A use pattern I've noticed on this site is as follows:

  • A user, often a new-ish one, has a very specific question to ask, and the title reflects the specificity (e.g., "how do I bind arcane command C to key K?").
  • It's unlikely that that particular question, in isolation, will be useful to anyone else, and it's phrased in such a way that it's hard to imagine it showing up in a web search.
  • However, that question is clearly a specific instance of a more general question ("how do I bind a command to a key?").

Some of the specific questions are effectively duplicates of more general ones, and should be marked as such. For the rest, however, we could make the site a better (or at least more usable) repository of Emacs knowledge by editing the question titles such that they're general enough for later users with specific problems to see that the general question is relevant.

Any objections, or any downsides to this?

  • 2
    I liberally edit the title of questions (and sometimes the questions themselves) whenever I spot this pattern. It also helps spot duplitaes. – Malabarba Aug 24 '15 at 12:28

I have no objection to doing this. It will make questions more useful in the future and potentially help the asker see their issue in the broader scope (and then help them understand/come to the answer).

The only potential issue I see is that it leads to situations such as described in Great Answers, Wrong Question. This wasn't due to title edit but rather misinterpretation, but the same could occur by interpreting the question in ways other than actually meant (although the general example above wouldn't be such).

  • 2
    Good point. One way we might get around it is to edit titles and then ask, in a comment, if it still captures the OP's meaning. – Dan Aug 17 '15 at 11:59

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