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I've just discovered that my question asking about an English term that an English biotechnitian would use was migrated to, of all possible SEs, the Russian Language SE.

This is just to register my amazement at this decision. I've very little free time right now.

Let me cite a comment left by WYSIWIG:

This is not a question about biology or chemistry. It is basically a question about Russian language and the meaning of a Russian term in English. – WYSIWYG 7

Nothing can be farther from the truth. This is a question about biology, and absolutely not a question about the Russian language. I even quoted the original Russian term in my question.

I didn't want to know its meaning: I know what "konservirovat'" means in Russian. I wanted to have several natively-looking options to pick from, in order to be used in my Russian-to-English translation.

The migrated question was immediately and rightfully put on hold on Russian Language SE:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ [1-2] I too was very surprised that this question was migrated to the Russian Language SE, and of the crass arrogance of some of the commentators. I still think that what is meant is regeneration. After the chromatographic separation, there will be unwanted material still bound to the column which will need to be got rid of before the next run. If a hydrophobic effect is involved (hydrophobic interaction chromatography?; reverse-phase HPLC?), washing with aqueous alcohol will decrease the hydrophobic effect... $\endgroup$ – user1136 Feb 24 '17 at 0:55
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    $\begingroup$ [2-2] ... thus regenerating the resin. It is also possible that what is meant is regeneration in place. That it, the resin was regenerated without repacking the column under relatively mild conditions. The flow rate was slowly decreased to zero, suggesting regeneration/storage until the next 'run'. Regeneration-in-place is different from the harsher cleaning-in-place where the resin is washed with (maybe) NaOH in order to remove denatured protein or the like before regeneration and storage. And the column may be used/regenerated many times before cleaning is necessary. $\endgroup$ – user1136 Feb 24 '17 at 1:06
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I agree with you that the question doesn't belong at all on the Russian SE, but I'm sorry, it doesn't really belong on Biology.SE either.

My expertise isn't in chromatography, but if you are looking for a term that is in common use, why don't you read some papers in English that are doing chromatography? If there is a standard terminology you will find it there; if there is no standard terminology, you are free as a translator to substitute an appropriate phrase. You also got lots of similar helpful input from people on Biology.SE before the question was migrated but you didn't seem to appreciate it much. Mothballed suggests a near-permanent storage (i.e., it is implied that something that is mothballed may not in fact be reused, just set aside such that it could be if required or used for parts, most often in the context of ships or aircraft, but also sometimes used to refer to ideas/plans), so I would not use that term.

Translation in technical disciplines is difficult as evidenced by the quantity of poor translations that exist, so I am sympathetic to what you are trying to do, but I just don't think that's the point of Biology.SE.

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    $\begingroup$ In my very strong view, whether the OP did or didn't 'appreciate it very much' is no reason to close or migrate a question. $\endgroup$ – user1136 Feb 24 '17 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ @tomd In what way did I suggest that was reason to close the question? I was merely pointing out that the community did not dismiss the question outright, but at least provided some feedback before closing the question. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 24 '17 at 3:25
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    $\begingroup$ Let me make this point: one of the rules of SE is that 'anyone can answer a question'. Your area of expertise may not include chromatography (and that is fair enough), but by closing a question you are ensuring that no-one else can answer is either. The OP is not looking for a literal meaning of the word but what is meant in the context of the field (chromatography) it is used. The word 'epimer', for example, may mean different things to a chemist and a biochemist (are D-glucose and D-galactose epimers?) and the precise meaning may depend on the field of study. $\endgroup$ – user1136 Feb 24 '17 at 9:52
  • $\begingroup$ @tomd Again, maybe my answer was unclear. I did not mean to imply that my lack of expert knowledge in chromatography meant the question was off topic, I was merely offering whatever support to the OP that I could. My opposition to the original question is that the OP really just wanted a translation, they did not want an explanation of the purpose of a step in chromatography, rather whether "mothballed" was a good translation. I'll note that since then, the OP of that question has asked many similar questions in the "Biosphere" chat and got some answers - I think that's a better venue. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Feb 24 '17 at 15:45
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I noticed this post a bit late; sorry for that.


Let us carefully read your question again:

From a method description in a Russian document:

After the chromatographic analysis is complete, the column is flushed with at least 2-3 volumes of water at a rate of 0.4 ml/min. The column is then mothballed (?) by washing it with at least 10-15 volumes of 20% alcohol at a rate slowly declining from 0.4 ml/min to 0 ml/min.

The word I translated as "mothballed" is konservirovat (консервировать колонку) in Russian. It has the general meaning of "preparing something for storage" (for instance, "preparing vegetables for storage by pickling").

What would be the suitable term for chromatography?

Please note the text in bold: "From a Russian document" which means that the original document was in Russian and so is a term that is confusing to you.

You have yourself mentioned that "The word I translated as "mothballed" is konservirovat".

Now the entire question, as I see, is about the meaning of konservirovat.

Your question is in all grounds off-topic because it is not about the principle behind a procedure or a step in a protocol but rather about what is a suitable term to address a step.

According to my judgment (perhaps I am too foolish to understand), the term that has to be understood is in Russian language.

Perhaps I am just one user but this means that there is still a possibility that someone does not really understand your question and it is hence unclear.

If you clarify the question and if it really is about chromatographic procedure, then we can have it re-opened.


To everyone who is blaming me (or a few set of users) for being autocratic, please note that this is your community as well. I am forced to use my discretion because there are excessively long review queues. This means that you have not been participating in the review process.

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  • $\begingroup$ In essence, the question is asking for the proper term to describe a technique. It seems like that should be on-topic. Also, all of the review queues are empty for me. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Feb 25 '17 at 17:35
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You're not alone in your amazement. To me, the most discouraging aspect of stack exchange is that many people care more about enforcing rules as they perceive them than answering questions. Unfortunately, it only takes 5 like-minded people or 1 moderator to close a question.

This question is about biology, specifically the interpretation of biological methods and the correct way to describe them. You could leave out any mention of the Russian language and translation and the question would be the same.

Also, the comment that this is better suited to Chemistry SE than Biology is incorrect. Chromatography is widely used in biology and the specific procedure described sounds like FPLC.

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    $\begingroup$ Totally agree. Furthermore (as I noted earlier in an apparently deleted comment), washing with alcohol may not only prevent microbial growth (although it will do that). In hydrophobic interaction chromatography (for example on phenyl-Sepharose), washing with a non-polar (protic) solvent such as (aqueous) 1-octanol may be used to regenerate the column by decreasing the hydrophobic effect. My bet is that this is part of what is going on. $\endgroup$ – user1136 Feb 24 '17 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ I agree in general that Biology SE tends to be rather quick to close questions. I feel that overall we should give the OP the benefit of doubt when questions are unclear or appear to be unrelated to biology. There should be some discussion in the commentary before migrating or closing, and the OP should have a chance to revise the question first. There is no hurry to get rid of questions. $\endgroup$ – Roland Feb 24 '17 at 7:20
  • $\begingroup$ Many people are enforcing their rules. Well, why don't you use your privilege to vote? How many review tasks have you done? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Feb 25 '17 at 10:09
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG Of course I vote... $\endgroup$ – canadianer Feb 25 '17 at 17:26
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The migration to Russian Language may be arguable, but the question does not belong on Biology.SE in my opinion.

I voted to close the question because it's about methodology and terminology used in chromatography to flush and store the column particle packing material. Although chromatography is a much applied technique in Biochemistry, I think basic questions on the terminology and methods to rinse and store column packing materials is a basic Chemistry question.

And for what it's worth, the mods did their best to migrate the question. At the time of migration there were already 4 regular votes in. Without a migration the question would've been put on hold at Bio. But yes, in my humble opinion migration to Chemistry.SE would've been more appropriate, but the mods may have had their motivations to not do this.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you explain for me your argument that this question is more appropriate at Chemistry SE, so much so that it warrants closure? This is a question about a biological technique on a biology Q&A site. I'm a biologist and I routinely flush ion exchange columns with ethanol for storage. We have tags here for terminology and methods, which to me implies that these types of questions are welcome. Certainly there's overlap between the two fields and this question could also be on topic there, but it's surely also on-topic here. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Feb 22 '17 at 1:28
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer - it is a gray area. When folks come in asking question about how to program a Matlab routine to analyze their sequencing data it is also a gray area; is it Bio, is it SignalProcessing.SE, is it SuperUser.SE or StackOverflow? Then it becomes a percentage-wise question. I mean, how much on your question is Bio? Chromatography is a technique used in Bio yes, but the basics of that technique is chemistry. We use radioactive markers in assays, yes, but the nuclear physics of 17C-glucose decay is still Physics.SE. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 22 '17 at 10:20
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    $\begingroup$ It's impossible to quantify the relevance of a question to a specific site. Practically any biochemistry question could be on-topic on either site, but that also doesn't make them off-topic on one site or the other. My point is if that the question is about biology and is asked on a biology Q&A site, shouldn't we just keep it open? Really, who benefits by the closure of a question like this? $\endgroup$ – canadianer Feb 23 '17 at 3:14
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer - I think OP benefits as I expect more expert answers to come from Chemistry. Cross-posting is discouraged, hence my decision to vote for closure. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 23 '17 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ But the question was already correctly answered. Please understand I'm not just arguing with you for the sake of it, I really cannot fathom the closure of this question. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Feb 23 '17 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ @canadianer - aha... 😏 that changes matters indeed... I would retract that vote if it was possible. When I voted it wasn't answered yet if I remember correctly. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 23 '17 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your consideration :) $\endgroup$ – canadianer Feb 23 '17 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD Martin & Synge, and (in particular) Moore & Stein, giants in the history of chromatography and biochemistry , did most of their pioneering work, both theoretical and practical, on the chromatographic behaviour of proteins and enzymes. I don't think you can get more 'biochemical' than that! $\endgroup$ – user1136 Feb 23 '17 at 22:28

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