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I have asked several questions here, some of which had already been answered in other questions whose titles were not explicit enough for me to find them through the questions search/suggestions.

Therefore, to make searching for questions easier, I have lately been editing some question's titles so that they are a bit more unique. For instance, I renamed Is $x^{1-\frac{1}{n}}+ (1-x)^{1-\frac{1}{n}}$ always irrational if $x$ is rational?, which was originally titled Is this number always irrational?, title which could have been okay for a lot of similar questions, and would therefore cause problems to someone having the same problem as the one asked in the question and searching for an already existing answer.

However, I feel like I may be doing too much.

Are there any guidelines on this issue ?

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  • $\begingroup$ The Related column on the right has some ideas. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Oct 3 '14 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @CareBear I know it does, but I still don't know whether titles should be made more explicit or not. $\endgroup$ – Hippalectryon Oct 3 '14 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ More informative = better, as your example shows. No question. $\endgroup$ – Dan Moore Oct 3 '14 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ IMHO, it doesn't matter whether the title is unique enough. The more important criterion is whether the new title is more informative to the point to be useful. If yes, go ahead and change the title, if not, don't change it (as this will bump up old question). $\endgroup$ – achille hui Oct 3 '14 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ I think we should make an effort to improve poor question titles when answering a question. I see a lot of question titles like "help me solve this problem" or "solve this hard integral" or "how to prove this?". These titles are useless and don't tell you anything about what the problem is asking. When I ask questions I make an effort to summarize the question I am asking in the title. $\endgroup$ – Seth Oct 3 '14 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ By all means, edit titles to make them more informative --- but just do two or three at a time, not two or three dozen. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 3 '14 at 21:49
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I completely agree with Seth:

we should make an effort to improve poor question titles when answering a question

SE recently offered a set of badges as an incentive for editing-while-answering: Explainer, Refiner, Illuminator.

When not answering, it's probably best to focus on recently active questions: there is a lot of opportunities for improvement there, with no cost for the homepage since the questions are already there. There's an obvious bias here, but I think my Review+Edit extension for Chrome is pretty good at catching bad titles among active questions.

MathJax in titles is something to consider carefully. I think it's uncontroversial that the edit you've made improved the title, and that the question could not be adequately described without a formula. In borderline cases, where a non-TeX title would work about as well, one should consider that

  1. Mobile apps do not render TeX markup in titles
  2. Questions with TeX in title are excluded from Hot Network Questions
  3. Complex formulas slow down rendering of question lists
  4. Search engines are likely to be confused by the markup in page title

That said -- when a formula is necessary for a descriptive title, that necessity trumps all 1-4 together.

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You're doing well. It's useful to search already written questions' titles. But, if there are a lot of similar titles with no specifications, who is looking for them will encounter a waste of time, because reading the full post will find several different things. So, if a third person edit a post's title, when needed, helps other people lose less time.

At the end, thank you!

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