I just posted a question on Stack Overflow, and had to change my title. It had the word 'question' in the title and when I first posted I received this message:

please do not use these words in titles: 'question'

Is there a reason why that's disallowed?

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    You're posting a question - you don't have to say that it's a question because a question is most definitely a question. Nov 30, 2011 at 17:48
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn hehe just saw your comment :-P
    – Naftali
    Nov 30, 2011 at 17:49
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    Is the disallowment of words 'smart'? Meaning if the word 'question' actually has some importance like 'Output of X for System Y Contains A Question Mark' is it going to be allowed? Obviously, if you say 'My question is...' or 'Question: ' it should not be allowed but what if the word is actually important to the question? Nov 30, 2011 at 18:41
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    @docmanhattan: We can avoid 99% of a type of annoying user behavior by hindering .0001% of questions??? I'm all for that.
    – user1228
    Nov 30, 2011 at 18:56
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4 Answers 4


Answer: Because it would be redundant and pointless.

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    I have a comment
    – phwd
    Nov 30, 2011 at 17:56
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    This is my reply to your comment.
    – user1228
    Nov 30, 2011 at 17:58
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    comment: +1 to this answer.
    – Naftali
    Nov 30, 2011 at 18:03
  • One can't conclude that in general. SO deals with a vast variety of programming languages and their libraries and stuff. Often one needs to quote the name of a function, module, package, or some such exactly. What if I indeed had a question about, say, some Question module?
    – Prateek
    Nov 30, 2011 at 18:53
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    @prateek: That's why we have tags.
    – user1228
    Nov 30, 2011 at 18:55
  • Is the idea to add a 'Question' tag to the post? If so perhaps the initial message could state that?
    – larryq
    Nov 30, 2011 at 19:02
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    To get around rules about a specific word being banned in questions even if it is perfectly relevant? What if, say, it referred to some Data.Question.Evaluation foobar, which is far too specific to put in a tag? In any case, I don't think we can safely conclude that one will never need the word question in any reasonable question.
    – Prateek
    Nov 30, 2011 at 19:05
  • @larryq: If someone was foolish enough to create some framework or tool called "Question" (or maybe they hate people searching for their product?) then there would exist a "Question" tag which could be applied to the ... question. We don't need a tag stating that a question was a question because we already know the question was a question, with out question.
    – user1228
    Nov 30, 2011 at 20:45
  • That's funny, but prateek's comment has merit I think. Do we really want a tag for question, instead of letting someone enter it on the subject bar? The tone given when asking 'Question about X' is a little cooler than 'Why does X do <something>', it sounds less urgent and hyperventilating. Also, if it's obvious that a question is being asked why not ban question marks as well?
    – larryq
    Nov 30, 2011 at 21:11
  • @larryq: Uh, no, we don't want the word "question" in the title. Can you think of some utterly never-going-to-happen situation where it will be a problem? Why, of course. But it will never -- ever -- happen. And, if it does, create that namespace tag (we have namespace-based tags!) or flag for mod attention. Honestly, I'd rather help 100 people a month who need "question" in the title than see one more person poop out a "Question about Foo" - type title.
    – user1228
    Nov 30, 2011 at 21:18
  • @RobZ: You can also call it a conditional operator, a ternary operator even a "? operator". Again, not an issue.
    – user1228
    Jan 11, 2012 at 13:33
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    @RobZ: Look, if I find a pile of nits that need picking, I'll call on you. I expect this hypothetical student to suffer for the greater good. In fact, I will enjoy his suffering. It makes me warm and tingly inside.
    – user1228
    Jan 11, 2012 at 13:41
  • @RobZ: You need to have a little sense of humor on meta. The point I was trying to make humorous (and obviously failed) was that, for any rule, you can find corner cases where the rule does more harm than good. The danger is concentrating on that (or those) corner cases to the point where you weigh them disproportionately. Some hypothetical student who just can't figure out how to ask a question about the ternary operator doesn't outweigh thousands of posts whose titles consist of little more than "Question about technology X".
    – user1228
    Jan 11, 2012 at 13:50
  • No, it's not pointless. It also overzealously forbids the term 'question-mark' in titles, which is different.
    – smci
    Nov 6, 2016 at 0:57
  • No, it's not pointless, and @Wont, I independently found several such examples. It also overzealously forbids the term 'question-mark' in titles, which is different.
    – smci
    Nov 6, 2016 at 2:06

We're trying to encourage the growth of little mini blog posts, instead of the random, forum-like activity that is so common on the Internet.

Many rules on the Stack that otherwise seem nit-picky serve to further that goal. Disallowing signatures and taglines, for example.

Anytime you come across one of these rules that seems to be random and pointless, ask yourself, "Would this be appropriate for a blog post?"

  • 1
    Thank you Robert. Is there a posting on the meta site discussing this further?
    – larryq
    Nov 30, 2011 at 18:52
  • You mean the encouragement of quality? It's just a general principle. In fact, it's the fundamental principle on which Stack Overflow was founded. It's asking the question, "Will this make the Internet a better place?"
    – user102937
    Nov 30, 2011 at 19:08
  • I meant the banning of specific words, which ones and why. We're all for encouraging quality but I think (for instance) prateek raises some interesting points.
    – larryq
    Nov 30, 2011 at 19:22
  • This is a great point. I was just describing what we do -- at least, what we're trying to encourage people to do here -- as a million tiny blog posts to John Siracusa yesterday. Jan 11, 2012 at 18:08

By definition a Question is a QUESTION

There is no read to reiterate that.

You might want to take a look at this semi-related question: "Subjective" heuristics a bit off?


Forbidding 'question' is on balance probably a good idea, but the current implementation also overzealously forbids the term 'question-mark' in titles, which is different.

See that post of mine for a legitimate example from SO where someone was trying to write a regex to match n repetitions of a question-mark. (and remember, question-mark is treated specially by regexes, so that term is indeed central to the question). Ironically, I can rewrite their title with ????? yet not 'question-mark'. '?????' is infinitely worse as an SEO term because the SO search engine won't find it; although the now-defunct SymbolHound search engine used to find it


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