Since we're in the Stack Exchange Beta, it's always stressed that easy questions should be avoided, in order to attract experts. I'm not entirely sure whether the questions I have fall into that category, though.

These topics include:

  • spdf notation
  • Atomic Structure
  • VSPER Diagrams
  • VB Theory
  • Periodic Trends (EN, Pauling scales, Electron Affinity, Atomic Size)

Are these topics considered "too easy"? If not, what kind of chemistry topics are? Does the easy mark stop at high school chemistry, undergraduate chemistry, or graduate chemistry?


3 Answers 3


I would consider the level of a "good question" to be anything that can't be soundly answered with a link to a Wikipedia article or by cracking open a general chemistry textbook. Even a K-12 student could come up with a good question by asking something that is relevant but diverges strongly from the usual pedagogy of ChemEd.

Limiting questions by academic level doesn't seem tenable as I, for example, have graduate-level knowledge of biochemistry, but as far as organic and inorganic are concerned, I'm an undergrad (or probably worse).

  • $\begingroup$ Yep, other sites close obvious Googles. $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2012 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ This is an excellent answer. I'm going to have to steal... er um, I mean "reuse with attribution" this answer next time the issue comes up. $\endgroup$ May 1, 2012 at 16:45

If its googleable, burn the question with fire.

If not, keep it.

I can think of some conceptual questions on all topics you mentioned (except the first, but spdf notation is hardly a topic.*)

We ought to allow lower level questions, as long as they are conceptual.

So we shouldn't filter by topoc, we should filter by question.

* Simple, principal, diffuse, fundamental. That's where it came from and it has no further meaning

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by conceptual? Is it unfavorable to ask questions that have specific, definitive answers? $\endgroup$
    – Zolani13
    Apr 26, 2012 at 19:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the idea is to ask a question because the concepts surrounding it are unclear (as explaining them could help others), not because the answer to the question itself is. $\endgroup$
    – Nick T
    Apr 26, 2012 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Nick exactly... $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2012 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ @zolani see above $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2012 at 0:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The trouble with burning "googleable" questions is that it isn't clear cut where to stop. Even wikipedia-answerable isn't a good cut off. Answers elsewhere are often incomplete or lack rationale. It would be good if we judged whether this site can produce the best answers even when alternatives are available. So some simple questions, in principle googleable, should stay if they prompt better than googleable answers. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Oct 22, 2012 at 22:27

I would like to point out that there is only a small number of users for the site. Comments similar to RTFM (read the manual, or use google) are not constructive. And if we want to encourage students to use the site, we should encourage questions, even if they are simple and stupid (IMHO Everything you can formulate into a question is simple, formulating the question is hard).

A person can be expert on other areas, but completely uneducated on others. For example: I don't have a chemistry background so I tend to ask simple questions.

The pointing system takes automatically care of the too easy questions. Assuming that nobody wants to get negative points. I would recommend the policy of:

accept all, give positive feedback only to good questions.

  • $\begingroup$ When in the world did you get the idea that easy = lacking research? $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Jul 11, 2015 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ This is my opinion. All easy questions are already answered and can be found on the internet. The problem is that the information is hard to find (requires research). This kind of site should collect the questions into one place and answer them all in the same format. This is the power of the original site: stackoverflow.com There are questions like: stackoverflow.com/questions/3277503/… This is really easy and lacks research (read any python manual really), but the point is that I know I can find it in stackoverflow. $\endgroup$
    – Juha
    Sep 11, 2015 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ To clarify, 99.9% of the easy questions lack research. Questions like "Why objects have mass?" are rare and require information that is not yet available. In this case, does Higgs boson exist? I haven't followed whether they confirmed if the particle that they found is actually a Higgs boson or not. $\endgroup$
    – Juha
    Sep 11, 2015 at 22:52

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