The title of a Stack Overflow question is shown quite prominently, e.g. it is shown as the first line in a Google search result. So when I look for answers to a question, I skim over the titles to figure out if a post may answer my question. Unfortunately, it happens quite often that I get tricked by a title: The title is a general question, but the question text is actually on a very specific sub-aspect of the question which doesn't apply to me.

What should I do in this case?

My first idea to make SO a better place and to edit the question title, e.g. by adding the most relevant precondition of the question in the title. However, these edits tend to get rejected as too minor. I do check if the question can be improved, but often there is nothing to fix in the body. The real problem is a mismatch between title and body, and it is quite clear that the title should be modified in this case. But this leads to forcibly small changes. Given the importance of the title, can be an improvement of the title really too minor?

I'm aware that I can also vote -1 on the question because it "was not useful" for me. I'd prefer to be constructive though.

  • I'm tempted edit the title to "question title problm". – Joachim Sauer May 2 '13 at 12:34
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    Personally I don't think that a change to the title is almost never a "small change". At least not with respect to actual value generated. For exactly the reasons you mentioned above (among others). – Joachim Sauer May 2 '13 at 12:35
  • @JoachimSauer I went through oberlies' suggestions, and some of their title changes were approved. Those that were rejected, were rightly so (imho). There wasn't much to fix in the questions, but the suggested titles, although an improvement, weren't stellar. oberlies to better understand what I'm talking about, compare my example title with your latest edit suggestion. – yannis May 2 '13 at 12:52

You always have the option of suggesting the title change to the OP in a comment. Something like:

Hi. Your current title is very generic, could you please change to "How can I compute SHA1 from a byte array in Java?"

Even if the OP doesn't edit their title, the next 2K+ user who'll read your comment probably will.

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    Why "in Java"? I don't think it would be any different in Borneo. – Daniel Fischer May 2 '13 at 12:29
  • @TinSoldiersAndNixonsComin' My example is based on oberlies' latest edit suggestion. – yannis May 2 '13 at 12:31
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    I was just making a silly joke. – Daniel Fischer May 2 '13 at 12:32
  • @TinSoldiersAndNixonsComin' I need more coffee, apparently. I only read the "Why in Java?" part... – yannis May 2 '13 at 12:35

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