For what exact reason is my question "What are the minimum historical changes that would permit the use of paratroopers at the beginning of World War I?" is considered opinion based?

For historical purposes (ignore if you want to answer or vote answers)

Consider that is no different of the question What single change would have given the best chance for the Axis to win World War 2?.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for bringing that question to our attention. Under current site policy that question would not be a good fit. It has been entered into the review queue to be closed to prevent further confusion. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Are you a machine? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 10:15
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    $\begingroup$ Please, don't roll back the question to remove the reference. It's important to understand the answers, whether you like it or not. It's not about one's pride, it's about understanding the context and intentions of each one $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena So because it I rollback to where it was removed. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ L.Dutch rollbacked your edits because first telling it is a decoy is wrong, it's part of your question and argumentation, the reasons you asked the question. And this whether it has been countered or not. Plus, if people come 3 or 4 months later, they'll wonder why an answer tells your example is wrong, they'd need to look at the history and that's tedious and unintuitive. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ It looks to me you dislike having your point countered and so wished to remove it, but that's nothing to be worried about, it happens all the time in debates. And to be honest, you raised a good interrogation by comparing to this other question $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena (1) I rollback that argument, (2) Is a decoy because even if my argument is wrong, it does no mean that my complain is wrong. (3) Okay will put the example as a side note. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I am no shamed, just worried about it being used as strawman. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @ErdelvonMises A strawman would be if someone brought up a bad argument in support of a position they disagree with. It's not a strawman to make a bad argument that doesn't support your own position. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings I "confused" strawman with another fallacy, but it still a fallacy. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ @ErdelvonMises You meant the "there are other people who did it" :p. It hasn't to be bad if that's part of a question and not a pure affirmation. The goal here is to look at why the behaviour is different : is it because of people closing for bad reasons? Or is there an underlined difference I didn't notice (in this case rules change over time)? There's no fallacy in that as you don't try to win a debate, but to understand. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 22:41

2 Answers 2


Because your question is indeed opinion-based

Ok, that didn't help much, so I'll try to explain your case in detail :p. Asking what historical changes should be made to allow something is most likely to lead to discussions, which is ill-fit in a Question and Answer format.

The question is why it's so prone to discussions? It's because it's already hard to predict election results (even with preliminary opinion polls) of the next year or the outcome of a war in the next two or three years, it's even harder to predict what will lead to an alternative history where air technology has matured enough to include paratroopers in the militaries's arsenal. It's because the slightest change to reach your objectives can alter the whole timeline down the line, even possibly preventing the WWI or changing their main actors in the first place!

These predictions are too wild, as shown with the assumptions you made (taking on the French Parlement and end the war in 1 week, for instance). I don't tell they're necessary wrong; I tell the level of chaos is so high that we can't know which timeline we should take to reach the outcome you're aiming for.

This brings us to mostly conjectures and an inability to scale how minimal a change is to ensures no other thing gets wiped out in the hi-storyline. This inability to tell which answer is better and the high presence of conjectures (which almost always give birth to discussions) means it's most likely based on opinions :).

  • $\begingroup$ Does the inability to calculate something precisely make it speculative or opinion-based? A specialist in this historical period can give a decent answer that does not rely on speculations and instead is backed by historical data. With this said, I do not think that the OP's question is a good fit for the WB.SE because it does not comply with the 'questions must be specific and answerable' requirement. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin Yes, that's quite the meaning I intended. Don't worry, I'm not bashing history or social sciences that they are not accurate :), but it's not really inside history's scope to predict how things would go if an event or something changed down the line. An historian could tell that if something didn't exist, a consequence probably wouldn't happen the same way (e.g.: The assassination of Ferdinand to trigger WW1). But to determine exactly what would happen for the next 20, 40 or 80 years afterward is hardly doable due to how chaotic history can be, let alone to reach a precise endpoint ^^. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ The further you get from the divergence point in your timeline, the higher the risks you get tangential differences made by individuals, and it goes in a pretty-much exponential way. It's chaotic in its scientific definition. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ I would not say that all schools of thought in historical studies would agree with you but it is not relevant to this conversation. I agree that it may be hard to make predictions for 80 years in the future. However, does the question ask for this type of prediction? $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin To my eyes, yes. Ending a 4 year long war in just 1 week by taking over the parliaments would need more than just innovating on aircrafts and parachutes, which is already a huge deal ^^. And it seems this opinion was shared quite a bit in the question's comments, too. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure what comments you are referring to. A lot of comments suggest that fulfilling the OP's requirements is not possible. But this does not make the question opinion-based. I also wonder if you think that this question should also be closed as opinion-based. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ I am a bit busy today, so maybe some other time. I was just trying to understand your criteria of opinion-based a little bit better. It is one of the most opinion-based reasons for closure on the WB.SE and I am interested in how different people interpret it. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin Sorry, I misread the question you pointed out and deleted the comment. I'm actually rewriting it. But yes, take your time, we have it :). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:17

Simply said, you can't take a question posted in 2015 and use it as a comparison with today, 6 years later: the community acceptance and standards evolve over time, so you should refer to more recent examples.

Also note that the question you mention has 43 answers, which is a pretty large number for worldbuilding standard, strongly suggesting that it is also opinion based like yours: there are way more opinions than facts.

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    $\begingroup$ It still does no answer my question. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ @ErdelvonMises I agree that L.Dutch got sidetracked towards your point since you gave it, but if you look at it closely, the reason's there : "[the old question] is also opinion-based like yours : there are way more opinions than facts". More info on why in the tour and what questions you should not ask. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ I do not think that it is proper to measure how opinion-based is the question based on the number of answers it receives (or use the number of answers as a part of any question quality evaluation system). A questioner has no control over answers and those who write them. Some topics invite more speculations. For example, some time ago zombies were a popular topic and any question related to the zombie apocalypse would receive a lot of speculation-based answers no matter how well the question was written. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Otkin a question has control over the answer by putting in the question the criteria used to evaluate the answers. And incidentally that's what avoids that every answer is equally valid. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 6:03
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Adding strict criteria does not always stop people from speculating. Please also note that in your answer you do not mention the merits of the question at all. You focus solely on the number of answers it received and draw a conclusion that this very fact suggests that the question is opinion-based. This wording is what I am objecting to. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 6:17

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