Askme etiquette on using first line of question as title March 13, 2006 12:15 AM   Subscribe

I've noticed that when posting questions to AskMeFi people will often just copy verbatim the first sentence of their question text into the title field.
posted by Rhomboid to Feature Requests at 12:15 AM (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Back when the title string was only used as the HTML title and in the RSS feed this was only a minor annoyance, since most people would never see the string. But now that it is clearly displayed at the top of each question's page it looks somewhat silly and redundant when someone just copies and pastes like this. Starting off your question by making the reader read the opening line twice just makes me want to say, "oh just get on with it already!" I don't think people actually realize that their post will look like this when they are typing it in the form, so would it be possible to do a quick string comparison of the values entered in the form and warn/urge/require them to fix this redundancy before accepting it?

In case it's not clear what I'm referring to, here are some recent examples: 34221, 34219, 34206, 34202, 34195.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:15 AM on March 13, 2006

Damn lazy bastards!
posted by Balisong at 12:39 AM on March 13, 2006

That's because, frankly, it can often be hard to come up with a fun and witty title. Usually I try to make it SLIGHTLY different, but if your question is already short as it is, it can be tough.
posted by antifuse at 3:33 AM on March 13, 2006

I'm a founding member of the Campaign Against Useless Titles (CAUT). I'd like to knight those users. (Well, four of them. this one's a step in the right direction, but not Order-worthy.)
posted by Plutor at 3:58 AM on March 13, 2006

Doesn't bother me a bit and I agree it's a damn sight better than "witty" (read: useless and retarded) titles.
posted by cribcage at 4:32 AM on March 13, 2006

What cribcage said. No need to make a special title unless your first sentence isn't a good summary of your question.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:36 AM on March 13, 2006

I would rather people made the title the same as the first part of their question instead of using the title as the first part of their question. Often, that leaves no context for the part that appears on the front page, so you don't know what the question really is.
posted by Godbert at 5:38 AM on March 13, 2006

Me too. When that happens, I flag the post as "Other" in the hope that Jessamyn will come along and fix it, which (I think) she usually does.
posted by Gator at 5:50 AM on March 13, 2006

I agree that displaying the thread title at the top of the thread and at the top of the browser window is unnecessarily redundant, and appreciate the reminder to folks to keep titles different (or just simpler). But since the site insists on a title, I'm not sure why folks with a simple question should be expected to come up with something other than their already simple question for the title.

Btw, your second example is by far the worst, mainly for the fact that there's no damn question before the 'more inside'. I hate those.
posted by mediareport at 5:52 AM on March 13, 2006

Related note: can we do something about people who write lousy email subject lines?
posted by cortex at 6:37 AM on March 13, 2006

Doesn't bother me at all. In fact, the opposite bothers me. I hate scrolling through the main AskMe page and not being able to understand what the hell the question is because it's been posted to the title field. I don't see the title field (because I don't read AskMe with RSS) unless I click to open the question. How can I know if it's a question I can answser if it doesn't show up on the main page? (Also, sometimes I forget that the title field is now displayed on the question page, so that when I do open up a question I'm still confused. Then I see the big fat title and go, "Oh yeah. This changed. I hate it.")
posted by jdroth at 8:03 AM on March 13, 2006

There's no damn question before the 'more inside'. I hate those.

Jesus Christ. Amen, brother. These are so annoying. I especially hate: (a) people who think they're only allowed, say, eighty characters on the front page, so post like half a sentence; and (b) people who write a normalish block of text but then intentionally use an ellipses and a more inside just before arriving at the question. WTF?
posted by jdroth at 8:05 AM on March 13, 2006

If you want to be witty in your title, great, just make sure it gives enough information as to what the question is otherwise it is not really very helpful. Repeating the first line of the question at least satisfies that bare minimum. Since AskMe is essentially functional in nature, the functional repetition of the first line rather than a more creative title seems fine here.
posted by caddis at 8:39 AM on March 13, 2006

I've tried several things to get good titles out of people. Putting the title form field at the bottom of the posting form helped, because otherwise people would stuff their question into the title and confuse it with the first main question posting textarea.

If you have any suggestions for better language or a sentence that really boils down the importance of a descriptive title, I'm all ears. I've tweaked the text several times without much change in the quality of titles.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:10 AM on March 13, 2006

Limit it to 40 characters
posted by cillit bang at 9:32 AM on March 13, 2006

What Godbert said. I find that more annoying than the doubled question/title.
posted by juv3nal at 9:41 AM on March 13, 2006

Gator's correct. In rare cases where people leave the question out of their post entirely [because they put it in the title box only] I'll copy and paste it into their post just so people aren't being completely baffled. I don't do this often, but it definitely creates the double title effect.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:58 AM on March 13, 2006

Suggestion: Don't have anything other than a question field (no title/header/details/etc). Take the first 40 characters to make the title. Automatically split the full text up into a "more inside". Encourage people (on the posting page) to state the question first, and then any additional information afterwards.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:37 AM on March 13, 2006

I'd rather have a double title than some nonsense BS on my RSS feed that I didn't realize was NSFW until I clicked it.
posted by cellphone at 3:45 PM on March 13, 2006

How about just not showing on the detail page however much of the question matches the title? Trivial to implement with a regular expression...
posted by nicwolff at 6:02 PM on March 13, 2006

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