This was first touched upon last September where it was decided that question titles need to be actual, clear questions and not vague titles. I think this is an extremely important, fundamental part of a successful Stack site. Titles that ask a clear question that reflect the question's contents are infinitely (I did not do the math, but it's definitely infinite) more valuable than those with vague titles.

On the home page right now, there are a number of questions that are sentence fragments or incredibly vague:

Now, admittedly, I am no GIS expert. It's possible that some of these are perfectly good titles, content-wise. I will say, though, that none of them are complete sentences nor are they questions. In my opinion, seeing nothing but sentence fragments and titles void of punctuation looks a little less expert.

It's been a year since this was first brought up on GIS and I would like to start organizing an actual plan of attack to keep question titles clear and, well, questions.

My first inclination is to declare an upcoming week/weekend Title Clean-Up Week/Weekend, which would encourage all of the community to spend some of their time on the site over a week/weekend combing through the site's content and de-vague-ifying titles. Other sites have done this and also created a chat specifically for discussing the clean-up. Is this worth trying on GIS?

Note that editing a bunch of titles on old questions would make them pop up on the homepage, which is a something to consider for a project like this.

  • It is 50/50 with the titles - tags are just as important - If we have the time mods and some community members flag or edit these as we go. Clean up week for me family commitments at weekends.
    – Mapperz Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 19:17
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    For a while last fall I made an effort to clean up titles. It was so much work that I abandoned it. I have been pleased to note that some users are starting to step up recently to suggest edits, including improved titles. It would really help if a title edit did not promote a thread into the active category, for then I (and probably others) would be less reluctant to make a pass at fixing up a large number at once.
    – whuber
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 19:23
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    @whuber I agree with your reluctance about fixing a large number at once. That's good information to have as we discuss cleaning up titles, and it's maybe something I can have fixed for the duration of a clean up event. Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 19:25
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    It's not just you, pretty much all of those question titles you list above totally suck. I too was making a effort to reword questions titles, but other commitments have me tied up lately. A title Clean Up project is something I would participate in. Would some sort of guidance be provided? Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 19:50
  • @ChadCooper Guidance would definitely be provided, something like a time frame and question requirement (like, every user edit 10 titles in a week, or something). I tend to also enjoy complicated gamification, so there's a terrifying possibility that I will try to gamify this. If that's too complicated, please talk me down from that :) Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 19:55
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    Oh no, totally gamify it. Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 20:07
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    The bumping embargo would be nice. One family of bad title candidates can be found by searching for non-capitalised questions, so a dump of those would be handy. Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 11:51
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    I've adopted the low-friction low-bumping policy of just touching up titles as I run into them during my normal use. Meaning: if I'm going to answer the question, I'll clear up the title. If the question is interesting to me, as in I want the answer too, I'll clean it up. Other than that if it obviously needs work but I'm not going to add value in some other way, I leave it alone for now (but will perhaps add a comment). Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 21:43
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    Too bad there isn't a method to predict a bad TITLE like the Kaggle Competition to Predict Closed Questions on Stack Overflow Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 21:02

1 Answer 1


For questions about software errors and unexpected application behavior, it often makes little sense to rephrase the title as a question, since the question is almost always going to be "How can I fix X?" and the technical nature of these questions leaves little room for writing a complete sentence.

For example:

Are we okay with leaving these alone? What other titles should we avoid messing with?


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