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There are numerous (1, 2, 3) questions concerning this problem. I realize this is a borderline duplicate, but I'll re-iterate the futility of this particular filter and why it should be outright removed from Stack Overflow.

Do you know how effective this is in preventing users who just don't care from posting questions with bad titles? 100% ineffective. What do these users do?

Replace it with a synonym: "issue," "trouble," "predicament," "botheration" or what have you. Or worse, they simply work around the filter by deliberately misspelling the word or inserting space or punctuation:

and the coup de grâce:

I mean, even Jeff saw this coming. This adds zero value to the title. In fact, it looks worse. Why, oh why are people so reluctant to scrap a bad feature? All this does is:

  • Prevent people who have a legitimate need to use the word "problem" in the title from posting questions with an appropriate title.
  • Break the search feature because of workarounds or the need to use less descriptive titles than the error itself

This is an extraordinarily useless (and harmful) feature. Please, for the love of Cthulhu, remove, eliminate, abolish, eradicate, extirpate this "feature" from Stack Overflow.


So I can't mention the Halting Problem in the title? – Keith Thompson Nov 1 at 19:05

@KeithThompson Maybe it's a "Halting Issue". Or "Need help with Halting". Or the "Halting thing in Computability Theory". – slhck Nov 1 at 19:14

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Really? Really? Worse than rolling comment timeouts? Worse than vote-undo-locking?! (also: who wouldn't be reluctant to scrape a bad feature? You'd get bad-feature-flakes all over yourself) – Shog9 Nov 19 '11 at 23:33
@Shog9 I don't know why, but I find rolling comment timeouts mildly amusing. When I get the message "You can post comments every 15 seconds. You've only waited for 14 seconds. Timer reset. Bwahahhaah!" I can't help but chuckle and accept the fact that Jeff deliberately put that in there to troll us. – NullUserException อ_อ Nov 19 '11 at 23:37
While I agree with the sentiment… predates the implementation of this feature by a good 12 months – ChrisF Nov 19 '11 at 23:53
This explains why spelling seems to have gotten much worse recently. – sarnold Nov 20 '11 at 0:32
As a continued hater of the springy search bar, I take issue with this post – Michael Mrozek Nov 20 '11 at 2:25
I will repeat my comment from here: > See, my whole point is: If I have a query with 5000 really bad problem titles (and I don't doubt that they're bad), then at least you can tell that they're bad. If you restrict people from using it, there are two possibilities: 1) they use a better title, 2) they use another crappy title without the word "problem". Either way, you can never find out what really happened. – slhck Nov 20 '11 at 11:24
So now we have a new problm. What is the advantage?… – Bo Persson Nov 20 '11 at 21:54
I suggest that all questions have the world Problem replaced with random synonyms. I have a printing quandary! Someone help me with this null pointer worriment. PHP has a vexation with this function. – Ben Brocka Nov 29 '11 at 15:23
So instead of blocking them outright, why not show them a message on how they should improve their title and unless they fix it the question won't be accepted? Period – Ivo Flipse Dec 2 '11 at 22:23
Totally agree. By trying to prevent noise, the developers opened Pandora Box and created just more noise, of worse type (harder to find now) - newbies are like a force of nature.. if they hit an obstacle they'll just look for a way around. – Shadow Wizard Dec 8 '11 at 8:35
It's further proof that we've lost sight of the core issue: improving question quality. Question titles are not a problem (ahem) per se, it's the question body. (And yes, I changed my name in protest). – MPelletier Dec 9 '11 at 13:24
Probleм? – thirtydot Dec 15 '11 at 23:11
@thirtydot probrem, problm, probelm . – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 15 '11 at 23:35
¿ɯǝןqoɹd ...... – Keith Thompson Dec 29 '11 at 9:18
up vote 83 down vote

OK, so Kevin Montrose posted a fairly convincing argument that the title filter is not 100% useless as I originally claimed after all. While I'll concede to his position, I still think users with sufficient reputation (eg: >2k? >3k?) should be allowed to post and edit the question and use whatever titles they see fit.

I find it hard to understand why users who can edit questions (including >20k and diamond mods) and post pretty much whatever they want are still bound by this quality filter. A user with this much reputation should know better than to post a question with a crappy title.

Claiming all restrictions should apply to all users regardless of reputation makes no sense. There are restrictions that apply to new users only. If users are trusted to edit questions without peer review (> 2k), why aren't they trusted to use their judgement when it comes question titles?

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um, because they'll forget to fix the problem title? We see this all the time, edits that change some trival part of a post (oh, you forgot a period here) while conveniently ignoring the fact that the post is utterly incoherent, full of txt-speak, has an abysmal title, etc. So blocking titles with these strong negative signal words is very much intentional. – Jeff Atwood Dec 10 '11 at 5:46
@JeffAtwood I will update this question and answer with data and facts. And hopefully a solution that addresses all your and Kevin Montrose's concerns. Eventually. – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 10 '11 at 6:02
@JeffAtwood, even at 20k I'm still not trusted to put the word problem in my titles? – Johan Dec 15 '11 at 23:31
+1 for removing this feature at a rep level – e-satis Jan 6 '12 at 13:52
Well I don't know about others but this feature caused me to take better care of my titles when I started beeing on SO. And I'm pretty sure that it will cause me to rethink my title every now and then in the future as well. – Angelo Fuchs Jan 11 '12 at 17:14
@Jeff Even if they forget to fix the title, isn't the fact that they've improved the post a good enough reason to let the edit through? The question is improved, even if it isn't perfect. I think you're potentially making a big assumption that all such edits (those that exclude fixing the title) are trivial in nature. – razlebe Jan 12 '12 at 9:35
That's annoying. So I want to fix some newbie's broken punctuation, but I don't have time to stop and formulate an entirely new title for the post right now. Sorry. Didn't realise I worked for you. – PreferenceBean Jan 13 '12 at 11:40
@NullUserExceptionอ_อ another post to make your case I tried to add the google-code-jam tag but it won't let me save the edit because of => "problem set" in the title!? Thats perfectly legitimate, I know that and I have nearly 5k rep with the Copy Editor badge? Why shouldn't I be able to override this? – gideon Feb 7 '12 at 4:49
@JeffAtwood: Would you please consider implementing something to handle the current hard filter's false positives:… – Novelocrat Oct 24 '14 at 20:16

First thing that pops in to my mind, is the following: "How hard would it be to white-list this?"

Off the top of my head I can't think of very many situations where the word "problem" is a part of a formal title (Halting Problem, K-server problem) and as it stands right now it doesn't seem like it would be that hard to do a short white-list of phrases that are allowed through (might raise and issue of maintainability, but that can be a problem for the future if it ever comes up). Allowing a finite number of valid situations through and giving the rest a grammatical suggestions popup might resolve the situation.

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Another specific use case that this makes awkward is that the Microsoft code analysis tool FxCop contains a type named Microsoft.FxCop.Sdk.Problem. Analysis rules instantiate one and populate it with source location, suggested resolution and so forth upon finding a potential "problem" in the code being analyzed, then toss it into the Problems collection. I've seen at least one FxCop question where this caused awkwardness for the asker.

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