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A recent question asked about family relatedness and relationship status combination of people: Is the former adviser to the prime minister Dominic Cummings related by marriage to Andrew Wakefield?

This has of course quite the number of issues: current events 'celebreties', present tense phrasing, the genealogy angle, lack of prior research…

But the asker justified this question primarily as being on-topic —
because our guidance help page [on-topic] allegedly said: 'It's OK, as:'

History Stack Exchange is for historians and history buffs. If you have a question about:

Historical events
Cultures and historical practices
Famous people
[…]
Factual current political history questions

While to me it seems to be more than obvious that this wouldn't include the questions about 'whether the latest TikTok-starlet is dating a newly famous rapper who's a chart debutant now', the OP reacted quite negatively to such an objection —
and members of the community were quick enough to give an answer to this off-topic questions,
even with very fast votes complementing it even onto the Hot Network Questions list.

This phrasing on [on-topic] seems to invite misunderstandings?

Even if that may now sound hard to believe, but:
We may need to change this and clarify the scope.

It should go with saying: 'with famous people we do not mean those usually on the cover of current magazines. Or really "Famous people from history"/Famous historical people"?

(The same seems to apply for the formula 'Factual current political history questions'. Please comment whether that warrants another Meta post or can be fixed in one go.)

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My understanding is that the phrase is meant to is to exclude genealogy questions, as opposed to imposing a stringent test for fame as such. I personally believe that questions about historically documented public figures will generally be on topic.

As to your point, I do think it might be worthwhile to amend the question to say "famous people in history", to make it clear that we're not a research service for current celebrity trivia.

This kind of get into where we cut the line between "current events" and "history" though. We do allow questions asking about still living people's past.

'whether the latest TikTok-starlet is dating a newly famous rapper who's a chart debutant now', the OP reacted quite negatively to such an objection

Because it's not a fair comparison. Dominic Cummings isn't a random nobody on TikTok. Someone who was de facto considered the most senior political appointee in the office of a head of government, should prima facie qualify to be asked about here.

The better topicality objection, in my mind, is that his wife's relations to some random filmmaker doesn't seem like something relevant to history at all.

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  • Indeed, "where's the line" to current events — i.e.: not history? // I'd question the relevancy, the topical field of inquiry, and the 'too recent' angle. // However, the wife seems indeed to be a 'known' journalist, and Andrew Wakefield is not a "random film maker", but a highly controversial figure, ex-doc, license revoked, quite influential with now retracted studies… — that all three are somehow (in-)'famous' isn't the point I'd argue against. But what's the historical relevancy for this thin air assumption that sharing a common last name means, well, what? Agreed to 2nd para. Jul 26 at 9:31
  • Perhaps a better example than the TikTok hyperbole: A respected mainstream climate scientist (& Donaldist ;) of nobility shares this exclusive name with a prominent right-wing anti-climate politician in parliament; how come? His nephew married the politician (making for fun family festivities when sharing a table while weather extremes colour the outside landscape in unusual ways…). That's where I would see relevancy (but still too recent for this site). Jul 26 at 9:45
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Too long for a comment :

"Famous people from history"/"Famous historical people"

Famous historical figures would probably be the most adequate way of expressing this into proper English.

members of the community were quick enough to give an answer to this off-topic questions

I provided an answer because, much to my stunning surprise, the OP seemed to actually have a point, inasmuch as said fame was of an objective nature.

What seemed rather off to me, personally, was that the man genuinely did not seem to grasp that sharing with others the by now de facto well-researched genealogies of long gone historical personalities (e.g., the family tree of the Habsburg dynasty) is not quite the same as being asked to research the (relatively obscure) genealogy of a contemporary (whose personal files only someone in an official capacity can access, and whose contents might [probably] be considered private, not merely on a human level, but [perhaps] also on a legal basis).

I am writing this to explain my mindset at the time; it would seem that genealogies have been explicitly blacklisted in the mean time; either that, or I'm losing my marbles.

Famous people

My understanding is that the phrase is meant to is to exclude genealogy questions, as opposed to imposing a stringent test for fame as such.

This observation would have been superfluous, were genealogies to have always been explicitly listed as off topic, as they currently are. I can only infer that the change occurred recently, most likely as a direct consequence of this particular question, especially since neither the meta question, nor the actual question's main comment thread, anywhere brought up such an otherwise obvious point as a valid objection.

Factual current political history questions

Political history, and life-history of political persons, are not quite the same notion. While I can see merit in the former even for current events unfolding on the world's geopolitical scene, and in the latter for major personalities of the past, their intersection seems somewhat off, for some reason.

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