So there's an answer that is not good in several respects:

  • It only offers a quote without context. The quote is biased (ultramontane, catholic historian in the 19th century) and very old (120 years). For details on the bias, see the German wikipedia page on the quoted historian.

  • The quote plays into antisemitic stereotypes of the type (blood libel, conspiracy (to kill all Christians), mutilation of crucifixes, by Jews etc.)

  • The quote is so obviously biased that it would not be acceptable to today's historians

  • What is quoted is a bad translation of an originally German text into English that is riddled with mistakes (Corpus Christi being translated as Good Friday)

  • Good answers should give context to any quote, even if the quote was not obviously biased and antisemitic

  • Good answers should, if possible, present the state of the art view of historical science on the question, not just one non-neutral perspective (and certainly not just one quote).

Normally I would downvote and comment on how the answer can be improved. This is not an option in the present case, because History:SE's current policy on comments causes my comments on this to be deleted immediately.

Alternative suggestions are to

  1. write a better answer which would presumably be upvoted. This can only be done by someone who has enough insight to give a better answer that is not superficial. It does not allow people who are no experts on the matter of the question (early modern Spain) to raise the problems with this answer.

  2. edit the answer and improve it. The answer currently has a flag recommending the latter. I do not think this is a good way to handle things, since it would change the nature of the answer substantially and in a way that the original author may not be happy with.


There was a bit of discussion about this in the chat resulting in the recommendation by multiple people that there should be a Meta question about this.

Edit (Feb 3 2020): in response to a comment about biasedness being subjective

I do not think it is true that biasedness is subjective. Opinions, perspectives, viewpoints may be subjective. But if a source selectively presents evidence for one viewpoint while ignoring others that are commonly accepted as valid perspectives among historians, then the source is biased. Note that following this approach, the biasedness may change over time as more information becomes available while an old historical text (that could not possibly have been aware of that information) cannot be updated. This does not invalidate the text as a historical source, it just means that it is not up to date any more and must be seen as biased by the common viewpoints of the time when it was created.

For instance in the context of the present example (the ultramontanist Ludwig von Pastor): In the 1800s, papal infallibility was a hotly discussed topic and the view that the pope could not possibly be wrong was not uncommon even among historians. Although non-Catholic historians surely held a different opinion, it would in itself not have seemed outrageously wrong. This was before we had modern psychology. In the light of the findings of modern psychology, claims of the infallibility of a human being would appear ridiculous. The Catholic Church has adapted to this (starting in 1870), and so has historical science.

Another example is scientific racism which was very much a thing at the time of Ludwig von Pastor. There were respectable scholars at the time who expressed antisemitic ideas in their writings. Today, this is not done any longer, old sources that do that are seen as biased, and quoting these without providing context is not acceptable.

  • 1
    Biased is subjective. What's wrong with answers from various perspectives?
    – Geremia
    Feb 1, 2020 at 20:08
  • 6
    @Geremia: In this specific case, the same that's wrong with holocaust denialism. Feb 1, 2020 at 21:31
  • 2
    Since the bias of the source is questioned, de:WP lists it, perhaps quote it here? The Manselli source for that is not linked tho. Feb 1, 2020 at 21:51
  • 3
    @Geremia I have replied to your comment on biasedness being subjective in an edit to the question above. Since you are the author of the answer this thread is about, I hoped that you may have something more to say about this. I would invite you to address some of the problems with your answer that we are discussing here in the chat.
    – 0range
    Feb 3, 2020 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


edit the answer and improve it

This is a terrible option for the same reason it is a bad option on the Politics Stack Exchange: if you allow neo-nazis to gain enough reputation (and to be clear, I'm speaking generally here, rather than meaning the specific answer's author that you referenced), then you also give them more power to disrupt the site, and it then degenerates (like the Politics SE is doing now) into yet another 4Chan.

The correct way to deal with this if you cannot provide a better answer is to:

  1. Downvote
  2. Flag if appropriate
  3. Vote to delete if you've enough rep

If you do this enough, automated bans will eventually kick in -- if manual bans don't deal with the issue beforehand.

You can also add a comment if you don't feel it'll be a waste of your time. (It will be if you're dealing with repeat offenders.)

  • 6
    Great answer. I would like to add that when I looked into this issue on Friday, nobody had flagged anything on that answer (aside from the author, who flagged it twice to get critical comments moved to chat or deleted), and it had 0 delete votes. I personally had not seen the answer before.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Feb 3, 2020 at 10:23
  • 2
    Starting to like this answer. After seeing the effect that built one such case on PolSE. Supporting links from dark corners of the web, videos and generally low quality and often very biased 'sources'. Repeatedly: Racist IQ opinions, conspiracy theory peddling with 'cultural marxism', repeated antisemitic post content, horseshoe fan, and even a top voted post with clear Holocaust relativism–still standing. Unfortunately, it is a waste of time, as too many from that flock actually support drivel on SE with UVs. It is 'popular'. So, any suggestions for repeat customers when 1–3 do not work? Feb 8, 2020 at 23:33
  • 3
    @LаngLаngС Provided enough users with sufficient rep actually follow steps 1-3, repeat customers will fairly quickly find themselves with an answer ban. Feb 11, 2020 at 22:35
  • @LаngLаngС - What is a horseshoe fan? I could search for it, but I'm not too eager to look at whatever far-right or racist websites I presume the term is featured on.
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 14, 2020 at 3:55
  • @Obie2.0 No need to get that dirty: rationalwiki.org/wiki/Horseshoe_theory WP has a terrible page on that. Feb 14, 2020 at 12:39
  • @LangLangC - What's so terrible about the Wikipedia page? I took a look at it and it actually seems better in some aspects: there are places on the Rational Wiki page where different contributors are probably editorializing.
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 14, 2020 at 19:45
  • Also, looking at it on either wiki, this "horseshoe theory" surprisingly seems like an incorrect but not bigoted or far-right theory. Is it really in the same category as Holocaust denialism, racist IQ theories, and claims about "cultural Marxism"?
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 14, 2020 at 19:52
  • To edit the context an answer, without the collaboration of the original author, would be a form of censorship. Apr 25, 2020 at 13:01

This answer is spam. It is closeable. The answer exists to promote a service.

If the service is your salvation. Or the outdated historiography of ultramondaine Catholicism. This answer still only exists to promote that service. It lacks valid historiographic content. It’s only content is advocacy.

  • 1
    @justCal nope. Right place. Right close Feb 4, 2020 at 19:03

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