The title of this question currently reads: "Exhaustion after falling unconscious?" In substance, the question is asking about potential balance issues arising from a putative exhaustion-related house rule in a dnd-5e game. However, the title is ambiguous for want of a verb; it could just as easily be read as if asking whether the rules-as-written already contain such a rule. It also occurred to me that a more explicit title might be easier for users to find via search. So, I thought I might suggest an edit for clarity.

However, I am cognizant of the Stack's general respect for users as authors and the admonishment not to make "trivial edits."

Am I right that the referenced question is an at-least-potentially proper candidate for an edit? How should I be calibrating my metrics for what's "trivial"? Is this a circumstance where one should simply suggest the edit and trust the site's democratized mechanisms to sort out whether the edit is desirable?

Perhaps I'm being unnecessarily tentative here, but having only just received editing privileges, I want to make sure I know what using them responsibly looks like.


2 Answers 2


Titles are important because they’re the “elevator pitch” for clicking on the question. A bad title can mean someone who could answer never even reads the question. It can mean a searcher with the same problem never looks at it. Making titles immediately understandable and better reflect the question is a good use of even small changes.

What tends to be trivial in titles is little wiggles to grammar or word order that don’t actually add information or clarify the title.

Your suggestion is good — it’s currently a bad title and needs more info, and adding a verb is a massive info addition that tells us more what the point if the question is. It’s not trivial.

In general, I find the line between trivial title edits and substantive ones isn’t the size of the edit, it’s whether core information about what the question actually is was added or not.

(For a personal angle, that title is one I recognise… but I never clicked it. With your title changes I would have.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does it change your answer if -- as I neglected to disclose -- I myself submitted the accepted and highest-voted answer to the referenced question? Is there any concern about appearance of impropriety there? (And would this meta-question be better if edited to raise this point?) \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 17:51
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @screamline None that I can imagine. Changing a question to better suit the answer one wants to give can be a conflict, but if a title edit is faithful to the question, it’s not changing the question, just improving the post. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @screamline For point of reference there's badges (explainer, refiner, illuminator) for editing a question and also answering it within a few hours' timespan. If you can clarify a question as well as answer it then awesome, good job! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Alas! Nobody has reached illuminator status yet here on RPG.se. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose: "Edit and answer 500 questions (both actions within 12 hours, answer score > 0)." ...Oh my. That's a lot. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 0:04

Here are some safe question edits to make, in case it helps:

  1. If the title is not a question, it's always good to edit it to be a question. People like making vague unhelpful titles that describe part of the background to their problem rather than their actual problem out of fear an actual title would be too long. It's pretty much never too long. "Does altering FATE's dice system to produce equally-distributed results unfairly benefit mages in my homebrew magic system?" is a much better title than "Changing FATE dice", for example.

  2. If the title does not describe the body text, it's always good to edit it to match the body text, unless the question is already so unclear it needs to be closed. Titles and text need to match, for obvious reasons, and only when there's a genuine concern the author may have meant something completely different should the tiny bit of text in the title outweigh the much more important text in the body.

  3. If a question was recently posted or has recently become 'active', all non-negative edits are fair game, if you're high enough rep to bypass the review queue. The drawback to trivial edits is that it inappropriately messes with site question sorting, and also people maybe have to approve the edit in a review queue. If neither of those are true, feel free to make even tiny-improvement edits, like punctuation/spelling/grammar/formatting/etc, even if the full body of changes would not normally be something you'd be okay bumping a question for; the question won't be bumped much anyways. It's still important to avoid harmful and/or bigoted editing, like changing colour to color or sympathise to sympathize or 3.000 to 3,000 (for example).

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    \$\begingroup\$ #1 is not the case. Please do not edit titles to take the form of questions for its own sake. Titles do not have to be questions, they just have to summarise the question content or indicate its topic. As long as the title does that it is perfect. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ #2 I would not say it should match the body text (the body text is big, a title cannot “match” it) but it should accurately summarise it or indicate the topic of the question. #3 is not wrong, but it seems to incorrectly imply edits are not fair game for older inactive posts. That isn't good advice to provide since posts are timeless and edits are always fair game regardless of timeframe, as long as the edits themselves are good. (It is however accurate to say they should not be trivial or harmful.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 11:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dopplegreener As to #1, it seems to me a title at least needs to be a complete thought (i.e., subject and predicate), even if not worded as a question. Otherwise, it'll be vague in the same way the question that occasioned my meta-question was vague. E.g., this question is titled "Teleporting to a ship" -- which gives no indication of what the actual question is. If it were titled, say, "PCs want to use items taken from a ship as Associated Objects for purposes of teleporting into the ship," that's fine even though an affirmative statement. Yes? \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 12:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Just realized I misspelled your username. Apologies. (Alas, the mobile site doesn't auto-hint usernames after a @.) \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 12:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a common mistake, no problem. "Teleporting to a ship" is a perfectly serviceable title: it indicates the topic of the question. It doesn't fully describe everything involved in the question, but that's not what the title has to do, that's for the body of the question to do: the title will always be missing information. The alternative title you're suggesting there is OK and functions fine as a title, but is less effective. I do not, however, want to see people encouraged to phrase titles as questions for its own sake, they are fine even if they are not questions, and sometimes better. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I followed you up until you said my suggested alternative title would be less effective. Can you elaborate? Per @SevenSidedDie 's answer, I would think greater clarity in a title to be uniformly desirable. The title "Teleporting to a ship" doesn't actually get at the problem the querent is trying to solve, which isn't about teleport generally (or even whether a ship is a valid destination for teleport) but, rather, about the efficacy of using certain items as part of the spell. No? Am I missing something? \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @screamline Titles should be pithy. Adding more details into them doesn't make them clearer to read. Just focus on establishing the gist of the question. Maybe go for "Teleporting onto a ship using associated objects" for example. Titles also don't need to describe every detail of the question, they are just an indicator of its topic. They aren't executive summaries or abstracts, they're just titles, all they really need to do is help us tell things apart. The question body can fill in the details & mention concepts like associated objects; the title doesn't need to do that as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Note the now-edited title: "Can you cast Teleport to teleport to a ship, even if it's not in a fixed location?". At risk of seeming obtuse (I'm really just trying to understand the norms in play), am I understanding correctly that this edit was unnecessary and undesirable? \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @screamline That edit is fine and OK. I should clarify what's going on for me here. Questions in title form are fine. Questions not in title form are also fine. For example, "How do I learn Burning Hands as a Warlock?" and "Learning Burning Hands as a Warlock" are both equally good titles. My issue is this answer is currently suggesting we should edit the second into the first if we encounter it specifically to turn it into a question: that's a trivial edit and not helpful, unless you think it genuinely makes the question clearer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 4, 2018 at 18:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re #1 and resulting discussion: Should question titles be formatted as a question? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 3:46

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