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Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW

by VSarkiss (Monsignor)
on Sep 02, 2004 at 16:42 UTC ( #387989=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

A lot of considerations that I see are for changing titles on SOPW questions that are a single word. I usually vote "Edit" on those because single-word titles are harder to search for and aren't very descriptive.

I'm thinking about patching the SOPW edit page to reduce the frequency of these. The simplest thing would be to change the text next to the "Title:" box to say "Title (more than one word, please):". The problem is that the people who ignore other instructions will likely ignore that too.

The next more draconian thing would be to demand that the title contain at least one white space between non-white space characters (in principle, match (\S+\s+\S+)+). The writeup wouldn't be saved until it passed this test.

This would only be for SOPW; it seems to me that other sections like Obfuscation and Perl Poetry have "good reasons" for one-word titles.

What say you, fellow monks?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by Sidhekin (Priest) on Sep 02, 2004 at 17:23 UTC

    I would rather the titles had to match /\S\s+\S/.
    (/^\S+(\s+\S+)+$/, perhaps?)

    It does not sound too draconian to me. Every time I visit NtC, I feel more and more sorry for the editors. (hash? Hi? Cookies? Mmm, cookies.)

    Just make sure the error message tells the poor user why his title is bad, not just how it is bad, and it might even work. Even if it does not, well, there is no harm in being a little draconian, right?

    print "Just another Perl ${\(trickster and hacker)},"
    The Sidhekin proves Sidhe did it!

Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by Roy Johnson (Monsignor) on Sep 02, 2004 at 17:31 UTC
    Unfortunately, you'll go from titles of "hash" and "Hi" to "hash problem" and "Hi there". Is that progress?

    An idea I've had very little time to reflect on is that PM could run a search on the proposed title, and if it gets too many hits, reject it with that reason (title is too generic). Of course, we could still get "hash 12345" then, but I think it at least addresses the problem directly. Admittedly, it's not likely as easy as ensuring that the title meet some pattern.

    Caution: Contents may have been coded under pressure.

      Yes, it is. Type in "hash" in the "search" box (which isn't very good for searching) and note that you don't find any nodes titled "hash problem" but you also don't find most of the nodes with "hash" in their titles. So renaming those few nodes from "hash" to "hash problem" would make using a simple search of "hash" more useful (except, of course, that one of those nodes is a user, but ignore that for this demonstration and I'll address it below).

      Of course, I've wanted to fix this problem for a long time. But I don't want to break the primary use for "search" (aka ?node=), which is to find a specific node. And lately I've been complaining that the "Search" button should really be renamed as a "Find" button. But now I'm thinking we should have both a "Search" and "Find" button and if you push "Search" it doesn't stop searching just because you had a few (or one) exact title matches. (Which also makes single-word node titles less of a "problem to be fixed".)

      I'd like to disallow (or at least strongly discourage) SoPW nodes with titles that contain less than 2 (or maybe 3) words after "noise" words are removed, qw( please problem help newbie Perl bug urgent and the from error ), to just name a few.

      - tye        

        How about: if one exact match is found, it goes to that exact match (Find behavior), but if multiple exact matches are found, it goes ahead with a complete search?

        Caution: Contents may have been coded under pressure.

      Unfortunately, you'll go from titles of "hash" and "Hi" to "hash problem" and "Hi there". Is that progress?
      Not much, I agree, but a little. ;-)

      This goes back to my point of "If they didn't follow instructions the first time, they're unlikely to do so the second time." So to my mind it's a question of the cost/benefit ratio. Catching one-word titles is relatively easy and cheap, but the benefit is unclear. Your proposal has a higher chance of being beneficial, but also would cost a lot more (in terms of developer and machine time).

Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by Not_a_Number (Parson) on Sep 02, 2004 at 17:27 UTC

    I think the principle is good. However, the sort of monk who entitles their post "Sort" will probably see no reason not to change the title to something equally useless like "PERL Sort" or "Question about Sort". :-(

      While I realize that people won't read, presumably the error message would say "For the best help, please choose a more descriptive title. If you use any variant of the word 'newbie', wild ferrets will eat your pants."

Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by davido (Archbishop) on Sep 03, 2004 at 00:42 UTC

    A few points:

    • Though "Hash problem" is barely more descriptive than node titles such as "hash", it is a lot better for the 'Search' (find) function.
    • Concerns over the notion of "enforcing" multi-word titles are moot: 90% of the time nowadays when someone posts a single-word title, it gets considered by moderators, and fixed by Janitors. So the enforcement is happening already. Proposals that single-word node titles be rejected are not a new enforcement, they're an automated pre-emptive inforcement of what the Janitors are already finding themselves enforcing regularly.

    I prefer that the course of action not be to put in place dummy-proofing, but rather to put in place additional warnings or help. To the right of the Title box, the following statement:

    Titles concisely describe the topic of the node. Single-word titles are discouraged. See How do I compose an effective node title?

    This and other helpful hints could be set up to be disabled via User settings after passing level 3, for example (that's an arbitrary level number, but a startingpoint for discussion).


Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by ambrus (Abbot) on Sep 02, 2004 at 18:20 UTC

    I am against enforcing such things about titles. You could give a warning for bad titles, but please allow such posts if the poster really wants.

    Also you could add a short note about titles to the hints at the bottom of the preview page. You might want to remove the list of allowed tags from the hints to make it shorter (if others agree), because if there are too much hints than fewer people will actually read them.

      I am against enforcing such things about titles. You could give a warning for bad titles, but please allow such posts if the poster really wants.

      Concur. I mistrust the idea of hard-coding so-called "community standards", especially since we have a decent way of dealing with them --- Nodes to consider.

      Now, if it turns out that trolling Nodes to consider is becoming a huge drag on our beloved Janitors' time, I might change my mind, but as it is I'd prefer to depend on people's judgement rather than a single developer's interpretation of policy.

      F o x t r o t U n i f o r m
      Found a typo in this node? /msg me
      % man 3 strfry

Yabba dabba doo, what's up with Pooh?
by EdwardG (Vicar) on Sep 03, 2004 at 10:37 UTC

    As I think you would agree, if not say explicitly yourself, the real issue is the quality of SOPW node titles, and you are testing the idea that a title with two or more words is generally better than a title of just a single word.

    And I would have to concur, even though plenty of useless but wordy node titles spring to mind.

    But in keeping with the cost/benefit approach, let me list off some more of the possible costs for consideration.

    1. It might give a false impression of mistrust, especially to Initiates.
    2. It reduces freedom of expression. Here's a question - does the PM community hold the view that node quality is related to freedom of expression, albeit sometimes warty expression?
    3. It could be annoying to have your entitling hand so forced. Say, for the sake of argument, someone writes a node asking about splitting words from a sentence with no whitespace - SomethingLikeThisForExample. SmartyMonk might want to entitle that node along similar lines, but wouldn't be allowed under the proposed prohibition.
    4. It might foster a new, possibly even worse mutation of poor node titles, where spaces are added arb itrar ily, just to circum vent the guard ian RegEx.

    Now admittedly these are fairly intangible costs, but then that is the nature of quality. And a small gain in node-title quality could cost us in terms of the PM community.



by tachyon (Chancellor) on Sep 02, 2004 at 19:09 UTC
Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by dfaure (Chaplain) on Sep 03, 2004 at 16:29 UTC

    May be this is the time for our beloved devils to apply the required Monastery surgery making the Keyword Nodelet a (new) efficient way of searching bad titled nodes here...

    HTH, Dominique
    My two favorites:
    If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail. --Abraham Maslow
    Bien faire, et le faire savoir...

Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by disciple (Pilgrim) on Sep 07, 2004 at 12:39 UTC

    I know I am a week late on responding to this, but I just had to put in my $0.01.

    I think just about every argument opposing this is weak. All quality software does data validation in order to increase the quality of the product for all it's users (of course there are other reasons, but I don't feel like listing them). Most users are familiar with data validation and I doubt that it makes them feel the site distrusts them.

    About not dummying it down. We have several levels of visitors here, but I will break it down into two classes. Those who are programmers and those who are programming or trying to. The programmers are not posting one word titles on SOPW. Those who are not programmers but are trying to "write a script" are the most frequent transgressors. So I say....dummy it down and make it the limit 3 meaningful words. Yep, 3 words. What good question can you ask in less than 3 words? Very, very few. If you do in fact have a good question that you can ask in less than 3 words then you can surely ask it with more words.

    I say DO IT!

    Update: Other solutions may work too. I am only responding to the solution posted by VSarkiss.

    Update: I didn't address one point. Adding warnings and hints is not going to work. The people posting bad titles are not likely to read the warnings or hints and they probably won't care.

Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by SpanishInquisition (Pilgrim) on Sep 03, 2004 at 16:32 UTC
    So "WeAddaBabyEatsABoy" is out then?
Re: Disallowing single-word titles in SOPW
by artist (Parson) on Sep 07, 2004 at 15:23 UTC
    1. Let us make show-case of good titles.
    2. With some AI, have better titles available when people post with 'short titles'

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