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Using my question In an airliner, does the Captain or the First Officer fly the airplane? as an example, should we try to improve the future use of questions with the long view in sight?

When I first asked this question, the title question was "Who flies the plane?"

This, as asked, is a very ambiguous question. Who flies what plane? GA? Airliner? Did I mean if the crew was unconscious? Autopilot? Landing? Takeoff? In flight?

So, I know that once a user is 'inside' se, such as aviation.se, the user can browse based on tags, and the idea is to not repeat the tag's information, necessarily, within the title question. However, more and more, now that I'm a regular user of se, I'm noticing that quite often in a google search there will be se questions showing up in the search results.

If I left my question as is, then if/when it showed up in a google search, the searcher would have no idea of the internal meaning of the question. So, I modified my question's title from "Who flies the plane?" to "In an airliner, between the Captain and the First Officer, who flies the plane?"

So my question for discussion is, should we (the regular users) make an effort to reword questions with the view of how they are used and viewed from within SE only, or from the view of where a user might find them externally, such as Bing or Google search results?

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    $\begingroup$ I think we should, because even when inside se, the questions may still seem strange if you are not used to looking at the tags as well. $\endgroup$ – flyingfisch May 27 '14 at 13:33
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We should all strive to ask questions that aren't ambiguous, mainly so that we get the answers that we are looking for. In your example, people could have answered in a variety of different ways that would have all technically answered it, while not giving you the answer that you were looking for.

As far as how you disambiguate it, you can do that by changing the wording and/or adding tags. SE uses the tag information along with the text in order to optimize the page for search engines. Using tags helps both the people who know how to search by tags as well as the people searching via Google.

In your example question, the html title that Google will see is <tag> - <title> - Aviation Stack Exchange, so all of that data is captured.

In short, just ask the question in the best way that you can and don't worry about the SEO. Stack Exchange works out the magic that helps people find us on Google.

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  • $\begingroup$ OK cool, so the search engines use the se tags. $\endgroup$ – CGCampbell May 27 '14 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @CGCampbell Absolutely! $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger May 27 '14 at 22:59
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Improving questions (title, content, and tags) increases their chance of showing up in relevant Google searches. Beyond that little bit of SEO improving the title of a question is really more something we do for people browsing the site as opposed to folks finding us through Google searches.

Google presents (what it thinks are) relevant excerpts from questions when it shows you search results:
Google Results
You'll notice that both titles show up in the search results (based on when Google crawled the answers, and the fact that the URL changes when the title changes). You'll also notice that what shows up in Google's results may not be the question text - the Google works in mysterious ways.

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