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I wonder whether questions should start with How to or not.

For example below is the name of my last recent question. It starts with How to which is more easy to read in my opinion.

How to find out whether a triangle mesh is concave or not?

Though the How to phrase doesn't add any information to the title. Since this is a question and answer community, it's already known that the title references to a question. Therefore the title below would have been enough.

Find out whether a triangle mesh is concave or not

Is there a guide line or preferred style in our community?

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marked as duplicate by psubsee2003, hims056, ɥʇǝS, ben is uǝq backwards, Martijn Pieters Apr 30 '13 at 17:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

As it is question title, it should be short and clear. So, I guess "Find out whether a triangle mesh is concave or not" sounds good. – Akira Apr 30 '13 at 10:15
2 point 4. – MDeSchaepmeester Apr 30 '13 at 10:18
@MarioDeSchaepmeester: What's ironical is that the title of that question begins with "How do I ..." – Aditya Apr 30 '13 at 10:20
@Aditya ha, good one :) don't shoot the messenger though ;) – MDeSchaepmeester Apr 30 '13 at 10:26
@Aditya The title begins with "How do I…" since it's… well, a question, and it's linked to from the FAQ page, which is, again, a list of questions. "Choosing good titles" wouldn't make sense here. – slhck Apr 30 '13 at 10:38
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I think this is another case where it's important not to have a site policy. Some titles are good with a how to:

How to delete every third element from a list?

(which is not great) or

How do I augment a zygomorphism-preseving endofunctor?

(which is better) but sometimes it makes more sense to miss it out:

Finding the maximal coherent subtree

(which is clear and consise).

If you have a rule about this, people waste lots of time applying it needlessly.

Rephrasing titles is important if they're unclear, badly worded or way too long. Otherwise it's not that important. Usually the body of the question is where most work needs to be done.


It's good to write clear, consise, unwordy titles, but it's bad to have a policy that they're required.

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Deleting every third element from a list and augmenting a [...] ... I don't really see the difference it makes. Okay it sounds nicer with how to, but as far as content is concerned, they both get the message/topic across. – MDeSchaepmeester Apr 30 '13 at 10:24
@MarioDeSchaepmeester Yeah, I'm saying it's not important or consistent enough to have a policy. That's the main point. – AndrewC Apr 30 '13 at 10:29
@MarioDeSchaepmeester The difference is that the clear and consise one is best, but we don't want people going about on "irradicate How To" missions. – AndrewC Apr 30 '13 at 10:44

Here are the guidelines to writing a good title: How do I write a good title?

From the accepted answer: (irony, as pointed out by aditya but still):

4) Don't start with "How do I..."

Writing in that style ensures that you title will fail criteria 1-3*, and get less attention than it deserves. This is a question site, and people will understand your titles are questions.

*Make the title stand out, keep it short, lead with the most important words.

Note that these guidelines are not 100% strict; starting with how to or similar is not forbidden.

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These guidelines should be nowhere near 100% strict! That post finished with "Finally, be flexible. Different questions benefit from different styles of titles. Applying any single hard and fast rule is probably a mistake.". Strict guidelines are for on/off topic, good/bad quality questions. We shouldn't even come close to enforcing grammar rules on the title. – AndrewC Apr 30 '13 at 10:32
@AndrewC don't worry cause I really do agree with you. But that's why I included it at the end. These guidelines have been written up to help your question have success, based on tests of how people react to these things. – MDeSchaepmeester Apr 30 '13 at 10:34

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