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I've been wondering why China was able to unify and not Europe, and came up with some really good ideas. I was going to ask the question then answer it, but I realized that it wouldn't fit the Q&A format of the Stack-exchange. I feel that this sort of question would be a great addition to our site and would bring many people to the history overflow, and was wondering if there was a way we could ask and answer this question. Any ideas?

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    The quick and easy way to determine whether or not a question would be accepted is to ask yourself a couple of questions. First, would this question invite opinion and speculation rather than clear and concise answers? Second, is this question more likely to invoke dialogue rather than clear and concise answers? If the answer to either of those questions is "Yes", then we as admins will probably end up having to close the question. – Steven Drennon Apr 9 '12 at 14:15
  • @StevenDrennon - Quite. This seems like it would be a question that is basically begging for complete speculation. It would perhaps be better to ask what the dominant existing theories for this are. – T.E.D. Apr 10 '12 at 15:44
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I think there are plenty of ways to do that as is. Typically this is done by asking a specific question on which elaboration and supporting examples are required "why China was able to unify and not Europe", seems to be very much an example of this. The fact that this question cannot be as definitely answered as say a mathematics proof or a physics experiment is simply due to the more complex nature of history (ie. many unknown and un-isolatable variables and far too extensive of a scope to reduce to a laboratory experiment). If the format doesn't allow this it is not proper to historical analysis.

Have you tried asking this and its has been downvoted or closed?

  • No I didn't ask it, it wasn't worth the risks involved. – Russell Apr 9 '12 at 9:38
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    Itsatrap! Our socio-historical theories can't survive intelletual firepower of that magnitude! – T.E.D. Apr 10 '12 at 15:42
  • @Russell the risks? There are no risks! Think of what's best for this site: asking that question you would give this site a possibly important piece of information, i.e. if such a question is good or not. – o0'. May 8 '12 at 20:00
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If you think this question is good for the site and will bring people in, and also think that there are risks to answering it I would impulsively say its not a good question. Personally, when I encounter questions I would like to ask but have a "gut check" that says I should think about it then either my question is ill-formed or ill-suited. When framed correctly historical questions can typically be answered, but usually there is not just one correct answer, in many ways thats where I feel the History SE site sort of diverges. Since SE aims for one question with one correct answer it's hard to say if there is one that is the most correct, mostly I go with the most suitable. Although I have seen many programming questions that don't have one correct answer either, so I don't fully think that History is that much of a divergence.

Sometimes the risk is worth taking, if you have a question that has value and have an answer of equal value then feel free to put it forth. There are a few examples of questions that were either closed, or considered ill-suited to the History SE site but elicited some very good and very high quality answers. So my suggestion to you is don't overthink it, after all this is a community site and unless the community participates it will not grow.

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