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Simple poll: does the fact that SO is filling up with all this kind of rubbish bother anyone else? Or is it just me being OCD?

It feels like an unstoppable scourge.

Horrific "titles"

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closed as not constructive by Jeremy Banks, kiamlaluno, Some Helpful Commenter, Michael Mrozek, Josh Caswell Jan 31 '12 at 4:32

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I do think it got worse lately. And it's not just the tag-only titles. It's indicative of personal support requests (or plzsendtehregex in those samples), and the more come in the more people will assume it's accepted. -- Sensible title enforcement week? – mario Jan 30 '12 at 0:59
Links to those questions would be nice. – Nicol Bolas Jan 30 '12 at 1:02
Is this discussion anything more than just you (and possibly others) venting frustration? Are you making any suggestions for a way to improve the situation? I'm just curious as to what it is you expect this to achieve. – Nicol Bolas Jan 30 '12 at 1:04
We already have the "review" process and you can subscribe to the applicable tag. What are you proposing beyond the existing vote-edit-and-flag-mercilessly tools we already have? – Awesome Poodles Jan 30 '12 at 3:06
These are all PHP questions. I'm not surprised. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 30 '12 at 7:15
@NicolBolas: I think I made it quite clear in the post body that I'm curious as to what others think. People keep answering these questions. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 30 '12 at 8:37
TAGS IN TITLES!!! – Won't Jan 30 '12 at 17:22
@Won't: I love you – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 30 '12 at 18:19
"Do you also find these low-quality, poor-title questions really frustrating?" such as this one? Rather than finding the multitude of dupes of this problem, I've answered it and added a snarky comment because that's how I roll, dawg. – Adam Davis Jan 31 '12 at 3:43
Actually, I found a possible duplicate: Question title that doesn't describe the problem – Adam Davis Jan 31 '12 at 3:46
@AdamDavis: It describes the question perfectly. I could have written stack overflow - query about titles – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 31 '12 at 10:10

You are not the only one with a certain degree of OCD and a deep-seated dislike for things like these.

I don't know the stats, but I do know the solution: users applying their moderator, flagging, and voting abilities to the letter and spirit of the rules/FAQ of the site.

When we burn bad content, we help individual users learn what good content might be (sometimes, even the posters of the bad content), and we help the site in general.

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As you note in the comments, the root of this problem is that all those questions are answered.

There will always be a steady stream of bad questions with little effort put into them. SO isn't aiming to be a closed community, so people, and especially clueless people, will always be around asking terrible questions.

Right now, the only incentive to fight against that tide is users' OCD and a few badges. The incentive to answer those terrible questions is the driving mechanism of SO: reputation. Given that weighting, there will always be many more people quickly and eagerly answering those crap questions than those working against them. Heck, people even come on meta to complain when they retroactively lose reputation for answering a question that should have been immediately closed.

Unless something happens to change that, eventually many of the users providing useful answers will throw up their hands in disgust and find some other way to spend their time. If many turns out to be a critical mass, SO won't be so useful anymore.

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Sounds about right. There have been some "high-profile" departures over the past year or so (at least in the tags I frequent) I don't see the trend changing! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 31 '12 at 10:12


I find it frustrating because I see the same kind of poor quality post over and over again. Users with around 1 rep posting with language that is hard to understand, no code or what seems like no idea where to start and I have to decide from which one of these I should approach with my answer. Most of the time I would rather not bother.

Maybe a personal 'hide question' button would settle my OCD. These questions could still appear in search results but not when browsing questions.

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Do you also find these low-quality, poor-title questions really frustrating?

No. You can search for any programming-term and find dozens and hundreds of questions with unimaginative titles.

People come. They ask a question. They get an answer. Life goes on.

There's no need or reason to become frustrated.

There's no good technical solution - although many, many solutions are in place for such things.

For many programming functions there are a multitude of ways to use them incorrectly and get unexpected results. Unfortunately there's no easy way to educate users as to the correct terminology to use when describing a problem they don't understand.

The pace of questions goes so quickly that it's usually faster for an experienced user to answer the question and move on than it is to find a dupe - and quite frankly if we slowed them down by forcing them to find dupes or incentivise them, then we'd likely fall behind in the number of questions we can adequately answer.

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Oh, I can think of a few ways to educate them, mostly involving heavy reinforced cluebats. It's just not very practical online. – Aarobot Jan 31 '12 at 3:57
I guess I find it frustrating that these people exist in the first place. You don't need to be a technical wizard, or an expert in language X to realise that php preg_replace is not a useful title. So it's not elitism. Unless elitism against stupid people counts >.< – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 31 '12 at 10:13

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