# Discussion around voting on what words should be on the HNQ block-list

This post is to accompany:

Which words (if any) in the title of a question should prevent inclusion in the HNQ list?

If you want to discuss the merits of a word please create an answer for it yet write up your thoughts as a comment there. The answer post should be neutral (see the template at the end). (Note the thread is CW and owner-ship of answers posts is unclear; comments stay with the author.) If an answer for the word already exists you can contribute a comment there.

List of discussions.

For general discussions you can also use chat: https://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/106667/discussion-about-the-hnq-block-list-voting-for-math-se

Template:

This answer was created to discuss reasons for or against the inclusion of **{insert word}** in the HNQ block-list. Please leave your opinion in a comment.

Note: While everybody can do as they please, I would like to state that I don't see much reason to downvote answers in this thread here. One could also say that this cuts both ways and there is no reason for me to bring it up, but at score -3 answers get grayed out and things become hard to read so there is some practical disadvantage to having low-scoring answers.

• @quid Can you suggest a limit for the number of "answers for discussion" posted in one day here, by any one user. I'm afraid one user is attempting to dominate the discussion. Apr 13, 2020 at 18:10
• @amWhy I did not impose a limit here as there is an implicit regulation by the restriction in the other thread. That said, I would appreciate if users do not go overboard. Still I will stop short of imposing a limit on the answers, also because the answer post is just a neutral hook and the actual discourse is in the comments.
– quid Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 19:28

This answer was created to discuss aspects of the inclusion of advice in the HNQ block-list. Please leave your opinion in a comment.

• The site used to accept general advice questions in the past. But we have moved past "advice", and while you can still find many questions about advice, and a lot of them were well-received at the time, as a whole, this is off-topic now (one of the off-topic closure reasons is "seeking advice"). There is absolutely no reason for this to be on the HNQ if it is, as a whole, off topic.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 11:46
• I will just add that the site still gets quite a few questions tagged (advice): data.stackexchange.com/math/query/1224998/… Apr 13, 2020 at 12:53
• @MartinSleziak Please remember that this is a word proposed, if it occurs in the title, to be blocked from the HNQ. It would not blacklist posts with "advice" in the title from appearing on math.se. Apr 13, 2020 at 14:17
• @MartinSleziak Thanks, I am in favor of not blocklist this word in the HNQ. My reason
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 15:51
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 15:54
• @AsafKaragila: We see that there are a few [closed] here and there but there are also upvoted and not-closed-questions. Tell me, what's the harm with this word?
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 15:59
• @Magic_Isa: Have you read my first comment? It doesn't seem so.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 16:02
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 16:04
• @Magic_Isa: Advice questions are off topic. They used to be allowed, and they were very popular. Which is why I say that the date on the question is.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 16:08
• @AsafKaragila: If they are off topic now, why haven't you removed the tag advice? Why haven't you close all of the questions with the 'advice' tag? Why don't users close all of them? // Answer: Because they're not problematic, most of the time are helpful.
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 16:14
• @Magic_Isa: So by that logic, any user we have no deleted entirely is not a problematic user! Why should anyone ever bother flagging offensive comments, then?
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 16:16
• @Magic_Isa Because the rules are different back then, we shouldn't apply present standard to the past. Apr 13, 2020 at 16:24

This answer was created to discuss aspects of the inclusion of confused in the HNQ block-list. Please leave your opinion in a comment.

• There is nothing wrong in having this, 100% popular word in Mathematics, in the HNQ list :)
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 17:11
• I'm in favor of removing this word from the list---it is essentially contentless, and adds nothing in terms of clarity about what an asker is asking. If they weren't confused, they wouldn't be asking a quesiton,
– Xander Henderson Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 17:12
• @XanderHenderson: Am I reading you correctly that the word should not be allowed in a title of a HNQ post because it does not add anything to the question? I ask because the post is asking about the block-list, not the HNQ list. Apr 13, 2020 at 17:47
• Titles should describe the question. Not the motivation, source, or otherwise emotions related to the question. Being confused tells me nothing about the question, and it is irrelevant.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:03
• @user21820 The title of this post refers the HNQ block-list. Apr 13, 2020 at 18:12
• @amWhy: I was asking Xander to clarify it, because there are two lists talked about here. It seems that Magic_Isa does not see anything wrong with allowing this word on the HNQ list, but Xander is in favour of removing it from the HNQ list. However, the question and this answer is talking about the block-list. Apr 13, 2020 at 18:16
• The HNQ blocklist, @user21820 One and the same, not two lists. Apr 13, 2020 at 18:17
• No; see Magic_Isa's first comment with the phrase "HNQ list". Apr 13, 2020 at 18:18
• @user21820 ah I think it should say: "This answer was created to discuss aspects of the -inclusion or not inclusion- of confused in the HNQ block-list."
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:22
• @Magic_Isa: You yourself used "HNQ list" in your comment. Why don't you be more straightforward and say you do not support having "confused" in the block-list? And why? Apr 13, 2020 at 18:23
• Indeed, @user21820, I'm quite sure Xander meant it should be blocked, when it appears in titles, from the HNQ. Please try to be more clear and precise, Magic. Apr 13, 2020 at 18:24
• @Magic Define what you mean when you say that '"confused" is a 100% popular word in Mathematics'? Apr 13, 2020 at 18:46
• @user21820 Let me clarify, since I was not at all clear in the first place. I think that titles containing "confused" should be removed from the HNQ list, and hence the word "confused" should be on the list of verboten words. Sorry for the confusion.
– Xander Henderson Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 19:05
• Extra ping for @amWhy, as she was a part of the conversasion. Magic_Isa should have been automatically pinged, as they are the author of the post.
– Xander Henderson Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 19:09
• Well, what one say when one doesn't know? "I am confused.." It's very common to say this, like automatically, so please don't exclude it from the HNQ
– user486983
Apr 14, 2020 at 18:26

This answer was created to discuss aspects of the inclusion of help in the HNQ block-list. Please leave your opinion in a comment

• See for example, this extremely famous question Help with a prime number spiral which turns 90 degrees at each prime
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 17:50
• There's nothing wrong with this word, this could be allowed in the HNQ. Although the format and guidelines of this site is question, answer and Bye. It's very natural to say 'help', 'help me', etc. along with a well written question
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 17:54
• Titles should describe the question. Not the motivation, source, or otherwise emotions related to the question. Yes, you need help. This is why you're asking a question. This is entirely irrelevant to the question to begin with.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:12
• What if the title states nothing but "Please Help with this!", Magic_Isa ? It seems you are focusing on locating only the very few exceptions, and otherwise turning a blind eye to the many abuses and over uses of terms proposed for the HNQ block-list. As @Asaf suggested in his original post about filters for the HNQ, it is far easier to edit the title(s) of an exception or two, than to manually have to remove hundreds of other poor posts with very poor titles. Apr 13, 2020 at 20:26
• I see your point. Yes, there are good and bad questions titles with the word 'help'. It's just that, for me, isn't that fair to not to allow a good question to be on the HNQ just because it's "banned" due the inclusion of the word 'help' in their title.
– user486983
Apr 14, 2020 at 16:27
• But it's fair to not allow a good question to be on the HNQ just because it's "banned" due to having MathJax in the title?
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 14, 2020 at 16:28
• @AsafKaragila It's also unfair, actually very very unfair. IIRC you said that there's not much that one could do to fix the MathJax thing. But let's focus on 'help' word here, yes?
– user486983
Apr 14, 2020 at 16:44
• @Magic_Isa: Yes, but how is the word "help" is helpful to me, as a reader, when I see a title with the word "help" (with a few obvious exceptions such as "how many permutations of the word HELP start with H?"), how is this title conveying any information? And wouldn't it be better if the HNQ had questions with better titles instead? Wouldn't it be great if users like yourself would simply edit the title when they see "help" so that the undoubtedly great question therein can have a great title too?
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 14, 2020 at 16:52
• @AsafKaragila Well, some people see it like unhelpful in the title as 'tells nothing'; for some others is the opposite. "Help me to understand the definition of measurable function" vs "Understanding the definition of measurable function", which one would one pick? // both are ok
– user486983
Apr 14, 2020 at 17:39
• @Magic_Isa Perhaps both are okay, but the second is better. An even better title might be something like "Understanding Folland's definition of a Borel measurable function." If you eliminate uninformative words like "help", you get a few extra characters to add more context.
– Xander Henderson Mod
Apr 15, 2020 at 2:25
• What context or information is conveyed by the words "Help me to" in the title? They are asking a question on MSE, so it should be obvious that they require help. How is the title in any way improved by adding those words?
– Xander Henderson Mod
Apr 15, 2020 at 3:47
• Disallowing questions based on keywords seems like an extraordinarily clunky method Apr 16, 2020 at 22:00
• Here is what I am thinking: Most poorly titled questions already will never make it to HNQ, because they won't receive the votes and attention that are necessary to make it to HNQ. I suspect that a poorly titled question could only make it to HNQ if it was exceptionally interesting. In that case, the best solution is not to disallow that interesting question from HNQ, but rather to revise its title. Apr 16, 2020 at 22:09
• I guess the question is: What proportion of [questions with bad titles] that are also [questions that get enough votes to make HNQ] are also [questions that should not be on HNQ]? I went to the top questions of the month and found a few with terrible titles, for example this one: math.stackexchange.com/questions/3602668/… To me, this seems like a question that is a good question, but has a terrible title ... maybe I am misunderstanding the point of HNQ - are good questions with bad titles supposed to be excluded from there? Apr 16, 2020 at 22:32
• @ZubinMukerjee: (1) This is one of the reasons I want "this" filtered out, yes. (2) Yes, good questions can be eligible if they have their titles edited to be informative and good. So we want to create a filter that catches mostly bad titles. We are allowed to showcase at most 5 questions at a time, why not insist that every details in those posts is perfect? That starts with the title.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 16, 2020 at 22:34

This answer was created to discuss aspects of the inclusion of please in the HNQ block-list.

• Titles should describe the question. Not the motivation, source, or otherwise emotions related to the question, nor appealing to users' good-will, by asking "please". If you need to say "please", do so in the body of the post, but not in the title. When it is used in the title it is entirely irrelevant to the question to begin with. Apr 13, 2020 at 20:14

This answer was created to discuss aspects of the inclusion of tricky in the HNQ block-list. Please leave your opinion in a comment.

• For example, see this famous question Suspension of a product - tricky homotopy equivalence
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 16:59
• For example, there are countless deleted posts including the word "tricky", which, since deleted, would not come up in Magic_Isa's search. The ones that remain are not representative of the widespread abuse of this word in titles, as it is sometimes used as click-bait. It is also a very subjective word, like "hard", "simple" Apr 13, 2020 at 17:28
• Remember, we are not talking about banning posts from math.se; rather words in titles that suggest they are not good candidates for the HNQ. Apr 13, 2020 at 17:32
• "which, since deleted, would not come up in Magic_Isa's search" :(
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 17:37
• I'm glad you read my comment, @Magic_Isa. :-) Apr 13, 2020 at 17:39
• Titles should describe the question. Not the motivation, source, or otherwise emotions related to the question. Something being "tricky" tells us nothing about the actual question and it is irrelevant as a whole to the title.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:12
• "The ones that remain are not representative of the widespread abuse of this word in titles" well, one needs to provide a proof to see this, or well at least a sketch of the proof.
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:13

This answer was created to discuss aspects of the inclusion of question in the HNQ block-list.

• I think any title with "question" included in it is redundant, as math.se, like all SE sites, are explicitly question and answer sites. Including "question about...." is just as redundant as if an answer began with "answer about...". Titles should describe the question, and not refer to the question as "a question" which isn't described in the title. Apr 13, 2020 at 21:20
• I agree, but this is a little contentious because as a non-native speaker, many are taught that redundancy is polite, especially when asking things of authorities (which many users view meta users as). I am not in favor of blacklisting question. Apr 13, 2020 at 23:29
• This thread, @DonThousand, is not about the blacklisting of questions. Apr 14, 2020 at 0:12
• Regardless, my comment holds. Apr 14, 2020 at 11:36
• @DonThousand I didn't know that, had I know I'd have not proposed the word to be on the blocklist... but so far we are good:) currently has -11 downvotes, so no way it will be removed from the HNQ
– user486983
Apr 15, 2020 at 16:38

This answer was created to discuss aspects of the inclusion of this in the HNQ block-list. Please leave your opinion in a comment.

• The word "this" is usually vague. It usually a stand-in for the actual content of the question, and it is usually the case that it can be replaced by a short description of the question instead. Titles, in general, should be descriptive. If we want the HNQ to publicise and promote good content, we should strive to put this standard towards titles as well. The word "this" is usually not up to par.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:26
• Asaf, I am 100% against having this in the blocklist
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:27
• @Magic_Isa: Interesting, because you gave an absolutely fantastic justification why this should not be allowed on the HNQ.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:28
• hmm, that was not my intention. I am gonna edit then
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:28
• All the more reason, @Magic_Isa, for you to take more time to consider your positions, articulate them well, rather than posting the first gut reaction you have to meta matters. Apr 13, 2020 at 18:32
• @Magic_Isa: Yes, some questions have a reasonable use of "this" in the title. I am talking about what I've seen in cases on the HNQ.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:38
• What you don't understand, @Magic, is that you're conflating "popular/highly-upvoted/famous" with "high-quality". The two are not necessarily equivalent. Apr 13, 2020 at 18:39
• @AsafKaragila: See this Why does this innovative method of subtraction from a third grader always work? // psst I won't 'bother' more :) just that link.
– user486983
Apr 13, 2020 at 18:49
• @Magic_Isa "Why does my third grader's method for subtraction always work?" Such a title avoids use of the word this, is more compact, and more clearly explains the content of the post.
– Xander Henderson Mod
Apr 13, 2020 at 19:13
• @XanderHenderson Right, but most users won't know that they are being blocked from HNQ because of this. Apr 13, 2020 at 23:27
• @DonThousand Honestly, I am not all that concerned by that. The original title, with the word "this" is clickbaity---what "this" is remains mostly unspecified. I don't think that MSE ought to be advertising itself with clickbait. I think that my version of the title is still pretty clickbaity (the question itself is kind of clickbait), but it gives a better idea of the content, allowing a user to decide whether or not to click with sufficient information to know if they are wasting their time or not.
– Xander Henderson Mod
Apr 14, 2020 at 2:38
• @DonThousand: Do you think most people even know that MathJax blocks them from the HNQ? Do you think that it should even matter for quality concerns?
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Apr 14, 2020 at 6:45
• I'm a bit torn. "How to solve this equation" is certainly a bad title, but I think there are cases like Magic_Isa's second example where the use of "this" makes sense in a title and it would be the most natural way to write the title. I realise that a certain amount of false negatives is probably unavoidable, but including such relatively common words seems a bit overzealous to me. Apr 14, 2020 at 13:34
• @amWhy As I said, "How to solve this equation" is certainly a bad title, and it should absolutely be edited (I find these titles particularly annoying when I look through "Related Questions" to find a duplicate). But for example,There are apparently 3072 ways to draw this flower. But why? seems like a reasonable and natural use to me, for a question that I wouldn't mind seeing on the HNQ (I think it was there, at the time ; at least it was tweeted, according to the Edit History). Apr 14, 2020 at 13:57
• @AsafKaragila So for each decent titles with "this", how many indecent title with "this" are?
– user486983
Apr 14, 2020 at 18:20