This question figure looks familiar to me since it is relevant to the heat conduction through the material, which is related to what I am currently working at.

So, I wonder if it is possible or beneficial to ask the tikz drawing questioner to write down in the title, for example, the technical name of this figure/drawing as widely used in their area since it will reduce the future requests of such similar figures and help anyone looking for such a drawing to put in their report, thesis, etc.

  • 3
    That would complicate the matter a lot. Google parses everything in the body so title is not required to have everything.
    – percusse
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 15:24
  • 9
    Vague titles are always a problem. Changing them to something less vague is a perfectly acceptable edit. In my experience the vaguest titles come from the least engaged (in the site) questioners, and so asking them to edit the title themselves is likely a losing proposition.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 15:25
  • 4
    I really like the idea of having more meaningful titles, but as @AlanMunn mentions it will be hard to impose. Editing the question is a logical possibility, but I am not convinced that it will always be appreciated by the OP. (In fact, even if one kindly asks to make some statement a bit clearer, the responses can be very unfortunate.) And I guess that there always were and will be some very ambitious attempts to collect nice examples and sort them, like e.g. TeXample, but in the end those maintaining these sites also have a real life... ;-)
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 0:24
  • 7
    What is the correct description? "Heat conduction through a material" or "3D boxes with transparent gradients"? Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 6:24
  • @PaulGaborit your point is right along with mine ‘X))’
    – Diaa
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 10:56
  • @PaulGaborit For example, this question has the right title in terms of the conceivability.
    – Diaa
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 17:07
  • @PaulGaborit Neither of them, I would say. I agree that "Heat conduction through a material" is not a TeX topic or keyword, but I am not sure "transparent gradient" is a very meaningful expression either.
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 17:22
  • 1
    @marmot any expression is undoubtedly better than "this" or ""that"
    – Diaa
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 19:29
  • 1
    @Diaa I agree, just wanted to point out that even the very top users on this site may not find the "best" title. Therefore, one may not necessarily expect newcomers to do better. Again, I really like the idea of having the answers collected in a more systematic way. On the other hand, as suggested by percusse, a google search with site:tex.meta.stackexchange.com in it is often extremely helpful since also the body of the post will be searched.
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 21:26
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    Jargon-laden titles deter answers and potentially other uses of the same kind of diagram. If you don't understand the title, why bother reading the question to see if you can answer it? I think it's OK to have this in the question body, but the question as a TeX SE question should be about a general issue and not a specific diagram or, generally, even a specific type of diagram. 'How can I draw a tree with binary and unary branches and annotations?' is better on this site than 'How can I draw a syntactic tableau for first-order propositional calculus, in accordance with Hodges?'
    – cfr
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 1:44
  • @cfr you are right. The priority should goes to make the title more TikZed. If not possible, then it's technical expression should be considered.
    – Diaa
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 17:59
  • 3
    Speaking of titles, could we possibly make this one more generic? Something like "Vague titles of TikZ questions"?
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


Here's an answer based on the discussion in the comments.

Vague titles can and should be edited

Vague titles are indeed a problem, and they are exactly the kinds of things that make appropriate edits. I don't think there's much need to ask posters to change their titles, since the people who post the vaguest titles are often those who have the least engagement with the site. Some examples of overly vague titles:

  • How do I make this diagram?
  • I want to draw this
  • Problem with TikZ diagram

How specific is too specific?

We should be careful, however, in not making revisions to titles so specific as to make them only understandable to a very small base of users if the problem is more general. This might be quite tricky to implement in reality. Here are some guidelines that might be helpful to distinguish the cases.

  • If the question is about drawing a diagram of something, then reference to the actual content of the diagram is likely to be less useful to other users than reference to particular types of TikZ elements that make up the diagram.

A concrete example of this would be the question linked in this question: a description such as "Heat conduction through a material" is not really very helpful to others, since this describes the scientific content of the image, but not anything about the image itself. In that case the suggested "3D boxes with transparent gradients" is better ('3D gradients' is itself somewhat technical, but so are all our [tex-core] questions.)

Technical terms are not always inappropriate

  • If the question is about a particular kind of structure that is used in a particular field, then a technical term may be appropriate, but a TikZ description might also be helpful. This case is harder to judge, and my opinion falls a bit more on the side of the technical term, but others may disagree.

For example, a question like:

would not be helped with a title that made it more accessible to non-linguists. The reasons for this are two-fold: the representations are specific to a field, and as a result there are specific packages that can be used for them, and even when no specific packages exist, using the technical term in the question will attract answers from people (in this case like me) who have the requisite technical knowledge of the field to propose solutions that are usable.

Similar cases would be things like commutative diagrams, Feynman diagrams, automata, Karnaugh maps, Young tableaux, Optimality Theory tableaux etc., all of which could in principle be described in less technical terms but to the detriment of the question.

Making such question titles more general is IMO a mistake, since it invites ill-conceived answers from people who don't know the field, and may also cause people with the requisite knowledge who might also know of specific packages, to ignore them. Personally I don't tend to look for TikZ questions to answer, but I will look at any linguistics or tree questions in particular. I'm sure others in other fields have similar tactics.

  • +1 but I think that this won't fully solve the problem. We already have tags and so on which in principle should organize the questions and answers in such a way that they can be found more easily. The problem is IMO that the number of posts tagged tikz-pgf is simply to large, and hence one cannot find the relevant post very quickly, and that the assignment of tags is also a bit random. Of course, I do not have a better solution to offer.
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 18:14
  • @marmot I agree, but I think it's useful to have an explicit guideline. As for the tagging, if you have suggestions for some finer grained tags for TikZ questions that would be very helpful (maybe make another meta question proposing some). Of course large scale retagging efforts have to be done carefully in small batches since they disrupt the front page.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 18:17
  • I agree. My problem is that I never understood the tagging system. Say I tag something tikz-arrows. Why isn't it automatically tagged also tikz-pgf?
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 18:27
  • @marmot Because the tag system has no way to encode dependencies between tags. Also because the number of tags is limited to 5, automatic dependency tagging would fill up the number too quickly in some cases. Tagging at least for the moment requires human thought. Although I'm sure some ML person might be able to train a model to do it.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 19:19
  • @marmot The problem with the tikz-pgf tag is that it's probably outlived its usefulness.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 19:20
  • Once we have a ML guru providing us with algorithms that have the ability to do this, I'm afraid that our presence is no longer needed since the same ML guru will train a machine to answer all questions. ;-) But yes, tikz-pgf has become to huge. I am wondering if one day there will be a separate SE site for that. (I see that some people complain that tikz users get too much reputation, but this is IMO just a consequence of the popularity of this tag, not any intrinsic injustice.)
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 19:51
  • @marmot For those of us who hack away at the bibliographies questions it's a great injustice. :)
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 21:22
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    I see. That's why you are answering the TikZ question here. How much reputation did you gain from it? ;-) I guess you guys need \bibliographystyle{duck}. ;-)
    – user121799
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 21:26
  • @marmot I'm a sucker for meta rep.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 21:30
  • @AlanMunn Did you see the discussion about average votes per tag (chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/46276051#46276051)? I was really surprised that bibliographies are not nearly as bad as I thought. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 16:01

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