I downvoted the question Standard of Britton's matter because it seems as if the question ought to be answerable by referring to the same page of the book which contains the Plate.

Referencing Plate VIII the text to the left of the plate says "Badges and standards are now granted to any person already possessing a right to arms and willing to pay the necessary fees." 'Granted to any person' would suggest the badges belonged to the person and not the family.

If the user wants help confirming that hypothesis by cross-checking with other sources then IMHO the question should be rewritten to ask that explicitly. That is, I would ask the question in this form: "I don't understand the discussion of standards in Fox-Davies' book -- do the badges belong to the entire family of Britton, or just an individual? Where can I find alternate explanations?" or something like that.

The user already has the reference book in hand (virtually speaking), so why should we have to read the reference in order to answer the question, especially since the answer as written seems to be either "yes" or "no"?

I suppose the real answer is to campaign among my friends in the SCA and bring in someone who can answer the heraldry questions in their sleep. ;)

  • Now it seems that the user wants to know if the images displayed on the banner are 'badges' or 'crests' in which case I ask again: if he can't find the answer in the "Complete Guide to Heraldry" then where am I supposed to find it?
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 16:52
  • Jan, Wikipedia, where I have sent them.
    – user104
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 18:55
  • It's a good thing I didn't edit the question, because the question the user wanted to know was not the question I thought was being asked!
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 5:16
  • I have absolutely no idea what he wanted to know... or why. FTFM (or RTFB) comes to mind as the best response in the circumstances.
    – user104
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 9:12

2 Answers 2


Downvoting and/or voting to close are both reasonable responses -- with a comment explaining the downvote if you're feeling generous.

  • I did write a comment with my downvote, but I got too Meta when I was doing it, so I erased it and turned it into this Meta question instead. The newer comments make it clear that the question the person is asking is a different question than the one I thought it was.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 16:49

I had wondered if user64617's difficulties with English - both understanding the reference text and phrasing the question - were contributing to the problem. GFH Stack Exchange is primarily in English, but we do have other languages represented within questions and answers. Should questions in the native language, paired with an English translation, be encouraged?

  • I'm in two minds about that, especially as it won't help a lot if the relevant native language isn't widely spoken here... meta.stackexchange.com/questions/120744/… is relevant, and I think we'd need to think long and hard, and consult fairly widely before we did something that set a precedent for other sites (especially where subject-matter overlaps).
    – user104
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 15:28
  • I am curious as to why somebody whose first language isn't English has such a burning interest in English heraldry... 2 questions here, 13 on english.stackexchange.com (excluding the closed and deleted version of their other questions here) and 1 on history.stackexchange.com, all related to the subject. Many of which seem to centre on understanding the wording of specialised texts.
    – user104
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 15:31
  • Good catch @ColeValleyGirl -- I didn't think to look at the other questions from the same user.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 16:48
  • 1
    This user needs Heraldry.SE and it's not clear to me that GFH.SE should take on that role. In other words, this user is a walking argument for the answer to 'should Heraldry be off-topic here?' to be YES.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 17:43
  • @JanMurphy, I tend to agree with you, unless the heraldry is part of unpicking a family line... i.e. it's a source rather than than an object of interest in its own right. But we've never reached a consensus on the subject (search for Heraldry here on Meta)
    – user104
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 18:29
  • @ColeValleyGirl, I have read the discussions here on Meta; this user is pushing me toward the position that it should be off-topic. How often would heraldry really be of use in solving a genealogical problem? Not very often, IMHO.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 18:56
  • @Jan, funnily enough, heraldry might help separate the various Britton families...
    – user104
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 20:07
  • Sure, but is that what this user is asking?
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 20:16
  • I downvoted this Answer because it seems odd to raise a substantial question about language support on SE GFH mixed in with what would otherwise perhaps be best as a comment. Please do not take offence at this, the spirit in which it is intended is to try and keep Answers reserved for answers, and not more questions.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 10:45
  • I was aware the my "answer" was problematic; the final sentence is a question and the comments (which started accruing very quickly) went off in another direction. I had raised the language issue because it seems to be a factor in the "Standard" question's wording that no one else had mentioned. I looked for direction in the meta discussions before posting, but found nothing definitive.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 13:13
  • I've been involved in some discussion of language issues at the Meta of my main SE site (GIS). Unfortunately, it seems hard to get much consensus on how best to handle them.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 10:39

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