I read this question about technological advancement in an alternate history.

It was closed as too broad, and rightly so. It was too broad.

Thanks to @MichaelKjörling for getting an accurate count of the hold rate. I only looked at the first page.

If on-average an question has an 31% chance of being closed, should we discontinue the alternate-history tag?

Please note that I think the question I linked to was badly worded. Had it been cleaned up (something along the lines of, "What changes would be needed in Earth's history such that the Roman Empire continued into the 1600s and what technological changes would have occured?") I think it's quite answerable (I don't equate "hard" as "too broad"). I wonder if we're closing questions so quickly that OPs don't have a chance to improve their questions... but that's just me.

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    $\begingroup$ Questions like this will still be asked even if the alternate-history is removed. While closed questions can be edited by their OPs, they then go to the reopening queue. Closure is often too quick to allow improvement first. The speed of closure may discourage OPs from bothering to try and improve. I agree many questions do need cleaning up. OPs should be advised accordingly, as it's better to improve than close. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Oct 19 '17 at 1:46
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    $\begingroup$ 367 non-deleted questions are tagged alternate-history. Of those, a grand total of 115 questions are on hold or closed. While a 31% closure rate is still high, it's a far cry from 85%. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 19 '17 at 7:19

I say we should keep it

It's a good way to describe what you are asking about and if the people can't narrow the scope of their question down enough than it's not the fault of the tag. I wouldn't want to miss questions just because people were not able to take a tag and then focus on an aspect like they are supposed to do.

All tags are too broad. That's because they are tags and supposed to group different kinds of questions together. To take some numbers from a comment from Michael Kjörling:

That means roughly 31% closure rate. Pretty high, but let's look at some other tags. Like .

That makes for roughly 34%. That's a bit more than .

How about ?

That makes for roughly 26%. Not where is, but still quite a lot and pretty close.

I think those numbers are high. And it would be good if they were not that high. But something around 30% closure rate is no reason to ban a tag and thereby discourage people from asking about these topics.

Maybe we should think about making the rules more specific by stating them in the tag excerpts. For example currently the tag excerpt from reads:

For questions that ask what might have happened if history had taken a different path.

The tag wiki on the other hand specifies among others:

These questions often fall in the "What if ... ?" category and are at risk of being too broad. When asking the question, people should focus on only one or a small amount of aspects.

By mentioning that people should only focus on one single aspect we might reduce the numbers a bit. But we will probably never reduce them to something like 10%. People will misuse the tag like they misuse any other tag on the site. The difference between and other existing tags is not that big that we need to intervene immediately and especially not by removing the tag altogether.

Granted, my examples are on the often-closed end of the scale and a lot of other tags are far below these numbers. But I don't think that the numbers should be the sole reason to get rid of the tag.

About your comment at the end: I think closing questions fast is a good thing so that people don't answer stuff that will get changed. New users often don't ask clear questions or have a clear idea about what they need to know and what they need to communicate for that. It's important to state how the OP can improve his post and mention that you are voting to put it on hold until those edits are made to improve the quality of the answers you will receive or something along those lines.

But this is getting a bit of off-topic and might warrant (another) Meta discussion like here or here or here.


I think the tag should remain as is

While many of the tagged are rightly closed as too broad, usually starting with "what would the world be like now if this major change happened thousands of years ago", many of them are good questions about whether minor differences could have taken place. "Could X have won Y battle" or King John acting boldly and opening churches - would this work?, inviting good answers based on expertise of the period which even in small numbers would validate the existence of the tag.


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