We've had at least one real life history question recently, and dodged another.

A strict reading of What topics can I ask about here? doesn't provide any guidance for this type of questions, but it's fairly clear that they are outside of the site's intended scope also by community judgement. The general advice is that real-world history questions belongs on the History SE.

Should we update the help center text, to specifically list real-world history questions as off topic?

  • $\begingroup$ I would also propose that questions about the real-world future are also off-topic. Many times I've had to reconsider a question because it was more about what will happen, rather than what could happen. Plus, such questions would be considered history questions to my far-future characters. $\endgroup$ Jul 16, 2015 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ While I agree with this, we do need to be slightly careful here. There have been a number of excellent historically based questions that we would not want to exclude. For example: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/159/… $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Jul 16, 2015 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh Real-world future questions would certainly seem to me to potentially be about worldbuilding. Not sure why you'd want to exclude those; I encourage you to write a separate meta post about that and elaborate on your reasoning. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 16, 2015 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB The question you link is about "designing a town in the Ozark mountain range circa 1871", which is worldbuilding because it is about creating something that wasn't there (which falls under "creation of elements of a world"). That it is asking what size population might be reasonable in such a setting doesn't make it a history question; that defines the setting. However, if the question had been "what was the population size of Footown, Ozark mountains, Arkansas, US in 1871?", that would be a history question because it asks specifically about the history of our real world. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 16, 2015 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ We also could certainly list "cities" and "planets" as examples of "elements of a world" that are on topic. Both have been well received by the community already, even though I have no ready examples to point to right now. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 16, 2015 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ Alternate history is still on topic I hope? $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Jul 16, 2015 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent That's certainly my intent, at least. I'm not proposing to make anything off topic that hasn't been off topic before, I'm merely proposing to clarify what is on topic with regards to questions based in history. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 17, 2015 at 11:43

1 Answer 1



I propose that we add as a bullet point under "as long as they are not about":

  • Historical events of or historical facts about the real world, except when provided as examples or comparisons in the construction of an imaginary world (consider the History or respective subject-specific Stack Exchange sites)
  • $\begingroup$ This answer is community wiki for a reason; feel free to edit to make minor improvements to the phrasing. (If you are suggesting a completely different phrasing however, do make it a separate answer.) @bilbo_pingouin $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 16, 2015 at 9:43

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