above may just have missed the question. We have about 27 new questions per day and numerous edits (and answers) to old ones. Not everybody does what I do and at least skims over all the titles of newly active questions since their last visit. Thus, a question could have simply stayed below their radar.

You probably won’t get the types covered in bullet points 1 and 2 to answer your question unless you offer a bounty — the canonical way to draw attention to your question. However, not everybody has unlocked the bounty offering priviledge and some may desire to keep their reputation. Not everybody is like me, frequently bountying questions with medium to high amounts because they have too much rep.

There’s another strategy, however. I think, very many users here will use the active tab when browsing questions. This not only has the benefit of the community user bumping unanswered questions to the top every now and again, but also means that any edit you perform will equally bump your question. If you use this sparingly, it can give you the visibility you desire. Try using different days of the week and different times of day for bountying — remember that our users come from all over the globe. When editing in this manner, do attempt to make it better every time as well as possible.

You may find that one of the power users has already edited the odd question of your’s to include MathJax, correct the tags, improve the title, wording or grammar. If that happens, at least try to leave their edits untouched and turn to parts of the question they missed — or add a new sentence or something. Otherwise, it may lead to frustration.

I mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again. Using edits to bump one’s question should be used sparingly.

• Nice take! I'm not sure the answer rate is a fair comparison though – certain things just take a lot more explanation than others. Id suspect (though don't know how to check) that the science based SE sites are all significantly lower than language/lifestyle sites where answers are often a lot shorter/subjective. Jan 9, 2017 at 23:57
• @NotCorey I’m not sure if that’s a pattern. Discounting Christianity (debatable; $98~\%$), the top science site, astronomy, has $94~\%$. Space exploration ($94~\%$) is also somewhat scientific. History requires a lot of prior research in my experience and quickly drops Mjölnir on bad questions; yet $93~\%$. Biblical Hermeneutics — or the more scientific Christianity has $93~\%$. On the other hand, Biology only has a mere $83~\%$ and Physics is even ranked below Chemistry’s $81~\%$ with the same score. Among the real low one’s there’s health ($61~\%$ — that’s a science, isn’t it?).
– Jan
Jan 10, 2017 at 0:13
• There does seem to be an inherent language advantage, though; the lowest-ranking language is Latin at $93~\%$. And then there’s Movies and TV also at $93~\%$ while Anime and Manga are sitting at $87~\%$ — maybe there really isn’t any trend.
– Jan
Jan 10, 2017 at 0:16
• "Why do people not answer?" 1), 2), 3) - the points you listed above. 4) They don't have time. 5) They don't know the answer.
– orthocresol Mod
Jan 10, 2017 at 5:46
• @Jan Thanks for the post. I think I know why my question did not answered. My questions are not well defined in chemistry, I find different people referring to different values of b . Also I don't think there is much interest of people in answering questions about gas laws and EOS.
– user31607
Jan 10, 2017 at 9:36