We all love History Stack Exchange, but there is a whole world of people out there who need answers to their questions and don't even know that this site exists. When they arrive from Google, what will their first impression be? Let's try to look at this site through the eyes of someone who's never seen it before, and see how we stack up against the rest of the 'Net.

The Site Self-Evaluation review queue is open and populated with 10 questions that were asked and answered in the last quarter. Run a few Google searches to see how easy they are to find and compare the answers we have with the information available on other sites.

Rating the questions is only a part of the puzzle, though. Do you see a pattern of questions that should have been closed but are not? Questions or answers that could use an edit? Anything that's going really well? Post an answer below to share your thoughts and discuss these questions and the site's health with your fellow users!

3 Answers 3


Why did Central and South American nations participate in WWII?

Excellent. The question itself was a bit squishy, but the answer was absolutely wonderful. I wasn't even sure how to begin Googling for it.

How could a chariot work against a phalanx?

Excellent. The question was truly puzzling, as presented. The accepted answer (with a bit of help from commenters) actually dug up and corrected a vital piece of wrong info in the online sources. Perhaps a wee bit long for my tastes, but that's just my taste. Our answer was the third hit Google gave me.

What is the longest running legal case?

Excellent again. The question was not only quite straightforward, but showed some research (take note, everyone!) We were only about the 8th hit on Google, but our accepted answer was a better one than any of the preceding 7 (with our runner-up matching the best of the other 7 Google hits). My only complaint is that the questioner didn't accept an answer. (I almost bumped it down for that, but we otherwise covered ourselves in glory here, so I just couldn't.)

How much did we know about heredity pre-Mendel?

Needs Improvement. We were not any of the first 20 hits I got on Google, and that's probably for the best. The question is legit. However, there's only one answer. Its an OK answer. Not sparkling, but OK. It could really use some competition. The google hits I got were full of really good information (along with the exact question on ask.com, with its typical horrible answer). We can do better here. This was also the first of the example questions I was unfamiliar with, so perhaps a lot of that is my bad.

When did Japan and the Three Kingdoms of Korea first meet?

Excellent. Wonderful question. Showed its research and where that research failed. Certainly not trivially googleable. Great (although again way too long) answer. Could use another answer, but then in this case perhaps the accepted one is right, so no other answer really needs to be created. I was on the fence about this one, but I'm marking it up to "excellent" because I don't think you can find better on the internet at large without doing a lot of research yourself.

Which countries protested against the Anschluss?

Needs Improvement. The problem here is that the question is really squishy (as the one answer rightly pointed out). The answer is no better though, as it presents novel (to me) information with no backup whatsoever. This was pointed out in the comments, but never rectified. Disappointing all around.

What book on liberty did Lord Acton not write?

Excellent - The question looks weird at first blush, but is fair enough. I'm not sure how to go about Googling for it. On the plus side, it has two answers, one of which appears to be 100% correct and very well written. I even upvoted it at the time. Sadly, the other answer was clearly written by a total buffoon, and should probably have been deleted.

I do know that you can't easily find the answer outside of our site, because I tried and failed miserably. :-) So I think despite having only one good answer, and that other blemish upon the face of our stack there, I'm marking this excellent as well.

Pre-WW2 location of Skalat

Satisfactory - The question is the weakness here, as it turned out to have the answer right there in the wikipedia page. However, the answer is great, in that it points this out and distills the important info from that page nicely. There's no other answer, but there really doesn't need to be. We were the second hit I got on Google (the first being the wikipedia page in question).

What wiped the Buddhism traces from Kerala History?

Satisfactory - The question was probably the weakness here too, in that I found the answer explicitly stated right in the Wikipedia entry I got from my first Google hit. Our answers didn't make Google's first page of hits, and neither was accepted. Both answers themselves look pretty good to me.

PANDA Source Analysis

Needs Improvement. I'm not saying its horrible. Its just that the answer has not been accepted, and could probably use some more attention. As I mentioned in the comments, the nature of the question makes it ungooglable.

In aggregate, this is the best site-eval I've returned for this stack yet, by far. Good job everyone!

  • "Sadly, the other answer was clearly written by a total buffoon, and should probably have been deleted." heh, got me. I was all like what? how dare he!
    – CGCampbell
    Nov 8, 2014 at 18:12

I really appreciate T.E.D.'s analysis; I don't have much to add to it this time around. Instead, I want to highlight a couple of posts based on some queries I built. Let's start with the bad news. Many people find History.SE and disagree with the accepted answer to Why didn't Japanese infantrymen and samurai use shields? In the last 180 days 50 anonymous users found it unhelpful. It's the all-time least popular post on the site. Just about everything I know about Japanese military history comes from watching The Last Samuri, so I'm the last person to cast judgment. But this seems a great candidate for a thoughtful edit.

On the flipside, the accepted answer to Why did archery not make a comeback when armor was phased out in the 18th century? has been extremely well-recieved by anonymous visitors. Given that the question has been viewed 12708 time in a little over a month, it shouldn't be too surprising that the top answer has gotten noticed too. Only one person (anonymous or otherwise) has downvoted the answer compared to 149 total upvotes. A rousing success for this community.

And while we are at it, the Area 51 statistics are starting to look very encouraging. I'd really like to encourage you all to continue to think of new questions to ask. (Perhaps someone would be interested in taking over the topic challenge.)

  • Hmmm. That question does have a much better received answer. It seems the reporting on it is likely complaints about which answer the author accepted. Short of sending the question author (Mr. @twilightsparkle ) a request to change his accept, I'm not sure what we can reasonably do to "fix" that. If you take the better received answer's word for it, there isn't really anything to be done for the accepted answer short of a total rewrite of it.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Nov 12, 2014 at 23:15
  • Should I take it from your queries that we could use more questions on the rationale behind the choices of medieval weaponry? :-)
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Nov 12, 2014 at 23:24

Final Results

Net Score: 12 (Excellent: 12, Satisfactory: 3, Needs Improvement: 0)

Net Score: 5 (Excellent: 6, Satisfactory: 7, Needs Improvement: 1)

Net Score: 4 (Excellent: 7, Satisfactory: 4, Needs Improvement: 3)

Net Score: 2 (Excellent: 4, Satisfactory: 6, Needs Improvement: 2)

Net Score: 1 (Excellent: 4, Satisfactory: 8, Needs Improvement: 3)

Net Score: -2 (Excellent: 3, Satisfactory: 7, Needs Improvement: 5)

Net Score: -3 (Excellent: 3, Satisfactory: 3, Needs Improvement: 6)

Net Score: -5 (Excellent: 2, Satisfactory: 5, Needs Improvement: 7)

Net Score: -5 (Excellent: 0, Satisfactory: 7, Needs Improvement: 5)

Net Score: -8 (Excellent: 1, Satisfactory: 4, Needs Improvement: 9)

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