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Re: Maximal title length (123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 ....)

by kcott (Bishop)
on Apr 03, 2018 at 08:33 UTC ( #1212230=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Maximal title length (123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 123456789 ....)

G'day Rolf,

The occasions on which excessively long titles are used is fairly small. I don't think this is a major issue; however, I'm happy to give my opinions.

I don't think I've ever written an OP with a title containing >80 characters. In the main, 80 characters should be sufficient but I wouldn't want to be so inflexible that more than MAX_TITLE_CHARS (whatever that number might be) characters was absolutely disallowed.

Responders often focus on some aspect of the original question and indicate that by appending to the title: the "(unnecessary considerations)" in this thread is a good example of that. I also add notes to a title to differentiate multiple responses that otherwise would have identical titles; for example, instead of many "Re^2: Title", I'll have "Re^2: Title (about X)", "Re^2: Title (about Y)", and so on. If someone posts a title with MAX_TITLE_CHARS characters, appending to it becomes impossible.

If anything was done about title length, I think the source of the problem should be looked at rather than implementing some arbitrary maximum. The point at which titles are entered only has a very small entry box (variable with a proportional font but averaging about 20 characters) which makes it difficult to see exactly how many characters have been entered: this could be made wider to make it easier to use. In addition, a note along the lines of "Please keep titles under X characters", adjacent to that entry box, would probably be helpful. Furthermore, the link to "How do I compose an effective node title?" could be more usefully positioned in this general area (currently it's in a set of dot points, nested within another set of dot points, much further down the page).

I think most of us who've been here any length of time compose perfectly acceptable titles. Those writing bad titles are generally newcomers, who don't know or understand the rules, and post entire questions, multiline error messages, or the like, in the title box. I think providing pertinent information, at the point of entry, would be a better option than heavy-handed enforcement.

A couple of other (possible) improvements:

  • Although "How do I compose an effective node title?" mentions "concise" a couple of times, I don't see any indication of preferred, maximum title length. Perhaps that could be added.
  • On previewing a post, a message like "Your title contains 999 characters. Consider shortening it before submitting your post." might be helpful.

— Ken

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