Numerous questions use a similar construction to avoid spoilers. That is, referring to the question vaguely: "How did this character do this?" or "Why wasn't this tried?", etc. It can be quite common, especially regarding new releases, and it had become my understanding that this construction was allowable, if not standard.

Obviously most questions won't need such a title, but for those questions whose titles are by-nature spoilers (e.g. "Why did Romeo & Juliet have to kill themselves?"), this is a useful practice. However, one of my similar edits was recently rejected for following this standard. This question's title holds several spoilers, including:

The fact that Banner & Widow are romantically linked, and potentially (I haven't seen the film yet) that Banner is in a relationship with someone else.

Why is editing a title like this, simply to vague-it-up, not acceptable? It seems to me that it's a good way of handling a "hot topic" like a big new release that hasn't hit all markets yet: the poster still gets to ask, the viewers don't get spoiled, and everyone else can just glance at the tags to see if they want to open the question. Simple, effective, and easy all around.

Is there some reason why edits like this aren't acceptable?

Final Note:

It's also worth mentioning that every one of the links in the opening sentence above points to a question from the same user: SS, whose profile states "I am laughing at the face of Americans who can't watch Avengers: Age of Ultron until May 1st (I have already watched). Guess what... I am spoiling them already." and who has asked no less than 21 Age of Ultron questions in a single day, many of which have spoiler-filled titles.

Some of these titles have been edited by me to remove spoilers, some by others, and several remain quite spoiler-filled as of this writing, such as:

Why can't Natasha Romanoff be pregnant?

Now, I would never suggest someone can't ask any questions they may have, in any quantity they may have them and whenever they have them, but it seems that when something becomes excessive, simple anti-spoiler edits are an easy and effective way of handling it.

Why aren't vague title edits allowed?

EDIT: This answer to a similar question would seem to indicate that titles SHOULD be vagued-up, as the very first (and bolded) entry in the spoiler guidelines reads:

Avoid spoilers completely in the title. This doesn't mean using [REDACTED] or silly things like that, it means coming up with another way to summarise the question.

That sounds exactly like "vague it up" to me, right?

  • 2
    Was it rejected by the community/review queue, or by the OP? There are some people in the community who don't like vague titles.
    – phantom42
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 2:45
  • 2
    If it was by OP, I think the quote you mentioned explains why it was rejected.
    – phantom42
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 2:47
  • Related: Is it okay to have spoilers in question titles?
    – Möoz
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 3:10
  • 1
    As for the answer you linked to: a character death is undisputedly a pretty big spoiler, not really comparable to saying Banner told Natasha something of a romantic nature :)
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 3:35
  • 2
    BTW, if you are really that sensitive to small non-plot details, you can put age-of-ultron tag in your ignore list.
    – user931
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 3:58

2 Answers 2


I was the one who reverted the title, not the OP. The original title was "Why didn't Bruce Banner simply tell Natasha that “I am NOT single”?", which Nerrolken changed to "Why didn't Bruce Banner try this?". I believe this was a well-intentioned edit, presumably caused by the OP's profile, which claims he/she intends to spoil the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron.

I disagreed with the change and reverted it because:

  • The original title isn't a spoiler. Yes, it tells us some things about the movie: that Banner told/didn't tell Natasha something of a romantic nature. Hardly a big plot point. For that matter, it also tells us that Banner is in the movie and that he failed to do something, somehow.
  • The edited title wasn't meaningful or useful. "Why didn't Bruce Banner try this?" is not a searchable title, and even worse it tells the potential reader nothing about the question before he/she actually reads it. Try what exactly? Turning into the Hulk? Leaping from a building? Fighting Ultron? What?

As a general rule, I oppose titles of the form "Why didn't this character do this or that?". We must write meaningful titles, not go overboard with trying to avoid spoilers.

  • 2
    What if the title had been specific, yet vague? Something like "Why didn't Bruce Banner simply tell this character that 'I am NOT single'?" If the need to be more specific arises, it could be edited after the movie has been released worldwide.
    – user44330
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 19:56
  • @Rhettorical That would be more acceptable to me, yes. It still suffers from the meaningless "this" placeholder, but to a lesser extent. In the end, it's simply unimportant that Banner told something to Natasha; I truly doubt someone will think this is a serious spoiler.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 20:46
  • 1
    I would argue that character relationships are a pretty serious plot point. Not having seen the film, it could be as minor as you're saying, but it could be that those two are now going to be romantically involved in some fashion. Considering that's it's been assumed that she's been in a relationship with Hawkeye, it could be another fracture that leads to the Civil War. But I guess we (meaning America) will find out tomorrow night.
    – user44330
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 21:06
  • I also just noticed that the spoiler text in that question blocks out the name of the girl in question, then immediately following, uses it unobfuscated. Why bother saying it plainly in the title, hiding it, then saying it again? It seems like either a poorly-crafted question or a blatant attempt to spoil something.
    – user44330
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 21:09
  • 1
    @Rhettorical A relationship with Hawkeye!? I thought she was with Captain America! Well, thanks for the spoiler, sir! :P
    – Andres F.
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 21:15

Meaningless titles such as “this character” have never been allowed. The fact that some of them slipped through the cracks doesn't mean that you should compound the problem. What you're seeing there is more one specific user's bad titling habits. The fact that he used a decent title this time should be encouraged, not reverted.

When I see a title, I need to understand what the question is about, so that I know what it will spoil me about. Otherwise the title is ineffective as a spoiler protection: I'd have to read the question anyway.

The key to spoiler prevention is: the reader needs to know what they'd be spoiled about.

Furthermore, spoiler or not, keep in mind that the whole purpose of Stack Exchange is to produce answers that people will find. Nobody goes looking for “Why did this character do this thing to that other character?”, so such titles make the question impossible to find.

Try to follow DVK's advice: find a way to convey the key elements in the title, and avoid mentioning the spoilery specific event.

This case is borderline. ‘Why didn't Bruce Banner simply tell this character that "I am NOT single"?’ looks really silly, but at least, in combination with the tag, we know roughly what it's referring to. Nonetheless, people who are looking for this question are likely to use “Natasha” as one of their search keyword (together with “Bruce Banner”), so it would be better for the title to include both characters' names.

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