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Well, has anyone?? (Part 2.)


Okay, but seriously.

I don't know, man, has anyone, or haven't they?


AU is not a forum for discussion; we come here to get objective answers to real questions, not to make (gnu) smalltalk. Moreover, these sorts of questions get closed as primarily opinion-based because they tend to ask for opinions.

Granted, AU is far from the only site with this antipattern in titles.


Maybe it's just me, but these kinds of titles seem chit-chatty, and they add to the chit-chattyness of the question following said title; rather than asking an actual question these titles seem to beg a discussion about the weather.

I'm always tempted to retitle these questions, but coming up with a good title for such a post that accurately divulges the content should be the job of the asker, not me (or other editors).

I'd like to request "Has anyone" and "Has anybody" be added to the list of terms in titles that raise a "warning" dialogue1 beside the title box when it loses focus.


1Not the sort of dialogue that prevents the question from being posted, but merely informatic (Clippy, anyone?) that such titles aren't preferred over actually helpful, descriptive titles, and perhaps a link to How do I write a good title?.

An example of the text in the dialogue could be:

Please avoid informalities like "Can someone" and "Has anyone...?" in question titles. If your motivation for asking is “I would like to participate in a discussion about this subject”, then you should not be asking here. Read more about what makes a question on-topic and constructive in the help center:

  • I think this is a really good idea. I was lamenting about this just earlier today. We'd need to come up with a proposed wording for the dialogue. – Seth Mar 14 '16 at 23:18
  • @Seth Yaay, a mod agrees! I was ambivalent about how well-recieved this post would be. I'll add an idea for the dialogue to the question. – cat Mar 14 '16 at 23:21
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    Just for the sake of numbers: data.stackexchange.com/askubuntu/query/450735. – kos Mar 15 '16 at 8:21
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    +1 For another "Has anyone" – UniversallyUniqueID Apr 24 '16 at 16:40
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    @BharadwajRaju Has anyone looked into actually helping put an end to the "has anyone"s? – cat Apr 24 '16 at 17:26
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I agree that such titles need improvement. But looking at the data, I do not find much indication that the OP wants to participate in a broad discussion. Most often, it's just poor writing form: writing "Has anyone successfully installed (this) on (that)" when the actual question is how to install that thing.

Another, strongly related, mistake is writing something like "Can anyone help me with this wireless driver problem" instead of actually describing the problem. It's not conversational style that's the main issue, but lack of specifics.

I dug up some stats:

All of these are dwarfed by

  • please help: 271 questions. As in "update problem, please help"...

So, I suggest addressing this wider problem of insufficiently specific titles. A title matching

^.{0,30}(^|\W)(anybody|anyone|doubt|help|please|problem|question|somebody|someone|think)(\W|$).{0,30}$

case insensitive, in whichever flavour

probably needs work and should generate a warning message, like the one on Math.SE.

Test above regex here.

  • Oooh, I like this. Probably the the question you're asking appears (subjective|off-topic) and is likely to be closed is better than the suggestion in my question. – cat Mar 15 '16 at 0:34
  • you're right, of course, but I still feel like the reaction of "I don't know. Can someone? Who knows? Not AskUbuntu." to titles like that makes them classifiable as asking for opinions even if the question doesn't. – cat Mar 15 '16 at 0:39
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    You just need to throw out the ones that aren't unanswered and this would be a great list for editors to sort through. EDIT: toss out the duplicates too! – Jorge Castro Mar 15 '16 at 0:49
  • @404 What about askubuntu.com/search?q=title%3A%22think%22 ? That's worse than I was expecting when I searched for it – cat Mar 15 '16 at 0:53
  • @JorgeCastro most of them, a single downvote does the trick – Braiam Mar 15 '16 at 22:06
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    Can anyone help me think about my problem, please? ;-) – Fabby Mar 16 '16 at 1:09
  • @Fabby which problem? – cat Mar 19 '16 at 17:00
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    @tac: That's why there is a smiley: most OPs need help thinking... :D But thanks for offering to help me think, but I'm overflowing with thoughts already! ;-) – Fabby Mar 22 '16 at 6:58
  • @Fabby oh I so didn't get the joke the first time. :P but yes, I agree :) – cat Mar 22 '16 at 10:24

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