Status: Pushed to faq

I still need to pick examples of good posts (I may wait a bit for a bigger pool to choose from)

Drawing from this blog post

We ought to decide on a well-defined "what kind of questions do I ask here" faq section, similar to the physics one (similar in intent not content obviously)

We currently have the not-too-useful

Chemistry- Stack Exchange is for scientists, academics, researchers, and students

Thoughts on what it should contain?

Just a note: We mods can edit only the first section of the faq. Graduated sites can get a second section to edit (Physics has this extra section, for example). This seems to be discouraged, though (and a moot point during beta). We can instead use this workaround suggested by Shog9: use a linked header as ProgSE has done in their faq.


2 Answers 2


Alright, this section is pretty important (partially copied from this section on Physics). We already have some people who've been confused by mhchem, so I think we need this.

I plan on adding it to the editable section of the faq using a section header. (Similar to what ProgSE has done in the apparently second section of their faq)

What notation and symbols are commonly used here?

Chemistry relies heavily on math. Many posts include mathematical notation, written using LaTeX commands and delimited by dollar signs. If you see dollar signs with what appears to be gibberish between them, it just means that MathJax, the math rendering we use, isn't working properly for you.

Some basics for people new to LaTeX. Inline formulas are surrounded by single dollar signs (f(x) = ax^2 + bx + c renders as $f(x) = ax^2 + bx + c$), and block formulas by double dollar signs so that x = \frac{-b \pm \sqrt{b^2 - 4ac} }{2a} renders as

$$x = \frac{-b \pm \sqrt{b^2 - 4ac} }{2a}$$

For chemical equations, one can use the \ce{...} function from the mhchem package. This formats chemical formulae and reactions pretty well:

 $\ce{HCl}$ dissociates in water as follows:
 $$\ce{H2O +HCl<=>H3O+ +Cl-}$$


$\ce{HCl}$ dissociates in water as follows: $$\ce{H2O +HCl<=>H3O+ +Cl-}$$

More details on math formatting.


Alright, let's start on this. The blockquotes are notes to myself and whoever else cares :)

I can put this (even if incomplete) on the faq once I get some feedback. Our current faq entry is pretty useless :\

Chemistry - Stack Exchange is for scientists, academics, teachers and students of chemistry.

Question may be of any level, but should be of the following types:

  • Questions asking for explanation of a chemistry concept
  • Questions relating to observed chemical phenomena
  • Questions about experimental techniques and technology
  • Questions about nomenclature, standards, et cetera pertaining to chemistry.

Anything else? Check , if anything seems significant enough to be listed, please do so

Also, fetch examples (of good questions for each type).

Some kinds of questions aren't allowed here:

  • Do-my-homework questions: Homework questions are OK, but they must follow these guidelines. Please don't ask "do my homework for me" type questions-- we only clear conceptual doubts in homework questions and will not do your work for you.

    Copied from Physics.SE's faq, pretty applicable here as well

  • Pitches for your own personal theories or work: We deal with mainstream chemistry here. Anything that couldn't be published in a reputable journal is probably not appropriate at this site.

  • Computational questions: If your question is purely about numerical methods you are using in a simulation/etc, it is probably more appropriate at Computational Science.


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