Been on Stack Overflow for a while now. I noticed that the post titles that are in the form of a question are usually much clearer than the ones that are not.

I think it's because it forces you to write a complete sentence instead of dropping the words out of your head.

Since Stack Overflow is about questions and answers, it may be possible to improve the question quality by checking if there is a question mark (?) in the title and refusing to accept the question if there is not.

What do you think?

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    That usually leads to "My problem with function is not working?" – mario Jan 6 '12 at 12:11
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    I agree with mario; people forming bad titles would simply add the mark without thinking. Sometimes, also, a title worded as a question isn't the best way (or the only good way). – Andrew Barber Jan 6 '12 at 12:16
  • Which we can mark with "not a real question" Plus, a lot of people don't ask a question because they don't think they should formulate it this way, not because they don't want to write it the proper way. Give a person a reason to think, and an additional hint for correctness doesn't seams that bad. It's not intrusive, and it can't make things worst. It worth a try, what can we loose ? – e-satis Jan 6 '12 at 12:17
  • @Andrew: can you give me an exemple of something that would be a better fit on SO by not being asked as a question ? Hint; if you have to think to much about it, maybe it's because that's not the common case. – e-satis Jan 6 '12 at 12:19
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    @mario note that that would have to be "My proble_ with function is not working?" – Jason Plank Jan 6 '12 at 12:40
  • @Jason I should not have taken a sip of my coffee before reading that comment. :p – Andrew Barber Jan 6 '12 at 12:42

In re to your first couple comments, too;

I do think it would make things worse in many low-quality situations, because it would often add a tiny bit of noise, in the form of a question mark that makes it harder to understand a title.

I agree that it is often (usually) better to form a question title as a question. But I think there are times when it's perfectly valid not to do so, too. (note: I am only talking about the question's title. Of course there must be a clear question somewhere in the question.

I'm sure I could find better examples, but here's what was at the top of Stack Overflow just a few minutes ago:

[ Sending files to a webservice (asmx) so it can be saved on the server ]

The title could have been worded as a question instead, but is this so bad? Not saying it couldn't be improved... just saying I don't think an artificial "require question mark" validation would necessarily be helpful.

Note again: I'm only talking about the title; not the question body.

  • A question mark is a noise? Your brain is hardwired to process punctuation. It doesn't even see it, it just wraps the meaning of the sentence into a question. With this answer you can't show me anything that would make the ? filter a worse scenario, nor that the cost is important to the user. Quite the contrary, what you a talking about is a minor annoyance, for some users, in some few cases. – e-satis Jan 6 '12 at 13:58
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    A question mark is absolutely noise when it is the wrong punctuation for the content it punctuates. Allow me to illustrate: "A question mark is absolutely noise when it is the wrong punctuation for the content it punctuates?" Totally changes the meaning. Not just 'annoying' noise - but actively harmful noise. – Andrew Barber Jan 6 '12 at 14:00
  • Yes but you make this case like it's going to be a suffisante quantity to be a problem. A wrongly asked question is already a noise, it won't get noisier because of the question mark. A bad question is a bad question with or without the question mark. The "problem" filter showned that is had some use, so what if this actually reduce the number of persons that ask bad question ? What if it reduces the noise ? You are speculating on failure, while I just suggest to test and see. – e-satis Jan 6 '12 at 14:06
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    @e-satis I think you just stated the essence of the case against this request: "A bad question is a bad question with or without the question mark." – Andrew Barber Jan 6 '12 at 14:10
  • Yes, but the system give you the opportunity to turn the bad question in a good question by giving you a hint. This is the point. It's not about the initial question quality, it's about the fact that it can't get worst, but can get better. – e-satis Jan 6 '12 at 16:30

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