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The FAQ seems to be contradictory. It says that "If you have a question about...history of Jewish law or of Jewish life...then you've come to the right place." But it also says, "On the other hand, questions unrelated to Jewish life and learning, even if they are about...Jews, Jewish history, and Israel...are generally off-topic." This needs to be fixed.

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The FAQ is precise about what kinds of history are on-topic and what kinds are off-topic:

  • The history of Jewish law or Jewish life, or in short, the history of Judaism, is on-topic.

  • The history of individual Jews, Jewish populations, or the Jewish State, unless also about Judaism, is off-topic.

If you think the way this is expressed in the FAQ is insufficiently clear, perhaps you could suggest an alternative way to say it here. The mods can edit this language.

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    The problem is in the term "Jewish life." Whaat is the difference in the history of "Jewish populations" and the history of "Jewish life"? Where would you put, say, the story of the Holocaust era trek of Jews to Japan and China (which would include the Mir yeshiva)? Is the history of Jews in Spain in 1492 off limits althugh it is highly relevant to the development of Jewish law in the time of. Rambam? – Bruce James Mar 5 '13 at 10:21
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    @BruceJames,the intent behind "Jewish life" is more like "living according to Judaism" than "life-forms who are Jewish." It's possible that this could be phrases more clearly. Questions about the Mir yeshiva, in particular, may be on-topic as about the history of learning, while questions about the escape to the East in general would be off-topic. Questions about the development of Jewish law in the times of the Rambam would be on-topic, while questions about the history of the 1492 expulsion in general would be off-topic. Rule of thumb: Iff the question is about Judaism, it's likely on-topic. – Isaac Moses Mar 5 '13 at 16:02
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    It could be that we should replace all instances of "Jewish life" in our docs with "Judaism." – Isaac Moses Mar 5 '13 at 16:23
  • @IsaacMoses "Judaism and Learning"? – Double AA Mar 5 '13 at 18:29
  • @DoubleAA or perhaps all instances of "Jewish life [and learning]" – Isaac Moses Mar 5 '13 at 18:31
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Isaac's answer describes the distinction we're trying to make. As pointed out here, the current FAQ wording includes, on the on-topic list:

  • history of Judaism

While the off-topic list includes:

  • Jews, Jewish history, and Israel

That's pretty nuanced. I suggest we add a few words to the on-topic entry:

  • history of Judaism, such as the history of laws or customs

(I mean halachot and minhagim, but I'd rather our FAQ be low on jargon.)

And tweak the off-topic bullet:

  • Jews, other aspects of Jewish history, or Israel

I know -- history of Judaism isn't the same thing as Jewish history. But a lot of people who'll be reading this list -- which includes non-Jews, people who don't speak English as their first language, and people not used to the careful and precise use of language that many of us aim for -- won't realize that. What's redundant to us can be clarifying for others.

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