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All four were closed for this reason —

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.

But I wasn't trying or planning "to promote or discredit" anything. I'm just trying to learn more about these mercenaries. What could I have written better?

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  • It's hard to comment in detail as the body of questions is no longer visible to me (and I didn't vote to close for the reason given - promote a specific idea etc. - so others will have to comment on that). However, numbers 2, 3 and 4 on the list look very broad. – Lars Bosteen Feb 16 '20 at 1:41
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I wasn't one of those who voted to close, and I'm not going to try and second-guess the reasons why those users voted to close these questions. However, remember that this is a community-moderated site, so whatever those reasons were, they are inherently valid.

I can only give my opinion of why I might have voted to close those questions. This will necessarily be subjective.

Again, let me stress the usual caveat that these are only my personal opinions, so please ignore any moderator diamond you might see next to my name.


Firstly, let me be clear. You say that you weren't "... trying or planning "to promote or discredit" anything. ...", and I accept that statement at face value.

However, it certainly appears to me when I read those questions that at least three of them were doing exactly that (and that appearance is what is being referred to in the close reason).

Please note also that these questions have since been deleted by the system, and so will not be visible to users who do not yet have sufficient reputation.


Firstly, your question Why was René Faulques so honored by France if he attacked for a dictator against ONUC? includes the statements:

"I'm interested in second opinions to this r/ELI5".

and

"Surely such a man is not worthy of respect from France let alone official government honours?"

Now, to my eyes, that reads very much like "I didn't like / don't agree with their answer to my question, so I'm hoping for a different answer here".

Or, to put it another way, "I think this person didn't deserve that respect and I'm hoping you will validate my opinion".

Now, while that may not have been your intent when you wrote the question, it is certainly how it appears to me when I read it.

And yes, if I had read that, and I didn't have the moderator "super-vote", I might very well also have voted to close the question as a "push-question".


Similarly, your question Why weren't mercenaries from G20 countries prosecuted, or lose their citizenship? says:

Why did G20 country intentionally ignore wrongdoing, and fail to prosecute?

The implication being that:

  • those mercenaries had not only done something "wrong" (surely a matter of subjective opinion?), but that they had broken some law in their own countries (after all, you cannot be prosecuted if you haven't broken the law),
  • that they should therefore have been prosecuted, and
  • that, despite all the above, those countries decided not to prosecute.

Or, to put it more accurately, when I read your question, it appears to be promoting that idea.

Once again, had I seen it, and if I had a regular user's close-vote, I might well have voted to close this one as a "push-question".


The same reasoning holds true for your question Were the countries that gave the mercenaries to support the rebels held accountable?.

To me, reading this question, it certainly looks like you are saying that those countries should have been held accountable by someone (although I'm not sure who you think that should have been).

And because it reads that way to me, as before, had I seen it etc., I might also have been tempted to vote to close this one as a "push-question".


The last question, How many G8 mercenaries were executed by African countries?, is rather different.

This one really doesn't look like a "push-question" to me. (Although I might still have been tempted to vote to close it for being too broad / needing more focus. There have, after all, been a lot of post-colonial conflicts involving foreign mercenaries in Africa!)

I did notice, however, that all four questions were posted in just under 20 minutes (between 06:42 and 07:00 GMT on January 19).

Given that this question was posted so soon after the other three questions (which, as explained above, do read like "push-questions" to me), and the similarity of the subjects, it's possible that I might have felt it was part of a broader pattern, the four questions being different aspects of the same agenda.

So it is possible that I might also have voted to close all four questions as "push-questions". On balance though, I think it's more likely that I would have voted to close this one for being too broad.


As for how to write "better" questions? All I can say is:

  • Keep it on-topic for the site
  • Be clear and specific about what you are asking.
  • Keep the language in your question neutral.
  • Share your prior research.
  • Take a moment to read your question before you post it. Will others read it as you intended?

I read somewhere that:

Questions are pretty much automatically clear to the person asking them. Successful questions are also clear to the person who can find the answer.

If that isn't a general rule for Stack Exchange, then it really should be (and if the person who wrote this rule should happen to be reading this answer, then I tip my hat to you).

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    I couldn't find these deleted questions by searching, and they don't appear on the OPs question list either, but when I click on the links you provided for the deleted questions, I could see them. Maybe I'm missing something obvious here, but - for future reference - how does one find deleted questions when they neither show up when using 'search' nor appear on the OP's question list? – Lars Bosteen Feb 16 '20 at 1:56
  • @LarsBosteen The link to the tools should appear on the drop-down menu with the review queues. See the page on the Access to moderator tools privilege for details.. – sempaiscuba Feb 16 '20 at 2:02
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    The deleted questions aren't there (under tools), though they should be as it's less than 30 days since they were deleted. Seems the only way to find them is to scroll back through the close votes list. – Lars Bosteen Feb 16 '20 at 3:10
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    @LarsBosteen That is helpful to know. Thank you. – sempaiscuba Feb 16 '20 at 3:14
  • Thanks. As a moderator, can you please undelete them so that I can try to improve them? – Vast Feb 17 '20 at 6:58
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    @Vast As I said in my answer, History:SE is a community-moderated site. That is why moderators do not generally re-open posts closed by a community vote. – sempaiscuba Feb 17 '20 at 12:18
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    @Vast It would be better if you just posted new questions I think. That way, you avoid the negative 'baggage' associated with the previous ones, but be careful to keep a neutral tone when asking (and don't make them too broad). We don't get enough Africa-related questions here so I, for one, would like to see you try again :) – Lars Bosteen Feb 18 '20 at 0:22

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