This isn't memepool, links don't have to be surprises. November 21, 2002 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Good, Good. What am I talking about? Ttles (the ones that go in the page title and into the RDF feed). Please remember, they're not room for an extra little joke, they're supposed to be informative of the topic. This isn't memepool, links don't have to be surprises.
posted by fvw to Etiquette/Policy at 11:04 AM (16 comments total)

No offence intended to the authors of the Bad's, they just happened to be the ones on top of the pile when I wrote this post.
posted by fvw at 11:05 AM on November 21, 2002

What is bad about the 'abusive priests' and 'WTC' titles, and by your criteria, what is good about 'enforcing silence'? Isn't this being just a bit too picky?
posted by mischief at 11:12 AM on November 21, 2002

Mischief: I think the idea is that if someone is monitoring an RDF feed for new articles, these page titles don't give them a clue to the content of the link. Of course, I didn't really know what an RDF feed was until about 20 seconds ago, so I could be wrong.

But if we're just talking about the page titles being descriptive of what's on the page in front of you, then yeah, who cares?

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:20 AM on November 21, 2002

the abusive priests story is about 'Online database of abusive priests', not 'Demons in disguise' (going by the latter it could be anything from fancy dress for demons to 'NSYNC).

As for the WTC one, wtf is KONSTRUKTOR? A search of the article and a search of the thread revealed no use of the word. A more approriate title might have been "New plans for the World Trade Center" (yes, depending on how you post just copying the link title is fine..).

Enforcing publication bans was good because.. well.. the story was about enforcing publication bans.
posted by fvw at 11:26 AM on November 21, 2002

fvw, I hate to say it, but I'm in total disagreement with your assessment here.

I like inventive titles that are either a summation of the post's subject matter, or a subtle joke. When I see them in an RSS reader, it takes 2 seconds to click on a non-obvious title to figure out what the person was talking about.

This of course is an extension to the past three years of debating how descriptive a post should be (from the first few months of MetaFilter, people would complain if the subject matter wasn't 100% clear), and the conclusion after years of this is that there is a balance between absolutely obvious to every single person descriptions, and completely vague descriptions that seem to have nothing to do with the subject at hand. The rub is that everyone here would place the boundary between the two in a different place. I'm sure editors in the newspaper industry have been debating about headlines for the past 100 years or more -- should they be blatantly obvious, or is there some room for creativity?

I click on links and read sites and don't feel strongly about wasting a few seconds time trying to figure something out, and enjoy imaginative turns of phrase and plays-on-words, while others are much more efficient and cry foul if they waste 30 seconds on something later to be found uninteresting.

I like the "demons in disguise" title, but concede that the konstruktor one is much less useful (though it reminds me of german architecture bits, which the post sort of poked fun at). But my RSS reader would be completely boring if all the titles were merely copies of the URL description.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:40 AM on November 21, 2002

How this thread could have been posted:

Hey folks, see the newly added title field on the new post page? That helps folks using RSS aggegators to read MetaFilter get an idea of what the thread might be about before they click any further. It's up to your discretion, but it might be a good idea to formulate something descriptive there.

This place needs more education and less formulation.
Or on preview, what Matt said.

posted by machaus at 11:44 AM on November 21, 2002

Magazines do much the same thing. They attract you with headlines that either entice you or puzzle you into continuing. I've never had a problem with those, and the MeFi have been at least wittier than most of the blog feeds I read.(When the feed is working, that is).

(aside: I've noticed, mathowie, that reading the feed of a whole lotta nothing adds a new dimension with the titles. like: "Sizzo-Xizzo-Sizzo-Wizzo" recently)
posted by eyeballkid at 12:00 PM on November 21, 2002

Machaus: the point could have been gotten across in a nicer way, point taken.

(well, it could have if it weren't for that meddling mathowie..)
posted by fvw at 12:18 PM on November 21, 2002

XQUZ: I don't mind the funny post headlines and such, I just think that's not what the field that goes in page title and RDF feed title is for.. It's also a lot harder to search metafilter for some post you vaguely remember if the entire post doesn't mention the keywords related to the topic, and I was kind of hoping Title's would fix that..

But apparantly I'm the only one, so by all means, jest to your hearts content.

But one day I'll build FvwFilter, and you'll all pay for your insolence *Maniacal Laughter*
posted by fvw at 12:35 PM on November 21, 2002

fvw, I hope it doesn't sound like everyone is dumping on you, but you have to realize it's a minor thing you're focusing on here. You're asking for more descriptive titles, but they might come at the expense of interesting or intriguing titles.

I don't use RSS readers that don't have a quick display of item descriptions, as viewing only headines is largely useless. With that kind of instant unveiling of content, it's painless and instant to figure out what a post is about. I rarely read much into email subjects because of the preview pane I have always shown. People writing me email write accurate subjects maybe 2/3 of the time, so I guess I'm used to mucking through lots of feeds.

I don't currently have the search engine checking post titles, but will eventually.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:07 PM on November 21, 2002

Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad, Good, Good

It's all good.

um.. except for that dangling baby thing...

...and, um, that sniper thing... and the broom... other than those, it's all good.

posted by crunchland at 1:23 PM on November 21, 2002

XQUZ: Not all FPP's are descriptive, often _because_ funny headlines are just better (most of the time). That was why I thought having a non-headline field with the actual content might be good. For instance, the segway, surgical tags for sex offenders and Michael Jackson's face (no dangling babies) would all have been hard to find on their post texts...

mathowie: I don't actually use the RSS feed, I just like the titles (I open all the links in one scan of the front page, and then read through them. Having the (clear, concise) subject in the titlebar is nice to refresh your memory). Also, google pays a lot of attention to page titles, so that's a good start anyway.

(and don't even get me started on bad email subjecting or I'll go green and be forced to buy new clothes in the near future)
posted by fvw at 2:39 PM on November 21, 2002

sounds like a one-man crusade if there ever was one.
posted by crunchland at 5:00 PM on November 21, 2002

...or a man who irons his underwear and compulsively sorts his neckties by color.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:10 PM on November 21, 2002

I would imagine that MeFi has more than just a few front page posters who have no clue what either an RDF feed or an RSS reader is.
posted by mischief at 12:43 AM on November 22, 2002

click here, me think link good! Goooooddddd!

Brilliant, XQUZYPHYR. Tagline-worthy, even, if only taglines weren't being so overused.

As for the subject at hand, what about those moments when you want to type Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzap! into a search box? Surely such titles can only increase the amount of happiness and joy in the world.
posted by rory at 4:01 AM on November 22, 2002

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