I've noticed a couple of questions come up recently prefixed with the semantically empty "Is it true that ..."

Such as Is it true that children under 6 can legally ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in Denmark? and Is it true that you can receive emergency care in the UK completely free of charge?

In my view the former question would be better expressed as “Can children under six legally ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in Denmark?”

This removes the suggestive bias in the question (especially to those seeing only the question in a page of search results); it brings the salient issue closer to the front of the sentence; it removes unecessary verbiage which may be needlessly confusing for our many visitors who have trouble corresponding in English; and it makes the URL more descriptive (as it is presently truncated).

Against that is, I think, only the fair view that we should avoid tampering with questions.

Any thoughts?

3 Answers 3


As an author of one of the linked questions - go ahead and edit it. In total we have 17 such questions - feel free to update them too, for better readability.

  • Why are people on this Stack Exchange so obsessed with editing old posts to conform to their personal preferences about the English language? I really haven't seen this on any other site that I participate in. Editing "Is it true that X can do Y" to "Can X do Y" has negligible benefit. Mar 13, 2017 at 8:34
  • 2
    @DavidRicherby because unlike many other sites, the target audience of Travel.SE often has poor command of the English language and rely on Google Translate and/or badly formulated Google queries. And, hey, if people are willing to spend their time on improving the site - why not?
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Mar 13, 2017 at 9:07
  • Google translate seems to handle "Is it true that, ...?" just fine. Google searches will be looking at the keywords X and Y rather than the precise grammatical format of the question around them. This is purely a matter of English style and has almost nothing to do with readability. Mar 13, 2017 at 9:09

This happens a lot on Skeptics.SE. I think the reasons for prefixing it are understandable (eg not wanting to appear to be stupid), but I think the titles should be edited for clarity and conciseness.

  • 2
    Skeptics is a bit different I think ... there people are often coming with a position they want discredited or affirmed. Here hopefully we are answering questions directly.
    – Calchas
    Mar 8, 2017 at 22:06

Please do not make this kind of edit. The increase in readability is negligible and the cost is flooding the homepage.

This is not a good reason to edit and I would reject any such edit as "No improvement whatsoever" if it appeared in the review queue (which it wouldn't, since you have enough rep to make edits by fiat).


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .