Just took a look at this question and was struck by the lovely list of related questions:

What's wrong with...

Should we add this title to the low quality posts filter?

Or have some logic that checks for how similar a title is to other titles (and how many of them) and for high values of similarity and duplication add to the low quality score?


kiamlaluno in his comment to his answer suggests that we could use the title Levenshtein distance as a measure for the similarity of a title to existing titles - I believe this would work well - if a title scores high (is very similar) to (arbitrary number here) other titles, that would be a flag for low quality.

With the above, instead of "a question with that title already exists" we could have "several questions with very similar titles already exist; please use a more descriptive title".

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Pending migration to Stack Overflow. Not enough questions with that title in that list to be a problem. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 4 '12 at 11:59
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Nice title. I was just opened the question to flat it as off-topic. But nice question too. –  hims056 Sep 4 '12 at 12:01
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@hims056 - Great. Working as designed ;) –  Oded Sep 4 '12 at 12:03
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In this case, the questions may well not be duplicated - not saying they aren't simply I got a problem, but I don't know what it is but how many ways can you title a question when something isn't working in a sql query? –  Fluffeh Sep 4 '12 at 12:09
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@Fluffeh - You can be much more descriptive than "something's wrong". –  Oded Sep 4 '12 at 12:10
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Well, there is that one guy who has "syntax errors" in the title. That's a little more descriptive. –  casperOne Sep 4 '12 at 12:10
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@Oded true, but it is much easier to be descriptive with a language where you can say functionName isn't working. Not disagreeing, just saying it can be hard for someone new to SQL - it's not like the error messages are generally amazingly descriptive. –  Fluffeh Sep 4 '12 at 12:11
    
On the topic of that particular question, I think I would point out the guy who was rude, got his answer downvoted, then had a hissyfit, downvoted all the other answers and finally deleted his answer - is there a protocol or suggested response to that sort of behavior? –  Fluffeh Sep 4 '12 at 12:15
    
what is wrong with my update query/ update query not working, but not much else –  prusswan Sep 4 '12 at 12:21
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@Fluffeh: Ignore and let the serial downvoting detector take care of the downvotes if the delete failed? SO is better off without such people in any case. –  Martijn Pieters Sep 4 '12 at 13:04
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@Fluffeh SQL Server errors are normally extremely descriptive. What's unclear about most of them is that the person writing the query doesn't have a clue about databases or queries. The deceptive English-like qualities of SQL make folks think they can just write out whatever they want and it should work. –  JNK Sep 4 '12 at 13:13
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It's not only SQL. title:"What's wrong with*" –  Chichiray Sep 4 '12 at 13:25
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@Chichiray: Nice, but don't stop there. –  Time Traveling Bobby Sep 4 '12 at 13:39
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1590 rows returned –  sth Sep 4 '12 at 14:37
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Heh, I noticed this in chat almost a year back before they put in that restriction: i.stack.imgur.com/2IrnA.png –  Yi Jiang Sep 5 '12 at 23:48
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2 Answers

Although duplicate titles are strictly verboten, this is apparently case sensitive as this query returns results (some were posted after Mark Gravell's answer).

select top 15 lower(title), count(*)
  from posts
 where posttypeid = 1
 group by lower(title)
 order by count(*) desc
---------------------------------------------------- -- 
object reference not set to an instance of an object 44 
help with sql query                                  35 
regular expression                                   33 
mysql query help                                     31 
mysql syntax error                                   28 
mysql query problem                                  27 
mysql query optimization                             24 
jquery selector                                      24 
regular expression help                              23 
sql query problem                                    23 
database design question                             20 
jquery selector question                             19 
jquery autocomplete                                  17 
what does this code do?                              17 
jquery validation                                    17 

There are some unimaginative MySQL and jQuery users around...

Judging by these results and your own a quick win might be to lower-case everything and strip out all punctuation when doing this check. It would be harder on the indexes though.

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I like it. I did figure that the Levenshtein distance option may be a bit too difficult in practice, but this strikes a good middleground. –  Oded Sep 6 '12 at 8:29
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I tried asking a question using "What's wrong with this SQL query?" as title, and I got the following error messages.

screenshot

What should be added to the low quality filter is all the variants to the title, or the set of words common to all the variants. Considering those questions are a minimal part of all the questions, I am not sure there is anything that should be done.

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Personally I would like something more general - if people are writing many variants of the same title, that's what I would like to be caught. –  Oded Sep 4 '12 at 13:50
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Something more general would compare the Levenshtein distance of the titles. –  kiamlaluno Sep 4 '12 at 15:02
    
Arg I didn't notice, they all vary by incredibly minor differences in punctuation, capitalization or wording. I wonder if that's how they got through –  Ben Brocka Sep 4 '12 at 18:25
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@BenBrocka - Exactly right. That's why I am looking for something more general than word search. And yes - as kiamlaluno says, the Levenshtein distance of the title is where I was going with... –  Oded Sep 4 '12 at 19:06
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