After searching through questions titled “What is/was the significance of ___?” I found that many are closed due to being opinion based or off topic, which is not surprising. But there seems to be some variation in what is and isn't acceptable. Just for example, What is the greater significance of the Boer War? was reopened because it became more focused, but this question asking about the significance of a word remains closed despite a title change that made it more specific.

Omitting ones that are closed due to lack of initial research, are questions like this generally considered too vague or open to opinions? I have one regarding a single military encounter and how to measure its impact on the greater war, but I'm concerned it's not specific enough, and therefore not a good fit for the site.

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    IMHO the key here isn't the phrasing, but rather what's really being asked. The Lollard question, for instance, appears to amount to asking about a definition of a word. In contrast, the Boer War question, while not the best question ever, effectively asked why Britain was so invested the conflict and what the international repercussions were. That seems quite valid for History.
    – Semaphore
    Mar 2, 2020 at 12:16

2 Answers 2


Note that the Lollard question you linked to was closed as too basic, not because it was vague or opinion based. A cursory search of questions shows that most "What is/was the significance of..." questions have remained open.

It's hard to know what will happen to yours without seeing it. If there is something wrong with it, comments will hopefully help you to edit it into shape. Make sure you demonstrate prior research, and that it isn't too broad. Ask yourself 'Is there likely to be evidence to back up an answer?'

The fact that you've gone to the trouble of asking here on Meta shows that you've thought about this - most closed questions lack research, clearly haven't been thought through and / or are posted in bad faith. None of these would appear to be the case with you. Even so, we all slip up sometimes, but it's not the end of the world if it gets closed as it can be edited and submitted for reopening by the community. If you are genuinely seeking a constructive answer, go ahead and post your question.


Is it possible to offer an authoritative answer to the question based on historical sources and methods??

Sometimes "What is the significance of ... " fails because something that is very significant to one culture is not to another. If the answer is going to result in a set of squabbling of what is significant, then the question probably should be out of scope. If the first answer says "yes, this is significant", and the second answers says, "no, this is a minor footnote to history", how will you choose between them?

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