I don't know if it's some visionary dude coming up with a revolutionary idea, some lunatic who wants to prove sciencez is wrong and water can be a fuel, a curious "chemistry layman"1 who aims to understand how glues work, or someone in dire need of a miracle worker substance. They come up with some weird questions, which makes me think we need to revisit this old discussion with a more rigorous or straightforward policy.
There are good instances of these questions; such as this one2. Most questions of this sort lack some crucial component needed in answering, however. I don't need and don't mean to provide examples, and the regulars are all too familiar with them. They either:
- Not narrow down the scope adequately, so a lot of different substances qualify for an answer.
- Use qualitative data where they need some numbers, so the compound ends up not being what they want.
- Can't judge the merit of an answer rightfully, which isn't usually a problem but seldom does lead to erroneous accepts.
- Don't provide sometimes necessary background, so sometimes the question ends up being a chameleon question.
Needless to say, most of these askers lack the knowledge of the safety measures working with these interesting, yet at times dangerous, substances. Heck, the ones you need to be worried about usually don't even know they're playing with fire.
We should come up with
- a policy to point users to, preferably in the answers to this post, or the one I linked up there. The policy should cover both these compound requests and reaction requests. (Stuff like "I want a reaction that's neither good or bad, and it's only half-good, to entertain good people with. It doesn't need to be that good, just 50 percent good. KTHXBYE")
- preferably an auto-comment to add to the questions of this kind, which will be added to either of these lists.
1: One chemistry layman that has used Google has 5,742 rep now.
2: Really awesome narrowing of scope, BTW