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337 of 476 (70%) questions contain the word "how" in their title. Most of them with "how" as the first word.

These types of titles that start with

  • how to
  • how do
  • how can

are too bland.

They fail rules 1-4 of How do I write a good title.

I believe this is hurting page views. Imagine if you were on the site the first time because your search result hit a question on Lifehacks. Yes, that's good so far. But then you go to look for more questions or see more questions on the "related sidebar" and all the titles start with "how to". Boring.

Now imagine you're not a newbie, and try to go through the last couple days worth of questions, and they all start with "how to". Very uninteresting. You have to learn how to block out the first couple of words in order to skim the titles faster to see what the question is about.

Like that answer states

This is a question site, and people will understand your titles are questions.

So instead of writing titles like

"How to remove screws with stripped heads"
"How do I prevent batteries from leaking"
"How can I (painlessly) add/remove keys to my key ring?"

write them like

"stripped screw heads stressing me out"
"preventing battery leakage"
"key rings are such a pain in the nails"

or even

"stripped screw heads"
"prevent batteries from leaking"
"painless method of adding/removing keys on a key ring"

is a lot better.

  • I'm guilty of this myself. 2/6 of my questions start with "how to". – CRABOLO Feb 22 '15 at 21:15
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    Yes, the site does resemble a "how to" guide. But if I was writing a lifehack article already knowing the answer, I could more easily make a descriptive title. Making a title with anticipation it will be good and be fulfilled is difficult. – subjectivist Feb 22 '15 at 21:37
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    All question titles must be changed to the "You'll never believe X, and by paragraph two I was laighing/crying" click-bait format. – Sterno Feb 23 '15 at 12:43
10

Stack Exchange sites are for questions. Lifehacks.SE is a Stack Exchange site that is primarily operated in English.

In general, in English, questions are built around an interrogative word, which indicates what the question is. How is one of the most important of these interrogative words, and is the one closest to the heart of the mission of a site like Lifehacks.SE, which is primarily about methods of doing things.

'How' is the interrogative word most closely associated with the manner in which a verb is accomplished, therefore, it is entirely appropriate to use the word 'how' very often.

Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that phrasing question titles in the form of a question improves the overall SEO and search visibility of the question and website, so stripping interrogatives and verbs from a question title, creating merely a referential string of words that don't create a sentence - or worse yet, a declarative sentence that does not identify the solution being sought! - is actively bad for the website, and for the internet as a whole.

-1. Don't do this just for the sake of doing this.

4

This is a terrible idea. Titles are supposed to be clear and concise one line summary of the problem the user is facing. If there's a problem I'm having then I should be able to tell just by the title if a specific question is relevant. A user shouldn't need to click through to find out what the question is actually about.

stripped screw heads

That's a completely useless title, that doesn't tell me anything about the question except it somehow involved stripped screw heads.

Something else to consider is that having poor and unclear titles will result in more duplicate questions, since users won't be able to find their questions.

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