I proposed this site on A51 as "Materials Modeling" on 20 August 2019.
Of course it crossed my mind many times that the name proposed on day one might not turn out to have been the perfect choice for what it would end up being, but I had bigger problems to worry about, for example:
- the 4 month deadline (newly shortened from 12 months) to get hundreds of upvotes on example questions, when each user could only upvote 5 times, and activity on A51 dropped substiantially over the years (people on The Tavern and Meta.SE described it to me as a "ghost town" and the profiles of many A51 regulars say they were "last seen" many years ago).
- the 4 month deadline (newly shortened from 12 months) to get hundreds of people to promise that they would ask/answer ten questions in the first 3 months, at a time when there were bugs stopping some people from confirming their email addresses, bugs with registration, and overall confusion for even the user with the largest number of HNQ network wide (this user said they gave up on trying to "commit" but they did end up becoming an active participant on our site and meta during private and public beta).
And, the information I had available said that "SE prefers to finalize the name of a site when the site reaches ~45% commitment". Since at the time, O.R. was the last site to graduate from A51, and they had a community vote on the site name slightly after 45% commitment, I waited until then to start a nearly identical discussion thread.
On 20 April we were told by an SE employee that it would be better/best for us to have a new Meta discussion which is not limited in the way our last one was (the last one was copied from what happened for O.R. which was at the time the most recent site to be created), so we had that discussion here.
I tried to remain neutral by just asking the question, with a few suggestions, and then not answering it, but we got 7 responses, 100% of them picking choice #3, with a total of 31 upvotes and 1 downvote.
But then we were told that if there was a real problem with the name, we would have to have a third discussion about it on our own Meta site once we have the whole community available, because the name was already decided during a Final Review at the end of Definition.
The community did not discuss the name before the Final Review, because at the time of making this proposal, and throughout Definition, I knew nothing about a "final review" at the end of the Definition stage, since this was never told to us at the time of proposing, and the word "review" doesn't even appear anywhere in the A51 Help Center or FAQ, and I had not read every single Discussion Zone post (I had the above two things to worry about, and they were not easy problems to solve!). The most I could base things off was the most recent case (O.R.), and in that case the name did change from "Operations Research and Analytics" to "Operations Research", well after Definition phase, and after the Meta Discussion slightly after ~45% commitment (I understand the discussion might have played no role in the final decision, but the name change happening after the discussion and half-way through Commitment phase suggested that we have until much longer than Definition phase before a final decision).
So we are here now, and we know: "it's not ideal, but we've had other instances of sites whose names have changed after launch." During Private Beta we did try to have the Meta discussion but within a few hours it seemed to be nudged towards exploring alternative ways to make our scope more clear. We may have misinterpreted, but since we were asked to have a Discussion about the name if there was a problem, and when we did that and there were 7 well-received answers that all preferred option #3 we were asked to Discuss it again once we have our own Meta, we may have started to feel that the effort was becoming futile.
However while doing research to prepare for one final attempt, I have come to notice that "Operations Research and Analytics" was changed to "Operations Research" because "While the other options were more elaborate and detailed, the titles were too long for our design". That would mean that "Molecular and Materials Modeling" is also too long for the design, and therefore it would make sense now, that all those previous discussions that we had did not bear any fruit.
Molecular and Materials Modeling (MMM) is appropriate because our 5th most popular tag is molecular-modeling, and in very our early survey had 21 people identify themselves as molecular modelers, 18 people identify themselves as molecular-dynamicists, and only 13 people identify themselves as "only" materials modelers (and this was on a Facebook Group called "Materials Modeling Stack Exchange" so it was not like we asked to an exclusive molecular modeling forum, it was quite the opposite).
But MMM is quite a mouthful, and now we know it's too long for the design, and it also excludes ab initio modeling of atoms, sub-atomic matter (coupled cluster is used in sub-atomic science too, in fact it was first invented there). MMM is also quite a drastic change from what we have right now, but what if we were to just change one single word: Materials to Matter. This solves the problem of "excluding" people that identify more with molecular-modeling than materials-modeling, in addition to ab intio modelers using the same techniques for other types of matter. The length is the same, and most of the SE network won't even notice the change.
By having our name "Materials Modeling" as opposed to "Matter Modeling", are we potentially losing any of our audience?