# Should question/challenge titles always be in English?

There's some dispute over this challenge's title. The author originally created it as "Многочлены Чебышёва". A user edited it to "Chebyshev Polynomials" (an imperfect translation, but the translation commonly used in mathematics, and that is also used in the challenge body). A minor edit war erupted over the title. This meta post aims to solve this dispute, and any future disputes.

## Pros

• Stack Exchange sites are in English (with a few exceptions - namely the foreign language Stack Overflow sites), so English-only challenge titles are consistent with the rest of the site.
• Having an English title makes it much easier to search for the majority of the userbase.

## Cons

• English translations may be imperfect or ambiguous.

Note: this is not trying to address the usage of non-English words or characters when they are in common use in English (like loanwords or mathematical symbols).

• I don't have a strong opinion on this, but I'm interested to know if anyone has any evidence that whether a term is in the title or only in the body affects the question's position in search results (either SE's or an external search provider). Aug 10 '17 at 23:19
• @trichoplax In my experience, matching terms in the title tend to be more heavily weighted on SE and Google then matching terms in the body.
– user45941
Aug 11 '17 at 0:42
• "Having an English title makes it much easier to search for the majority of the userbase" is not obvious to me. Could you explain why this is the case? Aug 11 '17 at 6:28
• For the record, I edited it once, it got rolled back, and then I quit. Aug 11 '17 at 8:40
• @Mego How is the first point a pro? It does not offer any advantage. The second pro seems to be invalid as the default search uncludes the question bodies. And if you're using the title: modifier you are usually looking for an exact title. As a con you might add that enforcing english as sole allowed language is very restrictive, and that titles in the status quo are about attracting attention and less about documenting the questions. Aug 11 '17 at 8:58
• @flawr The first point is a pro because it means we won't be arbitrarily breaking the English-only rule that is in place across the network (again, with the exception of the foreign language SO sites and the language-specific sites like German.SE).
– user45941
Aug 11 '17 at 14:59
• For reference: SE has a english-only policy. So intentionally choosing a foreign title when an english translation exists seems to be blatant violation of this Aug 12 '17 at 20:56
• Another Con is that a translation might not be the point of the usage - see codegolf.stackexchange.com/questions/85487/… Aug 12 '17 at 21:33
• Aug 13 '17 at 6:42

# By default, use English. With a reason, feel free to vary.

A good example of a challenge which uses some non-English is I programming puzzles, il code golf, which is a question about the usage of the definite article in Italian, and demonstrates the point of the question in the title. This title gives a good idea of the challenge, which would be hard to do without using some Italian.

In a situation like the one which sparked this question, where there is a non-English term you'd like to use, but a reasonable translation in English exists, a good option is to give both, to help more people understand the title. A good example of this is Conjugate in the Spanish imperfect / Conjugue en el imperfecto de indicativo

Finally, if there's something you want to ask about which doesn't survive translation well, try to also describe it in English a bit. For instance, if you're asking a question about drawing the Chinese character 臺, your title could be "Draw 臺, the first character of Taiwan", rather than simply "臺". This hypothetical title both needs to use some non-English, but also has some English to help people without the right font, help search terms, and provide clarification in general.

# Questions titles should, by and large, use the English alphabet

This is not as strict as Mego's answer. It does not force titles into English, but does request that they are using transliterations or phonetics instead of other alphabets, to improve SEO.

• I think the English alphabet is a bit too restrictive. There's nothing wrong with mentioning Erdős, L'Hôpital, or even Gauß in a title. Aug 11 '17 at 3:51
• @Dennis Exactly, a reason I edited the title back into English once was that it looked like the post was some kind of spam (another being network-wide English-only stuff). The title being 100% non-English would trigger such a feeling, at least for me. Aug 11 '17 at 8:46
• @Dennis that's why the "by and large" is there - I'm not trying to remove specific terms that people understand, I'm just trying to sent a precedent. I might not have done a good job of it though. Aug 11 '17 at 11:50
• Why the focus on search? Isn't it relevant if a majority of the site's users is unable to understand the title on the hot questions or related lists? Aug 11 '17 at 14:21
• @JollyJoker Our question titles aren't very informative (they are often puns or jokes) and it's sometimes impossible to understand the meaning of the title even if it's in English. I don't think that the rare titles with different languages do any harm. Aug 11 '17 at 20:38
• @Dennis those are all covered by the following part in Mego's answer: Non-English names are an obvious exception to the rule - proper nouns need not be "translated".
Aug 12 '17 at 15:48
• The title probably should say "Latin Script" or something similar, as Dennis said, the English alphabet is a bit too restrictive. And also, can you clarify what you mean by "phonetics"? /ʃʊd/ this (IPA for should) be acceptable? Aug 12 '17 at 21:03
• @Zacharý it means a phonetic transliteration. If you want to do Latin scripts, make a new answer - that's not what this one says, and changing it now might be against the wishes of people who voted for it. Aug 12 '17 at 22:50

Why not use both:

Chebyshev Polynomials/Многочлены Чебышёва

This is clear; the search will find it, and it has the original in case ambiguity is caused by transliteration.

• I like this, but it might become a problem for titles that are too long. Aug 12 '17 at 20:34
• I think Многочлены Чебышёва (Chebyshev Polynomials) looks a bit nicer but still has the same advantages as the /-variant. Aug 13 '17 at 3:09
• I like this because it is more a friendly request "Could you please also include the English transliteration/translation in the title?" rather than a "No, we don't like your idea and will enforce it with more rules!" Aug 13 '17 at 11:28

## Yes, question/challenge titles should be in English

We require question/challenge bodies to be in English (by virtue of being an English SE site), so there is good reason to have titles follow the same rule. In the specific case of the linked challenge, there is a translation that is commonly accepted (Chebyshev Polynomials) in the English-speaking mathematical community, and thus there is no good reason to use the original Russian name over the English translation. Non-English names are an obvious exception to the rule - proper nouns need not be "translated".

To quote Lynn:

any transliteration is more useful than a title most users can’t read. you write Chebyshev in the body text, anyway, so you’re just being obnoxious.

• I'm not sure if 'you're just being obnoxious' is helping this discussion. Aug 13 '17 at 11:25
• @Sanchises Intentionally and pointlessly obfuscating the challenge title is obnoxious.
– user45941
Aug 13 '17 at 19:03
• I don’t mean to imply putting non-English words in the title of questions is always obnoxious or unnecessary. But being insistent that your title is “better” than the one proposed and preferred by the rest of the community, and starting an edit war over it, pretending a transliteration is worse even though you use one in the body text, is very obnoxious on flawr’s end. (I am 99% sure flawr just wanted to create HNQ clickbait.)
– Lynn
Aug 18 '17 at 14:37

# Titles should be non-disruptive

As we can see from the ensuing discussion, Многочлены Чебышёва is a controversial question title for a question about Chebyshev polynomials. The title received lots of unnecessary attention, which (I believe) flawr knew would happen. (Maybe they wanted to attract HNQ clicks?)

Contrarily, I don’t think anyone can disagree that Chebyshev Polynomials makes a perfectly appropriate title for a question about Chebyshev polynomials.

I don’t think language factors into the issue: if flawr had titled the question “¢нєвуѕнєν ρσℓуησмιαℓѕ”, or “Chebyshev Polynomials!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, I would have still complained and edited it.

Aside from the obvious SEO issues, I don’t think it’s good etiquette to attempt to draw attention to your question by picking an attention-seeking title. You don’t see people asking StackOverflow questions like “▶▶▶ JAVA NULLPOINTER EXCEPTION!!! ◀◀◀”, either. We are on the StackExchange network, where the norm is proper, descriptive, obvious English; deviating from that norm “for style” without needing to is disruptive.

• What "obvious SEO issues"? And why does SEO even matter? Aug 18 '17 at 17:40
• I did not expect anyone to feel the need to edit the title. And titles here on PPCG are indeed about attracting attention - in contrary to the actual Q&A sites like stackoverflow, where a title should document the content of the question, here on PPCG we are not building a knowledgebase, we are writing and participating in challenges that usually do not have a quite short life span of a few days. Aug 19 '17 at 11:54

## The occasional title not in English isn't a big deal

I don't think any killer argument has been made that harm is done by having a small number of non-English titles. I'm discounting the various claims made that a non-English title harms search because no-one has been able to say how it harms search. In my experience whenever I'm trying to find a question I end up opening various questions from the search results to read them because the title is never sufficiently descriptive anyway.

Suppose we have a question with the title 𐎊𐎈𐎁𐎟𐎍𐎋𐎈𐎂𐎟𐎀𐎍𐎛𐎊𐎐 (chosen because I doubt that more than one or two people on the site read Ugaritic). In what contexts does the title appear?

• The main list of questions. Same conclusion as with search results: you have to open a question with an English title to figure out what it's really about, so there's no harm done.
• Automatic links in some contexts. Same conclusion.
• Hot network questions list. The conclusion is even stronger for two reasons: firstly, clickbaity titles are one of the most tried and tested ways to get and stay in the HNQ; and secondly, the HNQ already includes questions from non-English sites in the network. At worst people would say, "Oh, those code golfers are being silly again". Languages with -fuck in their names are a problem for HNQ, but unintelligible titles are par for the course.

The only thing which I think could be a problem is fonts which don't include the necessary characters: if the title is a series of boxes, that's pretty bad. This also means that because of the Unicode CJK unification debacle it may be best not to use Chinese, Japanese, or Korean in the title because it might render very differently for some users. But in moderation I see no problem with titles which have a justification for using another language, even in another alphabet, doing so.

• And the characters in your example title render as boxes for me. Aug 12 '17 at 13:15
• @ppperry, that's a shame. I went through several obscure alphabets looking for one which had Unicode support in my (Linux) browser on the assumption that other OSes would have fairly complete Unicode Arial. Aug 12 '17 at 14:22
• As a minor point of interest, while searching for a dupe I stumbled across an old question whose title is in bad Spanish: ¿Yo Quiero jQuery? Aug 12 '17 at 14:23

# No, They Should Not (with names)

In this case the name has some issues when translated to English. These issues are solved by simply keeping the name in the original language.

• No that's not the case since "Chebyshev" is referred to by the author in the post itself. Aug 11 '17 at 8:41
• The argument that I was trying to say was the same that Dennis said in a comment above. I think it's pretty obvious that I was using the same argument as him. Because I don't want to type the same thing that he did I will quote him . "I think the English alphabet is a bit too restrictive. There's nothing wrong with mentioning Erdős, L'Hôpital, or even Gauß in a title." Aug 11 '17 at 13:11
• I just noted that the author had accepted the transliteration "Chebyshev" in that case. Aug 11 '17 at 13:13