Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

A simple complaint about
April 3, 2013 1:19 PM   Subscribe

what it says on the tin.

This is not a complaint about the "people who have turned off titles have no idea what you're talking about" thing because, while valid, I feel it distracts from my point. Which is: I am having a lame day at work and y'all are being boring.

We have two posts today using this framing. One of them is about a dog who is the best dog and he is eating peanut butter because he is the best dog yes you are yes you are and the other is about lighting shit on fire, and "does what it says on the tin" is literally the best you can come up with?

Let's please come together as a community, join hands, and take a moment to appreciate those who do a fantastic job of framing posts. What are your favorite titles and setups?

Here, I'll start: Iridic, and What Fresh El is This? Hilarious title, no mystery meat.

What else you got, metafilter?
posted by phunniemee to MetaFilter-Related at 1:19 PM (98 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

A nun, a bachelor and a frog walk into a bar.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:21 PM on April 3, 2013


What else you got, metafilter?

A rash.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:21 PM on April 3, 2013


A rash.

IANAD, IANYD, TINMA
I've got something that can help that. It comes in a tin.
posted by phunniemee at 1:23 PM on April 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


I have titles turned off and I thought the second "does what it says on the tin" would be deleted as a double when I saw it appear.
posted by josher71 at 1:23 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


If I ran the circus, the title and body text for HuronBob's post would have been:

A German Shephard, a suit, a jar of peanut butter, a spoon, and laughter
Panama!
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on April 3, 2013 [34 favorites]


No soap radio!
posted by ericb at 1:26 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fnord.
posted by Splunge at 1:27 PM on April 3, 2013


Here, I'll start: Iridic, and What Fresh El is This? Hilarious title, no mystery meat.

Total nitpick, but isn't it called the Chicago L?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:28 PM on April 3, 2013


I wonder if the people who post these boring single-link articles understand there is no karma like system on Reddit Blue.
posted by thylacine at 1:32 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


tin nit
posted by found missing at 1:33 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are better examples of terrible from today than that.

This post is titled "o" for no good godamned reason at all.

Also, I love the phrase "does what it says on the tin". It sounds very British. Like "Pants" and "Bollocks".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:33 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


on tin? nit: no
posted by found missing at 1:34 PM on April 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Total nitpick, but isn't it called the Chicago L?


CTA calls it the 'L' with single quotes. There are a non-negligible number of outlets, though, who call it the El.

Either way, it's short for "elevated train".

(In Philadelphia, it's the El)
posted by inturnaround at 1:36 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This post is titled "o" for no good godamned reason at all.

Is the "o" representing a basketball? If so, that's pretty funny. I guess it really is a fine line between stupid and clever.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 1:42 PM on April 3, 2013


So said a blacksmith from Berlin,
"It does what it says on the tin.
When you consent, prithee,
To come with a smithy,
Paid with the wages of Sn."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:42 PM on April 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


Flag it and move on Ignore it and move on.
posted by scratch at 1:42 PM on April 3, 2013


Maybe I am wrong, but I took that O on the Rutgers post to be a cheap, no inline images, version of a basketball.
posted by tkappleton at 1:42 PM on April 3, 2013


That O can also stand for - I guess I should have previewed. Or you know. Whatever.
posted by tkappleton at 1:43 PM on April 3, 2013


The guy who does run the circus is a known Tin Man.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:44 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


10 years ago we had Steve Jobs, Johnny Cash, and Bob Hope. Now we have Titles.
posted by hellojed at 1:47 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


This whole "does exactly what it says on the tin" thing is hilarious. That slogan is like twenty years old, and then all a sudden folk from the US start up saying it. They just started selling Ronseal there?

Here are some more:

"Accrington Stanley, who are they?"

"He said, 'Will you make brown?' I said, 'Who?' He said, 'You.' I said, 'Me?' He said, 'Yes.' I said, 'No.'"

"Um Bongo, Um Bongo, they drink it in the Congo."

Knock yersens out.
posted by Jehan at 1:47 PM on April 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Does what it says on the previous tin.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:48 PM on April 3, 2013


As part of this diplomatic exchange, the United States would like to offer you "where's the beef?" and the intact body of Mac Tonight.
posted by griphus at 1:49 PM on April 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


I guess it really is a fine line between stupid and clever.

In most of my creative ventures I try to aim not so much for a line as for a Schroedinger-esque superposition of states.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:50 PM on April 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


why wouldn't she just be called "Pac Ma'am"?
posted by boo_radley at 1:52 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


This post is titled "o" for no good godamned reason at all.

Every post is titled for no reason at all. Seriously. Titles are useless poopy-heads and I hate them.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:52 PM on April 3, 2013


cortex: "In most of my creative ventures I try to aim not so much for a line as for a Schroedinger-esque superposition of states."

So, like a kind of dumb you have to wrok really hard at?
posted by boo_radley at 1:53 PM on April 3, 2013


Post on food preservation: tins what it says.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:53 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Got out of my lorry
Just to say sorry
That what it says on the tin
Hasn't yet been chucked in the bin
And I'll be voting Tory
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Schroedinger's sense of humor:

I'm still working on the punchline. I mean I know its around here somewhere.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:56 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


and "does what it says on the tin" is literally the best you can come up with?

I fired up the DeLorean, went back in time to that moment when I made that dog post, climbed back into my head and checked, and the answer to your question is, sadly, yes.
posted by HuronBob at 1:57 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Schroedinger's mom: "Did you feed the cat?"
Schroedinger: "I'm not sure I need to."
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:57 PM on April 3, 2013 [34 favorites]

As part of this diplomatic exchange, the United States would like to offer you "where's the beef?" and the intact body of Mac Tonight.
Mac Tonight is simply embarrassment from the 80s, so I will gladly take it. Let me offer you the further exchange of the UK ad for Kia-Ora. Enjoy!
posted by Jehan at 1:59 PM on April 3, 2013


The Fuzzybutt uncertainty principle: You csn either know the punchline or know if it's funny. Not both.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:59 PM on April 3, 2013


I feel like this thread is destined to increase the occurrence of this phenomenon.
posted by grouse at 2:00 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Schrödinger'scat: Do-be-don't-be-do-be-don't-be-do
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:01 PM on April 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Cop 1: "Was a shady-looking guy just here?"
Cop 2: "Which way did he go?"
Heisenberg: "C'mon, fellas, pick one or the other."
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:01 PM on April 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


The Heisenberg Principle: I AM the danger!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:03 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It struck me the other day that between Good Friday and Easter, Jesus is kind of a Schrödinger's savior. Is he in the tomb? Has he risen, indeed?
posted by Madamina at 2:03 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel like this thread is destined to increase the occurrence of this phenomenon.

Ooh, goody! Maybe it'll become a thing and they'll all get insta-pwnd for being stunty.

My, does this cup of ground axe taste bitter...
posted by phunniemee at 2:05 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously
posted by zarq at 2:11 PM on April 3, 2013


Total nitpick, but isn't it called the Chicago L?

I figure if El was good enough N(el)son Algren, it's good enough for me.

(Also, L is properly rendered inside single quotes ('L'), which affect how the word reads. There's a small but appreciable difference in tempo between What Fresh 'L' is This? and What Fresh El is This?; I think the latter is fleeter and less emphatic.)
posted by Iridic at 2:16 PM on April 3, 2013


I guess it really is a fine line between stupid and clever.

The line has been erased in this case...
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:27 PM on April 3, 2013


I knew where tin when you walked in
All metal and rusty.
posted by The Whelk at 2:32 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Excuse me, sir. Do you have 'Prince Albert' in a can?"
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on April 3, 2013


As long as we're nicking British slogans, can we have Churchill the insurance bulldog who says, "Ooh, yes" as well?

Which, now that I think about it, would have worked for the German shepherd post.
posted by Diablevert at 2:35 PM on April 3, 2013


Schroedinger's mom: "Did you feed the cat?"

Schroedinger's mom is either so fat or not so fat, when she sits around the house she really does and also really doesn't sit around the house.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:36 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've got something that can help that. It comes in a tin.

I'm loathe to trust or enjoy something that isn't clearly labelled on the outside to accurately represent the contents.
posted by Brockles at 2:36 PM on April 3, 2013


"it's obviously apparent!" doesn't really roll off the fingers.
posted by The Whelk at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2013


This is not a complaint about the "people who have turned off titles have no idea what you're talking about" thing

This is, though.
posted by DU at 2:40 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have no idea how these people got what it says wedged into their tins, or why.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:44 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like "does what it says on the tin"; I don't think anyone much thinks of it as an allusion to a particular ad campaign anymore (in fact a lot of people think the ad campaign used a common phrase). It's just a nice, colloquial way of saying "that's the long and the short of it" or "that's all she wrote" or what have you: "this description is entirely literal and tells you everything you need to know." I'm not sure what the objection to the phrase is, really. The "couldn't we try harder" framing of this call out seems to be operating under the mistaken impression that it's a joke which is no longer funny--but I don't see that the expression is a joke at all. It is just a way of saying "yes, I really am presenting something this minimal, but trust me, you'll enjoy it regardless." That seems to me a reasonable and useful thing to put in the FPP; you warn off those who don't want to look at a simple funny video and might otherwise click the link thinking that it might be a teaser headline for a more complex or substantive post.
posted by yoink at 2:45 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is not a complaint about the "people who have turned off titles have no idea what you're talking about" thing

This is, though.


If your enjoyment of the site is being hampered because you have turned off titles there is a pretty easy fix for that.
posted by yoink at 2:46 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking of placing micro personals in my titles (that will be $5 each). That or death threats.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:46 PM on April 3, 2013


I'm an American, so it's not a tin, it's a fucking can. But I learned that that ship has sailed, I suppose.
posted by jonmc at 2:46 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, I'm Schrödinger. And this is crazy. But here's a sealed box. The cat lives, maybe.
posted by Sarcasm at 2:47 PM on April 3, 2013 [25 favorites]


Does what it says on the fucking can [NSFW].
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:54 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I only really care about myself, which gets me looking at my own FPPs and concluding that Hitler is still angry whilst revolutionizing smart casual clothing has to be my best title. Does that = fantastic framing?
posted by philip-random at 2:54 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have read
the titles
that were in
the tin

and which
you were probably
saving
for a new format war

Forgive me
they were informative
so short
and so pithy
posted by blurker at 2:56 PM on April 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


When was the last time you opened a tin? Or a can? OUTDATED OLDFLESH BADMEME. We need new, modern says to say things! Ways that connect with our lifestyle!

"It's like what the Netflix description says it is!"
posted by The Whelk at 3:05 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


That slogan is like twenty years old, and then all a sudden folk from the US start up saying it.

Goes hand in hand with their recent discovery of electronic dance music. Something is afoot.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:05 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Frau Schrodinger storms angrily into her husband's worskhop late one night and says, "Ervin, what on earth have you been doing to the cat? He looks half-dead!"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:05 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


why wouldn't she just be called "Pac Ma'am"?

Her marital status hardly seems relevant to her dot, ghost, cherry and banana eating ability.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:16 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: "When was the last time you opened a tin? Or a can? OUTDATED OLDFLESH BADMEME. We need new, modern says to say things! Ways that connect with our lifestyle!

"It's like what the Netflix description says it is!"
"

"does what it says on the tetrapak"?
posted by boo_radley at 3:17 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Goes hand in hand with their recent discovery of electronic dance music. Something is afoot.
If they start wearing shellsuits then we'd best worry.
posted by Jehan at 3:20 PM on April 3, 2013


Mornington Crescent!
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 3:21 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


If your enjoyment of the site is being hampered because you have turned off titles there is a pretty easy fix for that.

Yes, the solution is to reduce my effective screen real estate by half.

I think I'll just skip the mystery meat posts. If that's OK with the posters, it's OK with me.
posted by DU at 3:21 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


ActingTheGoat: "why wouldn't she just be called "Pac Ma'am"?

Her marital status hardly seems relevant to her ghost, cherry and banana eating ability.
"

What? No -- she's a commissioned officer.
posted by boo_radley at 3:24 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


We need new, modern says to say things! Ways that connect with our lifestyle!

Performs as stipulated in the EULA?
posted by Rock Steady at 3:28 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Whelk: " We need new, modern says to say things! Ways that connect with our lifestyle!"

Does what it says in the mouseover hover text!
posted by team lowkey at 4:18 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, the solution is to reduce my effective screen real estate by half.

Real-world test: Starting with the latest post to the main page I just compared how many posts I can read, total, with and without titles. 6 with, 8 without (that's with titles set at 12 and body font at 10). I think for them to reduce your "effective screen real estate" by half you'd have to set them ludicrously large relative to the body font. I guess if I were worried about screen real estate I'd set the titles to 8 and the body font to 10.

You've also got to factor in the fact that people are writing shorter FPPs now than they would otherwise: what would once have been included in the FPP now gets put into the title. So by turning titles off you're not so much removing some new demon screen clutter as deleting what would once have been the first sentence of the FPP.

I realize, of course, that I'm not actually going to persuade anyone here; this is more a matter of high liturgical controversy ("they did WHAT to our altar screens?!?") than an actual argument about usability.
posted by yoink at 4:23 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


yoink: regardless of what anyone does with displaying titles, it seems rather self-evident (at least to me) that the actual content of the post should be in the post. The title is for throwaway garbage--at least that is how it's always been here. I cannot envision the justification for putting the content in title and make the post some throwaway crap. It just seems wrong (although I'm prepared to accept others might disagree).

However, taking into consideration there is some subset of users who don't use titles, revisiting this issue is warranted. If you have two blanks, and you intend to fill one with the content of your post one with a stupid joke, then surely you would want to put the content in the one that 100% of the people will see as opposed to the blank that less than 100% of the people see. I don't see the rationale for doing it the other way other than to be hostile to those people who don't have titles on.

If you can think of a rational explanation for using the title for content and the post for noise, I'd be interested in hearing it.
posted by dios at 4:44 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you've turned titles off, you either are or are not missing half the fun.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:58 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you can think of a rational explanation for using the title for content and the post for noise, I'd be interested in hearing it.

The simple answer is that titles are now displayed by default. For every new person who joins Metafilter, it will simply not occur to them (until they stumble upon some die hard Old Guarder griping about the issue in Metatalk) that there is anyone who doesn't see what they see every time they log onto the site. So, increasingly, as we go forward, users will put significant information in the title simply because there is no good reason for it to occur to them not to do so.

For those older users who know that titles used to be for throwaway jokes because they didn't used to display on the front page there will remain a lingering sense that it might be a nice courtesy to the Great Irreconcileables to keep significant information out of the title--but that will fade more and more rapidly for every user who has chosen to leave titles displaying. Again, they see the titles every time they use the site. They see useful and essential information conveyed in the titles; it simply stops looking rational to treat the title which is always there as some kind of optional throwaway.

Users who have elected to set titles to 0 have effectively decided to break part of the site's functionality. It's nice that there are those who are willing to try to make accomodations for those people still, but it's simply going to become harder and harder for anyone other than those who have also chosen to break that functionality themselves to remember to do that as we move forward.
posted by yoink at 5:03 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mornington Crescent!

Morning Glory Circle!
posted by mintcake! at 5:25 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If we're talking about British ads, then I proffer:

"'Allo John, got a new motor?"

I could go Ariston, and on and on and on.
posted by arcticseal at 6:14 PM on April 3, 2013


Even if we assume that meaningful content will go in the title for every post, that is no excuse for putting crap in the main text of a post. You can't put a post's link into the title field, so the text for that link should not be useless filler like "exactly what it says on the tin." The link should still stand on its own, as a hyperlink. Doing otherwise is simply bad form.

(Part of me wonders if titles would still have been added to the front page if Google Reader had been shut down last July, effectively killing off RSS consumption of MetaFilter.)
posted by stopgap at 6:25 PM on April 3, 2013


It's more fun to read compaints about titles if you misread the word as titties.

Knowing is half the battle.
posted by maryr at 6:54 PM on April 3, 2013


Hey I came here to say 'Mornington Crescent'. Now I got nothing.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:07 PM on April 3, 2013


> You can't put a post's link into the title field, so the text for that link should not be useless filler like "exactly what it says on the tin." The link should still stand on its own, as a hyperlink. Doing otherwise is simply bad form.

You know, I was thinking the same thing earlier, and I wonder if part of the problem might just be the names "post title" and "link text" on the form page, especially for single-link posts where there is essentially one piece of information (dog-pb-laughter) but two fields that need to be filled out. To me, "text" doesn't necessarily imply that it should have content beyond being a handle, whereas "title" does, so I could see how the single piece of information would end up in the title and not the link. I kinda wonder if simply renaming the fields (eg: "brief title" "link URL" "link description" "synopsis" "extended description") might influence people toward putting the information in the body rather than the title.

I should say that I did bring this up with the mods earlier (along with a lot of sky-is-falling catastrophizing!), and it was pointed out to me that although the double helping of tinned [canned/potted]-mystery meat made it particularly noticeable today, most posts are still pretty descriptive overall. On reflection I think that's generally true, so I'm not really pushing one way or the other, just tossing a thought out there.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:21 PM on April 3, 2013


A sport played in secret.
posted by awfurby at 7:23 PM on April 3, 2013


Hey I came here to say 'Mornington Crescent'. Now I got nothing.

Spitting Image?
posted by bendy at 7:31 PM on April 3, 2013


Anyone who has kept up with the modern game knows neither the above claim of Mornington Crescent nor Morning-glory Circle is valid under the modern rule set! As such, both players must take a penalty crossover connection to the correct bus lines, and return as per the progression of the game under the Swindon Rules, with the El / L conversion in play.
posted by strixus at 7:34 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suggest replacing "Does what is says on the tin" with "And that's the way it is ..."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:01 PM on April 3, 2013


I still think the title field on the new-post form should have just been moved to the post preview page so it wouldn't get entered until after the post was constructed. It probably wouldn't stop someone who was determined to do something gimmicky, but it might still help. I'm afraid there's no way to go back to the time before visible titles on the front page.
posted by stopgap at 8:06 PM on April 3, 2013


Knowing is half the battle.

Don't get your titles in a wringer....
posted by y2karl at 8:50 PM on April 3, 2013


I'm going to tell you how it's going to be
With Mefi's lifetime guarantee
Title how you want both night and day
Then just re-use, not fade away
Just re-use not fade away
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:40 PM on April 3, 2013


So, everyone likes the new titles then?
posted by bongo_x at 10:55 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Don't get your titles in a wringer....

Indeed! phunniemee was just having a bad day at work and wanted to see some stimulating titles on the internet -- the kind that have just the right combination of vigor and inviting suppleness to entice the viewer to explore the body to which they're attached. Was that so much to ask?
posted by Westringia F. at 11:04 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Goes hand in hand with their recent discovery of electronic dance music. Something is afoot.

Indeed and that something is drugs.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:37 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


We need new, modern says to say things! Ways that connect with our lifestyle!

This product provides the immersive social content experience that the corporate Twitter account said it would.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:06 AM on April 4, 2013


Ironically, I have titles turned off.
posted by HuronBob at 8:14 AM on April 4, 2013


I have them turned on ironically!
posted by found missing at 9:59 AM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


For every new person who joins Metafilter, it will simply not occur to them ...

I think this could be fixed with judicious application of hoses and ladders.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:19 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hello Tosh...
posted by patricio at 3:12 PM on April 4, 2013


The Whelk: "When was the last time you opened a tin? Or a can? "

You, sir, are clearly not in possession of a cat.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:19 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, seriously, twice a day it's like, "what does it say on the tin? What does it say on the FUCKING TIN?!"
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:44 PM on April 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


"When was the last time you opened a tin? Or a can?"

I wasn’t sure if this was a joke I didn’t get, or what.
posted by bongo_x at 8:53 PM on April 6, 2013


« Older Calling someone an Indian give...  |  My very first post on Metafilt... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments