15 votes

How much time do you think should pass before articles or discussion about any given event can be tagged as history?

Personally I think the minimum should be 10 or 15 years, with stuff from 5 to 10 years ago being recent history, but I'm kinda biased.

7 comments

  1. [6]
    NaraVara
    Link
    /r/AskHistorians has a 20 year rule. Would make sense to me to follow their lead since that sub does get input from actual practicing historians. They explain their rationale behind it here and I...

    /r/AskHistorians has a 20 year rule. Would make sense to me to follow their lead since that sub does get input from actual practicing historians. They explain their rationale behind it here and I think most of the considerations hold for Tildes as well, though many of the most politically salient issues today seem to have root causes that reach back to the early to mid-90s. So some of the rationales about personal experience and avoiding acrimony probably wouldn't hold.

    16 votes
    1. [5]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I once met an archeologist who said that in her field they consider anything older than 50 years fair game for archeologists. In fact, she had worked for the City of Los Angeles and would often...

      I once met an archeologist who said that in her field they consider anything older than 50 years fair game for archeologists. In fact, she had worked for the City of Los Angeles and would often get calls from people doing construction in the nearby dessert who dug up "artifacts" that were mostly beer cans and girly magazines from the 50s. But because they were older than 50 years, they had to check with her before continuing.

      So 20 years for history and 50 years for archeology seems reasonable to me!

      6 votes
      1. [2]
        knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        Part of that is also law, if I remember correctly. It's illegal to disrupt an archeological site, so you need to confirm that it doesn't hold any historical significance before effectively...

        Part of that is also law, if I remember correctly. It's illegal to disrupt an archeological site, so you need to confirm that it doesn't hold any historical significance before effectively defacing it by, say, putting a house on it.

        3 votes
        1. joplin
          Link Parent
          Oh absolutely. She indicated to me that she felt the short time frame was ridiculous. Apparently most of what they find in stuff that's ~50 years old is just trash. But I guess the line has to go...

          Oh absolutely. She indicated to me that she felt the short time frame was ridiculous. Apparently most of what they find in stuff that's ~50 years old is just trash. But I guess the line has to go somewhere!

          1 vote
      2. [2]
        Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        Related askreddit thread: How much time needs to pass before grave robbing turns into archeology? (obviously "grave robbing" is simplified.)

        50 years for archeology seems reasonable to me!

        Related askreddit thread:
        How much time needs to pass before grave robbing turns into archeology? (obviously "grave robbing" is simplified.)

        2 votes
        1. joplin
          Link Parent
          Wow! That thread is fascinating. Thank you! I had never heard about the cave-in at the Corvette museum. What a weird thing!

          Wow! That thread is fascinating. Thank you! I had never heard about the cave-in at the Corvette museum. What a weird thing!

          2 votes
  2. hungariantoast
    Link
    We don't even have a definition for the history tag on Tildes, so it would be arbitrary and limiting to set any minimum amount of time before the tag can be used. For instance, even just a...

    We don't even have a definition for the history tag on Tildes, so it would be arbitrary and limiting to set any minimum amount of time before the tag can be used.

    For instance, even just a five-year minimum rule would exclude this topic that was posted today:

    Sure, the transition from Obama to Trump was only about four years ago, but the world has been rapidly changing since then, especially since 2020, that it's difficult not to look at just four years ago as a different historical period.

    And that's the real catch here. If we assume "history" to describe events that took place in a time and world sufficiently different from our own, such that they can be viewed through a "historical lens", then it's impossible to stick to one arbitrary minimum time since, because the cadence of change rapidly... changes, over time.

    "There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen."


    More practically though, none of this matters. It'd be nice to eventually get some specific rules for some tags, but this is one I don't think is necessary, and would be easily handled by friendly consensus among the few users who have the ability to change tags, and actually care enough to do so.

    I do think maybe it would be useful to have a history.recent tag in addition to just history though. Setting a minimum time for one tag or the other (rather than tag or no tag) would be far less exclusionary.

    So maybe we can start doing that? Tagging topics about events within X years as history.recent?

    10 votes