If I wanted to ask something regarding the history of the name SQL as it relates to computer programmers is that applicable?

The first answer would undoubtedly be a link to wikipedia so I'm not sure it would even be worth it to ask.

History is by it's very nature subjective. Clouded by ideology and culture. It is my belief that no historical question can be objectively answered. (i.e. who discovered the calculus? what is the first computer?, who invented the internet?)

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    Could you change the title to "When are historical questions on topic?", as there are both objective and subjective historical questions and maybe some might better fit on SO. Eric's answer is an example... Sep 30, 2010 at 14:18
  • Excellent question. I would argue that these tend to be objective question- however, it's not clear to me whether it should or should not be part of P.SE. Something we should decide as a community. Sep 30, 2010 at 14:54
  • @fishtoaster Maybe I should ask "Is a programmer more likely than a fisherman to hold an objective view of history" (then wait 10 seconds for it to be closed). I think there's a really big and interesting ideological cleft that separates those two camps. I have a hard time seeing history 100% objectively since it's generally based on tradition, culture and hearsay. Sep 30, 2010 at 14:57
  • Regardless of whether you consider is objective or not, whether it's appropriate here is something the community should decide. Let's let the votes in this thread (assuming we get a clear majority one way or another) decide the policy. Sep 30, 2010 at 15:03

4 Answers 4


Yes. In general I don't see any reason why questions on programming history should not be acceptable here.

(That said, if the answer is simple enough to be found on a wikipedia page, I would possibly question it's merit from that perspective, but that would have to be judged on a case by case basis)


I actually think these should be on-topic for SO, provided the subject is directly programming-related (not something that just happens to be used among programmers, i.e. "What is the history of QWERTY?").

Which means there's no good reason to ask them here. Now, if you want to ask a historical question about programmers (or programmer-behavior I suppose, although the appropriateness of that subject is becoming more and more unclear), that does seem like more of a P.SE thing.

So, for instance, "How did Knuth get started in CS?" - that's a good historical P.SE question.

FWIW, I would also consider your Delphi pronunciation question a good P.SE question, but not a historical question even if the answers themselves may include historical information. Obviously, this is a bit controversial though.


No. Historical questions should not be allowed here because they're too objective, or they're subjective but not useful, or they're subjective and just not in the scope of P.SE.

(Answer included for completeness- vote up or down based on your opinion on this issue).

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    -1 based on inherent incomplete version of history that is able to be known by a single person. Sep 30, 2010 at 15:36
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    This. The inability to determine the correct answer does not preclude there being a correct answer.
    – Shog9
    Sep 30, 2010 at 16:15
  • Exactly. Historical questions are not useful. This show that those stupid subjective allowance rules are counter-prodictive.
    – P Shved
    Oct 1, 2010 at 20:49

No. However, if applicable, someone should be allowed to ask for justification of an answer, which could indeed be historical.

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