How to misuse the question mark (?)

About the title to a prior post, a reader writes,

“How to buy/obtain a used laptop?” is not a question, it is a statement. Therefore no question mark would be used.

About this I have consulted TIE’s staff grammarian (that would be my mom). She rules in favor of the reader. I would like to accept her judgment.

But … What puzzles me about this is imagining transcribing a conversation in which someone made the statement, “How to buy a used laptop,” in a way that is clearly meant to be a question. Put another way, conversationally one asks questions all the time using non-question grammar and indicating the questioning nature of the utterance with tone. If one were to transcribe such a thing, would one use a question mark or not?

Actually, what comes to mind here is not a verbal conversation but an electronic one (e-mail, Twitter). I could imagine someone writing (asking), “How to respond,” or “What to do next.” I can imagine these meant to elicit responses, not as the beginnings of explanations. That is, they’re meant as questions with the “am I” or “are we” implied, as in “How am I to respond?” and “What are we to do next?”

Likewise, I was asking, “How do I buy/obtain a used laptop?” I agree that it would have been clearer to have written that. But what I was not doing was telling the reader how to buy/obtain a used laptop. My post was asking a question, not answering it.

UPDATE: Embarrassing spelling errors caught and corrected by the staff grammarian.

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