Current on-topic page has no clarification about whether historical questions like this are on-topic or not.


While discussing about this on chat-room, I found that there is no problem with such question and we can allow this type question.


So, I am asking for changing the on-topic page to include the clarification about this type question.

  • Add a link to the question/answers you quoted. Dec 12, 2015 at 16:42
  • 1
    @FaheemMitha Already linked. Look at right side at Linked
    – Pandya
    Dec 13, 2015 at 4:29

1 Answer 1

  • I agree that questions about the history of Unix should be on-topic.
  • I agree that the help/on-topic page is vague on the subject, and it wouldn't hurt to clarify it.  Or not.  I'm not sure we need to change the help page, since it doesn't say anything excluding such topics.
  • I think you're mixing apples and oranges.  When did directories stop being readable as files? is a great example of a history question that's appropriate for our site.  Why isn't Linux embraced as the official GNU kernel?, on the other hand, is a question about why people chose to do (or not do) certain things.  Sure, if Linus Torvalds has an account on Stack Exchange, I'd be interested in seeing what he has to say.   And I suppose that a link to a statement that he's made would be valuable.  But questions like this seem to be most likely to attract guesses and opinions; therefore, I consider it to be off-topic.
  • 1
    I don't think the question is "history" but I still think it's on-topic. Software engineers are also people, by the way, and their choices of doing/not doing certain things are present in all the tools you're using right now. ;)
    – Wildcard
    Dec 15, 2015 at 10:54
  • Questions of opinion are already discouraged so your second example would still (probably) be closed even if historic questions were considered on topic. I think clarifying the help page on this issue would be a good thing to do.
    – David King
    Dec 23, 2015 at 18:10
  • I’m not sure what your point is. (1) Why are you commenting on my answer, rather than on Pandya’s question?  It refers to the same Why isn’t Linux … question that I cited. (2) ISTM that the tone of your comment is critical — but, at the same time, ISTM that you’re agreeing with my point. Am I misunderstanding you? (3) My other point was that some historical “why” questions can be answered objectively; e.g., Why are tar archive formats switching to xz compression to replace bzip2, and what about gzip?, … (Cont’d) Dec 24, 2015 at 3:33
  • (Cont’d) … Why was ‘~’ chosen to represent the home directory?, Why is FreeBSD deprecating GCC in favor of Clang/LLVM?, and (probably the most objective) Why is cd not a program?, all of which were highly upvoted (and not closed) and answered by high-rep users.  Thoughts? (4) If you believe that Why isn’t Linux … is close-worthy because it is opinion based, what clarification to the help center do you think would be beneficial? Dec 24, 2015 at 3:34
  • @G-Man I genuinely don't understand how the question about Why isn't Linux the flagship of GNU? isn't objective. It has a real answer (that Linux isn't free enough for the FSF blah, blah), and the most highly voted answer is objective, not subjective.
    – cat
    Jan 21, 2016 at 3:14
  • I look at “the most highly voted answer” to that question, and I see GNU project restrictions, “public perception”, politics, personalities, and hurting the feelings of the Hurd developers.  (OK, that pun was intended.)  I believe that these are not the sorts of things that this site should be about.  I think my point is that questions about why living creatures (e.g., people, cats, and chickens) have done the things they have done are off-topic. Jan 24, 2016 at 2:37

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