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
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 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
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 23:21
  • 1
    Just for the sake of numbers: data.stackexchange.com/askubuntu/query/450735.
    – kos
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 8:21
  • 1
    +1 For another "Has anyone"
    – user423626
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 16:40
  • 1
    @BharadwajRaju Has anyone looked into actually helping put an end to the "has anyone"s?
    – cat
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


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


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
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 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
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 0:39
  • 2
    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! Commented Mar 15, 2016 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
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 0:53
  • @JorgeCastro most of them, a single downvote does the trick
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 22:06
  • 2
    Can anyone help me think about my problem, please? ;-)
    – Fabby
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 1:09
  • @Fabby which problem?
    – cat
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 17:00
  • 2
    @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
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 6:58
  • @Fabby oh I so didn't get the joke the first time. :P but yes, I agree :)
    – cat
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 10:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .