Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Chemistry

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Any objections?[edit]

...to sticking the "Wikipedia style guidelines" cat on this page? Even though you guys are still developing it, you've clearly done a lot more work that many other pages that name themselves "Manual of Style" and are in the style guidelines cat. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 02:52, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Discussion on adopting the draft MOS as official[edit]

I made Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (chemistry)/draft (redlinked) redirect to this page, so we can keep discussion together. Please give your opinions and suggestions on the draft MOS? Cheers, Walkerma (talk) 02:42, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

I wrote some guidelines for multiple equations as well as nuclear chemistry. The only thing I'm not sure is linking for nuclear reactions. I would suggest always linking or never linking, at the authors' discretion. I would also recommend identifying isotopes by Symbol-12 after they've been spelled out once, to save space and improve flow. See Plutonium for an example of what I mean.Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 06:28, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
Ratified per the lack of dissent, as well as discussion on IRC meeting of 3 March 2009. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 17:50, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Centralized discussion[edit]

General section/skeleton[edit]

Current Events[edit]

Believe it would make sense to truncate this section's last sentence parenthetical comment to read: "(e.g. discussion of Bhopal disaster)" or rephrased to say "(e.g. discussion in Bhopal disaster, and mentioned in methyl isocyanate)". Thoughts/comments? MornMore (talk) 16:36, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Nomenclature[edit]

Need someone to write up this section (Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft/Nomenclature) Volunteers please? --Rifleman 82 (talk) 18:26, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Deuterium (D) and Tritium (T) vs. 2H and 3H[edit]

This one needs to be address, as it is the only element which can change name depending on the isotope.Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 17:41, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Discussion imported from User talk:Headbomb

Hi there

I notice your comments on nuclear chemistry/nuclear reactions. Respectfully, I would like to remove the section from the CHEM MOS draft for the moment. We have a huge number of things to grapple with at the time, and since nuclear chemistry is not a particularly pressing issue, I would like to exclude it from discussion for now.

Does WP:Physics have a style guide for that? We will probably defer to them, and that's that? --Rifleman 82 (talk) 18:17, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

WP:PHYS doesn't have any inhouse style, hence why I thought that nuclear chem. should be mentionned on the chem mosnum, and defer to the regular chem guidelines.Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 18:31, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
Seems like you're the best person for the job. Would you care to write the draft? The issues as I see them are:
  • Position of the atomic/mass numbers. Or does it even matter? Most of the time chemists simply write 18F, and I have yet to see any other style.
  • Any preference for 3H or 3T or T; 2H or 2D or D?
I don't think it is so complicated as to require it's own subpage. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 18:44, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
Well personally, I prefer 2H and 3H and loathe the deuterium/tritium nomenclature. But I also know chemists like to speak of deuterated molecules and whatnot. Me deciding on that aspect of nomenclature would be placing myself in shoes that are way too big for me. I'm moving this to the MOSCHEM talk page, so all others can benefit from this discussion.Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 19:36, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
As for the subpage, I only placed one because it seemed customary to place one (all sections had a /Subpage link, some red ,some blue).Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 19:42, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
The use of CDCl3, MeOD, DMSO-d6 is common in the literature. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 20:17, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
Is D and T more common or less common than 2H and 3H in your opinion?Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 05:06, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
IMO? 2H is (almost?) never encountered; it is always labelled D. This is the most significant, because of its NMR/kinetics applications. I rarely encounter tritium, I am not in a position to comment. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 12:09, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
Well tritium has this ridiculously low lifetime/halflife, so that's probably why you don't see it much. I've only really seen it in astrophysics and stellar nucleosynthesis or in table of isotopes (usually as 3H, but probably because it's listed next to other isotopes such as 1H/2H/3H rather than H/D/T). So basically you could get away with using D or 2H pretty much everywhere but in the element infobox. And yeah, deuterium's all over the place in NMR. I chuckle everytime I hear chem undergrads freak out that their NMR spectra are all screwed up and they can't figure out why.Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 12:20, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Isotope labeling in prose[edit]

Using the form 239Pu in equations is a no brainer for me but can become cumbersome and hard to read in prose. I therefore prefer forms such as plutonium-239 and Pu-239 in prose b/c it is easier to read and type. What does everybody else think? Compare the below two examples:

The longest-lived isotopes of plutonium are Pu-244, with a half-life of 80.8 million years, Pu-242, with a half-life of 373,300 years, and Pu-239, with a half-life of 24,110 years.

vs

The longest-lived isotopes of plutonium are 244Pu, with a half-life of 80.8 million years, 242Pu, with a half-life of 373,300 years, and 239Pu, with a half-life of 24,110 years.

The second example requires the reader to jump back and forth each time an isotope is mentioned to properly construct the natural-sounding name of the isotope. The first example flows more smoothly and, IMO, is in better compliance with WP:COMMONNAME and WP:ACCESSIBLE. --mav (talk) 16:57, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Personally I greatly prefer Pu-239 over 239Pu in prose. Much more readable. Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 10:25, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
I don't think we should be encouraging forms such as Pu-239: just look at the length of the disambiguation page for C-12, for example. Spelling out element names in prose where possible, instead of using symbols, seems by far the most preferable to me. Physchim62 (talk) 13:58, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
Ambiguity is context dependent. That said, I think a good compromise would be to use the full form 'carbon-12 (C-12)' the first time an isotope is mentioned in an article and 'C-12' thereafter. --mav (talk) 22:49, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Not a chemist, but "Pu-242" is closer to the way I've heard isotopes pronounced in speech; that is, with the number after the element name. --Cybercobra (talk) 04:59, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Structure drawing[edit]

Discussion about Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft/Structure_drawing

I've tidied up Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft/Structure_drawing, trying to make the guide less verbose. Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft/Structure_drawing#Uploading_and_copyright needs some work. Apart from that, this has been one of our oldest guides, and has seen little changes. Are we ready to ratify this section? --Rifleman 82 (talk) 18:24, 28 February 2009 (UTC)


References and external links[edit]

Discussion about Wikipedia:Manual of Style (chemistry)/draft/References and external links


Compounds[edit]

Discussion about Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft/Chemicals


Compound classes[edit]

Discussion about Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft/Compound classes


Reactions[edit]

Discussion about Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft#Reactions

Multiple lines[edit]

I've removed "When writing many chemical reactions one after the other, align the elements of the equation by placing them in a table.

CH3COOH CH3CO+ + OH
NaCl + AgNO3 NaNO3 + AgCl
N2 + 3H2 2NH3

Non-trivial reactions should be drawn as images."

The current practice has been simply to stack them up, without attempting tables of any sort. The wikicode is tedious to input, confusing to read, and the output is no better than:

CH3COOH → CH3CO+ + OH
NaCl + AgNO3 → NaNO3 + AgCl
N2 + 3 H2 → 2NH3

--Rifleman 82 (talk) 06:01, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

How about a suggestion that you can do this if you want to go the extra mile, but that this is not mandated?Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 06:28, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

I'm still not convinced, but I'll wait for others to weigh in. Where did you get these equations from? They don't make sense! CH3CO+ + OH-!? --Rifleman 82 (talk) 06:55, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
I pulled them out of my ass. I figured that if they were wrong, someone would fix them.Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 08:54, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Reaction versus chemical reaction article[edit]

Thanks K for your help. I think a distinction needs to be made. Reactions occur in almost all types of articles, so perhaps they should go to "general" for formatting issues, etc. Whereas we have a class of articles which deal with chemical reactions, named or unnamed.

I'm going to change two aspects of K's contribs: images and reactions should be aligned left, per what has been agreed upon; last three sections should be "see also", "references", "external links" per Wikipedia:Layout#.22See_also.22_section. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 00:43, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Styleguide of the WP:Chem[edit]

Hi guys, should we include/merge/discuss the advisory styleguide of Chemicals wikiproject here? It has several important and well thought out recommendations for chemicals (and chemistry) articles. Wim van Dorst (talk) 21:47, 28 February 2009 (UTC).

Hi Wim

In fact, Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft#Compounds and Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft/Chemicals, and Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)/draft/References and external links were derived from the Chemicals style guidelines. The intention was to use the chemicals style guidelines to write something more general and encompassing for chemical and chemistry articles, while reducing duplication and overlap. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 03:49, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Safety[edit]

I've imported our old guidelines on safety, in the full knowledge that they need revising to bring them up to date with current practice and opinion. Any comments are welcome! Physchim62 (talk) 15:49, 6 March 2009 (UTC)

Thanks PC! I've moved "Safety" and "Current events" to main as discussed on IRC. The section being discussed, of course, will supersede this eventually. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 16:31, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
Rather than suggest bringing up safety considerations to the talk, how about simply asking the reader to refer to Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)#Current_events? --Rifleman 82 (talk) 16:39, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
I get a general impression that some editors want more guidelines than these. Fortunately, we don't have many "current events" in chemistry. What we do have are a large number of past events and current political debates. We also have areas where individuals are trying to use Wikipedia as a soapbox for their views, and so we need to ensure a reasonable weighting of what we cover. These are the reasons why I would like some more input on the old criteria to see if they fit in with what we're doing now and with what our current editors think. Physchim62 (talk) 17:00, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
I agree that we want to get the safety (and related guidelines) carefully reworked so that we have a fair and thoughtful standard to refer all those that we will revert in the future. Most editors that seek to insert inappropriate safety info are well-intentioned and would listen to the guideliness. We also need to write bearing in mind those anxious to get on a soapbox, to promote conspiracy theories, or have come to the terrifying realization that there are a lot of really nasty chemicals out there. Talk:Sodium fluoride illustrates the kind of issues that we will be dealing with on safety. I will try to look this section over the weekend.--Smokefoot (talk) 18:25, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
There's also an old page I started I while back, Wikipedia:Chemical safety, which is probably better merged in here (with a redirect from that handy hook in the main project space!). Some of the links to safety sources are outdated as well, I will try to fix those asap. Physchim62 (talk) 14:16, 7 March 2009 (UTC)
It might be useful to have a page along the lines of WP:MEDRS as well: medicine has many of the same problems as us, and they have managed to get this accepted by the Community. Physchim62 (talk) 23:34, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Another one to merge?[edit]

Is Wikipedia:Molecular structure diagram now redundant to the structure drawing subpage here? Physchim62 (talk) 14:44, 7 March 2009 (UTC)

Intermediate versus reactive intermediate?[edit]

Do we have a policy for using intermediate versus reactive intermediate in articles? Should such a policy be included in the style guide? My personal preference is reactive intermediate, and I notice that the main article is indeed reactive intermediate. Shanata (talk) 09:18, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

The article title is actually reaction intermediate.
Ben (talk) 12:44, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Good point, reactive intermediate redirects to reaction intermediate thereby adding a third level of confusion. My understanding is that intermediates are always, importantly, lower in energy than the transition states along the pathway between reactants and products. My question is: should we systematically emphasize that point in chemistry articles by including guidelines about using intermediate versus reactive intermediate in our style guide? Is putting reactive in reactive intermediate redundant? We currently go back and forth between using reactive and not: in aryne, carbanion, nitrenium ion, resonance (chemistry), and many more we use reactive intermediate. On the other hand, in SN1, Henry Eyring, and others we use intermediate. Worse yet, carbocations are referred to as reactive intermediates in the main article, but as intermediates in the SN1 article (and quite possibly elsewhere). I think that a unified policy designating which to use, or when to use each, would be valuable. Shanata (talk) 15:37, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
What is the situation in the literature? Is intermediate or reactive intermediate more common, or are both used interchangeably?
Ben (talk) 15:47, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Might I be slightly abrasive here, without wishing to offend either point of view. I, personally, am a reaction intermediate between (glucose + oxygen) and carbon dioxide: but if we take the term at that level it becomes meaningless. The IUPAC term "intermediate" usually implies an intermediate which is short-lived on a human timescale, but has flexibility. It is obviously different from the term "transition state". The former ("intermediate") is defined as a local minimum; the latter ("transition state") is defined as a local maximum. So what, I ask myself, is a so-called "reactive intermediate": how does it differ from a normal intermediate? Physchim62 (talk) 21:30, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Some reaction guidelines.[edit]

Hello WPChem,

I've been on an *extended* wikibreak, but Walkerma asked me to write a bit about reactions. So I did. In the great wiki tradition, if you like it, keep it. Otherwise, change it. I'll check back in a week or two.

~K (talk) 22:42, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Need chembox for ions?[edit]

While trying to cleanup ammonium, I added a Chembox to it, only to discover that Chemboxes seem to be tailored for actual compounds, not ions, and that most ion articles do not have Chemboxes. Should articles on ions have Chemboxes or not?—Tetracube (talk) 19:23, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Molecular Model Style?[edit]

I haven't been able to find a manual of style on how the 3D-models should be shown. It seems like there must be some style guide as a lot of the models are very similar graphically. If anyone could help me locate the guide or give me a quick rundown of how to make them look like Media:Acetone-3D-balls.png that would be great. I have Accelrys Visualizer and a program to generate the MOL files, so I think all I need now are just settings/lighting/export info. Thanks. Ginogrz (talk) 09:01, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

I've written a guide on how to make 3D models with Visualizer.
Hope it helps.
Ben (talk) 10:11, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
Very helpful. Thanks a lot. Ginogrz (talk) 04:26, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

D/L designations[edit]

Example: D-glucose vs D-glucose. These tend to be small in most printed texts, but I see both forms on Wikipedia. Which is preferred? Pdcook (talk) 20:33, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

In de-WP, we use the latter (see here). --Leyo 09:05, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Thankfully, I can read German well enough to figure that out! Vielen Dank, Pdcook (talk) 14:23, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
They should be as small capitals, according to IUPAC. We can't do small caps in article titles, but there aren't many articles which use the designator in the title (L-Glucose is about the only one I can think of). Physchim62 (talk) 10:18, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
I thought they should be small caps too. I'll feel free to change them to small caps in any articles I'm editing. Thanks for your input. Pdcook (talk) 14:19, 13 November 2009 (UTC)


Acetic Acid NOT ethanoic acid?[edit]

I agree with most of the other non systematic names proposed, especially where the alternative name is much shorter and well known than the systematic name, however, such a super simple chemical name such as ethanoic acid being replaced by its alternative name seems to yield no benefit to anyone, and so it seems more useful to use the systematic name, as to enable younger chemists to more comfortably understand the content. Another example is toluene, although I do understand that there is some use in shortening methylbenzene down.

Oliholmes (talk) 21:13, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

The short answer is that both acetic acid and toluene are the preferred names for these compounds (see the full list of such "retained names") so, in these cases, Wikipedia is just following the relevant IUPAC recommendations. I realise that the school-level curriculums in certain countries (notably the UK) insist on "ethanoic acid" and "methylbenzene", but I would say "more fool them for teaching kids names which are never actually used in the Real World"! Physchim62 (talk) 11:41, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

MoS naming style[edit]

There is currently an ongoing discussion about the future of this and others MoS naming style. Please consider the issues raised in the discussion and vote if you wish GnevinAWB (talk) 20:54, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

RFC which could affect this MOS[edit]

It has been proposed this MOS be moved to Wikipedia:Subject style guide . Please comment at the RFC GnevinAWB (talk) 20:47, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Recommend Template:Chem?[edit]

Should Template:Chem be the suggested way of writing formulae?
eg {{chem|SO|4|2-}} → SO2−
4
{{chem|4|2|He}} → 4
2
He

RDBrown (talk) 06:30, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

I think so. JIMp talk·cont 07:44, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

Recent additions to MOS - comments welcome[edit]

In response to editing events, well intentioned ones, I have added to our MOS on general policy

  • This statement says that established articles should almost never be rewritten from scratch. The issue has come up with teachers asking students to rewrite articles:
"The style of editing embraced by the Wikipedia chemistry project is collaborative and consensus-driven. Edits to existing articles are typically incremental, which allows changes to be evaluated by other editors. Long-standing or mature articles should not be rewritten in their entirety because such large-scale changes inhibit discussion and often marginalize seemingly small but significant improvements that have been hammered out by previous editors. If an editor feels that a mature article warrants a major revision, it is both customary and considerate for the revising editor to announce their intentions on the relevant talk page and to heed the consensus of the responses. Often responses to such announcements can take days to accumulate, so major revisions require a sense of pace and patience."
  • This statement essentially is telling editors that IUPAC is purely advisory, we are not bound by it:
"Being affiliated with or bound by no scientific organizations, the content in Wikipedia-Chemistry is not constrained by recommendations or rules, but objectively describes knowledge. For example, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) provides recommendations and definitions for nomenclature and terminology. Wikipedia editors strive to be mindful of IUPAC's advice but do not follow this advice rigidly, especially when the advice deviate from mainstream usage (see comments below on nomenclature)."
  • This statement asks editors to minimize attributions, which are the basis of heavy fraction of "vanity edits" and distract from the point of most articles:
"In general, descriptions of chemical knowledge do not mention who did the work or where the discoveries were made, in part because such information is available in the citations. This approach simplifies the presentation and helps readers focus on facts and explanations. The obvious exceptions to this guideline are articles or sections of articles on biographies and history. Even in regular articles, scientific advances are sometimes attributed to noteworthy individuals and institutions, especially when this information illuminates the content or enlivens the prose. Attribution to individuals and institutions is subject to guidelines on conflict of interest."
  • We might think about a policy that states that most content in Wikipedia is mainstream. It has been said many times, Wikipedia is not a good mechanism to overturn conventional assumptions or to advance original thought (see WP:OR).

Of course other editors are welcome to suggest changes.--Smokefoot (talk) 16:37, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

For the section, "Attributions to people and places", perhaps we can tweak the statement to include a line to the effect: "since the primary or secondary literature is (or should be) cited, who did what, when, is available for the interested reader. I agree with the statement in principle, but many stories are popularly tied with the workers involved. For example, you have ferrocene and Fischer and Wilkinson; benzene and Kekule's snake; NHCs and Wanzlick, Arduengo, Bertrand, etc. Perhaps such stories explicitly linking the discoverer with the discovery are of better taste when there is some distance and perspective... --Rifleman 82 (talk) 19:49, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Okay, I revised that statement in keeping with your suggestion.--Smokefoot (talk) 20:31, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Great work, Smoke. I'd like to see an even stronger statement against following IUPAC. We actively ignore IUPAC recommendations if we think they're nonsense. We don't particularly strive to follow IUPAC, except where chemists in general follow IUPAC. Can we also have a statement warning people obsessed with rules not to use Wikipedia chemistry articles to satisfy their obsession? The one thing that might stop rule fanatics is a rule against them!

Ben (talk) 23:55, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Very nice set of proposals, Smokefoot. I agree with it as it's written; I wouldn't go too overboard against IUPAC, just because of a few rule-obsessed editors - after all, once you get beyond the common chemicals, IUPAC names provide a good default name. I like the way it's left open; we don't encourage vanity edits, but there are occasional situations when the personal story can bring an article to life - particularly in a history section, as here. Thanks, Walkerma (talk) 03:52, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Fair enough. Maybe being scrupulously neutral towards IUPAC is the way to go. I just find IUPAC nomenclature bureaucratic and rarely relevant. Simple things have their own common names, complicated things are referred to as "the enolate" or "enolate 7". Only intermediately complex molecules benefit from IUPAC names, e.g. cis-3-hexenal. Smokefoot's text has my support. I'll continue to hunt down disruptive rule fanatics, though.

Ben (talk) 11:43, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

I will do the same, when I'm active - I rarely find myself having to defend IUPAC naming! Walkerma (talk) 15:11, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

RFC: restructuring of the Manual of Style[edit]

Editors may be interested in this RFC, along with the discussion of its implementation:

Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS?

It's big; and it promises huge improvements. Great if everyone can be involved. NoeticaTea? 00:32, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

What to do about "controversies"[edit]

I am quickly discovering the challenges of collaboratively creating NPOV content with regard to pesticide chemicals. Perhaps I'm blind, but I see no overt evidence of corporations influencing Wikipedia content to pitch or defend their products. I do, however, see an awful lot of content driven by what appears to be anti-chemical advocacy. The most typical content in that regard falls under the Current Events category in WP:CHEMMOS, which, if everyone demonstrates good faith (specifically, "compromise" and "adherence to policies and guidelines") should never dominate any chemical page. The WP:CHEMMOS appears to allow for NPOV references to incidents of enduring notability. The rub, near as I can tell, is that for some advocates every chemical controversy from the blogospere or in the mass media qualifies as encyclopedic content with enduring notability that MUST be included on the Wikipedia page of the chemical involved. Mind you, these aren't just single sentences or clauses of sentences that mention the incident etc. They're full-on write ups, full paragraphs and even multiple paragraphs that completely dominate the page (clothianidin being a terrific case in point). One Wikipedian, user:ArtifexMayhem, has declared on User_talk:Gandydancer's talk page that "Clothianidin should/must/shall include a section on the controversies."

So, what should be done about controversies? Would it better serve Wikipedia's policies on neutral point of view for the Chemistry Manual of Style to allow extensive write ups on chemical pages of political issues/incidents/controversies/scandals? --USEPA James (talk) 19:29, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Current events section[edit]

This odd section with the struck-out heading (Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)#Current_events) was inserted by Rifleman 82 here, back in 2009, and moved from the /Chemical subpage into the current page a few days later, all with absolutely no mention, discussion, or notice. It's currently being cited by a User:USEPA_James as a reason not to mention a pesticide incident in Germany. It would be worth reviewing, and see what it makes sense to say here; the present version seems rather lopsided, saying only "that such an accident has occurred is not sufficient justification for inclusion in the context of an article about chemicals"; nothing wrong with that, but it would be good to balance with something about what a sufficient justification might be. Dicklyon (talk) 20:43, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

I think this section in the chemistry MOS accurately reflects the consensus of this project. In general, local news events involving chemical compounds are not typically sufficiently notable to be appropriate article content. Circumstances where a mention of a news event is critical to any encyclopedic discussion of a certain chemical will be rare - methyl isocyanate/Bhopal disaster naturally comes to mind. -- Ed (Edgar181) 21:57, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
I agree that while news stories of chemical accidents seem newsworthy, and the urge to mention accidents and possibly warn others is laudable. Wikipedia, at least the chemistry portion, is however not a news reporting service nor an advice column. The inclusion of anecdotal information would divert the encyclopedia from its mission. Another problem is that few who wish to report such incidents have sufficient chemical knowledge to contextualize the content. Good question though. --Smokefoot (talk) 00:16, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

The section being argued about is Clothianidin#Criticism. Can one really make an NPOV article about a pesticide without mentioning such an incident? I'm not saying it's NPOV now, but omitting it would go hard over the other way. Dicklyon (talk) 01:12, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps tangential, but since I have been named: That edit (and many many others) was part of an effort to write the MOS in a systematic fashion from the various guidelines we had accrued over the years. They were written in a /draft subpage, and later moved into where they were now are, after discussion or lack of dissent here and on the official IRC channel. Very transparent, if you ask me (although the links to the transcripts have somehow broken). If anyone had objections, the time to raise them should have been two years ago. Of course, consensus can change and you are welcome to find a new one if you wish. The header is struck out because we are do not intend to have such a header; striking it out seemed a convenient way to highlight this point. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 04:02, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

If I could clarify a few things from Dicklyon's posts--In the extensive discussion I've been engaged in regarding the German incident, I have been advocating to delete the item because it (and other scandals in the Criticism section) dominate the page. Additionally, the text is poorly referenced, and the MOS gives clear guidance about how to cover notable chemical accidents/current events. The incident is also described and referenced differently on several different Wikipedia pages, which seems inappropriate for an encyclopedia. I have further suggested on the clothianidin talk page that someone who thinks the 2008 incident is noteworthy could research the issue more and transfer the text about the incident to its own page, linking to it from the various pages that either mention it or describe it in detail. My repeated references to the methyl isocyanate/Bhopal approach in the discussion should have indicated to Dicklyon that I'm not against it being mentioned; far from it. What I'm opposed to is this incident and the other (poorly researched IMO) scandals from the blogosphere dominating the page from a clearly biased POV. But as with the other scandals in the Criticism section, the more you know about the neutral facts of the matter the larger the yawn they induce. They're only titillating because the blogosphere rewards those who get "the scoop," regardless of how contrary the scoop is to the actual facts of the matter. Which is why I am disinclined to create the pages myself, though I would certainly offer referenced suggestions to any editor willing to create the pages. Dicklyon, would you be willing to offer assistance on the clothianidin talk page transferring notable scandal content to their own pages? --USEPA James (talk) 20:04, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't have any particular knowledge or interest in this area, but it seems to me that if they incident is minor, it shouldn't have its own article, but could still be mentioned (assuming there are decent sources) on the page about the chemical. Dicklyon (talk) 23:08, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, Dicklyon. I'm going to try to rein this in to keep the focus on the Current Events/accidents prohibition in the CHEMMOS. What NPOV purpose is served in sensationalizing minor chemical incidents that have little or no inherently noteworthy and encyclopedic value of their own once all of the facts are known? For example, if chemical pages had an Environmental Fate and Effects section, they would almost certainly include NPOV statements about acute and chronic toxicity to critters in the environment. USEPA and other pesticide regulatory agencies generally determine toxicity by reviewing submitted lab and field studies and also studies from the open literature. Toxicity summaries from regulatory authorities are, therefore, appropriate secondary sources of NPOV facts about chemicals. But mentioning "minor" incidents in chemical articles only serves to sensationalize the NPOV fact that chemical X is toxic to certain critters. Major incidents, OTOH, (e.g. methyl isocyanate/Bhopal disaster as Ed mentioned above) are inherently noteworthy and have encyclopedic value of their own. If my reading of the CHEMMOS is correct, sensationalizing toxicity is exactly the sort of biased POV the community hoped to avoid when they agreed that incidents don't belong on chemical pages. --USEPA James (talk) 19:30, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
There is no "prohibition" in CHEMMOS, nor is anyone suggesting that we should sensationalize. Just that if the event has been analyzed in secondary sources, and is relevant to the chemical topic, it probably ought to be mentioned, not censored by someone pushing an official government POV. Dicklyon (talk) 23:35, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
Once again, I respectfully but strongly oppose including current events in Chemistry articles. We are not news, not case studies, and most editors who previously sought to include current events have usually lacked the knowledge to contextualize and often seem to be pushing a POV, albeit often without mal-intentions. It is just too difficult to judge notability. The beauty and strength of the chemistry part of WP is its dispassion, just as an encyclopedia should be. WP's preference for secondary sources (WP:SECONDARY) - especially for biomedical matters (WP:MEDRS), also argues against current events section because they are usually primary sources. --Smokefoot (talk) 23:53, 14 July 2011 (UTC)
No problem. But I don't think the incident in question is a current event. It's just that the current events section of the MOS is being used as a reason to not mention the incident. It was a 2008 incident that resulted in a government banning the chemical, and is now reported in many books. I think someone should work on reporting it from these newer sources, yes? Dicklyon (talk) 23:59, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

It appears to me that the this 2008 incident is not the focus of this article. If it does merit a mention, I don't think it needs more than a paragraph, perhaps under a section on regulation (when it was approved by whom, etc.). I think the incident can be boiled down to a few sentences. Maybe along the lines of "Honeybees were killed by this compound, because it was not correctly applied. As a result it was banned in Germany in 2008.". A more thorough discussion should be at 2008 honeybee incident or something more appropriate. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 00:47, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Yes, something like that, though "because it was not correctly applied" smacks of a POV. Dicklyon (talk) 01:11, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
That's what I get out of the article as it stands right now. Surely you don't expect to sprinkle a pesticide on cereal and expect it to be non-toxic? I don't use this agricultural chemical so I don't know what the box says, but surely it must come with instructions for use. Whatever the case is, please feel free to rephrase it to accurately reflect the situation without requiring an extensive discussion of the issue. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 04:31, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Well put, Rifleman 82. Dicklyon, thank you for providing examples of exactly how notable (see WP:NOTE) this incident was and still is when you wrote: "It was a 2008 incident that resulted in a government banning the chemical, and is now reported in many books. I think someone should work on reporting it from these newer sources, yes?" Be careful, though, or conspiracy theorists might think you're helping push "an official government POV." I have, after all, been arguing for some time that the enduring notability of this incident qualifies it for its own NPOV article and a reasonable mention on any related page, both of which are consistent with the guidance in CHEMMOS regarding chemical accidents/current events. In the spirit of improving Wikipedia, I invite all of you to check out the draft article on the 2008 incident I've posted in my sandbox. I look forward to your constructive comments on that talk page. --USEPA James (talk) 22:36, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
So now you're saying it's notable enough to have its own article. Did I misunderstand that you wanted it not talked about in the article on the pesticide because it was too minor? Anyway, your draft article does a good job of representing the U.S. government POV on it, but some non-government secondary sources should be consulted as well, so a more balanced article can be written. Dicklyon (talk) 05:40, 16 July 2011 (UTC)
How many times should I repeat myself before my position becomes clear? Having become aware of Wikipedias various policies and guidelines on notability, the CHEMMOS, etc, yes, I have for several weeks been advocating that this incident ought to have its own article. I also feel you're confusing actual citable facts of chemistry, toxicology, weather, and equipment design, etc with POV. But whatever...back to the original topic, you really haven't provided a compelling argument against the CHEMMOS guideline discouraging discussions of current events/accidents on chemical pages. It appears you haven't swayed the concensus. --USEPA James (talk) 18:49, 21 July 2011 (UTC)
And you misunderstand me, too. I'm not arguing against CHEMMOS, just noting that it doesn't apply here, as the event is not "current" and appears in many RSs; if someone wants to make an article on it, that's fine, though I think its notability is marginal. I still don't see a reason to not summarize it in the article. The POV that simply explains the reasons based on user error is one; another POV would be to say something about how toxic the chemical is; another is how much reaction there has been against it, based on it's possible implication in bee problems. Dicklyon (talk) 19:23, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

em dash or en dash? For fluorine-fluorine bond.[edit]

I am seeing em dashes in the "Fluorine" article. Looking at our MOS guide (at MOS itself), it seems that an en dash makes sense. Maybe if one actually uses the letters to write out some formula in text (ala C-H bond), than the em dash makes sense because you're really writing a structural formula at that point. But I would assume when we are using words, it is just normal usage of an en dash to substitute for the word "to". I admit not knowing how this is handled in the real world...and if our Wiki guidance is unclear, than let's just do what most people using English do. But if we have a Wiki rule, just let me know and I will follow. And I looked at MOS-chem and it did not have guidance either.TCO (reviews needed) 07:42, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

We're not going to cover this in the general MOS, as it's too specialized. We do recommend a carbon–hydrogen bond with an en dash. With elemental abbreviations, I believe a simple hyphen is the norm: a C-H bond. The problem comes in when we're actually illustrating the bond itself. Here neither the hyphen nor the en dash works, or may not work, depending on which font you're using. For double and triple bonds, we use the equal and equivalent signs from mathematics. An en dash is not compatible for a single bond, because it's set at a different height in professional fonts, and is often the wrong length (sometimes too long, sometimes too short, depending on the font). To match double and triple bonds, we should use the minus sign for single bonds: all those arithmetical symbols are inter-compatible. (Compare →−← [minus] →≡← [equivalent] →–← [en dash].) As far as I can tell, our articles do use − for single bonds. So we could include s.t. like this in the MOS:
Single bond: C−C (C−C)
Double bond: C=C
Triple bond: C≡C (C≡C)
but carbon–carbon bond (–)
kwami (talk) 20:28, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Pound-mole abbreviation[edit]

Perhaps it's a rare unit but an editor has requested that conversions for this be added to {{convert}}. So I was wondering what we should do about abbreviating the pound-mole: "lbmol", "lb-mol" or either depending on editorial preference. I think I'm leaning towards "lb-mol". JIMp talk·cont 02:24, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Clarify scope of guideline[edit]

I have added a note in the "Nomenclature" section, explaining that it applies to chemistry articles. I think the page itself used to be part of WikiProject Chemistry, so it was kind of understood that it was talking about chemistry articles. The IUPAC rulings on sulfur and aluminium should not be used as an excuse to override ENGVAR in non-chemistry articles. --Trovatore (talk) 19:18, 2 January 2012 (UTC)

Proposal to rename Current Events and edit the section on Resources[edit]

I propose renaming the CHEMMOS Current Events section to Accidents and Incidents. The current section title makes perfect sense to me but leaves opportunity for health and safety advocates to focus chemical articles or sections of articles on accidents and incidents so long as they're not "current." Accidents and Incidents also more accurately describes the sort of content this section attempts to limit the focus on in chemical articles.

I also propose editing the CHEMMOS section on Resources and its associated sub page. Currently, the text in this section seems to encourage the use of primary sources, which creates opportunities for non-technical editors to highlight sensational snippets from otherwise humdrum research that somehow ends up in the popular media headlines. The sub-page tightens things up a bit, but the two should be consistent. I understand there are legitimate, NPOV uses of primary sources (e.g historical issues where secondary sources don't exist), but most often I see primary sources used to push a safety POV, frequently in the unacceptable ways highlighted at Wikipedia:ORIGINALSYN. Sharply limiting the use of primary research in chemical articles would give serious, technically savvy editors a defensive tool against advocate messaging that can overwhelm otherwise credible chemical articles.

The WP:MEDMOS has a nice section on sources that is summed up in the Nutshell as: "Use the highest-quality medical sources available." Wikipedia's reliable source guidelines even have a special section for medical sources that stipulates "reputable medical journals, widely recognised standard textbooks written by experts in a field, or medical guidelines and position statements from nationally or internationally reputable expert bodies" as ideal sources. I believe this same sort of specificity would help keep the focus of chemical pages on the chemical facts instead of the hype-of-the-day.

Finally, Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine) has a good section on sources that practically disallows the use of media and news articles as secondary sources. I assume most of us on the technical side cringe when news stories shouting about the LATEST RESEARCH!! become "secondary sources" cited in health and safety messaging on chemical pages here. I think the WikiProject Medicine approach of disallowing media and news articles is a good approach and that the CHEMMOS would benefit from a similar approach.

Even with explicit prohibitions of the sort I'm suggesting, I would expect that a logically presented argument on a talk page for breaking the rules when warranted might be perfectly reasonable and respected by other contributors. I think Wikipedia's credibility would be improved if these sorts of things were the exception rather than the rule.

Thoughts? USEPA James (talk) 23:00, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure I see your point in renaming Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(chemistry)#Current_events. It's probably best to focus on the content of the section, and make sure it has consensus, and that is applied properly by ourselves and other editors. How we name this policy is less important to me.
In general, I'm in agreement with you that we should aspire to use secondary sources over primary sources where they are available. And it's probably a good idea to make sure the the Chemistry Manual of Style makes this clear. In cases where any chemistry article is describing the specific health effects (risks, benefits, etc.) of a chemical compound, I think WP:MEDRS itself applies. -- Ed (Edgar181) 19:14, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
I would suggest a great deal of caution when considering the suggestions for changes when they come from a COI editor. We'd all like to believe that the EPA is without controversy, but as a matter of fact that is not a reality. See the EPA article page and, for example, this article [1]
I think that it's important to keep in mind that the average Wikipedia reader does not come to Wikipedia looking for the chemical facts about an insecticide or a chemical such as bisphenol A that they may read about in the news or hear about on TV - they want to know what it is, how it's used, safety issues, and so on. And to remain current, I believe that our readers should be able to be aware of recent studies that are of good quality. Gandydancer (talk) 19:23, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
I'm certainly not opposed to the use of primary sources - one of features that makes Wikipedia so useful is the fact that it can be readily updated with current research. It's important to keep things in context though, and secondary sources can often provide context and relevance of recent research that is otherwise sometimes hard to come by. This can be particularly difficult with articles covering controversial topics. People and organizations on all sides of a controversy can have biases - chemical companies, government agencies, activists, and even academics are all included. Secondary sources provide some filtering (but not complete filtering, of course) of these biases. And that is why Wikipedia consensus is to favor these types of sources. -- Ed (Edgar181) 19:40, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes Edgar, I agree. With our medical articles it is always easy to find reviews of recent studies. However, with chemicals they are few and far between to non-existant. In the case of some insecticides the EPA may make a provisional agreement while waiting for studies to be completed regarding its safety, and then many years then go by without a final decision. In the case of clothianidin for example, it got a preliminary OK in 2003 and to this day the EPA has yet to make a final decision on its safety. In the meantime, colony collapse disorder hit us with a bang around 2006 and many studies suggest that insecticides such as clothianidin and similar neonicotinoids may play a role in their demise. See this study that states, "This provides the first evidences that interaction between an infectious organism and a chemical can also threaten pollinators, interactions that are widely used to eliminate insect pests in integrative pest management", for instance [2] By the EPAs own estimation, the cause of CCD is a combination of factors and I see no reason that our readers should not have access to recent studies. Gandydancer (talk) 20:11, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree with USEPA James's proposal to revise the MOS reminding editors that the standard for references is higher for medical theme. Overall, I think that we should be very prudent about any news reports, prudent about primary sources, and encouraging of secondary sources. I worry that Wikipedia-Chem is becoming too newsy. It would unfortunate and unwise if the public turned to Wikipedia for advice and updates on chemical/toxicology/environmental crises. We chemically-fluent editors are too few, and our expertise is insufficient to take on that responsibility, good intentions notwithstanding.
My fear is that chemical articles will suffer the problems of many nutritionally, medicinally-oriented articles, which are often a hodgepodge of primary, newsy citations, scare-stories, and anecdotes, see antioxidant and bisphenol-A. I think Wikipedia can do far more more good by building a reputation for reliability and readability. We earn that reputation by being very prudent with our sources and focusing on highly factual material. We should minimize reporting breaking news related chemical accidents. Anyway, a lot of blogs, some very good, already report on these topics.--Smokefoot (talk) 00:03, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Gandydancer wrote "I believe that our readers should be able to be aware of recent studies that are of good quality." Two things: 1) the media already do a fine job of hyping recent studies, and Wikipedia is WP:NOTNEWS; and 2) Who are you (or any Wikipedia editor) to decide when a study is "of good quality?" What training or experience do you have in the matter? What globally recognized standards do you apply to determine study quality? Your comment almost perfectly exemplifies why the WP:CHEMMOS should generally advise against citing primary research. When brand-new primary research is cited on Wikipedia chemical pages, it gives the appearance of a stamp of approval--which treads uncomfortably close to original publication: the Wikipedia editor has validated the study in the public eye. I hope I'm not alone in feeling that's inappropriate.
Ed, to elaborate a bit about my suggestion to rename "Current Events": 1) The meaning of the crossed out section name is not clear. It kind of looks like a formating error by a careless editor. I understand the intended meaning because of Rifleman 82's explanation from July 2011, but renaming it would make the section topic more clear.
When Ed wrote "It's important to keep things [primary research] in context though," he hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, in my experience, people who have no technical expertise don't see much value in context. Providing it can be unwelcome when it challenges or contradicts advocate editors' beliefs. Let's face it: new research is pretty much inadequately understood by most people--including the scientific community, which generally takes a while to digest new research. Advocates may not like the scientific community's cautious approach to accepting new research, but it has served science well for a few centuries. It does a disservice to Wikipedia's credibility when editors act like there is a WP:DEADLINE and rush to post about the latest research in the headlines before the scientific community has had an opportunity to mull things over and give a good, secondary analysis.
One thing I've noticed about the WP:MEDMOS is that it is so focused on medical concerns that it has little utility for writing articles about chemicals. For example, MEDMOS pretty much limits sources to "medical journals, specialist academic or professional books, and medical guidelines or position statements published by major health organizations". That's not particularly useful when the topic is a chemical that doesn't have any known human health issues or for relatively new chemicals that have just cleared the first round of regulatory review. I'd rather have the CHEMMOS borrow some good ideas from the MEDMOS but write them with chemicals in mind. USEPA James (talk) 20:15, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

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  • I think it's a great idea to put more weight on reliable sources, and that en.wikipedia shouldn't really be a newspaper. However, we're here to serve readers; current events drive a lot of page hits. So, we need to pass on what the most reliable sources say, not just about boring matters of production processes and crystallography, but also on safety concerns if there has been a recent scare or incident that attracted lots of headlines. The reliability of a source is not boolean but it is important that we put much more weight on the most reliable sources. We need to pay attention to mass-media articles which touch on chemistry, but we must always bear in mind that mass-media can give distorted or alarmist interpretations of what scientists and industry experts say - and due weight is an important concern too. (I'm not a chemist, but it happens a lot in my own field too). No?
  • It's not just a matter of safety; if HugeChemicalCorp announced that it was buying the world's biggest thiotimoline refinery from MidsizeChemBiz, we'd probably want to mention that in a couple of articles, even though it'll never be the subject of a peer-reviewed article - though some of the available sources will be more reliable and more neutral than others. Of course, in the thiotimoline article, the takeover would be a pretty minor mention, rather than dominating the lede. bobrayner (talk) 16:46, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
I guess I disagree pretty strongly, although I am sure your motives are positive. According to our ground rules, Wikipedia is not an advice or a news column, see WP:NOT. Also your remarks are pejorative, implying that large chemical companies are bad and Wikipedia is the correct vehicle to track their activities. I am more worried by ActiveEnviroGooglerKnowNothing (AEGKN) who gets satisfaction from passing on googled info that AEGKN can barely fathom but less assess critically. It is telling to see how little content is contributed about newsy environment-nutrition-toxicity from chemically fluent editors (those that clearly understand chemistry) vs those AEGKN's who can read that something is bad or toxic or healthful etc. The AEGKN's add almost zero chemical content because they don't know enough. Check out the hazards associated with sodium chloride.--Smokefoot (talk) 17:39, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
A more serious problem with newsy stuff: Although I highlight the potential pitfalls associated with your and Gandydancer's recommendations , most editors are sympathetic and recognize good intentions. Rules are not established for those with good intentions (although many good intentioned people are out of their depth) but against the 10-20% fringers and marketers who are very active at attempting to add content about crazy or suspect stuff like fluoridation of water being a conspiracy to make people dull and nutritional supplements even when the evidence is against them (e.g. chromium picolinate - a multi-multimillion industry alone - possibly more nefarious that your "HugeChemicalCorp"). Editors of such material know how to cite all sorts of journals, some not so esoteric, and all sorts of news stories. They are highly motivated (see Fluoride Action Network) so their potential impact is disproportionate. Wikipedia's main mechanism for marginalizing such nutty information is to insist on high quality references, i.e. WP:MEDRS But to enforce such rules, editors like you and Gandydancer need to exhibit extraordinary discipline about your sources.
We might have misunderstood each other; the last thing I'd want to do is implying that large chemical companies are bad. It was just an example based on my concern that en.wikipedia has lots of coverage of objects you'll find on a retail counter and events you'll find in a mass-market publication - but a B2B product, or a billion-dollar project mentioned in the dusty pages of specialist media, might never get coverage on en.wikipedia. I don't think the encylopædia is a great place to "track" the activities of imagined sinners, but it is a good place to document notable things.
On a more substantial point I agree with you about the "AEGKN" issue; I would only suggest that if we know lots of AEGKNs are going to come to en.wikipedia pages, we should usually try to present some relevant facts from the best sources we can get hold of, rather than leaving an empty space (which will encourage the swift addition of a "criticism" section based on low-quality sources and polemics). Other areas experience similar problems to the AEGKN, whether it's articles on medicine, politics, business, economics, history, ... bobrayner (talk)
While I certainly respect Smokefoot's position, I think we need to keep in mind the fact that this chemical is also an insecticide and most likely most people that come to Wikipedia are more interested in that aspect rather than the chemical composition, etc., of it. Look, for instance, at the lede which mostly speaks of its use as an insecticide, even though I have removed a substantial amount of copy in which it was compared to nicotine. Wikipedia is not a chemistry book, let's keep that in mind. As for the sources I have used, I believe they are appropriate, however that disagreement is perhaps best discussed at the article talk page. Gandydancer (talk) 21:24, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
Gandydancer, the discussion is about modifying the CHEMMOS to cover all WikiProject Chemical articles, not just one chemical page. While I agree that visitors to Wikipedia may not want a chemistry text summary, I suspect they probably don't want to be unwittingly flooded by AEGKN/advocate messaging disguised as notable, enduring and NPOV encyclopedic content either. I would also point out that the CHEMMOS has no effect on pages outside of the project; advocates could still hype THE LATEST RESEARCH on articles more suited to that sort of...information.
I agree with Bobrayner that articles should, in theory, be able to mention chemical topics in the news from a NPOV and without giving too much weight to the hype. But visit any number of Wikipedia articles and their talk pages and you'll see a fabulous amount of effort wasted arguing over primary research and other issues that suffer from AEGKN overdose. On one topic alone, I counted almost 13,000 words on a talk page before the advocate editor finally acquiesced, and even then yielding to consensus was given only grudgingly. 13,000 words! How many more articles might have been improved without that fabulous waste of time devoted to trying to change a true believer's relatively uninformed opinion? On some talk pages it almost seems as if Wikipedia is becoming a secondary science reviewer itself with a veritable round table of AEGKNs leading the charge. If the standard in CHEMMOS put strict limits on references to primary research and news media articles, it would make it easier for NPOV editors to delete POV messaging and put the onus of responsibility on the advocate editor to convince local consensus that it's appropriate to break the rules. USEPA James (talk) 23:11, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
  • if you aim for "stronger limitations on the use of primary sources in chemical articles" there simply will not be any editors left. It is that simple. V8rik (talk) 21:24, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
It would be an odd situation to use an even tighter policy for chemicals than that used for health-related articles where primary sources are not strictly forbidden. Not only would most editors leave, a substantial part of the existing articles would have to go as well. For instance, most of the "Health effects" section at the Phthalates article would be deleted.
To reply to the suggestion that many articles waste thousands of words/time by editors "that suffer from ActiveEnviroGooglerKnowNothing overdose" - We use consensus to find agreement here at Wikipedia and it can be frustrating. I'd guess that any seasoned editor would have to say that over time they have found that they have written hundreds of words on talk pages for every one that they've written on an article page. But when one comes into the discussion page convinced that editors with an opposing point of view are know-nothing dopes it will, indeed, be hard to find agreement.
It goes without saying that Wikipedia is fortunate to have chemists editing our articles. I am not a chemist, but I do have a very strong medical background. I believe that chemicals that may have untoward health-related effects should include up-to-date peer reviewed studies that discuss possible dangers. Gandydancer (talk) 10:54, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
V8rik, the CHEMMOS currently puts almost no limitation on the use of primary research. I am suggesting we modify it to be roughly equivalent to what is in WP:MEDMOS, but specifically written for chemical issues. If your statement that "there simply will not be any editors left" were true, then we should see no editors on articles that fall under WP:MEDMOS. This is, of course, absolutely not the case. Also, my proposal should have no effect on technical editors who have a solid grasp of the material and aren't using primary research to promote pet hypotheses.
Gandydancer, you mischaracterized my suggestion almost completely. I have never suggested an "even tighter policy for chemicals than that used for health-related articles." Au contraire, I'm actually proposing to synchronize them.
The problem with the approach you describe above is that overtly biased editors use their interpretation of primary research to promote pet hypotheses on Wikipedia, generally after some media article sensationalizes the research or topic. Articles become biased because non-technical editors' reach exceeds their grasp. But what if the opposite were to happen? Would Wikipedia be improved if, for example, a biased editor with extensive technical background from the industry showed up? Such an editor might have easy access to large bibliographies of primary research that they could then use to flood articles and (to the uninformed) destroy health and environmental advocate's pet hypotheses. It seems to me that advocates on either side are in the wrong and should not be encouraged. Discouraging the use of popular media and blogger articles as sources and and making an explicit preference for secondary sources (consistent with WP:MEDMOS would help NPOV editors deal with abuses by POV advocates. USEPA James (talk) 21:38, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes, reading the entire thread, I see you are correct. I was not correct when I said you wanted the chem guidelines even more restrictive than the med guidelines. Sorry. Gandydancer (talk) 22:11, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. Now that you know what the proposal is, do you support aligning CHEMMOS with MEDMOS in the way I proposed? USEPA James (talk) 22:40, 29 February 2012 (UTC)


It is difficult for me to understand your position because you have already refused and deleted a two-year, peer reviewed, USDA funded study from the clothianidin article using the existing guidelines as your rationale. According to the acceptable source noticeboard, science articles may use primary sources (particularly high-quality primary sources). Even MEDRS agrees that primary sources are (at least occasionally) useful and appropriate, particularly for recent information and for subjects for which proper reviews are rare. "Primary" is not an alternative spelling for "unreliable". What you particularly want to avoid is using a primary source to de-bunk a secondary. "According to this newly reported experiment, ___" is okay; "All the reviews say X, but this little primary source proves them wrong" is not.

Looking at another group of insecticides, the organophosphates, [3] and note that several recent primary studies such as this one, [4], that suggest a relationship to ADHD and lower IQ in children that were exposed during pregnancy. To suggest that these studies were added by "AEGKNs" is insulting to Wikipedia editors. It is also insulting to suggest that our readers will be sucked in by this sort of "hype-of-the-day" information. At this time the EPA may remain unconvinced that recent findings suggest a relationship between this chemical and untoward effects in children, but our readers do expect and have a right to know about studies that do suggest a link.

James said: Gandydancer wrote "I believe that our readers should be able to be aware of recent studies that are of good quality." Two things: 1) the media already do a fine job of hyping recent studies, and Wikipedia is WP:NOTNEWS; and 2) Who are you (or any Wikipedia editor) to decide when a study is "of good quality?" What training or experience do you have in the matter? What globally recognized standards do you apply to determine study quality? Your comment almost perfectly exemplifies why the WP:CHEMMOS should generally advise against citing primary research. When brand-new primary research is cited on Wikipedia chemical pages, it gives the appearance of a stamp of approval--which treads uncomfortably close to original publication: the Wikipedia editor has validated the study in the public eye.

When the above studies I mention re the organophosphate chemicals were released they did receive media attention. If it was hyped (I don't believe that it was), I would think that our readers should be able to come to our encyclopedia and read the studies for themselves. As for the decision as to whether they are of good quality, I don't need any special training or experience to make a decision regarding their quality - Wikipedia quidelines make that decision. Furthermore, such studies do not suggest a "Wikipedia stamp of approval" and I really don't know how to address your concerns because that seems to be a misconception on your part.

Finally, even medical articles do have news stories when a medical topic is in the news. One of many examples: [5]

Incidentally, you mention POV/NPOV editors. James, we are all POV editors. If we didn't all believe that our position is the correct one, one would not find those frustrating disagreements that go on for thousands and thousands of words. For POV editors to eventually agree on a NPOV article can be a long and frustrating process! Gandydancer (talk) 14:17, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Gandydancer, selectively quoting from discussions on particular chemical or health pages without including the rebuts etc is not convincing. On the salient points you raised for the discussion here:
  • Publication in a peer reviewed journal does not mean that a hypothesis has been accepted by consensus of the scientific community. When editors rush to publish and pre-empt the secondary review of the scientific community, in the public eye Wikipedia becomes the scientific reviewer/authority. This is simply wrong.
  • "What you particularly want to avoid is using a primary source to de-bunk a secondary." When recognized authorities, independent secondary reviewers and even the primary researchers themselves conclude consistently that an issue is as-yet undecided, it is inappropriate for editors to use sly text that infers the issue is decided. The typical pattern goes like this "Uncertainties still exist for chemical X (cite secondary source), but here are 10 studies that focus on the hazards, including THIS ONE THAT JUST WENT VIRAL AFTER IT HIT THE HEADLINE NEWS." I'll admit that it's titillating, but it harms Wikipedia's credibility.
  • Just because advocates successfully break the rules and promote their favorite hypotheses with primary research references on some pages does not mean that is a wise general policy, which is what the CHEMMOS is all about.
  • I also disagree about the inability of all editors to be neutral. When editors promote their favorite hypotheses by citing THE LATEST RESEARCH, it is inherently biased, toes the line of WP:OR and reflects poorly on Wikipedia's credibility. Inferring that all editors do this is absurd.
  • Editors who respect and honor NPOV and other Wikipedia principles are, in effect, hamstrung while they wait for a proper secondary review of the same research. But not all editors adhere to the highest standards, which can result in Wikipedia articles developing into amateur warring over competing primary research. This is not good for Wikipedia.
Since you're so staunchly supporting the use of primary reseearch by advocates, would you support an advocate who was your polar opposite if he or she did the same thing? If this hypothetical editor possessed the full knowledge of every chemical company's research database, and used it to load articles with hundreds or even thousands of primary research citations that (to typical layman readers and editors of Wikipedia) absolutely destroyed your favorite health or environmental hypotheses by the weight of evidence alone, would you support it? I'd really like you to answer this question directly, ideally with a simple yes or no. USEPA James (talk) 16:48, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
OK, you made your point: Some editors adhere to the highest standards and other advocate amateurs hamstring them because they who do not honor and respect Wikipedia policies. But to move on, surely you cannot be so naive as to think that chemical companies have hundreds and even thousands of primary studies that support their particular product that for some reason or another they have not released? It takes millions of dollars to run these trials/studies and they are going to keep them secret to all but a few insiders? Gandydancer (talk) 18:01, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
Suppose this proposal were adopted. How would it affect the situation where the recent primary sources are strongly in agreement on a topic but less recent primary sources express uncertainty? Currently we are allowed to say so, but would this proposal mean that we would need a secondary source before we could summarize the primary sources at all? 222.165.255.198 (talk) 18:32, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
User 222.165.255.198, the recency of research has no bearing on its quality or its effect on scientific consensus. A million poorly done studies published in the last week that all agree with each other (whatever that means) are not likely to trump one flawless, elegant study done 50 years ago. Finally, WP:OR disallows editors here from making the sort of authoritative judgement call you seem to be describing, since it would basically turn Wikipedia into a secondary reviewer.
Gandydancer, the open literature isn't just made up of studies carried out by companies, and it's naive to think the companies only pay attention to their own studies. Just as one example, USEPA's preliminary review of one chemical I'm familiar with included dozens of studies submitted by the company (which says nothing about how many they actually conducted during R&D etc) plus more than a hundred from the open literature that were acceptable for regulatory purposes. There are, of course, many, many more (i.e. hundreds at least) in the open literature that aren't acceptable for regulatory purposes that an industry advocate editor could cite under the current CHEMMOS policy you seem to prefer. Such an editor using primary research the way enviro/health advocates do could absolutely bury articles with citations supporting the industry perspective (or whatever you want to call it). I suspect enviro/health advocates would not welcome this, even though they currently do it on a smaller and less well-informed scale all the time to support their own pet hypotheses. See my point? USEPA James (talk) 22:12, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
If you are indeed correct that there are hundreds of peer reviewed studies that a chemical manufacturer has access to that the general public is not aware of, yes that could certainly be a problem if they were used by a COI editor to push the safety of their product. What peer reviewed journals do they use for publishing that the public does not gave access to? Which ones exist that the public does have access to? Thanks! Gandydancer (talk) 18:31, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
Mischaracterized again. Please respond to the question: would you approve of an advocate for industry filling chemical articles with primary research citations to the extent that it completely discredited enviro/health advocate editors' favorite hypotheses? Better still, would such a thing be in Wikipedia's best interest?USEPA James (talk) 22:28, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
James, first we need to clear something up. You said, "Since you're so staunchly supporting the use of primary reseearch by advocates", but I am not supporting the use of primary research by "advocates". I am supporting the use of Wikipedia guidelines already in place that cover the use of acceptable sources in natural sciences articles. Now, to address the hypothetical situation in which an industry advocate possessed hundreds or even thousands of peer reviewed papers/studies that were acceptable to use under our current standards and presented them to "absolutely bury articles with citations supporting the industry perspective." I agreed that that could pose a problem. The problem is James, I really do doubt the situation you describe to be factual and you can't ask me to give a yes/no answer to a situation that I highly doubt exists in the first place. But you seem to be determined that I give an answer, and I'd like to, but you must first point out where all these primary sources that would be acceptable by Wikipedia standards exist so I can take a look at them. Incidentally, I am familiar with pharmaceudicals and I know for a fact that they don't do hundreds/thousands of peer reviewed studies. Gandydancer (talk) 11:39, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
This is a side point: Most media (e.g., newspaper articles) are primary sources. One of the reasons that MEDRS "practically disallows the use of media and news articles as secondary sources" is because almost none of those articles are actually secondary sources. (They're independent, but WP:Secondary does not mean independent.) WP:PRIMARYNEWS has more information. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:41, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Well I assume that newspapers and news magazines are out of the question in this conversation (as are blogs etc). --Smokefoot (talk) 00:43, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

General guidance on how to write science[edit]

It looks like neither this page, nor the general Wikipedia:Manual of Style page, includes any general guidance to speak of on how to write about science in such a way as to be useful. Far too many Wikipedia entries on scientific topics - including topics of great general interest to the layperson - start with a mass of technical detail. This would be acceptable in a textbook for advanced students or specialists, but in something like Wikipedia (or any encyclopaedia, or general news items, etc.) which has potential to reach a wide audience, it is much, much more helpful to start with a quick, accessible overview - covering the main points, and a bit about why the topic might be thought to be important.

Changing the culture around this could make a tremendous difference to the usefulness of Wikipedia, but I'm not sure how to get the ball rolling. Should I start a Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Science page? I'm not a sufficiently frequent editor to be confident with how to go about this, though I am entirely convinced it ought to be done. Any ideas? Questions? Motivation? --Oolong (talk) 09:22, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Good point. Most of us sense that there is a communication issue. I think that 95% of the chemistry articles should be pretty strongly technical and not intended for a general audience. Accepting that logic, two steps would be needed to address your suggestion:
  • (i) identify the articles (usually by hit rate).
  • (ii) devise a manual of style for these general articles. For this task, I would recommend not dumbing down a technical article, but inserting a "plain English" section right after the lead paragraph, which should also be de-jargonized. The problem is that maybe we'd need multiple plain English sections throughout a long article.
On the other hand, if one looks at the articles on elements, they all seem pretty accessible, although they have thorny sections --Smokefoot (talk) 13:39, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Punctuation at the end of chemical equations[edit]

Recently I found a chemical equation that ended with a period. I erased the period – see diff. Where a chemical equation is given prominence by being displayed on its own line, the distraction of a comma or period is not warranted.

In the article Chemical equation there are many examples of equations displayed on their own lines and none ends with punctuation. In Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Chemistry there is a section devoted to line equations. This section contains two examples of chemical equations displayed on their own lines and neither ends in a comma or period. However, the section doesn’t explicitly state that punctuation is unnecessary at the end of a chemical equation.

The reverse is true of mathematics articles. In Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Mathematics#Punctuation after formulae it states:

Just as in mathematics publications, a sentence which ends with a formula must have a period at the end of the formula. This equally applies to displayed formulae (that is, formulae that take up a line by themselves). Similarly, if the conventional punctuation rules would require a question mark, comma, semicolon, or other punctuation at that place, the formula must have that punctuation at the end.

Considering the mandatory nature of punctuation at the end of formulae and equations in mathematics articles, I think it is important that Manual of Style/Chemistry makes it clear that punctuation is not warranted at the end of a chemical equation where the equation is placed on its own line. I propose adding the following statement to the section “Line equations”:

A comma, period or other punctuation is not required at the end of a line equation.

Dolphin (t) 04:54, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

No objection after a week so I added the statement - see my diff. Dolphin (t) 06:34, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Related discussion on drugs[edit]

People interested in this page may want to join the discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Medicine-related articles#Ordering on writing about drugs (which are all chemicals at some level, of course). WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:12, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Prime character versus apostrophe character[edit]

Should WP:MOSCHEM consider/prefer/allow/ban replacing the apostrophe character with a prime character in terms such as 3,3'-Diaminobenzidine or 2,2'-Bipyridine? Similarly, double quotedouble prime and string of 3 apos → triple prime? I'm not saying there would be any expectation that content contributors would write it that way (people will always type apostrophes or quote marks because it is easier); all I'm asking is whether it might be applied by way of cleanup edits / copy edits. Has this ever been discussed before? If articles at page names using apostrophe were moved to page names using prime, would someone throw a fit and revert them? Or would such edits be considered wikignoming and no one would care much either way? The reason I ask is not because I care about mere pedantry (i.e., I agree that "everyone can read the content regardless of apos/prime, so who cares"); the reason I ask is because so many people use Wikipedia both to learn and as a clipboard (they paste a name such as "3,3'-Diaminobenzidine" from their browser rather than type it), so if we used the prime characters, we would be encouraging preferred/"correct" use well beyond our own borders. Thoughts? Quercus solaris (talk) 18:14, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Update: It seems so far (from the lack of replies) that probably no one much cares whether we implement the change. I will probably implement it sometime in future, pending time to do so (?). The page names with apos char will then simply redirect to the page names with prime char. Quercus solaris (talk) 16:47, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Phase[edit]

I didn't check the IUPAC standards yet, however a lot of books use to write as subsript the indications of the phase where a substance is (for example: (g), (l), (s), (aq), etc.), instead in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Chemistry I see some example without subscript. I suggest to make the subscript mandatory, e.g.:

C2H5OH (g) + 3 O2 (g) → 2 CO2 (g) + 3 H2O (l) (ΔHr = −1409 kJ/mol)

instead of:

C2H5OH (g) + 3 O2 (g) → 2 CO2 (g) + 3 H2O (l) (ΔHr = −1409 kJ/mol)

What do you think? --Daniele Pugliesi (talk) 10:23, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

I suggest that we not include phase definitions unless they are absolutely essential. Modern textbooks do not use them. Reviews and journal articles do use them either. They confuse readers trying to understand basics since stoichiometry is conflated with phase information. And for most cases, the phase does not matter. Keep it (=chemical reactions) simple is my recommendation.

--Smokefoot (talk) 15:57, 17 August 2014 (UTC)