I recently made an edit to another meta question titled "How do I convince someone else to change their behavior".

My edit was because the title seemed to not match the question, which seems to be about whether we should allow questions that seek an outcome that may involve getting another person to change their behavior.

The OP rolled back the edit, and I didn't press the issue further.

Since then, another user asked about the title, and the OP replied

no that is a title to attract attention

Is this behavior that we want to encourage?

Other sites, such as Arqade (Gaming) and Programming Puzzles and Code Golf have developed reputations for their catchy, but often confusing, titles that frequently make the Hot Network Questions list.

Are we okay with titles phrased to draw attention, but which may result in an unclear description? Are there limits? If there are limits, or they're something we're generally not okay with, how should they be handled?

  • 1
    I don't particularly care either way, but there is something of a tradition of doing this on the larger meta sites...
    – apaul
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 19:42
  • I don't get how "How do I convince someone else to change their behavior?" is clickbait. I agree it didn't match the content, but to me clickbait is about using terms that are hot-button topics or vulgar, that grab someone's attention (and mouse-click) instinctively.
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 22:22
  • @user3169 clickbait, to me, is a title phrased to deliberately draw attention. The OP explicitly stated in comments that that was why that title was selected.
    – Beofett
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 22:47
  • I know that, but still I don't get what part of the title accomplished that.
    – user3169
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 22:49
  • 1
    @user3169 personally, I felt it was/is more confusing than anything else.
    – Beofett
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 22:51

3 Answers 3


Clickbait titles, particularly on Meta, are not useful or helpful. We need to be able to know what the question is to some degree based on the title of the question.

One of the CMs addressed this on a similar meta question on Science Fiction & Fantasy:

Every community in the Stack Exchange network has a single objective: create the world's highest quality, most complete archive of information in whatever topic the site is about. The quality and integrity of the information compiled by this community is the reason this site is here.

Titles should be optimized for clarity, ease of understanding and accuracy. Not for catching eyeballs.

There are lots of places on the 'net where you can go to practice getting the maximum response possible from passersby, but that's not what Stack Exchange sites are for. They're for building a body of specialized, expert knowledge. This is consistent whether we're talking about SciFi & Fantasy SE, or Physics SE, or Stack Overflow.

This is actually a pretty serious issue. If you actually read the question the attitude of "get more eyeballs, the crazies can be dealt with" was determined to be wrong and inappropriate. Titles need to be representative of the questions they are about.

If you can do both - have a fun title that also conveys the question, great... but otherwise, keep it simple and clear.

I support changing the title of that question back to your more representative title. In fact, this was something I asked the author to do in a comment.

  • I'm just a tad lost here. Is the subject click-bait titles on the main site, or catchy titles on the meta site? The provided quote is, in context, about main site titles. OTOH, on many SE sites the use of catchy (click-bait) titles is enough of a norm that users often try to out-catch eachother, in friendly competition of course. In some cases users are even called out for failing to follow the practice. If the subject here is titles used on meta, the quote, and rule, seem out of context to me.
    – User 27
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 20:51
  • @WitanapDanu To be honest, I don't really think that this meta title under discussion is even "click-baity"... it's just confusing. It's one thing to come with with silly meta question titles - I've done it myself... but I don't see how this title is either funny/catchy or useful, so it does neither. Regardless, your question seems better posed to the question here, not the answer.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 20:54
  • I cannot see the edits, either from rep or mobile not sure, so can't comment on that part. I do think the title ought to tell me what I'm in for, yes. Both main and meta. I don't think meta titles even benefit from being click-bait. Users in meta probably review most everything out of habit. The tricky, pun-ished titles do lighten the load. Finding the 'good' and light title is half the fun of meta. Not in my skill set, but I do appreciate it when I see it.
    – User 27
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 21:04
  • You don't need rep to see the edit history, so I guess it's because you're on mobile? I use the iOS app and don't have an issue seeing the edit history. The original and current title of the question is "How do I convince someone else to change their behavior?". The edit made by Beofett was "Should questions asking how to change the behavior of others be off topic?" My answer is (trying to) say what you said in that comment... we need titles to make sense first, be entertaining only if the first is achieved.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 21:14

A clickbait title serves for the purpose of the OP: to attract attention to his question.

A title serves for the purpose of other people to find out what the question is about without clicking the question: to inform people other than OP.

As long the OP's intention does not conflict with the purpose of a feature, it is fine.

As long as the clickbait title reflects what the question is about correctly, there's no need to edit. If the title does not properly reflect it, edit it. If the OP refuse the required edit, inform the OP about why it is not a proper title in the comment.

If the OP decided still to keep it, flag it for moderator attention and let them decide whether the title is appropriate or not.

Note: I don't know if the moderator team can make the edit binding or not (though I guess not), however it is a correct approach to handle difficult user: ask for moderator help.

  • 5
    We can prevent any editing by locking the question but we should hopefully be able to convince the OP to stop reverting the edits.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 17:29

I would like to see main site question titles be close enough to the actual question that it can be useful to someone Googling an approximation of the same question. That's actually how I found Stack Exchange in the first place and I think that's the main idea.

When it comes to meta site questions, you are basically dealing with site maintenance, so having misleading titles there could be quite annoying for people trying to address issues. For instance, the question title referenced in the first line of the OP here sounds more like a main site question than one for meta. I had no idea what it was about before clicking it.

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