As someone who works in IT myself, I know it's hard to see the newbie's perspective; I thought some feedback about my experience would help. You can see my post here.
As I said, my expertise is in IT, I'm generally an advanced user; also I've used SE sites before (for IT), though I posted only a few times. This was my experience here:
- Read rules, guidelines
- Compose and post to History SE
- Discuss rules, edit post
- Find post put on hold anyway
- Post to Meta, as instructed
- Requires signup; go through signup process
- Check my email, click link
- Rejected with error: "That email address is already in use". Seems highly unlikely, no instructions on how to proceed
- Redo signup with different email address
- Error: Email address does not match your profile, edit your profile
- Go to profile, find edit button (non-obvious; it's in a different section than the email address)
- Signup again, check email again, click link, works this time
- Post question to Meta
- EDIT: Question rejected at Meta; I'm told I got "bad advice" so steps 5-13 were a waste of my time and effort. I'm recommended to make yet another post asking that the original main site question be re-opened. I'm also offered links to more reading on rules As you can imagine, this is a frustrating, time-consuming experience and I'm stopping here. (Generally, everyone is polite and considerate, which I do appreciate; thank you!)
At this point, nobody has talked about history yet; it's been all a time sink and frustration. I suspect you lose a few users along the way there. In fact, the only reason I completed the process was to post this feedback. In particular:
- Far too much focus is on rules; it reminds me of Wikipedia (not a good thing). I just want to talk about history, not become an expert in SE.
- The rules are unclear. I read the 'manual' (something most users don't do) and somehow still didn't understand.
- Prohibitting asking for book recommendations in a history forum would seem to eliminate much value for no apparent gain. My question was pretty specific and I searched for answers before posting.
 Help says the site "is not about ... Asking for reference material". I suppose that could apply to my question, but it's ambiguous. 'Reference material' could mean primary sources, specific citations (e.g., 'where is a cite for Napoleon's height'?), reference books (e.g., 'Biographical dictionary of American History'), or several other things. I wouldn't think a narrative about Chinese history is considered "reference" and I expect that's exactly what a history forum would discuss. If it's confusing to me, I expect others will be equally confused. Also, I'm not sure why my question is appropriate on Meta. Again, look how much time is spent reading, puzzling over, and discussing rules!