Someone asked the question "What is the mass of ozone present in 10.6 g of Na2CO3?". On the user page of the OP, it says "a typical ninth grader". Shouldn't a ninth grader by able to ask a question like that? It is a naive question, and it shows that the English language does not distinguish between atom types and elements. In this case, oxygen might refer to elemental oxygen ($\ce{O2}$ molecules at STP) or to oxygen atoms.

I for one would like to encourage beginners to ask questions like this on our site. I wonder if the StackExchange Chemistry community agrees with the statement "there are no stupid questions". This question might have arisen from a homework question, but it is a conceptual question showing that the OP was wondering about something. The misconception is subtle enough that I don't think you can google yourself out of it. Knowing the answer to the homework question would enable you to correctly answer more questions like this, but would not get at the concept of elemental composition like the answers posted.

I nominated the question for reopening, but unless the -5 vote on the question changes, it's not going to happen. I feel that just for preserving Ivan hilarious one-liner ("There is no arrow in sparrow"), it would be great to save this question from deletion.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Ivan’s one-liners do indeed range from great to hilarious! $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Oct 25, 2019 at 5:01

1 Answer 1


All are welcome to ask questions here. If the question isn't up to snuff, or the community closes it, that's that.

Have you actually determined that the individual is in ninth grade? Why should that materially affect how the community perceives the quality of the post? And I'll remind you and others who feel the way you do that this is the Internet and any person can ask a question without even signing up, much less providing identification and verification of age/identity.

As a long-time member of this community, I have seen many, many posts that include phrasing such as "I am in [whatever] grade" or "I am [teenage years] old" or "I am helping my [son,daughter,friend] with their science project" and so on.

The idea is to evoke feelings such as those you have elaborated on in your post - we were all young once - and that as empathetic people, we are obligated to lower the bar for someone who claims that they are young and their question therefore merits lowering the bar of standards in place here.

In short: I try to treat all questions the same and ignore the qualifiers meant to tug at my heart strings, because there's no way to tell if they're true and, modulo that, if it's a bad question I'll still vote to close.

Finally, I'm not an ogre: in real life, when I'm interacting with a child or an interested adult and talking science, I always answer and adjust the level accordingly. I just don't do it on Chem.SE.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for answering! True, I don't know if it was a ninth grader. If it is really a ninth grader, there is no harm - I think - in answering the question. If it is a chemistry professor with 20 years of teaching experience and a PhD, there is still no harm. If it is a college student and the deadline for the homework has passed, there is no harm, unless the community feels that this was a bad or useless question rather than a naive one. Again, it is good to hear from one of the top question closers. In >99% of cases, I appreciate you closing questions, and agree with the reasons. $\endgroup$
    – Karsten Mod
    Oct 19, 2019 at 20:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .