I'm talking about questions like this, and this? I feel that they can be good questions if properly worded (the second one was edited substantially following my suggestions).

The first question is about the clothing of an American soldier in Japan. Worded as such, it doesn't seem interesting to me. A more historical question would include a guess: Is this during or after World War II/Korean War/Vietnam war, etc.? The followup would be: "Why would a "GI" be issued this, and not that?"

The gist of the second question was something like, I'm used to five digit zip codes and this letter/photograph has a two digit code. At what time point did zip codes change from two to five digits (so that the OP can narrow down the time frame for this photo)? And the logical followup question would be, "why did this change in zip codes occur? It is the last question that would make the post historically interesting.

As "standalone" questions, I feel that they can fall into the realm of "archaeology,: "trivia" or "curiosity," unless an active attempt is made to involve history in some way. This can be achieved by putting in appropriate "hooks" into the question to link it to historical events. Should we require such "hooks" before allowing such questions?

Put another way, should we encourage people that want IDs to ask for historical context (as I did by coaching my answer in that vein)? Or should we just take and answer the questions at "face value," even though there is, or could be, quite a bit of history behind the "face?"

  • Related (but I think not identical) question: history.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1985/… – T.E.D. Aug 7 '17 at 16:12
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    This probably isn't a good answer, but I know I've lost count of the amount of photo ID questions we've gotten that I thought were pointless, and the answers ended up being fascinating. We ought to have some standards for them just out of principle, but I'm not sure what they would be (and boy howdy, do they generate a lot of interest). – T.E.D. Aug 7 '17 at 16:14
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    @T.E.D.: That's why I said that we should try to "upgrade" these questions, not bar them. But maybe it's a case of the answerers doing that on their own, as I did. – Tom Au Aug 7 '17 at 16:31

Both questions got numerous, highly upvoted answers. So as T.E.D. pointed out in a comment, it seems like answerers are "taking the bull by the horns" and constructing excellent answers out of weak questions.

So for the time being, nothing needs to be done about these questions because "no harm, no foul." Just to note that the questioners ought do better. And to give kudos to the answerers for working around these limitations. And kudos to the one questioner for working on his question.

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