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H:SE currently has a list of on topic/off topic advice in ask. (Curiously the "what not to ask here" is under the heading "What topics can I ask about?" rather than the "What topics should I not ask about?"

The current list is: It is not about:

    Genealogy
    Asking for reference material
    Questions answered by a simple Google search or to be found in a Wikipedia page
    Predicting the future based on historical trends
    Mythology
    General (non-human) Prehistory
    Conspiracy Theories or Pseudo-science

I'd like to add one more item

Specifically of course I'm referring to Holocaust Denialism. Wikipedia defines Holocaust Denalism as:

Scholars use the term "denial" to describe the views and methodology of Holocaust deniers in order to distinguish them from legitimate historical revisionists, who challenge orthodox interpretations of history using established historical methodologies.[5] Holocaust deniers generally do not accept the term denial as an appropriate description of their activities, and use the term revisionism instead.[6] The methodologies of Holocaust deniers are often based on a predetermined conclusion that ignores overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary.[7] wikipedia

That pretty well summarizes the distinction I'm trying to make. I'm happy to discuss challenges to historical orthodoxies based on historical methodologies, but I don't want to engage in discussion/debate with those who are arguing from a predetermined conclusion.

I believe that community moderation is sufficient to resolve any ambiguity. I'm more comfortable with a downvote/closevote if I can point to a clearly documented community standard that we don't want to engage denialists.

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    If we can find the right words to describe this properly, I'd be in favor of it. It seems like questions that engage in this will be closed by users, and a reason will be found. Given that, we might as well be up-front about it. The ask verbiage should be descriptive of how this community actually moderates. – T.E.D. Jul 26 '16 at 20:23
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    @T.E.D. I think we should be careful to distinguish between questions that came about as a result of someone's denialism that are otherwise good questions and questions that are poor questions in general. We have covered a few acceptable moon hoax related questions at Space Exploration despite a few bemoaning the idea of addressing it at all, and I think we generally benefited from allowing constructive questions that happened to be inspired by moon hoax conspiracy theories to stand. – called2voyage Jul 26 '16 at 20:57
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    I am willing to trust moderation to distinguish between innocent ignorance & obdurate denialism. We have a few of both, and the second category isn't taking the hint. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 26 '16 at 21:30
  • Is such a distinction being made right now? – T.E.D. Jul 26 '16 at 21:56
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    Ultimately what I guess I'm trying to say is no. We shouldn't add it to the list of discouraged topics. If it is primarily opinion based or too broad or a duplicate, we should close it as such, otherwise if it is answerable we should allow it. – called2voyage Jul 27 '16 at 12:39
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    I'm can't escape the feeling that we're feeding the trolls. Every downvote, every closevote, every comment is engagement. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 27 '16 at 19:37
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    Wouldn't Holocaust denial necessarily involve some kind of Conspiracy Theory? – Luís Henrique Jul 28 '16 at 18:32
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    @LuísHenrique - I think so, and if the proposal isn't accepted, I may cite that in my VtC in the future. I just thought something clearer would be easier/better/lower engagement. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 28 '16 at 18:43
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To be honest, no we should not.

It is quite obvious that we are referring to a single poster who has pursuing a singular topic of validating his own Holocaust denial. However, this does not mean that all questions regarding, say Holocaust denialism should be discouraged or have no probative value. This could lead to perverse results where people are discouraged from discussing denialism on sensitive topics such as say the Armenian Genocide.

We should avoid letting the actions of one rogue individual disrupt our ability to broach revisionist topics.

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Following up my comment:

Ultimately what I guess I'm trying to say is no. We shouldn't add it to the list of discouraged topics. If it is primarily opinion based or too broad or a duplicate, we should close it as such, otherwise if it is answerable we should allow it.

You say:

Specifically of course I'm referring to Holocaust Denialism

I see nothing about the Holocaust in particular that is a problem aside from the fact that it is a sensitive topic. Yes, we should make sure the topic is handled sensitively, and we should close poor questions, but good questions about the Holocaust should be on topic.

You say (quoting Wikipedia):

The methodologies of Holocaust deniers are often based on a predetermined conclusion

Such methodologies should not be accepted in the body of a question, but fortunately questions can be edited if there is anything salvageable. It may mean that no answer gets accepted, but that is a common problem.

You say:

I don't want to engage in discussion/debate with those who are arguing from a predetermined conclusion.

Fortunately, discussion/debate is already not the proper form for this site anyway. Questions that encourage such should be edited to be less discussion-inciting. If the comments end up that way anyway, moderators can step in, as they should.

You say:

I'm more comfortable with a downvote/closevote if I can point to a clearly documented community standard that we don't want to engage denialists.

Downvotes do not have to be based on standards, and questions should not necessarily be closed because of them.

Closevotes are a little different, but they are still ultimately based on one person's interpretation of the rules. I don't think we should set denialism in stone as a discouraged topic. If an otherwise good question gets closed just because of the point of view of the asker, then hopefully others will reopen.

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    Excellent points throughout, well reasoned. I don't agree, but I'm happy to be opposed by reason. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 27 '16 at 12:58
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    Upvoted (because I agree with the conclusion). However, I have a few quibbles. Yes, the question can be edited, but if the person asking it is not asking in good faith, and thus cannot be counted on to accept good answers, there's nothing the rest of us can do. Basically, if the question isn't a good-faith (open-minded) question, its inherently corrupt. – T.E.D. Jul 27 '16 at 17:49
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    @T.E.D. "It may mean that no answer gets accepted, but that is a common problem." – called2voyage Jul 27 '16 at 17:50
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    True. But such questions also tend to cause tons of argumentative OT comments (for me to clean up), since that's usually the questioner's real goal in the first place. They can also "accept" totally inappropriate answers. – T.E.D. Jul 27 '16 at 17:53
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    @T.E.D. That, IMO, is a general Stack Exchange problem, not to be solved by editing policy on one site. – called2voyage Jul 27 '16 at 17:54
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It is a good idea to encourage good historiography in question asking. However, I think the holocaust denial spam we've been getting is more of an administrative difficulty. For me, we need to focus on moderation that does not "feed the trolls".

Perhaps we can have a single authoritative holocaust question here at SE, then all the denial questions will just get a very boring 'duplicate' response? Then the legion of holocaust deniers will find new people tease elsewhere on the internet?

If holocaust deniers get no comments, no responses, just a bunch of down-votes, flags, and close votes for a boring 'duplicate' reason, then the issue will fade on its own.

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I would categorize denialism as a "conspiracy theory or pseudoscience." So we have it "covered" under the rules. Of course, we would have to spell this out in the policy statement, something like: "This includes 'denialism' of the Holocaust, the Armenian dislocation, the 'Rape of Nanking' and other documented tragedies in human history."

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    I agree that "denialism" is a conspiracy theory, but doubt that denialists see it that way. I expect that they will say that they are engaged in historical research, not conspiracy theory. The only way to reject them is to make "denialism" an explicit ground for closure. Your suggestion will probably do that. – Mark C. Wallace Sep 21 '16 at 15:08

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