I recently came across the post How do I write a good title?.

While it was a good post, I'm having a hard time understanding how the examples they gave are relevant (first five 'good questions'):

  • Turning Linux USB power on and off?
  • How to UPSERT in Oracle (update or insert into a table)?
  • Python: What OS am I running on?
  • Raise an existing X11 window via command line?
  • 64-bit XML-RPC values?

Just to let you guys know, I am a complete zero when it comes to anything regarding software and programming (I usually hang out at Chemistry SE), so I can't really understand those examples.

I don't know if this is an issue with just me, or with quite a few people on Stack Exchange. I have seen a few other posts with examples as well, but I can't seem to recollect them.

I am aware of the fact that it's the sheer popularity of Stack Overflow that made Stack Exchange possible, but now, Stack Overflow is just one site among the many Stack Exchange sites, with most of them being about non-programming.

Can anything be done about this. I don't really relish in commenting "Hi I don't know anything about code, how are those examples relevant" all the time.

  • 3
    So, just to be clear: You're asking for an improved answer on the How do I write a good title to include topics covered on other sites? While I agree that most samples are geared around Stack Overflow, there are 160 sites now, all with their own topic and audience. Not sure what the approach should be if we need to make that post be more site neutral as its strength is the use of real examples.
    – rene
    May 31, 2017 at 10:06
  • 1
    @rene I don't understand what you're trying to say. Meta StackExchange shouldn't change it's examples? Only the main meta has this post about good titles on questions, the per-site metas do not. So I cannot learn how to write a good title if I can't understand the examples on that post. May 31, 2017 at 10:34
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    @PrittBalagopal This is a fine question and feature request. I think it's a matter of framing, in particular your title. Suggest reframing as a positive suggestion, "Add non-programming relayed examples to 'How to write a good title' FAQ on MSE " or something, and alter the body of your post accordingly. Don't take negative feedback too harshly here - Meta resists change by default, and voting has a definite and significant bandwagon effect.
    – Dan Bron
    May 31, 2017 at 10:43
  • @DanBron I'm not negative and your suggestions would make the question more clear, if the OP agrees.
    – rene
    May 31, 2017 at 10:48
  • 2
    @PrittBalagopal I'm trying to find out if you (and others facing the same issue) would be helped if the examples needs to generalized but then no longer point to real examples or that we need to hunt for good titles (and questions) on other sites and append those to the answer. Maybe it is an idea to involve some per-site meta's to come up with candidates.
    – rene
    May 31, 2017 at 10:52
  • @rene The negative feedback I mentioned was the (at he time of my comment) net score of -3 on the question, not your comment. My comment was no criticism of you. I just upvoted your per-site-Meta title-polling idea.
    – Dan Bron
    May 31, 2017 at 10:52
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    @DanBron this bandwagon effect costs me rep on main meta (I don't mind it on per-site metas), one of the reasons why I don't come to meta unless it's really necessary, to the point where I'm okay to sacrifice rep to get my point heard. 😞 May 31, 2017 at 11:07
  • @rene I changed the title to your suggested one May 31, 2017 at 11:09
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    @PrittBalagopal I've long since stopped caring about rep. All I need is enough to upvote and downvote posts. Beyond that, rep doesn't mean anything to me. Anyway, I agree with your proposal, but to get it "heard", you're going to have to change how you frame it. That's just how it works around here.
    – Dan Bron
    May 31, 2017 at 11:09
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    @DanBron Yup, and I can't downvote posts. But isn't rep a measure of how much the community values and trusts you? Or is it different on meta? Every downvote seems to scream to me "We don't trust you." May 31, 2017 at 11:12
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    @PrittBalagopal Yes, voting is different on Meta. On normal sites, a downvote essentially means "your question sucks"; here it can mean "your question sucks" or it can mean "your question is great but I don't want what it is proposing to be implemented". So don't feel badly about downvotes here. They're part of the decision making process. There are perennial proposals to divorce the idea of "bad question" from "undesirable feature" on MSE, but they never seem to get off the ground.
    – Dan Bron
    May 31, 2017 at 11:15
  • 2
    If you don't find the current examples good enough then suggest an edit with some better ones, simple as that...
    – Cai
    May 31, 2017 at 11:34
  • Yeah, that ^^^. The FAQs are community wiki for a reason, you know. :)
    – Jason C
    May 31, 2017 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


That list is not useful for most users which are not familiar with topics from the trilogy indeed. And actually the content of the questions is not that important. Their structure and 'to-the-point'ness are.

However, the list is just confusing for some users, and we can do something about that.

Some options:

  • You can edit the answer to include some good question titles from your favorite site. Downside is that you might think they are good while others disagree. With the hundreds of sites now, the list would become endless and hard to maintain. This doesn't seem a good option.

  • You could make a question on the per-site-meta to ask basically the same question: what constitutes a good question and a good question title? You might want to link the MSE post on that meta post so you have some general background on the subject. Then request to use that post instead of the MSE version in the site documentation.

  • 1
    We wouldn't really need examples from all the sites, or even nearly all of them. Just well-explained examples from a modest cross-section should get the idea across pretty well. May 31, 2017 at 16:20

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