I understand why the standalone word 'question' is forbidden in titles; however SE doesn't make an exception for 'question-mark', as in this case, where I was trying to improve the title from:

How to separate data into multiple columns with strange separator using separate()?

to "How to separate data with 5 question-marks separator using separate()?"

The term 'question-mark(s)', and writing a regex to match them, and the fact that they have to be specially handled in regex syntax, was central to the OP's problem, so this isn't just a curiosity.

Ironically, I can rewrite their title with ????? yet not 'question-mark'. '?????' is undesirable because the SO search engine won't find it; although SymbolHound search engine does

By the way, 'regex' is also forbidden in titles, otherwise this could have been boiled down to 'regex to match 5 question-marks separator'.

  • The title can be reworded to something like "I ain't going to bother to read the regex rules ever, just solve this for me. kthxbai"
    – random
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 0:18
  • @random: it wasn't as bad as that. Legitimate confusion of [?????] instead of '[?]{5}`. Anyway, what's your opinion on my point?
    – smci
    Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 0:30
  • I'd suggest the term multiple instead of fix number so that easier to googlearch in case someone's confused by e.g. 4 or 6 question marks. Commented Nov 6, 2016 at 9:46
  • Title filter prevents some reasonable titles without blocking anywhere near all bad titles, news at 11. SE long ago accepted all the false positives and false negatives the filter is ever likely to produce, and individual examples, even lots of them, just aren't going to convince them of much. Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 0:35
  • The "How to ...?" form is broken English or infantilised English. QUASM is the way to go. Alternatively, drop the question mark. Titles are not required to contain question marks or be actual questions. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 13:51

1 Answer 1


Just remove the hyphen, that is, write question marks instead of question-marks, and you're good to go (and that's how it's supposed to be written anyway).

  • No, I believe this fails the filter, I'm pretty sure I tried that.
    – smci
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 14:22
  • 1
    @smci I just changed the title of the question as you intended to do, and it worked just fine :-)
    – Konamiman
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 14:25
  • Hmm that's weird. Thanks for confirming. As an aside, I always thought 'question mark' was a compound word? Who says it can't be hyphenated?
    – smci
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 15:05
  • 1
    I'm not a native English speaker, but I can't find any instance of a compound version of these two words, nor any place where it says it is a compound word. In Google at least.
    – Konamiman
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 15:24
  • Oh well, thanks for correcting my knowledge... I feel stupid.
    – smci
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 15:48

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