We have science-based and magic-based to give guidance as to what types of answers are acceptable to the author. This question made me wonder if we should also have a history-based for questions that want to see what actually happened related to a topic.

Presumably, questions with this tag would be more citation-heavy and less speculative (as the excellent answers on this question point out). I think it would be useful to determine what kinds of answers are desired, in much the same way that I check whether it's science or magic based before answering.


4 Answers 4


This answer is going to overlap with Michael's, but I'm posting it separately so I can go on at greater length than comments afford. :-)

There is a fine line between pure history and historically-informed exploration. A question like What are the primary triggers for the decline and fall of great empires? pretty much requires an answer based in history, but it's not a history question -- it's a question about how empires work, with reference to empires we know about. And there's What are the necessary conditions for a worldwide government?; our world has attempted something of a world government in the UN, kinda sorta, and some answers have drawn on history, but it's not a history question per se. All of this seems ok to me.

Then there's How quickly and accurately should news travel in a rural medieval setting?, which I asked very early in our private beta. Were it asked today I think we'd close it and that doesn't seem wrong to me. My motivation in asking the question was world-building (I want the types and speeds of my communication channels to be historically accurate), but instead of asking how to make those realistic, which would be an on-topic question for sure, I asked what did they do. Once this discussion dies down I may try to rework that question, if I can do it without invalidating answers.

So, there are questions where answers will rely on history, and I understand that to be your motivation in asking for a tag to go along with . I'm not wild about this. I'm not actually wild about either, but I understand why we probably need it -- there is a large supply of non-science-based answers (read: magic) that would otherwise be offered, and spelling out "I'm looking only for things consistent with science as we understand it today" on every such question gets tedious, and maybe we don't want to use for everything in that category. (Though maybe we do! Separate question.)

But I don't perceive the same problem with history-related questions so far. Do we have a lot of questions where what's needed is an answer based in earth history, but they're attracting more fanciful answers and it's too invasive to spell it out in questions?

  • $\begingroup$ See now I really like your medieval news question...and wish I could answer it...anyways I think that question fits just fine as long as you are trying to model your world and its information movement after real world mechanics. Seems perfectly acceptable to me. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 14:40

A question that deals directly with what has happened in our real world and has no speculative elements does not seem to me to be directly related to the subject of world building.

Instead, it seems to be more like background research. Which is a great thing to do, but isn't something a worldbuilding expert would be the most likely to be able to help out with.

Given this, a question that prompts the use of your proposed tag should in my opinion be asked on the History Stack Exchange. Or, depending on the specific subject matter, any of the myriad other science-based sites in the network. (What we can add here is largely the "what would happen if this happened" part; if your question is "please describe this part about this real-life thing" then ours is likely not the best place to ask the question.)

On our site, I would argue that it should probably be voted to be closed as not worldbuilding, and if it's a good question I could see benefit in it being flagged for possible migration to History SE or elsewhere.

Conversely, a question that asks whether a concept is feasible as well as for similar things done in the real world, without necessarily being about exactly what has happened in our real world, seems well served by the existing and tags, in combination with a specific subject tag (such as for example ). Such a question, generally speaking, would appear to be more on topic here than on say the History SE, because of its speculative elements.

TL;DR: Let's not abuse tags and turn them into what they were never really meant to be in the first place.


A lot of the world-building I do is based on real world geography, organizations, events, people etc etc etc. The real world and it's history is the single greatest source of inspiration available to us.

How events unfold in a fantasy world should always seem believable (SHOULD...they don't always) and the best way to verify that is to bounce it against reality.

I see no problem what-so-ever with a tag that is history based. The question obviously should not simply be a history query. It needs to be tied to the process of building a world.

I can see a question along the lines of oh...I don't know this one: What are the primary triggers for the decline and fall of great empires?

Where the answer should be primarily based in real world history. (that is what I was asking for). These questions should certainly be allowed if framed correctly.


The question asks if a specific concept existed in our past. He is looking for a specific information, and that does not make it a question about history. Not as it is worded at the moment.

The description of

History is the series of past events that determine the present-day characteristics of a world. Much of worldbuilding is based on the world's history and defining how it got to its current state. Creating a good history can help explain and set up the world and make it easier to work with.

An example for a history question could be (but too broad) : If people had invented plant-based armour, how would history change? What would be different over a long period of time? ...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Regarding your example, turns out plant-based armor was historically used. Which quite surprised me at the time. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh - it surprised me as well, but it was very interesting so I asked this question in case we get more questions along those lines. $\endgroup$
    – Josiah
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent - what I meant was along the lines of "science-based" - more of a "Desired Answer Context" tag. I don't know that the concept exists in other SE sites, but it's very useful here. $\endgroup$
    – Josiah
    Commented Feb 24, 2015 at 22:54

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