Lately, it seems like a significant number of edits on Story Identification queries have less to do with clarifying the query and more to do with one's personal views on what should be in the title. There was a general trend at one point of adding "Story ID" or the like to the front and now someone seems to be taking them out. In either case, people seem to have an aversion to "Looking for a..." at the beginning or questions that simply state what the querent is looking for such as "Short story where alien is underwater and sinking". In the interest of avoiding an edit war, do we want an agreement on what's a reasonable template to work from?

And honestly, it's not bad yet. Most of the time, the title change is in addition to fixes in the body. Most of the time...

On a side note, the sidebar recommended Should "Story identification" be mentioned in the question as well? where it looks like the general consensus was that the question title itself should be sufficient. That suggests to me that it's pretty fair game to modify "Robot seeking Human Female for Reproducing" to "Looking for a short story about a robot seeking a human female to create more robots". Ideally, the question title should have the core details such as what sort of media and general era, but those can often work fine in the body. I do feel that Story Identification questions need a title that conveys the idea that you are looking for it, not that you want to discuss it, or place a personal ad.

Further points raised in these comments that this may interact strangely with the Hot Network Questions since they don't see tags.

  • 19
    We shouldn't be putting 'Story ID' at the start of titles, because we don't put tags in question titles like that.
    – user1027
    Jan 19, 2015 at 15:08
  • 3
    I do hope this topic helps hash out good vs bad story-identification question title styles.
    – user1027
    Jan 19, 2015 at 15:09
  • 8
    I'm the one who's been removing "Story ID" from titles, precisely for the reason @Keen mentioned (and because I've seen it come up several times in chat recently). I've been trying not to space them out so as not to spam the homepage.
    – alexwlchan
    Jan 19, 2015 at 15:20
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    I thank you for that. Unfortunately, before you, I remember someone was adding them in. Thinking there was a policy shift, I know I followed suit a few times when editing. I should have thought to have asked here.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 19, 2015 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


Stack Exchange adds the most popular tag on a question at the start of the page title, before the actual title of the question. is the most popular tag on the site, so all story identification questions will have a page title of the form “story identification - …”. Do not add yet another way of saying “story identification” to your title.

Don't put things like “looking for” or “trying to find” in your title either. We know that if you're asking, it's because you're looking for it.

Useful pieces of information that are good to start with are the media and genre. These are often key criteria for readers to decide whether they're interested in the question, so it's good to have them feature prominently in the title. Starting a story identification title with something like “TV miniseries about …” or “Golden Age short story about …” is a nice way to present important information in a way that flows naturally.

In the interest of brevity, it's ok to have a title that isn't a grammatical phrase or sentence. For example “movie: boy invents perpetual motion machine” is a better title than “movie about a boy who invents a perpetual motion machine”, because the latter wastes the reader's attention with words that don't convey information.

For more general advice about titles, see Writing a good title on the main meta.

  • 3
    Aaand "boy invents perpetual motion machine" tagged movie is better =P
    – Izkata
    Jan 20, 2015 at 0:41

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