I asked a question, where the original title was

Free alternative to Adobe VoCo

A moderator then left the following comment:

Would you mind removing the word "Adobe VoCo" from the title? Or at least write a title like "Sound editor to insert words into speech (Free alternative to Adobe VoCo)". Thanks!

So I changed the title and tried to find some reasoning here on Meta why such a title is not wanted.

Here's what I found:

Nothing seems to prevent a title like "Free alternative to ...". Why did the moderator then ask me to change the title?

TL;DR: for you own good.

Indeed, nothing prevents you from writing such a title. However, it may be less likely that you get answers, if you consider the following situation.

You have written "Free alternative to Adobe VoCo". Let's say someone reads this title in the question overview. Since Adobe VoCo is not a mainstream product, even just a demonstration in alpha or beta state, it's unlikely that someone is familiar with it. They may easily skip over the question and you get no answer.

If the title is changed to a more general statement that can be understood without exact product knowledge, it's more likely that someone gets interested and looks at the question. Maybe he even likes it so much that he stars it, does some research and evaluation and finally posts an answer, even if he didn't know a recommendation straight away.

So, the moderator's note was not a "you're breaking the rules" comment, but rather a way to optimize the question so you may get better answers.

As Thomas said, a "Alternative to XYZ" title is not a the best way to attract good answers. It eliminates people who don't know the potentially out-of-trend XYZ, and it does not contain any keywords. Of course, most software have many features, for instance you might ask "Alternative to Emcas" because you use Emacs as a customer support suite, while the first answerer has always used Emacs as a sound file editor, and naturally the answer will not fit your actual need.

Another indirect effect of questions titled "Alternative to XYZ" (even with a perfect question body that lists all requirements) is that newcomers might come to our site, see a title like this, and assume that asking such questions (naturally without requirements) is OK.

So, I would go a bit further than Thomas and actually ban such titles, with this rule:

It is OK to write "alternative to XYZ" in the title, but:

  1. It must be within parenthesis,
  2. It must be at the end of the title,
  3. The question title must be understandable without it.

Example: Open source Android app to convert mp4 to ogv (alternative to CloudY)

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