Talk:Names for sets of chemical elements

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Double in the title[edit]

Collective names of groups of like elements - I'd say here collective and groups is double. It is either Collective names of like elements or Names of groups of like elements. -DePiep (talk) 16:55, 24 June 2012 (UTC)

I agree and "group" should not be in there at all because it has a specific meaning in chemistry that does not fit with each category here. But I'm not sure what name would be best... How about element category?--mav (reviews needed) 13:04, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
If I am not mistaking, element category is used for the range alkali metals ... inert gases eh, groupings. But this list has other groupings too, like Pnictogens (that is a different dimension of grouping so to speak, it is not an element category). Not using "group" here is a good point. That would leave Collective names of like elements. -DePiep (talk) 14:07, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
Pnictogens is equally an element category. It just isn't one we use on Wikipedia for the element colour legend (because it would obscure the metal/metalloid/nonmetal distinction, which is much more important in the p-block, and the pnictogens are not as similar to each other as the halogens or even the chalcogens are to each other). I've corrected the heading at {{Element color legend}} to "Some element categories". Element category would hence be a good title. Double sharp (talk) 12:39, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
This page is an overview of such categories, still in differenct dimensions (or ranges). So List of element categories? Both the List of ... and the plural categories are following the MoS WP:LISTNAME. (Actually, my dimension-thing would ask for a double plural: Lists of element categories). -DePiep (talk) 12:49, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

I agree with Collective names of like elements. The term Collective names of groups of like elements was used by IUPAC as a section title (IR-3.6.2) in the provisional Red Book of March 2004. The term Collective names for like elements is used in section IR-3.6.1 of the actual, non-provisional Red Book. A certain Wikipedia editor (me) proposed the cumbersome name in 2007 because the provisional book was easy to find online, but the actual book would have required a trip to the library back then, and I was lazy. Element category is succinct, but it opens up the possibility that the article could include lists of elements that are categorized using other methods (like date of discovery or name origin) instead of lists of elements that are similar to each other. I think the Red Book uses "for" in the context of a recommendation, so "of" would be better in Wikipedia. Flying Jazz (talk) 13:20, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

It looks like the current title here (and the IR?) refers to only the categories in the alkali metals–noble gases range, not the (say) Natural occurrence range. But our page content also has others like Superactinides (as Flying Jazz pointed to, by example the discovery eras).
If we want only one range to be present (alkali...noble), we can (and should) have a specific page title. If not, we can use a more descriptive one (forgetting about IR, their phrasings do not help at all; just mentiong mention them would do). -DePiep (talk) 14:07, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
Or: List of element groupings. Elsewhere, we (at WP) move away from non-defining and even non-descriptive names. A week ago I created Template:Element color legend/alkali metal–noble gas range, and it serves fine. -DePiep (talk) 14:34, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
With regards to this article's name, I like your initial recommendation, but I'm not sure what you mean in your most recent posts, so I don't understand your most recent recommendations. Specifically, I don't know what you mean by "(alkali...noble)". I enjoy not having a WikiProject orientation because many things that are done by groups of people at Wikipedia simply make me scratch my head. Template naming is not a priority of mine, so there is nothing of importance that I'm able to say about the change in template name from Template:Element color legend to Template:Element color legend/alkali metal–noble gas range. However, I am scratching my head. Flying Jazz (talk) 19:31, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
Good you ask.
1. Since I jumped into periodic table (WP:ELEMENTS) here some weeks ago, I encountered many non-descriptive and confusing names. Example: category (can mean everything, e.g. used double in the {{footer}} we use) and Platinum group (so it is a group but not a periodic column). Such names are poorly defined if at all, and is used in multiple different meanings. Clearly it has not stabilised into straight names with a single crisp definitions.
2. When IUPAC does not provide useful names, we can create our own. So for example, for the Element category (that was also called series, yeah great), I created a new name in a page move: alkali metal–noble gas range. Still a bit long, but definingly descriptive I'd think. This range comprised the names:
I used start and finish to identify this range (hence "Alkali metals ... Noble gases range"). Of course there can be a professional discussion on the exact content of the list, but surely "Liquid" will not be in, we know that is something else.
3. In maths and pyhysics in general, such range range is a dimension or measuring direction. An other dimension is State of Matter (which has Liquid, Gas, Solid). We do not want to mix or confuse these dimensions: they are independent (of each other).
4. This page has an overview of multiple ranges (or dimensions, or ways to categorize elements) we use. One (but only one) is the "Alkali metals--Noble gases range", another can be "Groups" (those 1-18 of course), another "Era of discovery". Each has its own list of values to choose from. That is good.
5. Since the page does not contain what its (old) IR title says, we should change the title. It is very poor and wrong grammar too. And we are not obliged to use IR terms. Now according to WP:LISTNAME, which is part of the Manual of Style, such an overview page is called "List of X". Since the page has multiple lists (multiple ways of categorising the elements), the we use plural: "Lists of X". So I arrive at: Lists of element categories or Lists of element groupings (hmmm, using group again). On the page, we have sections like "State of matter", "Discovery era", etc (the ranges or dimensions). Each one is a separate list (filled with its category names), together a page of lists.
6. I suggest, after this evolution, to rename the page into Lists of element groupings ("groupings" in for an improvement - as long as it is plural). -DePiep (talk) 21:15, 26 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanations, and now I understand where you're coming from. As we work our way through the multiple issues you raised, there are a few guidelines that I believe it makes sense to follow. From most to least important (in my view) they are:
1. (article space) Wikipedia should reflect common usage in the real world, even when this usage may be potentially confusing. The word group in the context of the periodic table has the current definition of elements contained in one of 18 columns with group 3 containing the lanthanoids and actinoids. The phrase platinum group has the current definition of precisely six elements that are not all in the same column of the table. Both terms do have single, precise, stable, "crisp" definitions with a single meaning in the context of the periodic table. The discrepancy between these two definitions is a historical artifact. A huge industry in platinum group metals was already established by the time the term "group" was consistently used to mean "column" in the context of the table. Similar discrepancies between word definitions and how words are used in phrases occur often throughout the English language, including other branches of science and math. Tinkering with the phrase "Platinum group" at Wikipedia would be a mistake (although I personally prefer the term "Platinum group metals.")
RE: (by DePiep (talk) 10:24, 28 June 2012 (UTC)): Indeed "Platinum group" is a bad example. I did not intend to change that established name at all, it was just to illustrate that the word "group" is overused. So "platinum group" is out of the arguments.
2. (article space) Wikipedia should not create new terms that are potentially confusing. Because the term "group" is currently associated with periodic table columns, I think renaming this article, "Lists of element groupings" would be a mistake. The historical artifact of the phrase "platinum group" is not an excuse for doing this.
But the article also collects horizontal and block names, not just the "platinum group" - lanthanides, actinides, etc. The English word "grouping" is not confusing to anyone, it means "grouping", which is what we have a list of! :) --feline1 (talk) 14:09, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
RE by DePiep: Agree with Flying Jazz wrt "new confusing names in WP". Disagree on the "mistake" part, which is appearing out of the blue. Agree with feline1 that we can use the word "grouping" without confusion (but we should never write something like: This grouping results in the groups period 1 to period 7).
3. (article space) This article should only contain element categories based on chemical criteria. A reader clicking a link from the template describing the colors in Wikipedia's "standard" periodic table should be delivered to an article where only chemical criteria are used to categorize elements. Including categories based on discovery era, color, state of matter, or anything other than chemistry in this article would be a mistake because of the emphasis on chemical categorization in the history of, the use of, and the teaching of the periodic table. Also, a large motivation for this article was the fact that there are multiple methods that can be used and have been used to "color in" a periodic table by subjectively presuming to assign each element to one-and-only-one chemical category. Editors at Wikipedia chose one of those ways to color the table that we thought would best serve the reader (and that some but not all smart folks have used in the past). This article should serve the reader by presenting other element categories that could be used to create alternative color arrangements that would also be based on chemical categorization. The situation for element categorizations based on non-chemical criteria like era-of-discovery or phase-of-matter or other things that come to mind is different because there usually is a natural one-and-only-one category into which each element may be placed. That makes chemical categorization unique for historical, utilitarian, pedagogical, and wikipedia-specific reasons.
RE: I suggest we leave this topic (non-chemical included or not?) alone. If we do not, I'll note my opinion on this. For now, we stick with the current content since we primarily look for a different page name here.
4. (article space) IUPAC recommendations (IRs) for nomenclature should be used unless there's a good reason not to use them. But there's a big difference between using an IR and parroting the exact phrasing that IUPAC uses when making an IR. Because IUPAC sayeth, "The following collective names for like elements are IUPAC-approved:" that doesn't mean this article needs to have the title "Collective names for like elements." But there are worse names out there.
Are there really? I'd like to hear them! Having "names" in the title is tautlogocial, unless the article is really about the etymology of the name itself, rather than about the thing that has that name!--feline1 (talk) 14:09, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
RE by DePiep: Agree, we do not want to (nor have to) parrot weird names, especially when they are not even "properly" defined names, but more "descriptive" (designated) names or just IR section titles.
5. (article space) When it comes to the periodic table, the act of categorization is intimately related to the topic itself, so blind adherence to Wikipedia policies like WP:LISTNAME would be a mistake. But the article actually is intended to contain a list of element categories based on similar chemical properties, so renaming it using "List of..." makes sense. Elements can be categorized using many, many (many) non-chemical methods. If there are other "List of..." articles involving chemical elements categorized using non-chemical criteria then I think a separate "Lists of..." article with links to sub-articles would be in order as described at WP:Naming conventions (long lists). So my thinking is obviously in transition because I just recommended something different than I did before. I'll babble more in a day or so after I read the babble of others.
RE: I did not propose blind adherence. Who did?
RE2: You seem to think that categorisation on a chemical ground results in one list. That is not true. Starting simply, at least three different categorisations are used: by period (set: period 1-7), by group (set: group 1-18, with alternative group names), by (eh how to call it) X, (set: see here, for lack of a better name). That is three sets, so three lists. An element is in these three sets at the same time. And this is what the page should reflect (so not one flat list of categories, but three or more separate lists e.g. sections).
Since IR did not stabilize on a name for such overview of lists, we can find our own at WP. From this point onwards I applied WP:LISTNAME with arguments, proposing like Lists of (looking for the good words). So Lists is plural, and we still are looking for the covering name.
6. (article space for a different article) Aluminum is not a post-transition metal by any definition of "post-transition metal" used in chemistry by chemists. People come in and muck up things like that for some reason, usually with good intentions, and then other people who know about the factual information get lazy and grow tired of trying to unmuck, particularly as more templates and doodads with constantly-changing names are attached to the table. Oh well. Too many cooks spoiling the broth means that science and wikipedia don't always play nice. A few things about the periodic table were more likely to be factually correct back in 1952 when it was just mav working alone with a slide rule and a typewriter.
RE: Please discuss this elsewhere.
We're sorting that out at WT:ELEM#Metalloids, by (when the discussion ends) changing the "post-transition metals" category back to "poor metals". Double sharp (talk) 09:01, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
7. (template name and talk page space) You seem to be using the word "range" to mean "methods of categorization." In math, range is associated with an interval. Because all elements fall within the range "Alkali metals ... Noble gases," you seem to have created a nonsensical template name that establishes a range and then places everything within that range except maybe hydrogen. I hope you consider renaming the template subcategory thingie "standard" because it's the one used for the standard Wikipedia table. Flying Jazz (talk) 13:57, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
RE1: a nonsensical template name: why do you not propose a better name for it? I know: because you don't know one either. And it came from: "series" (non-descriptive) and "element color legend" (as if there is only one) -- they were worse. Another editor already titled that list "Some element categories" (in article space). I won't call that a solution either.
Your point reads like you did not grasp the "different dimensions and how to name them" thing I described earlier. I hope my point 5 reply above explains it then. Anyway, if this one reply sounds like I am pissed off, that is right. Not grasping the point -- I can live with that. But then calling it nonsensical while not trying to improve it at all is another. Not even a name suggestion.
RE2: I admit that the name is not good enough. Because: the descriptive outer names I used also double as group (column) names, while that is a different dimension. The "range" issue raised I'll leave for now, because it is minor. -DePiep (talk) 10:24, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

I really find it had to believe that wikipedia has such an embarrassingly bad article title as "Collective names of groups of like elements"! The English is ridiculously clunky. Repeating "of" twice! Using the word "like" is horrible - grammatically ambiguous. (The adjective "similar" would be a much better choice. However even that is tautological: why would you have a collective name for dissimilar elements?!) "Collective names of groups" is also tautological, and the use of "groups" is badly ambiguous, when "group" already has a specific use in this context (vertical groups). "Groupings" would be a better choice. Finally, saying "elements" instead of "chemical elements" is ambiguous to anyone who doesn't know this is a chemistry article. I suggest Groupings of chemical elements or Trivial names for groupings of chemical elements. I also suggest that anyone who thought the current title was acceptable needs to seriously question their competance to write material for the English language wikipedia. --feline1 (talk) 11:23, 27 June 2012 (UTC) I have edited the article's intro to make it more meaningful and intelligble to readers, and less like it was auto-generated by some fiendish crossbreed of Google translate and a Turing machine. The existing text was severely lexically confused in any case: the cited extract from the IUPAC document was simply a sub-heading, not a term of nomenclature.--feline1 (talk) 11:34, 27 June 2012 (UTC)

Oh, I understand what's happening now. If you get invited to a party and the host says, "Who wants to play a game of numbleskew?" and nobody says, "What's a game of numbleskew?" or "I don't LIKE numbleskew" then it's you're own stinking fault if you find yourself locked in a cage with a wolverine and a cantaloupe. You were there in 2007 when this gawdawful name was proposed by the...uh...person who created the article, and you said nothing then so you have no reason to grouse now, unlike DePiep here who is pure of heart for not having been on the talk page at that particular moment and has correctly pointed out the horrific sadism of numbleskew to the world, thus saving it from my madness after it has suffered for a mere five years. Flying Jazz (talk) 14:18, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
If you're basically saying the entire basis for wikipedia's collective editing method is deeply flawed, who am I to disagree! :) --feline1 (talk) 14:28, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
No. I said that in point #6 above. Now I'm calling you a jackass. Flying Jazz (talk) 14:59, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
LOL :) Well that's as may be, but I can still write most people here under the table :) --feline1 (talk) 15:20, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
You can write most Wikipedia editors under the table? Can you also win drinking contests with 70 pound Asian girls lacking alcohol dehydrogenase? Congratulations on both! :-) Flying Jazz (talk) 15:37, 27 June 2012 (UTC)
Hell, I'll happily join them under the table, it's nice down there! :)
feline1, this is an insincere subthread you started, including personal attacks. FlyingJazz, in their very first post up here (I agree with ...) [1], before already explained where the name comes from (UIPAC!), and also notes that it has been discarded in the later IR. I suggest we all close this subthread (I really find it ...) and collapse it. For sure it does not help the article or WP. -DePiep (talk) 09:19, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
DePiep, I think it's best to tolerate other editors here instead of lobbing accusations about their motivations. That applies to questioning their sincerity. I'd also prefer that this subthread remain as is. That way I can easily find it in 2017 when Feline1 berates the editors who contributed to the decision we make, and I can laugh at him again. As for talking about the new title of the article, I'd prefer to wait another day. Maybe a sane person will arrive with another opinion. Flying Jazz (talk) 16:12, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
They're not personal attacks, they're attacks on the quality of editorial contributions. It is essential to be able to make value judgements on the quality of contributions, otherwise wikipedia will be rubbish. The lifting of that phrase from a IUPAC document and mistaking it for a piece of defined nomenclature was a particularly egregious example of incompetant editing. Criticising and re-writing a poor article DOES help wikipedia. Very much. Obviously, at the same time, we do not want to discourage people from participating in editing, but this must be weighed against the damage done to wikipedia if people are allowed to write egregious rubbish. --feline1 (talk) 13:47, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
I also suggest that anyone who [...] needs to seriously question their competance to write material for the English language wikipedia (my bolding) is in your first post here. That is a personeal judgement. It is never about someones competence here, you could have just focused on the issue. Also, already before you wrote that it was sourced by the very editor you want to have questioned for competence. After that post, the subthread did not come back on track, quite understandably. I for me have no interest in reading this, having to weed out all the sideways, attacks and self-aggranding personal judgements. If you are that good, how come you did not notice it for five years? I feel not invited to discuss the substantial things in this thread. -DePiep (talk) 15:44, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
DePiep: Everyone at Wikipedia is invited to discuss all matters of substance. However, insubstantial or tangential or wikipedia-centric historical issues do crop up now and then as a matter of actual human beings attempting to have fun with each other. Feline1 and I were having fun. That's why this subthread could have ended with smileyfaces from the two of us, and then everyone here, including you, would return to the grind of trying to edit this thingie. Don't take the conversation between feline1 and myself personally. See WP:ENJOY. I can't believe I just cited policy. I never cite policy. Sheesh. Flying Jazz (talk) 16:22, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
It is distracting for me, though not personally at me. But alas, here I go. ;-) -DePiep (talk) 16:27, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
DePiep, there is a basic level of linguistic competance which is necessary to contribute to any given language version of the wikipedia. I, for example, just about remember enough French and German from my schooldays to buy a railway ticket or get served in a bar, but I would never dream of trying to edit an article on or, because I do not have the competance! If I tried to do it, I should rightly be firmly told that my skills aren't up the job. Such fundamentals trump WP:FAITH or WP:NOPERSONALATTACKS etc etc. Now, scientists are not always renowned for their clear communications skills. Moreover, a lot of scientific literature is published in English, when English is not the first language of the scientists. That includes the scribblings of IUPAC committees. It is not uncommon for dubious English to creep into scientific articles, and it is something we need to be vigilant about! I fully expect FlyingJazz to do several hours penance at home flagellating himself, and he will be the better for it! And then in years to come, he'll remember how the title of this article lasted 5 years, and may even write a sitcom about it. Have fun! :) --feline1 (talk) 20:08, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
I fully agree that much of what you've typed about this subject could easily come from the mouth of a one-dimensional character intended to provide the equivalent of a village idiot stereotype in a modern sitcom. Of course, my amusement is tinged with pity because the village idiot is no longer seen as an acceptable community role in the real world. :-) For example, your opinion that Having "names" in the title is tautological was followed by the suggestion to use the title, Trivial names for groupings of chemical elements. Such rapid-fire logical self-contradiction is even more amusing than your five-year pattern of intellectual ignorance. Are you are defending tautological names at Wikipedia or is it up to other editors to select one of your self-contradictory opinions over the other? Flying Jazz (talk) 23:29, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
lol - as you well know, Trivial names is a specific term from chemical nomenclature, and so does not fall into the tautology trap. You must not let English orthography's use of space characters in spelling single words confuse you. This is where German is much more helpful language, with its concatenated nouns :) --feline1 (talk) 09:44, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Seems to be more heat than light here now; it's just a name people. :) It might be a good idea to let things cool down. In the meantime, I'll play with my old slide rule and typewriter. :) --mav (reviews needed) 01:14, 29 June 2012 (UTC)


I think this article should be renamed Series (periodic table). Any thoughts? — Reinyday, 15:28, 22 September 2012 (UTC)

That reminds me too much of the lanthanide and actinide series. Perhaps Element categories (periodic table), or some other term that doesn't have other meanings within the periodic table? Double sharp (talk) 10:56, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
Should be renamed at any cost. Current name is nonsensical. -DePiep (talk) 02:45, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
Indeed. Support Element categories (periodic table) or perhaps Element categories in the periodic table. Anything to rename it from this mad title. Double sharp (talk) 10:24, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
Really, saying a thing like "Collective names of groups of like elements" is a bit of triple the same twice again, all over (doubling that), while repeating the same again double, twice even. I'd never insult a 'groups of likes', but when they are in a 'collective name', I might do so.
And then. The words "group", "period", "category" (nowadays here at enwiki), "series" (too general I say) already have a meaning. It should be different.
More importantly, I object to nonsense. The good news is that this page, today, reads fine. -DePiep (talk) 23:44, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Lest I forget: exactly this is the a page where we should/could explain the diff between poor metal and post-transition metal. -DePiep (talk) 23:52, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I suggest: element collective names. -DePiep (talk) 23:58, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

Category is really fine IMO. We only use this in this generic sense of any group (not that sense) of elements with similar properties that define the category. Thus pnictogen is as much a category as polyatomic nonmetals is. Double sharp (talk) 03:46, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
Indeed that is the general meaning of "category" (and "group" alike). But since we use them specifically already, I do not want to introduce a secondary meaning. It only adds confusion. -DePiep (talk) 19:59, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Page moved[edit]

I have moved the page to Names for sets of chemical elements. IMO this uses a most neutral word (where other words like category, group, or series are contaminated with uses in the area). It should also reflect that this article is not just about IUPAC 100% proof or the metal-nonmetal category names, as current article text shows. The variety of dimensions in which set names exist is shown in Category:Chemical element groups (with that awkwardly shifted "group" meaning ...). -DePiep (talk) 00:46, 17 February 2014 (UTC)