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There seems to be an increasing number of questions asked by new users who write titles that have redundancy or unhelpful verbiage.

Some fictional examples:

  • Question about resistors
    (Everything is a question here, so this just says 'resistors.')
  • Need help with my supercapacitor
    (Of course you need help or you wouldn't be writing.)
  • Confusion about inductor datasheet
    (Point me to the problem, not the fact you are confused.)
  • Transformer isolation question
    (Welcome to the department of redundancy department, welcome!)
  • Microcontroller in reset loop problem
    (Better, but questions and problems are essentially synonyms here.)
  • Help identifying SMD chip
    (It's a given that you need help. Instead, include some small detail about the IC!)

The entire site is a Q&A, so it should be obvious that the user is posting a question about something. In some cases titles such as these might be to meet the minimum character requirement without any real thought about the title. In others, the inclusion of such phrases is innocent, but serves only to add useless padding and noise.

I'd like to encourage editors to recognize and fix these, commenters to educate OPs when helpful, and StackExchange to implement whatever possible to recognize/flag dubious titles and at least suggest to the author that their title may need improvement.

Titles should be succinct and summarize the question. (Ideally, they instill curiosity and encourage readers to continue.)

  • Why are there so many resistors in series in this circuit?
  • Why does this supercapacitor not fully charge as expected?
  • What is meant by having two saturation current values on this inductor datasheet?
  • Is this isolation transformer wiring safe?
  • What is causing this microcontroller to get into a reset loop?
  • Identify 14-pin SMD IC in this Acme Roadrunner Catcher.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not to mention the totally useless phrase "Can someone help me...", which appears in both question titles and bodies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Null Mod
    Nov 21, 2023 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd also like to suggest that editors try to shorten question titles where the OP has tried to stuff the entire question into the title. \$\endgroup\$
    – brhans
    Nov 21, 2023 at 23:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Was your sole tag intended to be ironic ? :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    Nov 22, 2023 at 11:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Most of that seems to fall under "Let's do it". I agree. Lets. || And " StackExchange to implement whatever possible to recognize/flag dubious titles and at least suggest to the author that their title may need improvement." sounds good - and needs a champion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    Nov 22, 2023 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RussellMcMahon No, it's just the closest one available among the required tags: "At least one of these tags is required - 'bug feature-request discussion support'." \$\endgroup\$
    – JYelton
    Nov 22, 2023 at 17:37

3 Answers 3

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I totally agree. Question titles are important to the question and also make them more searchable and allow those who answer questions to easily select the questions that they wish to answer.

Titles that are too meta I should be reworked to reflect the information in the question. Request clarification from the OP or feel free to edit the titles yourself.

Title should reflect the specifics of the question

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On your examples...

Titles are titles, not necessarily an actual question, but all your examples are just questions.

A title could be 'DAC into two-pole filter gives excessive noise'. I think having to put 'Why does my' on the front of that example and a question mark on the end is just unnecessary padding. Which, as it happens, is what you're trying to stamp out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You are correct in that most of my examples are in question form, but they definitely do not need to be. I'm not necessarily advocating for "titles must be questions," just that titles shouldn't include unhelpful redundancies. "DAC into two-pole filter gives excessive noise" would be a perfectly acceptable title IMO. \$\endgroup\$
    – JYelton
    Dec 8, 2023 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JYelton, sure but my point is that none of your examples show titles as titles. Would be good to add some such examples, might gain your point some extra support. \$\endgroup\$
    – TonyM
    Dec 8, 2023 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ The last example is not in question form. \$\endgroup\$
    – JYelton
    Dec 8, 2023 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JYelton, sure, my mistake - 6 of 7 are questions. It's up to you if you want to balance up your question's examples or not to make them more representative, I'll leave you to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – TonyM
    Dec 8, 2023 at 20:25
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I don't quite agree.

Questions and problems are not synonyms. A title like "Microcontroller in reset loop problem" does not convey the same information as "Question about microcontroller in reset loop", and not the same again as "Microcontroller reset loop". "Problem" indicates OP is stuck somewhere: he has made a circuit, and it's not working properly. "Question" indicates he's more likely in conception phase, or that it's an academical question.

Other example: changing a title from "Question about resistors" to just "Resistors", makes you loose a lot of information. The first title mentions "question", not "problem", so this is most likely general (like "how do they work" type of question). Maybe it is some homework or beginner question, but I will know this likely isn't about a specific circuit that doesn't work. Overall, there's certainly not a great question behind it, but I get some context.

Now, if I see a title that just says "Resistors", I think I'll just think "resistor what?" and pass.

"Confusion about inductor datasheet": it means OP has seen an ambiguity in an inductor datasheet. He certainly cannot point you right now to the problem, because this certainly needs more information that will be found in the main text. But the "confusion" word here, again, conveys information, that you'll loose if you remove it. Now, "Inductor datasheet": what ? OP cannot find a datasheet? OP does not understand a datasheet? You can't guess the context anymore.

But I agree titles could be made more explicit, and should convey even more information in those cases. But "question", "problem", "confusion" are context words that are still useful.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not in any way suggesting mere removal of the various word combinations I presented. Doing so would render titles even more useless and in many cases of insufficient length. \$\endgroup\$
    – JYelton
    Nov 22, 2023 at 17:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JYelton But unless I'm mistaken, you're saying these "question"/"problem"/... words have no value. I'm trying to say they have. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Nov 23, 2023 at 8:24

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