It might be nitpicking but there are question titles that are imo wrongly asked. The question itself might be better, but those titles are simply wrong.

Here are some examples ...

  1. "Theoretically"-questions:

    • Theoretically, could we spend trillions and remove significant CO2 from atmosphere?
      Theoretically nearly everything is possible and yes we could because money is something that has a given and no absolutely fixed value. If we were intelligent and social creatures, we would save our earth no matter how much it costs.
    • Is OClF5 theoretically possible?
      Theoretically it is possible, it simply depends on the conditions. In the moment that I draw a molecule on paper, it was created theoretically. But is it possible to synthesize it on earth under conditions that we can control? I have no idea.

    Those questions can mostly be answered by yes or no, while I tend to always say yes. Look at molecules ... if you draw them on a paper, they are made theoretically. But can they be synthesized? Maybe not to our current knowledge but that does not mean that is impossible. So "theoretically" isn't a good question-scheme.

  2. "Can"-questions
    I'm not sure if this fits for every "can"-question but for many of them ... Nearly everything can happen but not everything is going to happen because it's probability is nearly zero.

  3. "Is there a way for something ... ?"-questions

    There is a way for everything and if there is no known way today, there might be a known way or anytime in the future. If the "real" question would be the same as the titled question there wouldn't be an answer except the simple yes.

Two last examples:

  1. What Methods Would I Use To Powder Cotton?
    There is absolutely no way, except mind reading, that anyone else than the OP himself knows which method he would use ...

  2. Why $\ce{[Cu(NH3)4]^2+}$ is a square planar species and not a tetrahedral species?
    $\ce{[Cu(NH3)4]^2+}$ is absolutely not a square planar species. The copper is coordinated in a square planar way but that doesn't make the whole ion a square planar species ...

Now theoretically, is there a way to change those questions? Can they be changed to better question titles that are not "wrong"? What method would I use to convince you to support me?

  • $\begingroup$ What method would I use to convince you to support me? - Use search. We always tend to fight with buzzwords in question titles. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ I'm with you, @PH13. What about a "What If?" or "Thought Experiment" tag for (some of) those kinds of questions, and a suitable description to reinforce the message that the answers are more along the lines of researched opinion and not fact? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 21:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @ToddMinehardt I'm not sure if "What if"-question do fit in here as they would probably too broad to be answered. Also I am unsure about the "thought experiment"s but there might be some place for them if they are specific enough. But afaik opinion based stuff is discouraged on this site and therefor should not get support through a specific tag. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ Nice one @PH! @Todd, there's something in Area51 for that; but in here, it's just too broad. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 22:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is the next iteration of the problem/question/experiment/help/exercise buzzwords! Search and burninate (I mean edit!). $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 0:47
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a link to the questions that have can in them. There are 559. Try not to edit too many at one, we do not need to flood the front page. chemistry.stackexchange.com/search?q=title%3Acan $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ @BenNorris The can-question title should already be the link that you gave me. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 1:00

2 Answers 2


Bad titles are a sickness. If you don't treat 'em ASAP, they'll take over your body, even if you consider them a single cold.

Now don't tell me I'm over-dramatic. (I am but that isn't relevant.) The other site I'm active on, ELL, realized the problem when it was too late. Thus, the editors don't even bother to edit question titles anymore. It's kinda depressing when you look at it from that aspect.

That said, we're not the untidy chemists who usually blow up stuff in cartoons;

we are tidy chemists that still blow up stuff like in cartoons. As this tidy chemist and company love clear titles, we tend to fight this sickness in our own way (I prefer antibiotics though).

As you can see in this deadly serious answer, we're actually very sensitive about it.

So, what can you, as a community member, do? Suggest edits!1

Just make sure your edit reason is clearer than "I edited cuz balloons" and your intention is good, and you'll get 'em approved anyway. And as you know, as soon as you get to 2k, you'll have full post editing rights and don't need two (maybe grumpy) reviewers to accept your edit. Anyways, thanks for reading.

1: What is a meta answer without bold stuff anyway?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes$\ldots$ the language and wording in this answer surprised me too. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 20:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I love seeing edit reviews in my queue, because it means that someone, usually a newer user, is being more diligent than I often have time for. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Ben well, I believe 90% of the users that we review the edit for don't really need us as their "supervisors". I suggest you ignore most of what I wrote up there as this answer is very serious. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 0:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree it is serious and I just finished cleaning theoretically from question titles except for one closed question and one question using it appropriately in reference to theoretical chemistry. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, and as our traffic has gotten a boost since graduation, we need a boost in our editing too. I'm very much thankful of you and all our other editors. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 0:57

Welcome to the Don Quijote club of editors.

It is indeed an everlasting fight and M.A. already covered most of the history of it. Keeping an eye out on question titles is one of the most important things on the site, since they show up in all search engines first. One reason why we discourage the use of MathJax in question titles (for reasons {you know}). So to keep it plain and simple:
Death to the buzzwords!
To all of them.

And now for the original purpose of this addendum:
Make the edits substantial and please fill out the edit summary even when you obtained the editing privilege. You might wonder why... well, even if you did not ask, here it comes any way:

  1. I/ We/ They really do not need to know if you

    • edited the title
    • edited the tags
    • removed/ added 23.5 characters in body

    I/ We/ They can see that - it is fairly obvious. What I/ we/ they cannot see is the reason why you did that.

  2. With the summary you give feedback to the OP. This is especially important if you are editing a post of a new user. Make them understand what you are doing and how they can improve their posts.
  3. Some posts become real edit messes over time and it is hard to follow, why what was done when. One on the most recent examples, can be found here. If it's really necessary to follow through the edit history, these summaries can safe a lot of time.
  4. It makes you check again, what you have done and if there could be anything more to clean up. This is just a nice side effect though.

Thank you for your kind consideration.
Now editing should not be a chore, it still should be fun and every little thing helps grow the site into a nice place. So on behalf of everyone, thank you very much.

It's not $\LaTeX$ you know.
I often do not confer to my own standards and you might find a lot of my edits have the standard summary - I understand when you just don't have the time any more and sometimes the edit is just self explanatory. When you reached 10 k you can edit tags inline, hence the standard "edited tags" will be given then. This is of course very helpful for quick retags.

  • $\begingroup$ I was not aware that "briefly explain your changes" in the edit summary means that I have to write about the reasons behind it. Maybe this preset could be changed to be more appropriate to what the actual intention should be? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ Meh, I'm lazy. People read comments way more than edit summaries. A lot of users don't even know there is an edit summary. I usually add a comment if the OP's past revision contained something problematic. I'll try to write them next time. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 21:30

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