It just occurred to me that a large portion of the questions containing the word "should" in their titles are — or should be — closed as not constructive. Questions with titles containing "should I" are almost exclusively problematic.

Here are the newest questions on Stack Overflow containing "should" and "should I."

When used by askers, the word "should" is basically short for "give me your opinion on this." A good Stack Exchange question is far more likely to use "does" or "will" instead. Granted, when used by answerers, "should" has a different meaning, but that's irrelevant here.

Should we add "should" or "should I" to the list of phrases checked by the "The question you're asking appears subjective and is likely to be closed" filter? This filter is only a warning, not a block, so it shouldn't stop "good subjective" posts.

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  • @Gamecat: +1 for irony. – Brad Christie Jun 23 '11 at 14:56
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    The wording of the title was quite intentional. I am inviting opinions and discussion here, after all. – Pops Jun 23 '11 at 15:12
  • Interestingly, I found this question after ending up walking through the flag history of a user who'd apparently searched for "should" and flagged his way down the list... Can't say I'm all that impressed with the results. – Shog9 Dec 7 '11 at 3:49

This seems to not be a problem on every site. From Gaming, we have 98 open results for "should" in the title, consisting of items like the following. There are 10 closed, just for statistical completion.

  • What race should I genocide? - What races you could genocide is helpful, but not as helpful as knowing what races you should genocide to make things easier for yourself.
  • When should I start drinking? - Barring the obvious appeal of the title, the question itself is "When should I start using potions", which again, there is strategic advantage towards when it is a good time or not.
  • When should I focus my unit's fire? - I think the trend of timing/selection playing a key point in gameplay strategy should be clear by now.
  • What items should be saved for turn-ins? - As such, let's pick a different example. This is an example in which the highlight is in what is most profitable, moreso than all that is possible. Hence, should.

I could list a lot more. A lot of it falls into a basic practice - sometimes what someone should do is far more important and has a pretty logical and gameplay reasoning behind it, that far outweighs merely asking what one "can" or "may" do. Sometimes it comes from a matter of the timing of engaging in a strategy, it could matter with the actual structure of the approach, or it may simply be a matter of understanding what is effective.

Some of these could be rephrased with a different word, but that feels extremely unnecessary, and quite discomforting.

I imagine that RPG probably has a similar relationship with this word. It's a vital style of question in a few cases, and I'd rather not have to force an exemption on some sites in order to accomodate having this filter as a baseline. It's not a block, but getting warned for a valid question (especially with a statistically greater number of valid questions) is pretty aggravating.

  • I agree. Using should is just a matter of style. Somebody says "What should I wear?"; somebody else says "What can I wear?" That doesn't mean the first question is subjective, and the other is not. – kiamlaluno Jun 23 '11 at 15:02

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