I want someone to lend me their shoulder to cry on, each time I see a question with the title like:

Help me understand this command

These questions normally don't attract good feedback. Most people, when facing these titles, just don't bother reading the rest of the question. The title is the elevator pitch of your question; if you put a bad title, people will 'meh' at your question and won't click it.

There are cases where, if you get the title average and the question body wrong, people would edit it. Meanwhile, if you get the title wrong and the body too, they would just downvote/close vote.

So, please, make an effort to write descriptive and accurate titles. There are a bunch of guides of how to write a acceptable/good title. Read them.

  • 3
    What do you imagine the odds are that somebody who would write a title like that will read meta posts first? Oct 24, 2014 at 2:20
  • 1
    @MichaelMrozek at least they can't say there isn't one ;)
    – Braiam
    Oct 24, 2014 at 2:34
  • @MichaelMrozek, those meta questions could be used as canonical ones which you can reference in comments. I suspect it was Gilles' intent here. Maybe we could have a "best practice" tag for that. Nov 9, 2014 at 9:30
  • @StéphaneChazelas faq works for that.
    – Braiam
    Nov 10, 2014 at 9:26

1 Answer 1


I'll summarize the most important points here.

  • Identify the question. There can't be two questions with the same title; your title does have to mention what's unique about the question.
    Bad: “need help in making script”
    Good: “List files based on the date and time in the file name”

  • Keep it short. The full details belong in the question body. Lead with the most important words: readers' attention drops as the title gets longer. Avoid useless verbiage like “how do I …”, “command to …”. Bad: “Are there disadvantages/consequences to adding scheduled tasks directly to /etc/crontab instead of using the crontab command?”
    Good: “System crontab or root crontab”

  • Make it meaningful. A title should be a sentence or a noun phrase, not a jumble of keywords.
    Bad: “delete folders read/write permisions”
    Good: “Delete a directory under Cryptkeeper without access to its account”

  • A title doesn't have to be a full sentence, and it doesn't have to be phrased as a question (see “keep it short”). The title is a title for the whole thread.

  • note, that if you have to trade off keeping a short title to being meaningful or actually identifying the problem, please do so.
    – Braiam
    Nov 10, 2014 at 13:12

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