The question in question: Why is Che Guevara so famous?

I don't really see how the question is suitable for site. First, the reasons for Che Guevara's fame (or infamy) are extremely well documented in Wikipedia and the FAQ clearly states that:

It is not about:

  • Questions answered by a simple Google search or to be found in a Wikipedia page

While it might not always be obvious if a question is easily answered by a trivial search, I think it's painfully obvious that the question in question shows absolutely no prior effort, something that is generally required for questions on Stack Exchange sites.

Furthermore the question, as phrased, is not really asking for historical facts, but more seeking a discussion on the fame (or infamy) of Che Guevara. Even if it is on topic, it reads like an extremely not constructive question, and just for reference the not constructive close reason reads as:

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

The first answer seems to prove that the question is very attractive to argumentative debate (and it's already generated a ton of off topic comments). It's horribly biased, and it reads more like something I would expect to read on the author's personal blog than on a high quality canonical resource on history. I'm not questioning the author's opinions and I don't necessarily disagree with him (her?), but I am questioning whether opinion heavy answers is what the site is for.

The other answer is presented in a impartial way, but also doesn't really answer the question.

Nothing personal with either answerer, my peeve is with the question. I can completely understand how answerers couldn't resist the urge to answer such a question, but I really think that so poor questions can only lead to argumentative answers and are not the best advertisement for the site. The question is at +6, and other than featuring prominently on the front page it has been (automatically) twitted, giving (imho) a wrong impression for the site.

In another question that seems to be suffering from the same issues, Why is King Henry V regarded as such a great King?, choster comments (emphasis mine):

You are perfectly free not to regard Henry V as a great man because his actions offend your modern moral sensibilities. History is not the discipline of applying the lens of modern morality to historical figures.

Related Meta discussions:


  • 2
    I completely agree. I find it similar to history.stackexchange.com/q/3100/961, but the Che Guevara question lacks any sign of prior research and depth. I considered voting to close as NARQ, but I wasn't absolutely sure if I should.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 19:16
  • @Luke I already flagged the Guevara question, as NC. My first instinct was off topic, but NARQ also applies, as it's both ambiguous and overly broad. The King Henry question I haven't seen, but on first read it seems to be suffering from the same problems (but with better answers). I'll steal choster's comment there, thanks for pointing me to it.
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 19:22
  • Like any question if you don't like it, vote it down and if enough in the community agree it will be closed. Not everyone has the same ideas about on topic, and in general its up to the community to decide. As Mods we close ones obviously off topic but some may be in a gray area and for that its the community that should speak up.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 20:04
  • 1
    @MichaelF And that's what I'm doing, I'm speaking up and asking the community to decide, isn't that what Meta is for? That said, as a relatively new user to the site, I read the FAQ and I expected the policies described there generally enforced. The Guevara question fails on several points that are very clear in the FAQ, and I would think the moderators would step in and close it when it was flagged, no point in waiting for community votes. But, if you disagree with me that the question is obviously off topic, then I'd love to read why, perhaps in an answer here?
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 20:08
  • @YannisRizos Obviously bad questions get closed immediately, ones that may fall into a gray area are sometimes left up to the community to vote on. Which has happened and the question is now closed, so the Community has spoken up and you got your result. Nice job.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 12:46
  • 3
    @MichaelF Hm, while the question getting closed is a bit satisfying, I'm more interested in understanding and perhaps help define the community's tolerance towards open ended questions that invite opinion heavy answers. The question getting closed doesn't really mean much, it can easily be re-opened. I was more hoping for a wider discussion on the question that would serve as a template for any similar question the site may get in the future.
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 13:14

5 Answers 5


Generally, any time I see a question that starts with the word "why", I immediately flag it as one that will probably have to be closed. However, when you look at the content, there are some elements there that can be answered objectively.

What was his major achievement?

The rest of the question is ultimately what caused it to be closed, mostly because the other components are more likely to solicit opinion or discussion rather than provide a clear and objective answer. If the question gets modified then it could be reopened, especially if it focuses solely on what his achievements were. As a mod, we can choose to edit the question ourselves, but speaking for myself, I tend to refrain from that on these types of questions. We will usually leave a comment for the original poster to suggest that they modify the question, and if that is done then we can consider reopening.

The Meta area is the right place to be to have this type of discussion. However, as Michael already pointed out, the mods often wait to see how the community reacts to a question before deciding to close it. I agree that this one was a borderline question. I could see how it only loosely fit within our guidelines and had considered closing it. I think Michael and I both tend to take the same approach, which is to allow the community to chime in first. Otherwise this site will be become a police state where the mods dictate what gets to stay, and that's not what we want.

  • 2
    I have to say that I disagree with your approach to moderation. Assuming the question is improved to be one that can be answered objectively, then both answers would be invalid and would have to be either updated or removed. Questions that are obviously problematic should be closed as soon as possible, ideally before they generate answers, and of course re-opened right after they are improved. Closure isn't and shouldn't be considered the end of life for a question. See: meta.stackexchange.com/a/124106/162704.
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 21:23
  • 1
    You make excellent points, and for the most part I agree with the answer in your link. However, since we are still in beta and trying to encourage more traffic and activity on our site, we have tended to be a little more lenient because we want the community to learn and improve. If we had 5000 questions, then it would absolutely be more prudent to close them down more quickly. This particular question is one that definitely should have been edited and/or closed much sooner, but we are still learning. In the future I hope that we can be more proactive and avoid such issues. Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 21:36
  • I'm more in agreement with Steve's last paragraph here. Users are quite capable of voting to close (and indeed closing) bad questions on their own. The mods should only have to step in when there's an obvious problem and us normal users are having trouble doing so for some weird reason.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Commented Nov 9, 2012 at 19:23
  • 1
    Steven - first off, I must applaud you. I actively participate in 4 SE sites, and this one is the best-run moderation-wise after SO itself (and even that mostly due to # of moderators on SO, not the quality). I basically more or less quite SFF.SE (where I'm top user by both rep and badges), precisely because moderators there turned it into a police state often preemptively acting on questions that did NOT generate poor content (but merely "could") before a solid community consensus was achieved.
    – DVK
    Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 14:27
  • ... second off, more on topic, please see my answer - so far, 2 people seem in favor of whacking the question (Yannis and myself), and nobody piped up for keeping it. I'm not sure what your thresholds are for making such decisions as far as low amount of data points.
    – DVK
    Commented Nov 10, 2012 at 14:53

As one of the answerers, I pretty much agree with Yannis. My answer HAD to be there to combat ignorance and misconceptions about Che, but frankly, i'd prefer that the question itself didn't even exist so the need for such an answer would not be there. If it's deleted alltogether - with my opinionated answer and whoever-else's NON-answer, - the site would be better off.


To complete things, I guess I should add the perspective of a user who didn't have any particular problem with that question.

It certainly wasn't the best worded question ever. But after seeing some of the discussion about it, and the answers, it really looks like those who feel strongly against it just were not reading the same question I was.

The question appeared to me to be about a person who was essentially a bit player in the Cuban Revolution, but nonetheless has somehow become (almost literally) an icon. Asking how that happened seems like a perfectly reasonable question to me, and I can't think of a better stack to put it on.

It almost seems like some of the reaction has as much to do with people not liking the historical figure in question (or those who promote him), rather than the question itself being horrible.

  • The (perhaps) main problem here is that although the question had obvious flaws, no one fixed it. Tension is build into it ("Was propaganda all that made him famous? Why are people told that he was a "revolutionary"? Was he that wise?"), and answerers took the bait, unwittingly. In theory, the core question is probably a very good question for the site, however the actual end result isn't really a useful Q&A thread.
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 17:49
  • I think if the OP had read the relevant Wikipedia article thoroughly before they asked, some of their questions would have been answered, or at least they would have been able to formulate them in a way that didn't invite discussion. Questions on Stack Exchange sites don't work without at least some minimal prior research, and History.SE is no exception. The question seems reasonable to you and I, but we already have at least a minimal understanding of the facts, the OP doesn't seem to (or at least it's not evident from their question).
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 17:53
  • 1
    I don't think it's unreasonable to ask them to do their homework before asking here, and I think if they had, the question and its answers would have been quite different.
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 17:58
  • @YannisRizos - I'd agree with all of your points here. I would caution though that some questions (not this quesion, but some others I hear the "no research" complaint about), require a certian basic understanding of the topic in question before you even know the right web searches to make.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 18:44

I would disagree. Che is just an insignificant leader in cuba. There are many like him and yet he's the one that's famous.

What's the problem?

  • You have enough reputation to edit. The question has been deleted, but your point is actually a good one. Next time, you might want to put the above in the question as an edit before it gets deleted.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 17:28

The question could have been on topic, phrased differently.

But there were references to "Did propaganda make him famous?" and "Was that wise?[that he was regarded as a revolutionary]?

These are "red flags" being waved in front of a bull. It was impossible to make these changes without changing the fabric of the question (which otherwise had no redeeming qualities), so I would consider it off topic as asked.

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