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Should questions be questions?

I noticed lately that every single question being asked is having its title edited...typically down to a very short question.

I realize that SE is about asking questions, but editing every subject line down to these short questions seems a bit weird from some reason. The other sites don't seem to do it to the same extent as here.

I suppose one could argue it's a Q/A site so it's implied that everything being posted is a question of some form and the editing seems a tad heavy handed and it makes reading the front page a bit like listening to Jeopardy. It feels more like reading a FAQ list more than actual questions being asked by people.

Any agreements/disagreements on that thought?

  • 2
    When CHAOS was around helping the site, they made a push to edit titles to be actual questions. I have taken it upon my self to continue this effort. The hope is one day people will notice that all the other titles are question, and use the same format for titles of new questions. In my opinion (which is often wrong), the title should be short and to the point, whereas the body of the post should contain a very detailed description of the problem.
    – Tester101
    Apr 26, 2012 at 21:08
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    Well, these are all opinions, so I don't think any of us are more right or wrong. That said, in my opinion, I'd rather the questions be a bit more descriptive even if they are a bit wordier or not in the form of an actual question.
    – DA01
    Apr 26, 2012 at 22:31
  • 1
    that explains the serial editing going on in this site
    – UNECS
    Apr 26, 2012 at 23:56
  • This discussion on Meta.StackExchange might be worth a read.
    – Tester101
    Apr 27, 2012 at 0:24
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    They're doing the same debating over there it seems. I guess I'd like to make sure that question titles aren't OVERLY edited in here. I could live with every question starting with 'How do I...' even though it's redundant. But I'd like to encourage the editors that they don't over-edit the titles. Make sure there are enough details left to make it unique enough to grab folks attention.
    – DA01
    Apr 27, 2012 at 3:03
  • @DA01 If you feel a title has been "over edited", feel free to roll back the edit or offer your own edit.
    – Tester101
    Apr 27, 2012 at 11:47
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    I think its for the better. Take a look at SO - I can't help but feel that it's turning into a big mess of low quality unanswered questions. While there might be something going on if all questions are being edited, I think you have to admit that there are plenty of vague and otherwise low quality questions being asked that do indeed need to be edited in order to get them to the point where someone will answer them
    – Steven
    Apr 29, 2012 at 15:26
  • A poor question is a poor question, IMHO. Clever wording isn't likely to help get it answers. I do see issues with SO, though. The Signal to Noise ratio is pretty bad these days. Bit of a bummer.
    – DA01
    Apr 29, 2012 at 15:48
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    Just as an example of the types of titles we get... "New Asphalt Driveway - Rough Sections, Stones Showing". Is this any more informative than the edited version "Should a new asphalt driveway have rough sections where stones are showing?" If both came up in a google search, which would you be more likely to click?
    – Tester101
    Apr 30, 2012 at 19:23

3 Answers 3


An admittedly quick glance and the latest questions shows that (in my opinion) the edits to the questions titles have been an improvement.

If you see a case where you think the edit made the question worse either roll back the whole edit or re-edit the title to something better. The latter is preferable if there were other improving edits to the post.

Don't forget that we where one of the first sites CHAOS visited with a view to improving question titles.

  • I agree that the edits are generally for the better. I find it easier to decide whether a question is of interest to me when the title is a question. Apr 26, 2012 at 10:03
  • IMHO, it was less about individual questions and more about the site as a whole. I can't quite explain it, but when every post was narrowed down to a 5-word question, it seems to over-simplify the complexity of the actual content. IMHO, of course.
    – DA01
    Apr 26, 2012 at 14:22
  • @DA01 The question body is the content, the title is just a way to help people decide if they want to read the content.
    – Tester101
    Apr 26, 2012 at 21:21
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    @Tester101 I think that's actually my point. When the question is simplified so much, at least for myself, I tend to have a lot less interest in taking the time to read the content. Few people actually WANT to read an FAQ list, for instance. ;)
    – DA01
    Apr 26, 2012 at 22:32
  • And maybe it's just because I've become accustomed to StackOverflow as well. There the question titles are really more subject lines. It seems easier to spot those little things that interest or fit into your sphere of knowledge without having to wade through a bunch of "how do I...?" phrasings.
    – DA01
    Apr 26, 2012 at 22:34

I think that this often comes down to a UI issue. How about changing the text from Title: to Question:

  • Make this a [feature-request] and you'll get my vote.
    – Niall C. Mod
    May 4, 2012 at 17:52
  • Not sure it would matter what you changed the name to, people are preconditioned to interpret it as "Subject" and "Body" thanks to E-Mail.
    – Tester101
    May 23, 2012 at 16:36

Please, no.

It's fine if someone thought that was the most natural way to write it but we don't need to force every question title to be a question. If every question title starts with "How do I" then it is useless in distinguishing one question from another becomes nothing but clutter.

Titles should get the main point of the question across without being to verbose. Think of the titles used for news articles or research papers.

(FYI while I'm new on DIY, I've put in lots of time editing on Stack Overflow, including discussing this very question on the global meta)

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