There are big changes coming soon to how posts are closed. You may want to read up on the details here.

For the most part this looks to be a huge improvement. However, it does mean that we will probably want to come up with our own set of custom 'off topic' reasons for the History stack. These reasons will then be available to close voters as selections when they are looking to close a post as off-topic.

So now might be a really good time for us as a community to come up with our own list of reasons why a question may be considered off-topic on this stack. If you have an off-topic reason you'd like to nominate, post it here as an answer.

  • 2
    Looking through our list of recently closed questions, I don't see a lot of "off topic" closures. Most (if not all) questions we get are on topic (i.e. history questions), however some are unclear, too broad, or primarily opinion-based (which are covered by the other close reasons). I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't find much use for the site specific off topic reasons.
    – yannis
    Jun 15, 2013 at 16:02

3 Answers 3


"Alternative History" questions should be one of the reasons.

Ref: "What if" questions

BTW, our "intelligent" system just decided that merely being concise is "trivial" and worthy of converting an answer to a comment :) Lesson: don't be concise.


Questions about contemporary politics which do NOT ask - as the main component - a historical analysis.

I can't find a meta reference for that one but recall it being discussed.

  • I'd bundle this one under "belongs on another SE site" (in this case, politics.SE).
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 17, 2013 at 14:28
  • I am uncertain... there's a high chance that Politics goes belly up and gets offed before graduation IMHO (ask @Yannis if he agrees). Also, we seem to be getting tons more of "politics" questions than those migratable to other sites, from my recollection
    – DVK
    Jun 17, 2013 at 14:30
  • Dang. I'd really miss having it around, as a dumping ground for all our flame-bait political questions. I say even if it goes, we pretend its still there. :-)
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 17, 2013 at 14:37
  • @T.E.D. - we could have some good political questions if we tried, as I said, the ones where "historical analysis" is involved should be on topic and interesting
    – DVK
    Jun 17, 2013 at 14:43

I'm going to extend @DVK's suggestion (of which I heartily approve). Based on my review of Mr. Rizos' excellent list, I would add that questions are off topic if they reference or rely on precursor knowledge that is not cited

  • "Why didn't the world community bake me a birthday cake? (or stop
    Mugabe, or Bush, or Chavez, or whoever)?" (If you're going to ask that, you need to define the world community in some way; give me a wikipedia link to the UN High Commissioner on Birthday Cakes.)
  • "What is the consensus of historians on ...(this picture of my goldfish)? If there is in fact a secret cabal of historians that dictates opinions on history, nobody has informed me of it. Questions like these are really invitations to debate. Example
  • "When did you stop beating your wife (e.g. What is the timeframe for adam and eve)" If the question doesn't provide a timeframe, or references a timeframe that is indeterminate, or a timeframe that relies on assumptions that are not commonly accepted, then the question is off topic - it is an invitation to write a fantasy novel.
  • "Can you evaluate the impact of Sujarkama's theory of mesonic
    exchange entitlements on the gross national product of the Jawethi
    province of Kronos under Reaganomics?" (i.e. Astoninishingly obscure questions based on terms, concepts and papers that are not cited).

Update: @DVK's assertion lingers in my mind and forces me to clarify that the key to why I believe these to be off topic is the absence of sources/citations. If the questions are based on sources, then they're on topic. If they don't have sources, then these aren't questions about history, they're invitations to dialogue, or politics, or religion or something else. The difference between a meeting of historians and a meeting of a professional debate society is the respect and attention paid to the sources.

  • OMG, that third bullet is my personal pet peeve on questions. Unless/Until I think of something better, from now on I'm calling those "When did you stop beating your wife?" questions. Still, a lot of them can be fixed, and "Primarily opinion-based" might suffice for the rest?
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Jun 17, 2013 at 19:24
  • 4
    -1 for calling Sujarkama's theory of mesonic exchange entitlements on the gross national product of the Jawethi province of Kronos under Reaganomics obscure. The fact that you don't know about it doesn't make it obscure.
    – yannis
    Jun 18, 2013 at 18:56
  • -1, sorry. Most of this stuff is NOT in any way, shape, or form, off-topic. They may be NARQ/NC closeable, but NOT off-topic.
    – DVK
    Jun 19, 2013 at 21:43
  • 1
    @DVK Depends, we can make them off topic. On Programmers, "what language I should learn next" questions are off topic. In reality, they are NC, but the category is so amazingly horrible that we've just put them in our "don't ask" list and thus made them off topic. More or less the same happened here with Wikipedia questions.
    – yannis
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:11
  • @DVK - I can see your point; I considered agreeing with you, but I think that if they don't include sources, then they are not topical for H:SE. If they include sources, they can be tweaked into questions, but absent sources, they're just trolling.
    – MCW Mod
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:13
  • @YannisRizos - the inner Aspergers OCD programmer in me recoils in horror at such horrible mis-bucketing, no matter how good the reasoning :( ... Also, aren't they fixing NC/NARQ as well? This is a good opportunity to fix the ontopic offtopic mess while at it
    – DVK
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:59

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