Historians make reasoned opinions based on their research findings all the time. Why then do we mark controversial questions for closure because of being opinion-based? We might as well mark the other 5,000 or so questions on the site for closure because alot of the accepted facts are in fact the interpretation of available data by (a) historian(s).

I really think we should leave controversial questions like Why did the US drop nuclear bombs on a weakened Japan? open. It is a legitimate question with several different interpretations based on available historical data. It is not just "giving opinions".

This could also help us boost our questions per day stat, which is the only thing holding us back.

  • This question was asked in May, 2012, and closed in October, 2014, two and a half years later. It seems that we have a less tolerant group today than when we started.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 22:29
  • @TomAu exactly, there's even several historically good answers for it yet for some reason it's still closed. It's illogical and stupid. Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 23:09

1 Answer 1


Historiography is not the same thing as personal opinions of posters.

There's a difference between "What has historians said about X?" (definitely fact) and "Why did Y happen?" (possibly opinion). The former is a question of historiography, and factual, because historians write books and publish articles. Their opinions and conclusions are verifiable facts that can be cited and referenced.

The latter can be answered as a historiography, but usually is not. It tends to be approached as "why do YOU think Y happened", and when you pick one of "several different interpretations based on available historical data", that is exactly what primarily opinion based is. Citing "historical data" doesn't mean an answer wasn't opinion based; in your example specifically, most answers were simply making assertions without really backing them up.

Having said that, a question like that can usually be easily reworded into a historiography one. For example, "Why do historians think atomic weapons were used to Japan?" is a historiography question. An answer will be able to cite historians to discuss what their views are. And it probably answers the original asker's question too.

The problem is that without specifying a focus on historiography. many people tend to write answers that reads like little more than their personal opinions.

Personally I might vote to close a "why...?" question based on how its written, and vote to reopen if it is edited to be actually about historiography.

  • Then why did you vote to close a question which have answers full of historiography, have many upvotes and have good answers? Commented Apr 11, 2015 at 23:10
  • Despite your imagination those answers contained no historiography. It was completely people spouting their personal opinions.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 6:28
  • And can you objectively say that BrotherJack's answer is a bad answer? Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 12:07
  • I can objectively say it is primarily based on his personal opinion. It also began with a dubious reasoning that soldiers fighting to the death in battles means politicians would not consider surrendering, but that's besides the point.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 12:18

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