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?

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Heya! Just ... commenting so that you know we're aware of this. The complicated part of this is the URL... which is already "materials.stackexchange.com"... But, we'll talk and thank you all for the helpful commentary here. (Don't feel like it needs to stop right now, either). $\endgroup$
    – Catija
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 18:44
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Status update - this change has been generally approved, just need to actually get it built. Waiting on a schedule to get you more info. $\endgroup$
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much @Catija! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 22:41
  • $\begingroup$ See the URL here: sqa.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/610/… $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 10 at 10:48

9 Answers 9


Here's what we'll be rolling out later this week:

We will update your site name to "Matter Modeling Stack Exchange". It seems pretty unanimous here that this is a better fit for your site.

To support this, we will change the site URL to mattermodeling.stackexchange.com - we can't use either matter or modeling alone because they are too ambiguous - I mean, unless you want questions about how to pose for a camera while wearing fashionable boots. This is still shorter than interpersonalskills.stackexchange.com, currently our longest URL, so it's not that big of a concern. So that we don't break anything, we will retain materials.stackexchange.com links and will alias it to mattermodeling.stackexchange.com - this also means that you will have a shorthand version of the URL if you want it.

As I said at the top, this will happen later this week. If there are any questions or concerns, please let me know.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much Catija! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ Do I see that right, that the magic links [materials.se] and [mattermodeling.se] will both work? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 11:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン Yep. They should. $\endgroup$
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Catija. We hope the new name will attract more users who where dissuaded by the original name $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 14:38

By having our name "Materials Modeling" as opposed to "Matter Modeling", are we potentially losing any of our audience?

I believe yes.

Some molecular modelers do not associate themselves with materials modeling and will ignore our site. Likewise material modelers do not always associate themselves with molecular modeling. However the difference is not exactly clear. When does a system become a material or molecular? Is a molecular crystal or condensed phase a material? The truth is that both equally give and take from the other, for example, materials modelers also utilize "molecular" models (e.g. need to parameterize your beads for a multiscale model?)

The strong vitriol on both sides (materials vs molecular) is unfortunately based on classical differences between the subgroups-- before the fields became so highly interdisciplinary. However, in physics and chemistry we are taught that Matter is defined as any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. While this may sound broad, "materials" is equally if not more broad because it can include ANYTHING. "Matter" only covers material that has mass. Our previous meta and proposal discussions have clearly established that this site is focused on the modeling of all different types of matter from the very small to the mesoscopic, the modeling is the glue that holds it all together.

I think people tend to prefer the longer name MMM, however that name is not allowed, per Stack Exchange rules, and actually excludes some topics which are on scope here as Nike explained above. Nevertheless, the name Matter Modeling conforms to the established standard already set by the journal Matter (as already mentioned by others) and by very famous labs worldwide such as the Matter Lab that took the domain matter.utoronto.edu, just as we should take the domain matter.stackexchange.com and redirect materials.se to there

Therefore, Matter Modeling is a great name for our new stack exchange.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Matter Modeling would be more attractive to someone like me (small molecules and enzymes), and appears to be the best solution. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 20:04

I am late to the discussion. I see that most up votes are for changing the title to Matter Modelling. My take on this:

According to wikipedia

The interdisciplinary field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering, is the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids.

According to Britannica

Materials science, the study of the properties of solid materials and how those properties are determined by a material’s composition and structure.

This SE is definitely not restricted to the conventional definition of Materials and hence I think everyone agrees to the fact that the title Materials Modelling is too restrictive. Also since there are people who think that just because of the title of SE, they wouldn't feel being part of the community (who genuinely are) we should seriously consider changing the title.

Then the question is what is a good alternative? The option we have is Matter Modelling. The fact that many numerical methods we use are/will be also used in nuclear physics (matter in conventional sense) I think the title will do justice. Also as pointed out by other answers there are labs being renamed to Matter lab and we have journals with name Matter, I think the term Matter Modelling can be used to define our scope.


On the site's permanent name: I think it is safe to say that we all agree that "Modeling" has to stay and that by modeling we understand that this is a community Q&A focused on the computational modeling of systems composed of particles and their physical and chemical properties.

So what do we need to discuss? How does wording impact a community and exactly how does it determine who is in and who is out? The name 'Materials Modeling' has already been described on Reddit as a "horrible" name for a Stack Exchange. This, due to the exclusion associated with the name: Self explanatory. We are possibly at the right and last moment available to come to agreement on a name that will serve the community right.

The term "Matter Modeling" (or its variants as suggested above) is inclusive and seeks to think of this group as resource that will be available not only to those who already have experience in research, but also to those that may see this Stack Exchange as their first resource or exposure to computational [insert_matter_subfield] modeling.

Personally, my training has been in "Materials" modeling. Funny thing... the professor who trained me worked under Roald Hoffmann, a quantum chemist, and he was a molecular physicist. What they agreed on, and what I became convinced of too is that whether you studied chemistry, physics or engineering, you can still be passionate about understanding what everything around you is made of and how the world works at a fundamental level and from a theoretical perspective.

I am convinced that "Matter Modeling" can and will achieve just that, as we begin seeing more and more inclusive works where the objective is to understand how matter (electrons, atoms, molecules,ions) organizes and interacts with its surroundings. This ultimately goes beyond modeling a compound as an isolated molecule or as a crystal, and it is exemplified in recent works where scientists are using both molecular and materials modeling methods to tackle big questions. Here, an example where both Q-Chem and VASP are used to understand disorder in doped silicene and the effects of "clustering" (finite size effects). Recently, I just read an ACS Catalysis paper that to me seems very chemist-oriented and the authors used Quantum ESPRESSO. The overlap is there!

I personally think that "Modeling of Matter" is something I would like to become an expert in, and will hopefully identify with exactly that in the future, and not be limited to molecules or materials.

As mentioned above, Alan Aspuru's lab is now known as the matter lab and Matter, the sister journal to Chem and Cell, continues to gain traction due to its inclusive scope and cutting-edge, visionary content.

It is not coincidence, new or llogical to use Matter and an inclusive term to identify with. The world's biggest challenges require both the accelerated and integrated discovery of new compounds and materials. Without hyperbole, our planet and survival might depend on that.

Matter Modeling Stack Exchange will be the absolute best name for this site. Welcome all who intend to model matter in all scales and phases.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ +100 Just love your answer! $\endgroup$
    – Camps Mod
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 12:55

I think having Materials Modeling as the name definitely dissuades people from joining (or, often, even looking at the site). These are potential users who would clearly fit into the scope we have established thus far, but who don't realize the site is for them.

The biggest examples I have seen of this are in advertising the site to computational chemists. Almost universally, their initial response is that they don't consider themselves a materials researcher. They are generally confused as to how they fit under that umbrella and they would skip right over this site if they didn't have someone personally explaining to them that their work would fit here.

I feel Matter Modeling covers all the sorts of questions we are hoping the site will attract, without the name turning into an overly long list.


I currently perform both small molecule and enzyme simulations. I use a variety of software for a broad set of calculations. Initially I was dissuaded by the name, but gave it a chance. However, I have found the site to be incredibly useful.

I believe that a name change is needed (as does everyone else) and I support Matter Modeling. Given the constraints, I feel that this would be more attractive to modelers from all sorts of disciplines and they would be able to help form a even stronger collaborative community.

  • $\begingroup$ The site has been useful (updated answer to clarify). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 20:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "I was dissuaded by the name" this is exactly what we need to avoid! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 20:57

Would Computational Chemistry and Physics (CCP) be out of the question? This would cover everything.

  • $\begingroup$ It seems like it would be off the table, as the network wants to avoid 1. long names (basically anything that requires an "and") 2. The appearance of too much overlap with existing SE sites (Computational Science, Chemistry, and Physics). $\endgroup$
    – Tyberius Mod
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 17:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Susi I have given you +1 because it is a good idea, and I don't think the downvotes by others were necessary. They might have just been voting for Matter Modeling and voting "against" CCP. I actually think CCP is an excellent idea, and it hasn't come up yet (probably for the reasons Tyberius mentioned). The background: SE has some sites with long names, but they decided about 6 years ago that they would not allow it anymore. "Operations Research and Analytics" was shortened to "Operations Research" because the longer version didn't "fit with the design". Older sites were not changed. $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 19:07

From my personal point of view, I have to confess that I prefer Molecular and Materials Modeling over Matter Modeling.

From a technical point of view, I realize that Matter Modeling is broad and can attract many more people (even when it's broadness is one of my concerns).

Just a thought: what about MolMat Modeling?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don't think portmanteaus are allowed and this name has never been suggested before. I think we should stick within the confines of the names already suggested in the two previous discussions. $\endgroup$
    – Cody Aldaz
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 19:42

I generally find the phrase "matter modeling" to be confusing given no other prior context. Everything is matter. It tells me very little about what would be covered. For instance, someone modeling plasmas is modeling matter, but that (to my understanding) does not seem like the intended audience here. At least the phrase "materials modeling" is well-accepted and widely used, even if certainly still open to interpretation. Edit: A counter-point to my general sentiment here is the journal Matter, as one example.

I will repeat what I have said elsewhere because it's important and still not clear to me. What is the purpose of this SE? The name must come after the scope. If the purpose is to include all computational chemistry and computational materials science, then I can understand the desire to adjust the name, as many chemists would not classify themselves as studying materials. However, in my personal opinion, I feel that the Chemistry stack exchange has ample questions regarding computational chemistry with excellent in-depth answers on a regular basis. Perhaps more importantly, there are many other forums that are in wide use by computational chemists. In contrast, there is currently no place on stack exchange for computational materials science, and the existing forums elsewhere are very package-specific.

Anyway, to summarize, I think "matter modeling" is so broad as to potentially be confusing on a first-read. I also agree that "Molecular and Materials Modeling" is perhaps a mouthful although overall I think it is fine if that's the intended scope of the site.

I am aware I am likely in the minority with my comments here, and that's fine. Just my $0.02.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The scope of the site has been discussed in multiple places and I think the most favored opinion has been "to include all computational chemistry and computational materials science" questions, as you mentioned. $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 9:12
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ As of computational chemistry being on-topic in Chem.SE, it has also been discussed previously. Quoting Martin, who is a moderator in Chem.SE, from here , "when the focus on the chemistry is not obvious, our community [Chem.SE] tends to view these questions as off topic" but questions like these which focus more on the modeling aspect are on topic here. Also, the overlap with other SE sites, and the issues of forums have been discussed in detail by Nike, in this Area51 post. $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 9:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the comments! $\endgroup$ Commented May 26, 2020 at 17:17

You must log in to answer this question.

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