There are three slots of custom close reasons. Currently, we only use two:

  • Questions on social sciences other than History are off-topic here, unless they also involve history in some fashion. While ethics, archaeology, etc. are all connected to history, each field has their own experts who are better equipped to answer such questions.
  • Requests for trivia or basic historical facts are off-topic if they can be easily answered by looking up the relevant topic on Wikipedia. We're trying to complement common historical references, not duplicate them.

It's not uncommon to see people say there's a limited choice of close reasons, so an approximate one had to be used. Should we revise our existing close reasons, and / or add a third one?

Note: there's a 400 character limit on the close reason. Please be judicious about the use of links and try to be concise in general.

Answers should explicitly state if the close reason is a replacement for an existing reason or a new reason so there is no confusion on what exactly an upvote on that answer means.

2018/03/19 Update: Based on the top ranked answers, push questions has been now added to the close reasons list, and the trivia close reason has been updated according to this post.

Future discussions regarding custom close reasons should be made in a new thread.

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    To reiterate, there can only be 3 of these. Since we have two, all answers not marked as replacements are mutually exclusive with each other. – T.E.D. Mar 2 '18 at 11:53

New Close Reason

One option for the third custom close reason slot is a "Push Questions" close reason. This is adapted form Politics.SE, and was first suggested in a previous answer by @yannis:

The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific idea, theory, cause, group or person. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about history as defined in the help centre.

  • I would support the addition of the Push Question option. Would save a lot of time/angst on barely-disguised Holocaust-denial etc questions. – TheHonRose Mar 2 '18 at 3:42
  • Is it really spelled "Help Centre" when you click that link in your browser (perhaps due to localization)? Mine says "Help Center". – T.E.D. Mar 2 '18 at 9:44
  • Currently this leaves me with ambivalent feelings. Maybe clarify along the lines of "good faith and open ended/open minded, honest question"? Push problem is often twofold: disgustingly wrong ideas and ("right") answer already formed in the mind of the OP. – LangLangC Mar 2 '18 at 17:23
  • @LangLangC I have a separate suggestion for a general "not good faith effort" close reason in the comments below that cover what you're talking about, but I don't know if there's support for that. – Semaphore Mar 2 '18 at 18:54

Update the "trivia or basic historical facts" reason

The trivia close reason is used, in practice, for closing questions that are apparently answered by Wikipedia. However, the word "trivia" is rather nebulous. Many perfectly fine questions regarding factoids could be considered "trivia", for instance. On the other hand, questions on complex subjects may still be closed if Wikipedia happens to have an exact article.

So, I suggest we modify it by adapting the old "general reference" close reason. Moreover, since many of our best questions arise from users challenging Wikipedia's claims, I also suggest including a clarification on how such questions should proceed.

Basically, something like:

This question is too basic; it can be definitively answered by a single link to the relevant topic on Wikipedia or another standard reference source. If you are instead questioning the correctness of a reference source, please edit the post to supply a link and explain what you find unclear, or why you believe it to be wrong or incomplete.

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    It might be worth changing the wording a little to "...on Wikipedia (or other reputable online source)." since the definitive answer may be on another site. Also some people do complain that wikipedia is not always an accurate or definitive source in all things. – Steve Bird Mar 2 '18 at 6:35
  • @SteveBird Yes, that's what I'm hoping to address with the second sentence. I think it's great when people challenge Wikipedia (which is full of holes and mysterious claims) but they ought to explain why they have a problem with the article. – Semaphore Mar 2 '18 at 8:32
  • Changed the wording around to de-empahsise Wikipedia a bit, while still mentioning it. Feel free to revert if it doesn't work for you. – T.E.D. Mar 2 '18 at 12:13
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    ...also, partly because it amuses me, I added a link to Wikipedia's page about Wikipedia. It actually does discuss the issues some people have with Wikipedia there. :-) – T.E.D. Mar 2 '18 at 12:28
  • I have to revert some of these edits because it ended up making the close reason too long. – Semaphore Mar 2 '18 at 13:57
  • One problem?: Wikipedia is a dynamic page. If the Q is not deleted but just closed it is all too possible that the WP content changes in a way that this reason no longer applies? – LangLangC Mar 2 '18 at 17:18
  • @LangLangC Nope. If the answer to a question can be lost through normal revisions of Wikipedia, it probably isn't basic enough to deserve this close reason. – Semaphore Mar 2 '18 at 18:52
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    "…what you do not understand about it, or why you think it may be wrong or incomplete"? – LangLangC Mar 4 '18 at 11:09

New Close Reason

Another option for the third custom close reason could be:

This question seems to be based on a false premise. That is, the question is based on one or more "facts" that are not supported by the known historic record nor in the generally accepted historic interpretation of events. Alternatively, facts have been cherry-picked in a manner that misrepresents the accepted historic record, resulting in a false premise.

We have had quite a few questions in the last few months where I've really wanted this as a close option (it'd be useful for a lot of the Holocaust "questions" too).

  • 3
    This is a good option too. It occurs to me that this could also cover push questions, which is more like a special case of false premises. Perhaps we can combine them into one, given that we only have one free slot? – Semaphore Mar 2 '18 at 8:30
  • @Semaphore I agree, although I'm not sure exactly how you would consisely word such a combination. – Steve Bird Mar 2 '18 at 8:49
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    Rather than out-and-out calling it "False", I think I'd rather see it talk about containing "non-trivial assertions with no supporting references" or something along those lines. I think that would target the same bad posts, would it not? – T.E.D. Mar 2 '18 at 12:22
  • @T.E.D. While there may be some overlap with the "no references for non-trivial assertions" issue, there are cases where references are given but are untrustworthy or are given and are clearly cherry-picked. And we already have text prompts to cover the "no references" issue. – Steve Bird Mar 2 '18 at 12:46
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    I'm nervous about this - one of our value adds is to answer questions when OP has a false premise. I'm concerned that we'd miss opportunities when questions are closed too quickly – Mark C. Wallace Mar 2 '18 at 14:41
  • Supporting @T.E.D. comment: Seems all too likely that this generates many false positives. Although the possible overlap to Skeptics might be reason to allow this false alarm to stand, honest questions coming from a garden path of misinformation are IMO not bad, if the prior research is presented. Further "accepted history" is a very problematic concept in itself. – LangLangC Mar 2 '18 at 17:28
  • I like it but it seems somewhat redundant with the not a good faith question close reason. – Denis de Bernardy Mar 3 '18 at 7:48

New Close Reason

Alternative, more general language

This question does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about history. Please consult the help center for information about the kinds of questions that are appropriate for the History Stack Exchange.


New Close Reason

Since this is the wording people have been voting on for a week, I thought it ought to be included as well:

Push Question - The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific historical theory, group or political cause. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about history, as defined in the help center.

  • Made CW to encourage community edits. – T.E.D. Mar 2 '18 at 11:59
  • Main differences I see with the other version of this are the "Push Question" phrase, "historical theory", "person", and "political cause" vs. "cause". I could be convinced on any of this, but I'd like to see the arguments pro and con. – T.E.D. Mar 2 '18 at 12:03

New Close Reason

"No preliminary research has been done"

Often some questions are basically a homework pasted on the site. Or are answers easily found on wikipedia.

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    I agree with this - I'm wondering if we can combine this with one of the others and generalize? – Mark C. Wallace Mar 2 '18 at 13:54
  • @MarkC.Wallace Do you think we could have a "good faith effort" close reason, to cover both push questions and questions with no effort in the form of preliminary research? Or would that be too much of a stretch. – Semaphore Mar 2 '18 at 14:29
  • I think I agree on the principle, I just don't have a clear vision of the implementation. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 2 '18 at 14:43
  • @MarkC.Wallace Perhaps: "This question does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn about history as defined in the help centre. It may be a homework-style question that shows no preliminary research, or it may seem to be an attempt to promote or discredit a specific idea, theory, cause, group or person; or it may appear to be soapboaxing rather than an open minded question." – Semaphore Mar 2 '18 at 14:57
  • Doesn't "Or are answers easily found on wikipedia." just overlap with the existing trivia or basic historical facts close reason? – KillingTime Mar 4 '18 at 9:01
  • Indeed @KillingTime. "No preliminary research has been done" includes "trivia or basic historical facts". – Santiago Mar 5 '18 at 12:02

New Close Reason

Since we are restricted to only three custom close reasons, it may be a good idea have a more generalised wording. I suggest a "good faith effort" close reason for questions that show no preliminary research ("effort") or appears to be a push question ("good faith").

This question does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about history. It may be a homework-style question that shows little to no effort in preliminary research, or it may appear to be primarily soapboxing rather than asking an open minded question. Questions should not be used to promote or discredit a specific idea, theory, cause, group or person.

The main difference with the other general wording suggestion is that this lists examples. The reason is to give newer users hints for when and where to use such a close reason.

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