I think questions like this one should be discouraged and closed since they generate political debates.

If the nazi is a far-right party, why is it socialist?

While it can be fun to engage in political debates, it doesn't serve any purpose here except for people who disagree strongly politically to downvote each other. There are a number of political forums around that can be used for such debates if one is interested in such things.

2 Answers 2


I don't know.

For one thing, I think the above was a perfectly valid question. I used to wonder the same thing, until I read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and came across where the name came from, and some of how it was justified at the time. IMHO the cheif tactical error that question made was to pose it in present tense, rather than past tense. If they'd fixed that, I bet nobody would have complained.

There are a fair number of questions I see posted that are about modern-day events and are essentially political or sociology questions, not proper history questions. If there were SE sites covering those topics, we could just shunt them off there and be done with them. In the absence of a Sociology.SE though, I suppose you could view History as Sociology carried out on past events and peoples. There's nothing stopping a person (eg: us) from using the same analysis tools on today's events we use on past ones.

We could instead say that anything the oxymoronic tag contemporary-history can be applied to (currently 8 questions) is off-topic.

Perhaps the best thing we could do is come up with a special tag for such questions, so people who don't like them can avoid them (or see if it can be improved into a real history question). Unless someone says otherwise, I think I'll start tagging all such things contemporary-history. Since its sort of an oxymoron anyway, so that ought to be a nice flag for those in-the-know.

I'll throw up a counter-example: What happens after a widespread social chaos. By most measures this would probably end up being an off-topic question. It's about present day events. It's very political. But the poor questioner is trying really hard to find himself some hope out of his present horrible situation by looking at history. If there is something we study history for (other than sheer fun) this is it. Most of the answers are IMHO (leaving mine aside) high quality attempts to enlighten. I really have a soft spot in my heart for this question, and would hate to see it have been uncerimoniously closed because it isn't Ivory Tower enough.

  • 1
    Unfortunately, that question and others like it have taken on a modern political context that overshadows the historical one. I injected my modern political interpretation just like as another, earlier, response had given one as well, one that I disagreed with.
    – jfrankcarr
    Jun 20, 2012 at 16:50
  • @jfrankcarr - So are you saying you agree with the idea of closing all contemporary history questions, or are you saying that some questions (not nessecarily contemporary even. Perhaps everything involving Hitler?) should be closed just because we are collectively incapable of answering them dispassionately?
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 20, 2012 at 19:52
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    I think that questions that encourage comparisons to current politics (ex: "Is Obama like Nixon?") or "what-ifs" about it (ex: "What would happen if Obama invalidated the election") should be closed. I also think that as a group we should refrain from injecting modern political commentary into answers as much as possible.
    – jfrankcarr
    Jun 20, 2012 at 20:04
  • @jfrankcarr - OK. That I can get behind.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 20, 2012 at 21:12
  • ...see my (new) last paragraph for a counter example though.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 20, 2012 at 21:28

I totally agree. The whole point of SE sites is to encourage people to go there and ask questions that have a clear and concise answer. Anything that encourages, debate, discussion, opinion, or speculation does not fit into the SE guidelines.

In response to some of the comments below, I would like to remind everyone that ALL Stack Exchange sites follow the same guidelines. Your questions need to be formatted in a way that they are able to be answered with a clear and concise answer. Questions that ask WHY are always going to be subjective by the very nature of the question. Everyone will have their own opinion as to WHY something happened.

On the other hand, questions that ask WHEN, WHO, WHAT, and often HOW are going to be much more likely to be answerable with a clear and concise answer that does NOT require speculation, conjecture, or opinion. If your questions do not follow these guidelines, then it is our responsibility as a community to close them.

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    This question is not intended to be a debate question IMO, it's a straightforward question and it does have a straightforward answer. If there's an answer that speculates on something it's a bad answer, but I'm not sure how this question asks for speculation or debate.
    – Ken Li
    Jun 18, 2012 at 14:16
  • @KenLi - Some questions, such as the one I mentioned, do lend themselves to political debate because the 'right' answer depends a lot on one's political/philosophical point of view. You'll find these kinds of topics (like "were Nazis really socialists?", "was Stalin/Mao/Pol Pot/etc regime really communist?") debated to death on political forums.
    – jfrankcarr
    Jun 18, 2012 at 21:49
  • The problem with this kind of question is that it is too open-ended. Everyone will have their own opinions on what is "far right" versus "simply right". If they could be given firm, objective values, that is one thing. Unfortunately, this is a matter that will always be prone to subjective responses. Jun 19, 2012 at 3:45
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    Then we really ought to shutdown history.se because history is not straightforward with clear and concise answers. History is a debate, a discussion and a system for validating opinions against sources. Jun 19, 2012 at 12:30

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