There are some very common misconceptions about quantum mechanics out there that repeatedly show up in questions. Every once in a while new people ask about these same things, and someone has to write down a new answer to that. (Latest example from today is How do electrons travel in orbitals around the nucleus?)

What I mainly have in mind is the difficult question of orbitals actually are, and what they are not. There maybe other examples, but the quantum mechanics ones may be the most prominent ones, as they deal with quite counter-intuitive concepts.

Now, here is my question: Should we make some kind of community wiki or FAQ that can simply be linked to? This should cover the most common misconceptions and explain them on a fairly basic level, yet detailed enough to show the problems.

The concept of duplicate questions does not really seem to apply here as a solution, because the question might not be directly about the misconception, only related. Also nobody seems to mark such questions as duplicate and link to an existing answer.

But may be it would be great to have an easy answer ready at hand, that can just be linked to. So we don't need to explain the same basics over and over again. Instead we can just say "Hey, you are new to chemistry and have fallen for the same misconception as many others. Here is a detailed yet simple explanation to get you started."

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    $\begingroup$ Sure thing. There has been previous efforts composing canonical questions, as we call them, one example is here. It just boils down to whether someone invests their time and shares their knowledge to make a solid foundation of the canonical Q/A, and when they've done so, we can usually close questions as a duplicate of the canonical. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    May 27, 2019 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ @M.A.R.ಠ_ಠ So essentially, I could just ask a new question and provide the answer myself? $\endgroup$
    – Feodoran
    May 27, 2019 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ Now that you've asked this meta question, we could discuss what the question should and shouldn't be about, and sort some things out, but yeah, that's how people usually do it. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    May 27, 2019 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, try to make the misconception sound very convincing in the question, and then clear up the confusion in the answer, e.g. chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/110794/…. You could also have a multiple choice question where each wrong choice is motivated by a specific misconception (mozillascience.github.io/instructorTraining/designAndAdaptation/…) $\endgroup$
    – Karsten Mod
    May 27, 2019 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe collecting some more example questions like the one I mentioned would be a good start. Just have to find some time for it ... $\endgroup$
    – Feodoran
    May 27, 2019 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ Don't be so fast with this "nobody seems to mark" Also chemistry.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3472/… $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    May 28, 2019 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ Also your example is particularly bad one as there could be easily two (or more) answers with seemingly opposite conclusions (and there are on old posts). $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    May 28, 2019 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ I think that this seems like an excellent idea. Would posting a link to the wiki/FAQ answer be an acceptable answer, or should it remain a comment? $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2019 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelLautman does it matter? $\endgroup$
    – Feodoran
    Jun 3, 2019 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Feodoran, maybe not, but posting the link as an answer does allow the question to be marked as answered. My thinking is that this may make it more useful in search results. $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2019 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelLautman The FAQ/wiki probably won't exactly match the question anyway. So an answer could refer to the FAQ/wiki and discuss some further related details ... My current issue is: How to ask a general enough question for the FAQ. $\endgroup$
    – Feodoran
    Jun 3, 2019 at 18:24


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