We usually VTC questions with titles that don't reflect the goal of the code. Examples of said titles:

  • "How do I make this better?"
  • "My code is not fast enough"
  • "I'd like my code to be more pythonic"

I'm all in for these titles to change, because they're obviously not good and go against the kind of titles we want to have.

Though, I'd like to get the feeling of the community regarding this kind of situation.

In this case, the original title was : Speed up auto encoder training without breaking anything (the task accomplished by the code)

Obviously, not good. But, it's very clear in the post that it's about GRU autoencoders (even though I don't know what that is).

So I'm wondering, instead of VTCing the question, going through the whole process of OP editing, the question being nominated for re-opening and all in all losing time, did I make the right choice by simply editing the title to make it clear?

So, my question is the following : In cases where it seems pretty obvious what the title should be, should we simply edit the title instead of voting to close, or should we let the OP edit their own title, at the possible expense of having to go through the whole re-open process?

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    \$\begingroup\$ "We usually VTC questions with titles that don't reflect the goal of the code" [citation needed]... I don't see that any close reason would fit there. UWYA is not fitting, because it's clear what's being asked, LCC, Broken and Authorship have nothing to do with the title ... Which close reason are you generally using for this? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vogel612
    Dec 2, 2019 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ The history of the close reasons are pretty well documented up to Jan 2018. They have also not been edited since that question was completed. I didn't have this as a close reason in my original suggestion, and 200 didn't add this to their modification of my suggestion. Where has this come from? \$\endgroup\$
    – Peilonrayz Mod
    Dec 2, 2019 at 19:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I did notice what appeared to be VTCs cast over bad titles, but couldn't be 100% sure. I'm glad "VTC bad titles" is explicitly spelled out on meta now, so we can clarify once and for all that a bad title is not valid grounds for closure. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2019 at 19:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say there's been an upstream of questions in the queue where the only comment there is related to a poor title. Maybe it's a case of "correlation doesn't imply causation", but I wouldn't be surprised to see people "blindy" VTC because of this \$\endgroup\$
    – IEatBagels
    Dec 2, 2019 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MathieuGuindon maybe you should make this question featured with a title spelling out "VTC" so we can get a consens in our community about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Heslacher
    Dec 3, 2019 at 5:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nothing wrong with fixing titles, but I don't think bad titles are a major cause for questions being closed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mast Mod
    Dec 3, 2019 at 10:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ This particular question lacks description about what a GRU Autoencoder is. That possibly makes it "Unclear what you are asking" and might be a reason to close it, but questions should not be closed just for having a bad title. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 8, 2019 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


We usually VTC questions with titles that don't reflect the goal of the code.

I find this entire premise very, very, very sad and completely contrary to the very welcoming spirit that made this site a success.

A bad title is just that: a bad title. It does not take away anything from the post, it does not make a question off-topic in itself. Code isn't more broken because the title makes it unclear what's going on. The post body isn't any more unclear because the OP didn't notice the watermark, or didn't bother complying with its recommendation.

Every single close vote cast over a bad title kills a kitten and a baby unicorn.

Edit the title to fit the guidelines. Any close vote that can be avoided with such a simple edit is a wasted vote that only serves to alienate well-meaning newcomers that don't know everything you know about this site. Yes, the title watermark is there. Yes, people don't read it. Yes, it's annoying.

But no, a bad title does not make a question off-topic.

Fix bad titles, you'll save a lot of energy closing otherwise perfectly fine questions, frustrating OPs, busy-working the review queue to ponder what's wrong with that question with a now-edited-and-perfectly-fine title, wrongly closing them, and then going through the review process all over again for reopening... when all it needed was a simple edit.

Of course, if the purpose of the code can't be inferred from the post body because the information is missing or wildly incomplete, then yes, by all means do cast a vote to close as unclear what you're asking or lacks concrete context (as applicable). But not because of the bad title - because the information present in the post does not suffice to determine what is it that the OP's code does.

did I make the right choice by simply editing the title to make it clear?

Yes, absolutely. This should be the default.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The premise is sad, absolutely, but can we verify whether it's true? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mast Mod
    Dec 3, 2019 at 10:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mast not without reading minds and making assumptions, no. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 3, 2019 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Along with editing the title would it be good to leave a comment so that the OP will know for the future? \$\endgroup\$
    – pacmaninbw Mod
    Dec 6, 2019 at 15:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @pacmaninbw a nice comment can't hurt =) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2019 at 15:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Absolutely agree with this. One recent question was migrated here and then voted to close because the title, good for StackOverflow, was not good here. I fixed the title, with a note as to why which fixes the title, teaches the OP and maintains a welcoming environment. Glad to see this conversation here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Edward
    Dec 12, 2019 at 17:33

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