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This question Free whois history service? was closed as not constructive, but I can't see any reasons for why it would cause extended debate. If there is such a service, the answer is simple, if there is not, the answer is simple too.

The question is also different from a "site recommendation question" in my opinion, because it is not certain that any such service exists at all. Thus it is unlikely to cause much self promotion. The question is also not asking for a recommended service, it's asking if such a service exists.

Since (as far as I know) there are not more than 0-4 such services, a valid answer would be to give a "complete" (all you know of) list, without valuing them. Just giving a short neutral description. There doesn't have to be a recommendation.

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I would close it with:

Questions asking for recommended external websites, tools, resources, and software are off-topic as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Recommendations for software are permitted on Software Recommendations, but be sure to read their quality guidelines before posting there.

Whether or not such a service actually exists, asking for it is off-topic here because it is looking for the recommendation of an external resource. Such recommendation questions are likely to attract spammy self promotion answers. They also tend to muck with the voting and reputation system because people vote for the answer with their favorite resource (and may down vote the others).

At the time that John closed the question, that off-topic reason did not explicitly exist. He considered recommendation questions to be non-constructive. The non-constructive close reason no longer exists. Today we would use a different close reason for that question.

For the record, I am in favor of making recommendation questions on-topic: Product recommendations and offsite resource questions, could they be made be on-topic again?. The questions tend to be very popular. They get lots of views. They could revitalize the site. I think we moderators could handle the spam. If you also feel this way, then please put your thoughts in on that question. I believe I am the only moderator that feels this way.

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    I think the key word here is "recommended" resources. The question is not about which is the best, it's about if such site exists at all. I find that to be a crucial difference, at least if there are not tons of them readily available. If there are ~0-3 sites total, self promotion can't be a problem because you should list all of them anyways. – Hjulle Mar 4 '15 at 10:48
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The answer to the original question is "yes". However I expect you would like a list of them. Such a list would go out of date as free services tend to come and go, because people find it difficult making them pay. Even if you don't want a recommended site, then just listing it is an implicit recommendation. If a site was in the list and it didn't work, or gave invalid answers, then that wouldn't be worth listing. So you the person answering the question needs to know whether or not they are any good, which is another sort of implicit recommendation.

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    If the answer is yes, then I think it is even worse that this question was closed. This question was the only relevant one in the top google search results for "free whois history". And now it stands there with a completely wrong answer. I don't care about what is the best service, I just want any "free whois service". And as long as there are just a handful, it should be pretty easy to maintain a (more or less) complete list of them. If there are more then a handful available, then I would agree that it should be closed as a recommendation question. – Hjulle Mar 5 '15 at 12:37
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Fact of the matter is that these services do exist and asking for software, services or resources is considered off-topic... no matter how little there may be and no matter how you look at it, it's still a recommendation.

A user that creates any question 'free software/service` is certainly going to be aware that these services exist, as we can assume that the user has found what he/she is looking for but is not free. And it wouldn't be an over assumption to say that she or he has tried searching including the word 'free'.

Also a list valuing each one could also be considered a 'review' and in a lot of cases opinionated ones, which is also a closure reason.

While my wall of text may seem unhelpful its not the case and you will regularly see moderators comment on closures outlining additional information and actually trying to save the question from closure.

Users are regularly informed that such questions can be asked in our Chat Channel which many of the community check daily.

A valid question...

So, as I said earlier its a fair assumption to say that the user has found some 'free online domain history services' a valid question could of looked like:

I'm aware of premium and free whois history providers is there any other way that I can find out the history of the domain?

Valid answers could of been i.e icann, nominet, and perhaps other ways.

Now, as far as liking this rule that's a whole different thing, I can see the problems, I can see the benefits, its catch 22.

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    That is why I said "without valuing" them. I also think that it is a fair assumption that the asker knows about premium services, but not any free ones. Especially since the only answer says that "I don't think you are going to find that". – Hjulle Mar 5 '15 at 21:04

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