We now forbid the word problem in titles: everyone has a problem, or they wouldn’t post a question. Should we similarly forbid titles that ask for help with one or another “please help me” formula? After all, isn’t everyone asking for help?

Plus questions with such meaningless titles are often low-scoring and closed:

If you take a look at those, they’re pretty abysmal. Plus it doesn’t actually add anything useful to the title. Grace observed in this answer that:

"Please help" is not a very helpful title. It's not going to help people who have the same problem find an answer, and it's not going to help answers figure out your problem. Meaningless titles should be pruned when possible, and in general you can do this for any question in which you can figure out what is actually being asked.

Since these meaningless titles all need editing anyway, wouldn’t it at least save some work if they weren’t allowed to enter such meaningless titles in the first place?

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Why? So that we can get a rash of "plese hlp" titles? Word and phrase banning has never been proven effective. –  Nicol Bolas Aug 31 '12 at 1:54
    
@NicolBolas So you’re advocating removing the current title filter then? –  tchrist Aug 31 '12 at 2:05
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@tchrist Oh come on. You should know better than to suggest word filters. :-P (loved that answer btw) –  Mysticial Aug 31 '12 at 2:07
    
Sure. Forbid culturally. Use it as a hint that the question is bad, but if not bad, just edit the title. –  Mitch Aug 31 '12 at 16:15
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

questions with such meaningless titles are often low-scoring and closed

Cool.

If there's a good question hiding under that ugly hat, anyone - anyone - can edit to improve it. But otherwise, it's the equivalent of walking around with a great big "Kick Me!" sign on you, and goodness knows we're the type to oblige around here.

As Nicol notes, straight-up blocks haven't been, um, terribly productive. I, for one, don't fancy seeing more titles of the form, "Plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz HALP!"

And as a longer-term strategy, well, detecting lousy questions and providing specific advice is something we're very interested in - as long as it's more nuanced than "obfuscate your crazy title until we can't easily block it, PLZZZZ!"

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Personally I agree that those titles are annoying, even more so when it also appears on the first, middle and last paragraph of the question; it makes me want to not answer it just to spite them.

However, I think it would be better to educate than to prevent; we could provide suggestions on how a question can be improved, based on certain heuristics. E.g. if a block of PHP code is detected, advice them to use ctrl+k to indent, etc.

I believe that users are more likely to change something when they're told it can give better results (answers) as opposed to being stopped by the "rules".

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