I find it sometimes very premature to "speculate" about a site in it's opening days, but I have to comment about your assertion…
Your observations and concerns are spot on. This History Stack Exchange — while it is still really early in the beta — has exactly the problems faced by the (now defunct) "How Things Work" Stack Exchange.
The downfall of the How Things Work site was that it was little more than regurgitated content. Users would find and post common "How Things Work" questions… followed by users competing to be the first to cut-and-paste the "standard" answer from a well-known source.
Even as a complete layman, I know exactly where to find the answers to about 80% of the questions on this site. This is what we call a "General Reference" problem. It's that feeling you get when a 12-year old asks you how to spell "trivia." You just want to grab them by the neck and say "Why don't you just frickin' look it up, you lazy #$%#@!"
I honestly don't know what an expert historian does all day, but I'm quite sure they don't sit around quoting encyclopedia articles. There must be finer points of history to discuss:
- Help with research
- Analyzing documentary evidence
- Exploring apparent bias
…that would be a start.
If the history experts on this site don't have problems to solve that aren't already well-documented in "General Reference" sources, this site has already failed. We don't need a site that adds another level of indirection between the question and the cited answer. That's why the "How Things Work" site was closed down.