A few years back we tried a question asking contest on History and Philosophy. The format was somewhat flawed, but I think the basic concept is sound. Having a specific suggestion of a type of question to ask about tends to prompt more response than a general call for more questions. So I'd like to suggest running a "weekly topic challenge". The Judaism site ran one a few years ago and it was fairly effective. So I'd like to try a similar series of challenges on this site.

Here's how it will work:

  1. Suggest topics in the answers below.

  2. Next Friday, the organizer* will pick one of the topics and write up a new meta post introducing the challenge for the following week. The topic will be associated with a specific tag so that we can count how many questions were asked.

  3. Anyone who wants to participate asks about the topic of the week.

  4. At the end of the week, the organizer post an answer to the challenge with a count of how many questions were asked and anything else they feel like highlighting (like favorite questions or notable achievements).

  5. The organizer picks a new topic and starts back on step #2.

People are free to add new topics at any time and when the list of topics is exhausted, the challenge series ends. Sometime later, I can run analysis similar to what I did for the Mi Yodeya challenge series. And that's about it.

Please let me know what you think and suggest some topics for the weeks ahead.

* Either myself or someone who volunteers in an answer below.

  • Is the analysis that you run going to be basically the same as the one you did for Mi Yodeya?
    – ihtkwot
    Aug 24, 2014 at 16:47
  • @ihtkwot: Well, that'd be the starting place, I think. But I'm open to suggestions/corrections. That and I might get new ideas about how to measure/display results. Aug 25, 2014 at 1:09
  • Should people who suggest topics also ask one themselves? Sep 1, 2014 at 7:46
  • @congusbongus: Ideally, yes. But it's not a requirement by any means. Sep 5, 2014 at 19:22

10 Answers 10


I've only seen Japan come up like twice in questions that isn't about invading China/Asia/WW2.

  • Meiji Restoration: supporters/opposition to the restoration, role of the emperor and imperial court, the modernisation programs and reactions to them.

  • Sengoku Era: impact of European contact, effect of religions, social/economic structures, shifts in political systems, role of the central government.

  • 6
    It would be quite refreshing if we shifted our focus away from US / Europe history, even if only for a week.
    – yannis
    Aug 25, 2014 at 10:51
  • 1
    For reference, here's the challenge post. Great job. (Both on the suggestion and your participation.) Sep 5, 2014 at 19:29

Questions around here are often about warfare, famous people, politics, religion... how about a light-hearted change of pace?

There's 33 questions with that tag, which shows that it's on-topic and quite well received. One of the biggest questions in food history might be "who invented noodles", but there's plenty of material out there:

  • History of various cuisines (why do French eat frogs legs?)
  • Effects of historical events on cuisines (Colombian exchange)
  • Events surrounding food-related historical figures (Brillat-Savarin, Yuan Mei)
  • History of crops and cultivation

And many more. Food can also have a surprising influence on history (tea and USA, potatoes and Ireland, rice and China) so I think it's a great topic.


With only 11 tagged questions and no tag wiki, this is an under-served topic, but spanning 2000 years (approx. 3000BC to 1000BC) and marking the start of civilisations, writing and written history, there should be plenty to ask about this period.

One explanation is that records from this time were rather sparse, as most people did not feel the need to record and preserve history in a factual, unbiased manner, plus there were a few catastrophes. Another explanation (or effect of the first) is that our favourite histories - Greece, Rome, unified China, Japan - happened after the Bronze age. But there's a lot still there: Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia. Let's see if we can come up with some excellent questions here.

  • 1
    Like this topic. I'm a bit surprised that something so broad only has 11 questions!
    – Semaphore
    Oct 10, 2014 at 7:52

I would like to see questions about the history of the Middle East region that aren't focused on the past 20 some years, or centered around religion. Basically, pre-20th century Middle East history.

Example topics could cover:

  • Resistance movements in present day Egypt, or other countries, against the Ottoman Empire in the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries
  • Resistance to the Omayyad Caliphate
  • Why much of the Arabian peninsula remained free of Ottoman rule

How about: Sailing on the high seas. From Viking Longships to English Man'o'wars, to the Pirates of the Barbary Coast.

  • I'm all in for nautical history - can't get enough of it.
    – Comintern
    Oct 2, 2014 at 3:44

Suggested topic:

  • Religious diversity in the US from 1770 to 1790. How did the colonies constrain or promote religious diversity as they shifted away from a state controlled church? What were the distribution of religions in the post revolutionary period, which flourished and why? Which diminished and why?

Requests to avoid.

  • Please avoid any question that can be closed by Godwin's law. I'm so tired of the topic.
  • 2
    Re: your second point, I too would like to avoid the History channel's obsession with WWII. Aug 25, 2014 at 1:13
  • 1
    A problem with this question is why does the rest of the world care about early US history. Personally I'd like to know more about why Sunni's think all Shia's are lower than whale scum, but I would dare ask that in a question here as it could only lead down paths I don't think we want this SE to tread.
    – CGCampbell
    Oct 7, 2014 at 18:05

Mongol history (Ghengis and onwards).


British North American Colonial, North American Indigenous, non-British North American Colonial and Canadian, Mexican and US social history to 1930 might be a good theme to derive weeklies from. They'll be closer in context to many posters, they're capable of being broken down using core common tools, (Race and Religiosity in Mexico?). They're also highly documented in electronic resources so provide a good field for answers.

Cultural history would also do.

It would be good to avoid military and political history, as people seem to be interested by themselves.




My girlfriend the historian suggested, and I thought it was interesting.

Where there were prohibitions against driving in the United States, how frequently were those prohibitions enforced and what factors determined whether they would be enforced?

Couple of relevant references:

I'll grant you that this is another US centric question, but

  • It is social / legal history though, and transport history. On the same theme, there are many sub-disciplines worth investigating (even within US history): legal, religious, labour, business, women's, history of science, history of social science. Aug 26, 2014 at 0:13

You must log in to answer this question.

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