Titles give a first impression of your post. Good titles bring positive attention to your question, and you will get it answered sooner; more upvotes will follow etc. Bad titles don't allow your question to get the attention it deserves. (Fewer upvotes, less likelihood of getting an answer etc.) Very bad titles might get you lots of attention, ...
I consider this a legitimate edit to make on a question, even though it seems like a big change to make.
If a title is no help in identifying the question or understanding its content, I make my best guess at what it should be. Unfortunately, this feels pretty sisyphean most of the time.
I think we could help people make better contributions if we had some ...
Yeah, that's not really acceptable behavior. It amounts to vandalism, and if it were a suggested edit, I'd have rejected it.
I've rolled back the edit. If the problem persists, rather than roll back again, one of us can flag for moderator attention.
Quick Reference Card for Writing Good Titles
(summarized from the more detailed answer)
Put words from other sources in "quotation marks"
between thumb, forefinger and middle finger - why no articles?
"between thumb, forefinger and middle finger" - Why no articles?
Write titles that are complete thoughts
pushed on something
I'm in entire sympathy with the effort to create useful titles. I agree that these words raise a red flag, and are very often signs of a useless title.
But I don't think that we can actually ban them from titles. Occasionally one of these words is vital to the substance of a question:
“This” "following" vs "this"
We definitely have a lot of vague question titles! I don't know about buzzwords specifically, but in general I would definitely advocate for any title edit that better summarized the question's content. If that's your goal, go right ahead!
I disagree that the title "Will vs Would" was satisfactory. I don’t think the current title is satisfactory either.
Imagine you’re a learner looking to solve your problem about whether to use will or would.
Here’s the problem:
"will" or "would"
Will / would usage
will and would differences
Will and would difference
Honestly, writing titles is hard. Most people are bad at it. Most people are also bad at writing email subjects and similar things. I really don't think there's a quick fix for this; it's simply a life skill that some have, and some don't.
A good title is interesting, concise, covers what's most important, and distinct. Memorable and evocative, in other ...
Avoid putting something critical to your question in the title of the question unless you add it to the body of the question as well.
In other words, make sure that someone can read your whole question (without going back to the title) and still fully understand what you are asking.
Don't use the snippet of text you are asking us to analyze as the title of ...
I definitely agree that this is something to be addressed; thanks for bringing it up! I've noticed it as well but been hesitant to edit, because then I have the quandary: do I edit the question text now as well?
On any other site I would say absolutely yes, and do so. But on ELL I'm not so sure. We want our question titles to be easily searchable and ...
I've been going through a whole ton of such questions today to make their questions more question-like. This should also help SEO and make it easier for ELL users to understand the gist of the question before clicking through to the answer page.
Some – like my English professor in college who also happened to raise dogs – might argue that bitches is not really an expletive in and of itself (even though it does have an offensive usage).
The easiest way to fix the question you link to, though, would be to simply replace the letter b with the letter p:
Pronunciation of “peaches” and “pitches”
For reference, having taken part in this, my edits will have the following summary:
title cleanup event, see http://meta.ell.stackexchange.com/q/2632/1407 - title OK, body OK, tags OK
Obviously, the last three parts will only be present if that was the case.
This is a very longstanding practice; a July 2009 post mentions the "recent" increase from 10 to 15 characters on StackOverflow. The question title has a minimum required length for the same reason the post itself has a minimum required length and must have at least one tag applied: for crude quality control.
A low-effort title is correlated with a ...
When we edit out these titles, we free up space for new questions of the same name. What we want is a list of banned titles, which we can make by having the 'community' user post a bunch of questions with [this is a placeholder] as the question body and a relevant title and then hist. locking the question so it doesn't show up in regular browsing any more.
I was going to create a list of could-be-improved titles that could be caught with a regex, but while the buzzwords above to appear frequently in bad titles, they also appear frequently in good titles. The only one I could come up with is :
(this/the) sentence grammatically (correct/incorrect/right/wrong)
The other patterns were either very difficult ...
The title should BE the question.
Does pronouncing "the" as "thee" change its meaning?
Read on if you are still interested.
With all due respect to the answers above, this is a site for English Language Learners. For us people long prose answers are hard to decipher. We are already struggling with the language.
A more pertinent question ...