In this blog post, the following point was brought up:

To put it another way, when I go to a Stack Exchange home page, I see a list of questions. If most of those are terrible questions with little to no indication that I’d be wasting my time by reading them, the value proposition of visiting and participating is diminished: I have better things to do.

Compare that to answers on a specific question: I’ve made a conscious choice to look into what I think is an interesting question. I already made the decision that the question is worth my time. If I find the answers to be useless, I have a few different options, as an interested party, to register my displeasure, including writing my own answer. Being able to write your own answer is key: if your answer is good enough, it’ll rise above the junk answers and everyone will be better off for it.

There is no such action for question lists. I can’t say “these questions suck, show me this question I just thought up instead”: that’d be silly. So, it’s imperative the question list have a high signal-to-noise ratio, and removing the penalty for those users who do take the time to read a question and later find it to be useless so they can down-vote is conducive to that.

Many of the questions on our site could use improvement. As was rightfully pointed out above, the list of questions (identified by the titles) are the first thing seen. Many of the title on our site are just a few words that don't explain what the question is about at all.

I think it would be beneficial to the site to edit the question titles so they are more informative and indicative of what the question is.

A mass edit might not be the best thing, since it will bring a lot of old questions back up to the top, but if you're editing the question anyway (e.g. adding tags) it might be worthwhile to take a look at the question itself and see if it can be improved. Or if the question has just been asked and is on top of the page already.

While I am a fan of the idea of aggressive editing, I understand that it could ruffle some feathers.

These are my thoughts, what do you think?

1 Answer 1


I definitely agree with you that people should take opportunities to upgrade titles that need it, for the reasons you say. Here's what I said in a previous question along similar lines:

In my opinion, yes. To make it easy for people to see, from the front page, which questions they may be interested in reading the details of, the title of each question should do a good job of conveying what the question is about.

People with editing power should enforce this, using as much of the original title as possible while still making for a useful title. I think that the author's expression should be a distant second in priority here, since the main point of a title is as I've described above. The question body provides more room for free expression.

I don't know if we ought to go back and fix up what may be hundreds of existing unclear question titles, but if you come to them, particularly if they sit atop particularly useful content, I'd encourage you to go ahead and make them clear.

For guidance on what a title should do, please check out both answers to this previous question.

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