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I have noticed that the most useful questions are concise. IMHO, users should be encouraged to fit their questions into the title of the post (when possible), rather than typing a 'thing' in the title. When users think about what they are asking to edit it down to a single question, then the 'body' of their question which has the background is also much better written. It also makes searching and finding questions and answers easier, since there is an immediately identifiable question presented in search results. This should reduce duplicates.

If question submission form labeled the first field "Question" instead of "Title" then it might encourage people to enter questions.

Or perhaps there is another way to encourage questions to be entered?

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migrated from meta.serverfault.com Mar 7 '11 at 19:26

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for system administrators and IT professionals.

    
@JeffG: Move this since it applies to all of our sites, not just SF. –  Kyle Brandt Mar 7 '11 at 19:27
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I am not at all convinced changing the field caption would do anything to encourage people to compose good questions and/or use the inverted pyramid style. –  Zoredache Mar 7 '11 at 19:53
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I like the idea of encouraging a concise question as the title; but I don't think changing the label from "title" to "question" would change anything. –  amccormack Mar 7 '11 at 20:04
    
There will always be drive-bys, and people who don't care about style or convention, but there must be some way to 'gently remind' users to word the contents of that textbox as a question... –  JeffG Mar 7 '11 at 20:14
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As an aside: the SF help text states "what's your servers, networking, or desktop infrastructure question? be specific"; on SO it's "what's your programming question? be specific". Some just ignore that. :-( –  Arjan Apr 7 '11 at 7:00
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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I'm not sure swapping "Title" with "Question" would cause a huge shift in user behavior. Title, to me, is the correct name for this field. It is the title of your question.

Also, it has a risk: we don't actually want the whole question to be in the title.

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I suppose that the issue is that I believe that based on the title, the it should be immediately apparent what the problem is (the symptom plus the software/system involved). Looking around at the various stack exchange sites, I have observed this is the case much more often when the title is phrased as a question. But, I'd agree that it would be impractical to enforce this given the number of users and their habits. So I guess this whole issue is part of a greater problem; "How to we get users to improve the titles to their questions." –  JeffG Apr 16 '11 at 23:58
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I hate this idea almost as much as I hate people sending emails with the text in the subject line and nothing in the body. It displays a lack of understanding of why there is a title/subject and a body.

The title should draw the reader in, whereas the body conveys the message. A question that can fit entirely in the title is seldom worth asking.

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Uh, this is a Question-and-Answer website, so the "Title" should be a question, if possible. –  JeffG Mar 8 '11 at 21:16
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@JeffG, not at all. The title should be a brief description of the question, not the question itself. Nor is there any need to phrase it as a question. I really don't think you understand the concept of heading and body –  John Gardeniers Mar 8 '11 at 21:22
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If the question can be worded in 12 words or less, it should appear in the title. By the way, I do understand the concept of heading and body. –  JeffG Mar 9 '11 at 17:30
    
If the question can be asked in 12 words or less it's unlikely to be worth asking. So far every time I've seen such a short question I have voted to be closed as not a real question. –  John Gardeniers Apr 12 '11 at 21:39
    
@John Gardeniers: IMHO, I have seen verbose entries and short entries, each good and bad. I'm not seeing any correlation between question length and question quality on Stack Exchange sites. –  JeffG Apr 15 '11 at 12:50
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I agree with @Jeff. As much as a title like Re: my recent demise and subsequent ascension to CloseHammer™ heaven drew me in, I'd say it's a bad title for a question and a bad subject for an email. Here on Meta, I can appreciate it, but even then only as long as there are just a few of such titles, and only as long as the question itself is not too important for future searchers. –  Arjan Apr 15 '11 at 17:04
    
@Jeff, using your logic, a short story wouldn't be printed in a book if it could fit on the front cover. As for your response to Tomalak, you keep insisting that you understand the concept of heading and body, yet persist in proving that assertion invalid by your wanting to have questions in the title instead of the body, where they belong. You're really not getting this. –  John Gardeniers Apr 15 '11 at 22:10
    
@John how many one-page short stories do you know are published as books? Your argument is getting on the irrational side. –  user149432 Apr 16 '11 at 22:42
    
@JohnGardeniers: Huh? –  Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 18 '11 at 15:27
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