I am not a historian, just an enthusiast with no formal history training.

I tried to write a question, but in comments, was referred to Wikipedia pages (Wikipedia is in my opinion, not an authorative source), from experience, downvotes generally follow.

So, I deleted the question to save that hassle, but I am also going to have delete my account as I do not feel I will be able to write the questions I have to the standard required by this site.

4 Answers 4


What makes you think Wikipedia would be any less authoritative then this site? Both are run by random strangers on the internet. The difference between a good and a bad answer on this site is the same as on Wikipedia: sources.


The bias is (legitimately) on the questions that make the reader suspect that the asked didn't even bother reading Wikipedia.

If your question states:

I'm curious about XYZ. I read Wikipedia articles A and B, and have doubts about aspects C and D in those articles.

... then it is a lot more likely to be afforded upvotes and general approval on the site, compared to simply:

I'm curious about XYZ.

  • It's not only about duplication. It's about showing that you bothered to do research. hover over down vote arrow of a question:-)
    – DVK
    Jun 3, 2015 at 1:07

Wikipedia is a legitimate source for preliminary research. Certainly there are false statements on wikipedia, and there a statements/articles that are misleading because they are incomplete. I imagine that if this site were subjected to the same level of scrutiny as wikipedia, we'd be found guilty of the same offenses. I find that both sites are useful to me in understanding history, and I read both of them with the same skeptical eye I use for any non-authoritative source.

On the other hand, there is a reason why I have 17 times as many answers as questions. Good questions need to demonstrate preliminary research, need to show that they are non-trivial, that they can be answered, and that they can be answered in a way that meets the expectations of the site. I don't think it is "very hard to meet the site's standards"; I think the site needs to impose some standards to keep out spam, and to ensure that we understand the context of a question.

We'd love to have you stay and contribute; we'll exert reasonable effort to assist you in crafting and revising questions. But the truth is that there are too many questions that are unanswerable (or that should not be answered) because the author is typing them in a stream of conciousness mode without any effort to do preliminary research. They are a bad fit for this site and they pollute the site. The requirement to do/show preliminary research leads to a stronger site with higher quality answers. If you despise wikipedia, then provide other sources.

I believe we could do a better job of assisting users to revise questions. I believe we also need to accept that having a question put on hold for revision/reedit/reopen is perfectly legitimate. Finally, I believe that downvotes are merely expressions of opinion.

If you feel that a reference to wikipedia, invalidates the site, then by all means, follow where that leads you. If, on the other hand, you're interested in history, interested in learning, and interested in understanding our past and how we got here, then please reconsider and assist us in developing a higher quality site.

  • 3
    Actually you have only 4,5 answers per question (at least on this site) ;D. On a more serious note it is indeed difficult to come up with a good question, especially since doing research for the question often leads to finding the answer yourself.
    – Jeroen K
    Jan 8, 2014 at 13:08

It takes some time to learn how to craft a question.

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