I answered this question and changed the title to "How can I replicate Vanguard's Total Stock Market Index using their S&P 500 and extended stock market funds?" because I felt that more accurately reflected the question. However, since questions that are too localized aren't good, I wondered if I should alter the title to something along the lines of "How do I replicate a mutual fund using other mutual funds?"

As it stands, I think the question is already general enough, and I tried to provide some general strategies for portfolio replication in my answer, but in the future, are specific titles about the issue in question preferred to general titles addressing the topic?

I'm assuming for the time being that the question is fine, i.e. specific enough not to be closed as too localized and general enough not to be closed as too vague.

1 Answer 1


First off, great answer. Like all of your answers you really put effort into them. Wonderful.

As for the title, I would advise to consider somebody searching the web for that answer.

How can I replicate Vanguard's Total Stock Market Index using their S&P 500 and extended stock market funds?

Is going to be great for specific people, but you answered with how to do the math, so a more general title would probably generate more hits. But you have to be careful to not be too generic.

With understanding that the math you did is above my head (so you might have a much better title in mind) I might write the question as:

How can I setup my preferred asset distribution from the limited choices in my 401k?

Because I personally have actually had that problem before, and I didn't know the math to accomplish it. But I am a little down on my question as being too generic.

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    Also, I have been barked at for changing the tenor of a poster's question too much without asking the OP. Try to get @Craig W to sign off on the change.
    – MrChrister
    May 15, 2013 at 17:03
  • I like the second title, and I agree that it would probably attract more people searching. However, in the interest of keeping my answer directly relevant to the OP's question, I wonder if I should post the second title as a separate/more general question, then provide a more math-based answer based off a more detailed allocation example in order to satisfy more people searching from the web (in other words, to illustrate how a more complex answer would work, without going off on a tangent in my answer to the linked question). May 15, 2013 at 18:47
  • I should add that presenting another example could be difficult, since the math might not work properly within the confines of set of funds or a new asset allocation (the linear regression may not return plausible results). In those cases, goal seeking, either in Excel or through a simulation, is likely a better bet. May 15, 2013 at 20:59
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    I prefer long question titles that read like a question, and contain both some generic and specific terms, when possible. But, some questions are more specific by nature. "It depends." May 22, 2013 at 15:32
  • @ChrisW.Rea I'm mostly the same way; it's why I edit question titles to make them into question. Once I put more thought into the math behind the general problem, however, I realized that not only is it not trivial to find a realistic solution in general, it isn't always possible (and can overly complicate the situation, in fact), so I decided against posting a more general q/a. May 25, 2013 at 3:36

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