Update: Due largely to the feedback provided below and the proliferation of increasingly intriguing questions on this site, History SE is now public. Congratulations! Thank you for your feedback — Enjoy.
The original message:
I believe the recommendation will be to close this site on the basis of the "How Things Work" problem. I would like to recommend keeping it open by improving the scope of the site… but I need your feedback.
What is this site about?
Generally, Stack Exchange sites are built for academics and experts to solve specific problems you encounter in you day-to-day work. It's been suggested that since "History" is a chronological account of events past, there are really no problems to solve, per se. It's a bunch of reference material for your to look up and share.
If that ^^^ statement above doesn't make your blood boil, we're probably building this site for the wrong audience.
History is not about asking about past events. The FIELD of history (to an expert historian) is about scholars who examine and analyze events and perform objective investigations, determine cause and effect, look for apparent biases, etc.
Is this site about history trivia?
We've already talked about answers that just regurgitate content from other sources (Warning about answers that just copy online sources). But the actual problem is not that answers are being copied… It's that the questions solicit answers that are eminently copyable. Many of the questions sound as though they're written by students the night before their essays are due.
I honestly don't know what an expert historian does all day, but I'm quite sure they don't sit around quoting encyclopedia articles. So my question is this…
Finally, a question…
I'll make this a free-for-all, pile-in-your-thoughts question on any of the following:
- What are you getting out of this site?
- Why should it exist?
- What purpose does it serve and how does it make the Internet better?
- Do we need to re-scope this site to appeal to the more academic nature of historians and historical study?
If the history experts on this site don't have problems to solve that aren't already well-documented in "General Reference" sources, this site has already failed. We don't need a site that only adds another level of indirection between the question and the cited answer. We need a site that does something more.
What is that "something more"?