As a repository of questions and answers that are useful for a wide variety of people, not just the OPs, meaningful and precise titles are important. If you are looking for advise, you may else miss important resources.

Two examples I came across recently:

1) How to address the Princess Leia situation with a child

This question is from January 2017. Carrie Fisher, famous for portraying Princess Leia in the Star Wars Trilogy, passed away on December 27, 2016. The question is about explaining to the OP's 7 year old daughter that Fisher would still play Princess Leia in a (back then) upcoming movie.

The title is now rather misleading. Upon reading "Princess Leia Situation", the first thing that came to my mind was a famous scene. I also googled the term to see if this had already become an idiom, but it doesn't seem to be the case.

The question is about a deceased actor/actress appearing in a new movie. In my opinion, the question would would be much clearer with a title containg this information. Perhaps something like

How to explain to a child that a deceased actor still appears in a new movie?

2) I seem to have good talks with my 16 yr old son about his life but then he is texting his friend trashing me?

This question is from February 2016.

There is a comment and the more often I read the question, the more I agree with it:

I feel like the title of this question is at odds with the actual question body.

The main problem seems to be that the OP's son "is rebelling hard." So the OP became stricter and stricter, in the end even "ready to toss him into military school". Yet the title focuses on two other points:

I have had several, what I would call, productive conversations [...]

[...] he refers to me as a religious nut, bible thumper, over the top freak to all of his friends.

Since the situation, as the OP describes it, deteriorated to the point where he wants to send that "inconsiderate little !*&^%$" to military school, I'm not sure why or how the "productive conversations" led to an improvement. This is never explained.

Also, is his main concern what his son's friends think about him? Or the well-being and future of his son (and/or himself)?

At least, I'm not alone in reading the body of the question with wrong expectations. I think that maybe the title should focus less on the talks and more on feedback to the OP's actions.

These are just two examples to illustrate the problem. My goal is a discussion about

how to deal with old questions with misleading titles?

Should the title be edited for clarity and to better reflect the question body?

I only found this very old meta question, but it deals with a specific question and a bit different problem. The highest voted answer seems to support changing the title. I still think it's worth its own, broader discussion.

In case you are wondering why I restrict it to older questions - it's not absolutely necessary, but I thought that it causes less controversy (e. g. not change a clickbaity title of a brand new question) and in newer questions it may not be so urgent - see the Princess Leia example above, its meaning may have been clear to most users back in January 2017. But if you want, we can lift that constraint.

2 Answers 2


If it is an old question that has not yet for an accepted answer then I'd say go for it: the title change and the bump to the front page may get it some new attention.

Otherwise, if it is old and has answers with one accepted, I don't know whether it is worth doing. From your two examples, the second one sounds more like it should be voted as unclear.


Specifics, then general:

I would change the title in the first, for sure: it is a title that made sense at the time, but even then should've been changed; it now makes no sense, as you say, since we're so far divorced from the actual event. It's a good question, with a good answer, and plenty of upvotes; so it's a candidate for being "useful" to other people.

The second question perhaps could be changed also. My first instinct was that this isn't a very good question, but it's got lots of upvotes and some good answers - so again, a good question/answer set. I don't think the title is as bad, though; but if you come up with a good title for it, I think that is fine.

In general, I think the rule should be that you should edit good questions with bad titles, to have good titles - always. Age doesn't matter. Titles should be edited while it's active, ideally, but people seem a bit averse to that. If I'm in an active period, you'll find a lot more edits to titles, because I'm very sensitive to titles and think they should be good first. If you look at other sites' HNQs, you'll see the titles change as they go through their HNQ period - because they're improved from usually a catchy but poor title, to a good fit for that site title.

If the question is good, then bumping it isn't bad - it's helpful, in fact. If it's a bad question, then don't bother, because you're just wasting everyone's time.

Also, don't do like 400 of them at once - maybe ten or twenty a day spread out over the day is fine, but not so much that the whole front page is just your title edits.

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