I'm a new user on History stack exchange; what do I need to know? What's different and unique about this particular site?

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    The text below is a draft; the community is invited to propose edits. We'll use a modified consensus protocol to update. All other answers should include a proposed change to the canonical answer; any answer that has a positive vote score at the end of a week will be incorporated into the canonical answer and then deleted. Divergent opinions welcome.
    – MCW Mod
    Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 14:11
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    If you're new to the site, you're doing pretty well - you've got 27.3k rep and you're a diamond moderator!
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Apr 5, 2020 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


This answer is written for new users of the History Stack Exchange (or H:SE, for short) — especially those who have just asked or answered their first question, and have been surprised by the feedback.
This answer is also consciously derivative of the excellent FAQ on Skeptics.SE; homage is flattery.

First, welcome! We hope you find History:SE enjoyable, interesting and fun… and not too daunting when you first arrive.

History SE is different

History is unlike other online forums (such as mailing lists, bulletin boards, and the commenting systems on blogs.) History is also subtly different from other web sites in the Stack Exchange family. We're unique, and we'll admit that we take some getting used to. We think it is worth it and we hope you will too.

History:SE can appear to be a little hostile to new users. Many first time users — perhaps even most first time users — are surprised when their contributions are judged against an unexpected set of standards. I urge you not to be disheartened by this. Have a look around, and you will quickly understand how we work.

We hope that you will soon learn to appreciate the value that these standards bring in ensuring that the answers you find very high quality, and, importantly, reliable.

We do have a strong community standard against hostility or abuse; we don't permit it, and we encourage everyone to push back courteously against abuse or aggression. Flag any content you find abusive.

Questions (and answers) should be supported by preliminary research

Stack exchanges differ on how much prior research is required. We're closer to the science/engineering side. We expect that the question will contain evidence of the research that you've already done. If it doesn't, you're likely to get a comment like the following:

Could you edit your question to clarify where you've searched and what you found already, complete with links and references, and context if applicable? In particular, please let us know what you find missing or unclear about the Wikipedia entry on the topic, if one exists. This allows those who might want to answer to do so without needing to redo the work you've already done. You might find it helpful to review the site [tour] and [help] and, in particular, [ask].

This is not snark; this is not criticism. Please don't take offense. This is an attempt to communicate and maintain community standards. Our help center states that History is not about:

  • Genealogy
  • Asking for reference material
  • Questions answered by a simple Google search or to be found in a Wikipedia page

Question Closure

Questions often get put 'on hold'. This does not mean the question has been banished forever. It's an opportunity for the community to improve it; wherever we can, we want to have the definitive questions and answers on a subject. Learn more about what 'closed' means.

Authoritative Answers

More suggestions

(If you are not familiar with the Stack Exchange system, you should note that you are currently on Meta History Stack Exchange, which is an area to discuss the regular History Stack Exchange which is where the interesting stuff actually resides.)

A suggested next step and starting point for learning and understanding many of the most important aspects of how this site is supposed to work should be found in this post: Meta-meta Site Policy on History.SE — FAQ


If you hang around for a bit, you will see we take legitimate questions very seriously, and we will likely impress you with the quality and thoughtfulness of our answers.

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    Seems more like an 'About the site' than a FAQ. I see no Frequently Asked Question structure (or is that later?)
    – justCal
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 14:48
  • Do you think it would be clearer/more useful as an intro if it were revised to a Q&A format? The goal is to give a single point of reference for new users - what's the best format for that?
    – MCW Mod
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 14:58
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    If it's meant to cover multiple different topics, the FAQ post would likely be better as a sort of index linking to a bunch of relevant questions. Example from RPG.SE: FAQ Index for Role-playing Games Stack Exchange. Essentially, the benefit of that is that rather than a single cursory post that only briefly touches on each point, a proper Q&A for each question allows you to go into as much depth as necessary to address the question. Obviously, this is more necessary for an older site with lots of policy discussions :)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 15:09
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    I like the concept, but if I see FAQ I expect to find a list of questions/answers; hopefully with what I want to have explained included. This just doesn't seem to be meeting that expectation, structurally. (good example @V2Blast). I would like to see something along that line linking to question types which can trigger any of our cookie-cutter responses..
    – justCal
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 15:15
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    @justCal: I happened across a post closer to an FAQ index (albeit confusingly titled, and the linked meta posts aren't tagged as faq) further down the History Meta page: Meta-meta Site Policy on History.SE — FAQ
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 15:20
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    Please feel free to post suggested revisions. I'd be thrilled to see improvements.
    – MCW Mod
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 15:36
  • 2 things I suggest: change title to "FAQ: Welcome to new users!"; then crosslink Meta-meta (which still needs further updates as well ;) ) & this post. (The on-hold part is now gone from user visibility [everything is 'closed' now] and here it still links directly to SkepticsSE-post; we need a revised 'own' version) Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 16:10
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    @langLangC - please, post the revision...
    – MCW Mod
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 16:28

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