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It seems like a few of my questions have had their titles edited, either to add in capitalization, or to take it out (I've not yet seen both on the same question, though ;). I'm not sure if my title should be "Is There a Style Guide for Questions?" or "Is there a style guide for questions?", though I am now tending towards the latter (see above). (to get the wise-guy badge, you should edit the title of this question.)

Is there a general style guide for questions? Or are there side-by-side good Q/bad Q examples, either here or on meta? Things like: how to make your question specific, suggested limits on paragraph size, etc, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would also favor the second one; I must admit I edit questions from time to time (title or tags), but I'm not looking at any additional badges :) $\endgroup$ – chl Oct 28 '10 at 19:17
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    $\begingroup$ Now, can I have my 'wise-guy' badge? :-) $\endgroup$ – svadali Oct 28 '10 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ I have added a set of 'guidelines'. Please upvote/downvote as appropriate. $\endgroup$ – svadali Oct 28 '10 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of How to ask a "good" question on CrossValidated? $\endgroup$ – Andre Silva Aug 14 '15 at 16:44

10 Answers 10

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Question title should follow sentence capitalization.

Exceptions to the above rule:

  1. A proper noun in the question title/text should be capitalized.
  2. ...
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    $\begingroup$ So-Called Title Case Reminiscent of Certain US Print Publications, Looks Anachronistic in New Media en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – onestop Oct 28 '10 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ Proper noun capitalization isn't an exception. $\endgroup$ – walkytalky Oct 30 '10 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @walkytalky I do not understand your comment. $\endgroup$ – svadali Oct 30 '10 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Srikant Sorry, I wasn't trying to be cryptic or anything. Just noting that you have a list of "exceptions", but the only one suggested so far isn't an exception at all, since sentence case already implies proper noun capitalization. "Proper nouns should not be capitalized" would be exceptional (and odd). I'm not sure we need any exceptions at all, though it's sensible to leave open the possibility. $\endgroup$ – walkytalky Oct 30 '10 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ And just to clarify in case that sounds critical, I think you've done a great job on all of these :) $\endgroup$ – walkytalky Oct 30 '10 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ @walkytalky I was not annoyed with your comment. I simply did not understand it. Feel free to edit the text as appropriate. I was thinking that perhaps not everyone understands that sentence capitalization implies capitalize proper nouns. $\endgroup$ – svadali Oct 30 '10 at 18:14
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If appropriate, provide sample data / sample code / reproducible example (with simulated data) in the question text along with a brief description of your data/code.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Skrikant or a reproducible example (with simulated data). $\endgroup$ – chl Oct 29 '10 at 8:12
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Ideally, a question should be self-contained.

In other words, readers should not have to download anything or search for anything to understand your question. Please provide links using the editor's link functionality and provide images using the image functionality to make the question self-contained.

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If possible a question title should be an actual question.

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If appropriate, to the extent possible, use mathematical notation/equations in the question text to lend precision to your question. You can use Tex for mathematical notation/equations.

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Provide details of what you already tried / your thoughts on the question so that appropriate answers can be given.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think this needs to be specific to homework. Outline of what you've tried is helpful in real world cases too. $\endgroup$ – walkytalky Oct 30 '10 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ @walkytalky Agreed. $\endgroup$ – svadali Oct 30 '10 at 13:51
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Don't put a space before a closing bracket, comma, period or question/exclamation mark or after an opening bracket.

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    $\begingroup$ This is not fully on topic, but... I just hate it. $\endgroup$ – user88 Oct 30 '10 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ Me too :) (Everybody should browse some pages of the TeXbook :) $\endgroup$ – chl Oct 30 '10 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with all of these, but spaces before commas in particular make my eyes bleed. There seems to have been a particular spate of people doing this sort of thing just lately, I am not sure where such a thing comes from. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b -Reinstate Monica Jul 1 '13 at 0:51
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Don't add "e-mail flags" like [R], [newbie] or [svm] to your posts' titles. Use tags instead.

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It is best to be very sparing with details not needed to understand your question. Your question should stand on its own as a technical question. Lengthy personal details or personal pleas don't usually help and may even make your question less likely to be answered.

In particular be sparing with

  • Salutations. Initial greetings are not needed.

  • Personal details or history. A little detail can make your question vivid and you appear human, and that's fine, but your precise personal situation and/or knowledge of and/or ignorance of statistics need not be spelled out at length. It's fine to say that you are a learner or very new to some field, for example, and that can be said in one sentence.

  • Closing comments on how much you would appreciate our help. We appreciate that you want to be polite and courteous, but your gratitude is taken as read. Wording such as "Thanks in advance" or "I would be very grateful for any help" is not needed and won't make us more likely to answer your question.

Put all your effort into improving your post as a clear, concise but also suitably detailed technical question.

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Question titles shall follow Title Case of some form, specifically capitalize all words except those 'closed class words' e.g.:

  • "Is There a Style Guide that Provides Guidelines for Question Title and Question Content?"
  • "How Should I Normalize my Data?"
  • etc.
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    $\begingroup$ I still prefer the Sentence case. $\endgroup$ – chl Oct 29 '10 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ when I look at the list of questions, I like it better in title case; although when looking at an individual question, I have no preference. $\endgroup$ – shabbychef Oct 30 '10 at 2:24

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