My question: Was the Granny Smith Apple the first green skinned apple widely propagated?

Discusses something that is considered a large part of our local history and something that we celebrate every year. It has even been attended by our Prime Minister and regularly gets a crowd above 100,000 people. So not a small thing for just an apple.

Someone has voted to close my question, the reason given was my question is "not an academic history question"

For people like myself who is not a historian. Can we please have a set of guidelines as to what is a "academic history question". If what they are claiming is correct.

Is this question on topic or is it off topic because it is not academic enough?

3 Answers 3


I assumed that History SE was meant to ask questions with some semblance of "Geo-Political History" (if that is the correct term). The original proposal seems to bear that out.

If History SE uses the most literal interpretation of "knowledge dealing with any past events", this site is going to become insanely huge-scoped.

If the propagation of apples is considered history, then just about anything that can be stated in the context of "The History of [X]" becomes on topic. Consider these questions:

  • When was the largest trout caught? (the history of fishing)
  • Who invented the 5/8" male quick-connect standard hose nozzle? (the history of gardening)
  • Why did the Earth stop making diamonds 100-million years ago? (the history of the earth)
  • Why didn't the television completely replace the radio? (the history of entertainment)
  • Did Joanie really love Chachi? (the history of short-lived 1980's sitcoms)

Some may argue that sappy teen-age sitcoms from ABC TV's 1982 lineup are perfectly acceptable, but I'm not sure this site can reasonably handle the rest without becoming terribly diluted in scope.

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  • 4
    Sadly, I think I have to agree with this. If left without boundaries then this site will become a catch-all, and with such a broad topic it's hard to get experts, which is what these sites have to have in order to survive.
    – DForck42
    Oct 12, 2011 at 3:47
  • @Robert - That is a reasonable statement. However, I think that in order to enforce this it should have A. Been stated clearly in the pre-beta stage (because I may have chosen not to commit to a geo-pol history site <yawn>) B. It should be reflected in the title, it should be called geo-pol history not just history. By not absolutely clearly making this 100% absolutely clear you fall in the same danger as Skeptics SE with so many questions being closed and only the moderators truy knowing what is on topic.
    – going
    Oct 12, 2011 at 4:13
  • @Robert - I also disagree with your assessment of the definition phase with question #4, 5, 6, 7 all being non-geo political.
    – going
    Oct 12, 2011 at 4:17
  • @xiaohouzi79: That's why we're here (private and public beta); To hash out these issues and clearly define the scope. You can only do so much in Area 51 before you have to launch the site to see how it is used in actual practice. This is the next logical step in that process. Nobody set out to deceive you and nothing is "100% absolutely clear" until you ask and answer the questions. Oct 12, 2011 at 4:20
  • @RobertCartaino - But your claim that it was made clear in the original proposal is completely wrong and shouldn't be used to justify your position. There was even a discussion started about local history and it was mentioned there that they should be on topic with 9 upvotes so if anything the original proposal would indicate in my favour.
    – going
    Oct 12, 2011 at 4:26
  • @RobertCartaino - I've started a separate meta discussion to discuss further.
    – going
    Oct 12, 2011 at 4:26
  • 1
    @RobertCartaino Perfectly put. Thank you for wording exactly what I wanted to say! Oct 12, 2011 at 5:13
  • @xiaohouzi79: I don't know where you are reading that this has already been decided and is now set in stone. This is exactly the time to be having these discussions (private/public beta) and I can only offer my opinion and experience building these sites. Oct 12, 2011 at 14:02
  • Question #4 is perfectly legitimate. Social and cultural history is a perfectly appropriate and valid topic of scholarly historical inquiry.
    – Steely Dan
    May 17, 2012 at 14:45
  • Not to necro this, but for question #5, there's a stack site for that (Movies and TV) Oct 20, 2012 at 0:29

That is completely on topic. It might seem off topic because it's not something you would find in a history book.

  • 4
    As a bit of a lark, I thought I'd test that assumption. here and here are two books about the history of the apple. This has opened my mind to a whole world about the history of fruit. Oct 12, 2011 at 0:32

I think some of these out of scope defintions are somewhat straw man arguments, just as there are multiple views and contexts of historical events so people will take different views of history and how it relates. Following the historical record of the Granny Smith, in some ways, doesn't seem as wildly off-topic than the oldest extant civilizations, cultures or religions. They all have a historical context, in many ways it depends on your view of it. We DO need to limit scope on questions, but if someone has taken time to try and follow the path of something using original sources, or trying to track how fruit, people or religions have pollinated themselves around the world then I don't see it as off scope. Maybe it's limited but I don't think it's that wildly off topic for history, after all we have discussed how the American continent was discovered and colonized, or how firearms have changed history - the path of fruit is hardly that far outside the historical record if you want to try and follow who and when a species was brought somewhere. Otherwise the question on who brought non-native species to a country, continent and why will be off-topic as well.

For the record, I was amused at the question, I'd have nothing to add nor would I have answered/commented but I don't think I would have closed it.

  • Thanks for your answer. Personally, I think its different from asking about your average apple because the G. Smith is largely important to our local history, so its not just asking about any apple. Anyone writing about the local history of our city Ryde would definitely include something about it. So saying it is not history is a bit of an insult to local historians.
    – going
    Nov 1, 2011 at 21:31

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