We're rolling out titles to the front pages of Ask, MetaTalk, and MeFi today (all the other subsites have titles on their front pages). In addition, we've revamped the posting pages on those subsites in order to make the title more obvious and prominent (along with improved helper text).
After our last discussion
about this, we made an internal test front page of the subsites to see what it would look like, and the results were surprisingly good. In our testing, the most popular response was along the lines of "What?! Oh hey, that's actually pretty useful. I like it!"
For the longest time we've gone to great pains to ask for a title on posts, but buried the title field at the bottom of forms and constantly had to explain that they don't show up on the front page, and still we often had to edit Ask MeFi posts to get questions out of the titles so they made sense on the front page. Our last rewrite of the Ask MeFi posting page spent nearly half the text explaining this weird feature of the front page. The new posting pages are much more streamlined and obvious now.
The usability of the front pages improves with this change. It's much easier to tell where a post starts and ends. You get a big click target to jump into a thread, plus the front page of Ask MetaFilter is much quicker to scan looking for interesting questions you want to read and help out on.
Like I said, all the other subsites have titles, it feels like a feature that is many years overdue (default blog templates starting showing titles in the early 2000s) and you'll likely find this a helpful change. The only internal change we had to do for this besides revamp the posting pages was shorten title limits to 72 characters. We found this a happy medium where titles fit on one line of most desktop browsers, and only took up 1-2 lines on small mobile screens. Our stats show that less than 4% of posts have longer titles, most often people would copy/paste an entire quote, and you might find those in the new archive pages, but otherwise the change should have a minimal impact on writing new posts.
I know it's a big change, but give it a few days for the initial shock to wear off and I bet you'll find this a long overdue change too. We'll be rolling this out over the next hour or so, so you might spot some inconsistencies but let us know if you find a CSS bug or something like that.