You would probably not think of Reddit as the best place to go for historical knowledge. For those of you who don’t know it, Reddit is the place where anyone can discuss anything. There are sub-reddits on Disney Princesses, and on Toledo Ohio. More relevant to this blog, there are also 20 subreddits on 触手強姦
Ask Historians has more rigid standards about what they will post as questions and answers than most of reddit, and they also have 1.4 million readers. They call themselves “The Portal for Public History”, which is bothersome, since it gives the impression that they don’t know what Public History is.
It is a great place to find out what The Plain People of the Internet want to know about the past.
So today we have questions about sexy ninjas
Were kunoichis/ female ninjas in ancient japan actually trained to kill their target by seduction and wearing revealing clothes and get their guard down, using hidden weapons, or is it just another women on the battlefield trope by movies?
but also broad comparative things that are really hard to answer, but that people like to ask
Why didn’t the Mongolian language spread as a prestige language in the Mongol Empire like Latin & Arabic did in their respective empires?
or questions like
According to the Pew Research center, 29% of South Koreans identify as Christians. Why were Christian missionaries so successful at converting people in South Korea, whereas they experienced far less success in other East and Southeast Asian countries?
One nice about the site that in many cases the questions will just not be answered. If nobody can come up with a good answer based on solid sources to a question like “Who would win in a battle between Alexander the Great and Oda Nobunaga” then the question just sits there.
The other nice thing is that in many cases they will just point people to answers to the same question that have been given before. They have FAQs for Frequently Asked Questions. Also for Very Frequently Asked Questions.
Looking through these gives you a probably not very surprising view of what people want to know about history. Are you surprised that in the Japan section there are a lot of perennial questions about samurai warfare? Or that Korean history begins with the Korean War?
On the other hand, there are a lot of really good questions and answers that are both worth reading and worth pointing students to so that you don’t have to write long e-mails on
Why is there such antipathy to ‘New Qing History’ among mainland Chinese scholars?
In 19th century Yunnan there was a Muslim led revolt called the Panthay Rebellion. Why did this rebellion happen and why was there a Muslim population in Yunnan in the first place?
If you are looking for something to give you hope on the state of history on the Internet, this is a good place.