7

I'll admit - I'm beginning to have a real bias against "questions" that don't end in a question mark.

Two recent examples:

  1. What is the scriptural basis for "Love God and do whatever you please"? (Currently "Love God and do as you please")

  2. What are "all things" in "Let all things be tested, keep to what is good"? (Currently "Let all things be tested...")

In both cases, there is a good question hidden in there, but it seems really, really easy to have it denigrate into a "What do you think?" as opposed to an answerable question.

What I'm wondering is this - Is this an actual iron clad rule, or just a strong correlation? In other words, can someone come up with a declarative post title that actually makes for a good answerable question?

  • D'Oh! Accidentally started this on main! – Affable Geek Mar 28 '13 at 14:11
  • The question I asked is "Is 'Love God and do whatever you please' scriptural"? How is that not a question? – Christine Mitchell Mar 30 '13 at 20:36
  • No. – TRiG May 1 '13 at 17:13
2

Statements have no business in question titles.

In practice, seeing them is just a strong indication that a question need editing not an reason to close. It's not an actual problem, but it is symptomatic of a problem.

Many of these questions can easily be edited so that the main gist of the question is clear. These should be fixed up as people spot them. If, however, there is doubt on what the question title should actually be, the question should be closed until it is clear. If an editor can't even sort out what the main issue is to make a question out of, it needs more than a band-aide.

Anything that cannot reasonably be summarized in the form of a question is not a question. It is a conversation starter or a soap box or something, but not a question. That doesn't mean everybody will write proper question titles, but all questions should be editable to have them.

If it doesn't end in ?, look for a deeper problem and use your editing skills to fix it. If you can't make it happen, VTC as Not a Real Question until such a time as somebody can work it into a question.

7

It annoys me as well. Any declarative sentence could easily be made a question by prepending something along the lines of "what if," "what is," "how does," "why do," etc.

For example, "Scholarly discussion of claims that Paul is a 'false apostle'" should be "Why do some scholars claim Paul is a 'false apostle?'"

I think the "Title" label when asking a question makes people think "I need a topic heading" rather than "I need to put my question here."

2

Somehow I've managed to ask 125 questions and 22 of them or so don't have question marks. (4 of which should have had question marks)

But, I don't know why this is a "bad question smell" what about "how to" questions? If you change the sentence from "How to..." to "How do I..." you instantly make the question localized to yourself.

Hence... It is a bad question smell and you're completely right.

2

I agree with the general sentiment here but I think it's important to point out the difference between a question's title and the question itself. Certainly the question should be phrased in the form of a question and therefore have a question mark at the end. But simply repeating that question in the title isn't always helpful - the title should summarise what the question is about but doesn't necessarily need to take the form of a question itself.

Questions can be quite long and complex, and sometimes need a bit of context to be given (and occasionally don't make much sense, or are easily misunderstood, without that context). Titles should be short, succinct, and self-contained. Hence the two can't always be identical.

That said, I think that whenever the question title can reasonably be expressed as a question, it should. But a blanket "all titles must end in a question mark or closed as not-a-real-question" rule would be a step too far.

  • 1
    Yes, it would be too far to do such a thing. However, I contend that if there is a real question in the body then it can be derived in under 20 words. So I say, that if a new user makes a title that is not a question, just edit it. I did it just five minutes ago. – 3961 Apr 2 '13 at 18:04
1

According to the FAQ, this is a Q&A site. In my opinion, the questions should usually be phrased as questions unless there is quite a compelling reason to do otherwise.

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