For example, the question asks "Does X happen" (often, where X happening is not controversial and nobody ever is even skeptical about it happening).

The body instead poses the actual notable claim that pertains to specifics of X happening (how often does it happen, or specific circumstances under which it happens, etc... - as opposed to whether it happens at all)

The major problems with such questions is that:

  • People go for the low hanging fruit and answer the question in the subject

  • That answer doesn't in any (or at least good) way address the real question in the body

  • Why are they not down voted? Without knowing the original intent they are not obviously editable, and I don't see on what basis we should close them -- it seems too draconian to me. We try to convince the OP to fix the title, but that rarely works, all mods got flamed at for changing titles.
    – Sklivvz
    Aug 21, 2014 at 23:10
  • @Sklivvz - (1) If the question has a very precise claim in the form of a quote (in case of the question we discussed, the quote wasn't formatted as one, but it's clearly a quote from his friend) - then you can assume that the original intent is that to confirm the statement in the quote, no?
    – user5341
    Aug 21, 2014 at 23:13
  • @Sklivvz - (2) Again for that specific question, the OP is still active on the site. Yet nobody - moderators included - asked him to clarify and match the title to the body in a comment {which I just did, to walk the walk}
    – user5341
    Aug 21, 2014 at 23:15
  • @Sklivvz - (3) Re: votes - based on my fairly long experience on many SE sites, not everyone downvotes an otherwise good question when it has small flaws (and IMHO if it was edited it would be a good question). Hell, not everyone downvotes even obviously wrong answers [obvious == an expert posted a 100% verifyable info contradicting the answer in a comment]
    – user5341
    Aug 21, 2014 at 23:16
  • (1) one would think you are right, but I can assure you that many OP defend their "right" to dissonant titles with teeth! (2) only caveat, anyone can do this, and they should (thanks) (3) that's what happens for sure, but it's not a reason not to vote, esp. on questions
    – Sklivvz
    Aug 21, 2014 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


We don't tolerate subject lines that are very different. They should give readers a "reasonable idea what the whole question is about". (Fabian) However, "the title does not have to catch all the possible nuances of a question" (id.).

People go for the low hanging fruit and answer the question in the subject. That answer doesn't in any (or at least good) way address the real question in the body.

Since "the body of the question is the question itself" (Sklivvz), responding to the subject line is not necessarily addressing the question. Those answers should be deleted as not-an-answer.

  • Ironically, one of the two people who you referred to posted an answer recently which did exactly that (answered the subject and NOT a vastly different body) which was one of the 2 posts that prompted my asking this Meta question in the first place
    – user5341
    Aug 21, 2014 at 20:03
  • 1
    Adding "are there any statistics that" does not make a question different. The evidence is what it is, one can't postulate it in the question.
    – Sklivvz
    Aug 21, 2014 at 20:06
  • @Sklivvz I agree: "are there any statistics..." is an unnecessary restriction to one type of evidence.
    – user5582
    Aug 21, 2014 at 20:42
  • @Sklivvz - it does when there's zero evidence that the original-title question has valid skepticism at all. In that case, nobody (Israel included) ever disclaimed that children were killed. So, either it's a trivia question that has no place on the site at all (and that was the question you were answering: "yes/no"); OR, it's an actual valid claim "this is rather common and wasn't accidental (i.e. more common than typical civilian casualties in any war)" - which does NOT match the yes/no title in any way and isn't answered by the answer I objected to.
    – user5341
    Aug 21, 2014 at 21:08
  • IOW, if you are claiming that that question is indeed 100% "are any children killed at all", then the question should be closed as offtopic since there is zero evidence presented that anyone doubts that claim (or is making a counterclaim). We don't allow the questions in general that pretend to be skeptical about valid facts nobody disputes.
    – user5341
    Aug 21, 2014 at 21:09
  • @DVK This seems to be straying from discussing the general principle, and to the specifics of an individual question. Perhaps it would be better to open a meta question about that specific main-site question and how it was handled.
    – user5582
    Aug 21, 2014 at 21:10
  • @Articuno - agreed. Whether that specific question was indeed different between title and body is NOT what I wanted to discuss, which is why I didn't link any specific examples in my Meta post). If/When this meta post arrives at a commongly agreed to policy, I may raise a separate question asking whether that specific question is indeed a "yes/no" or if the title is grossly misleading and needs to change accoriding to the policy
    – user5341
    Aug 21, 2014 at 21:11
  • I agree with this answer, however, my response to this question was deleted (even after votes) because it referred to the body and not the title. Then got notified I should re-write the answer to address the title. Can you take another look at it? I don't think it was fairly deleted.
    – Yisela
    Aug 22, 2014 at 11:04
  • @Yisela To get into the details of that specific deletion, you should start a separate meta question. However, I notice that in the body of that question is the phrase "The documentary uses ancient relics and evidences to try to prove that ancient civilizations built flying vehicles". Sure, it also mentions aliens, but in this case, since the body and the title mention the claim of ancient flying vehicles, any answer should address at least that claim. Because the claim of alien visitations is included in the body, there is no problem with also addressing that.
    – user5582
    Aug 22, 2014 at 16:10
  • @Yisela You are right, though, that the question should have been clarified. I went ahead and did that, but you should feel free to do so yourself in the future.
    – user5582
    Aug 22, 2014 at 16:17

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