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I know that some titles for proposals may be long, but does anyone really need to call a proposal

Those awkward days when you can't remember what your name is but you know what your favorite episode of your favorite season of your favorite show is

(149 chars)

Wouldn't a shorter limit be better at keeping titles "concise and specific" like the help text for naming a proposal says they should be? I understand that a limit has to be set somewhere, but this seems awfully high; 45 seems like more than enough. Look at this comment.

EDIT: I would like a reason besides, "Just cuz."

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I'm tempted to create that proposal now... –  animuson Apr 8 at 2:47
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@animuson Add a period at the end to make it 150 chars. –  FracturedRetina Apr 8 at 2:48
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@Fractured Or an … –  bjb568 Apr 8 at 2:55
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@bjb568 I like the way you think… –  FracturedRetina Apr 8 at 2:56
    
Honestly, the answer is probably just going to be "there has to be a limit somewhere, and it can't restrict good titles, so..." –  Emrakul Apr 8 at 3:48
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@Emracool There has to be a limit somewhere, so we may as well not choose a ridiculous one… –  bjb568 Apr 8 at 3:54
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@bjb568 If the title is low quality, the proposal's going to have a hard time anyway - that'll be cleared up in definition. –  Emrakul Apr 8 at 3:55
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The you could make the case that a 16777216 character limit is better. –  bjb568 Apr 8 at 3:58
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For the record, "Software Quality Assurance & Testing" looks like the longest site with 36 characters (unless I wasn't looking carefully)... and now you make me think hard why Area 51 gives 150 characters limitation... –  Andrew T. Apr 8 at 7:50
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What limit would you propose instead? –  quid Apr 23 at 22:07
    
@quid I'd say that 45 is more than enough, look at what Andrew T. said. –  FracturedRetina Apr 23 at 22:09
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Thanks for the reply. I'd assume the person that proposed "Software design, Architecture and Best Practices" will think differently. Personally I would agree that titles should be mostly shorter, but then if I had to decide a strict limit I would also choose something with ample marging. In addition initial titles of proposal can and should be potentially longer than what remains in the end. Just recently we launched "Mathematics Educators" but the original title was quite a bit longer something like "Mathematics: Learning, Teaching and Education" –  quid Apr 23 at 22:25
    
Now it makes better sense. I admit I don't participate much in site proposal, so I didn't know that proposed title can, may, and will be modified to suit SE naming. –  Andrew T. Apr 24 at 1:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

After considerable research, I've determined that 150 characters is just enough room for,

Please close this proposal, I have no idea what I'm doing and this is just embarrassing. Better yet, delete this entirely and spare me further shame!

Don't know about you, but I think proposals should be allowed to beg for a quick and painless death by using overly-long names.

Ok, ok: the title length limit is 150 characters because that's the limit of question titles on normal Stack Exchange sites and Area51 is based on a fork of the Stack Exchange codebase (with proposals based on questions, questions based on answers, dogs based on cats, you get the picture).

So, you then ask "why is the title length limit 150 characters for question?" Well, because folks were writing crazy-long titles that broke things, and so after carefully analyzing the available data, Jeff picked 150 on a whim and made it so.

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-1: Not enough jQuery. –  Robert Harvey Apr 9 at 18:51
    
"Delete this" is enough –  FracturedRetina Apr 9 at 20:47
    
But if death is inevitable in such cases, why permit the foul genesis of these things that should not be? Surely 120 characters is enough to beget all sorts of morbid spectacles, if that twisted pleasure for SE addicts is enough to offset the pain of all the facepalming casual users... –  Nick Stauner Apr 18 at 3:43
    
I'm asking this as respectfully as possible. Upvotes, why have you upvoted a joke answer more than the actual answers? –  FracturedRetina Apr 25 at 1:17
    
Unless you actually believe this was based on an irrelevant number drawn from anthropology, the only answer here that isn't joking is quid's, @Fractured - and he's not actually answering. But, to sate your curiosity, I have added some actual, historical information to this post. –  Shogging through the snow Apr 25 at 1:29
    
@Shog9 Why didn't you say that in the first place? I would've accepted instantly. –  FracturedRetina Apr 25 at 2:05
    
Your question seemed determined to inspire a more interesting explanation than "because we never changed it" - I hated to disappoint... –  Shogging through the snow Apr 25 at 2:19

150 is Dunbar's number:

humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships

So 150 is a good number to be used as limit.

Being bit more serious now, I believe you will get same answer as you can find in the comments here:
Why was the minimum comment length of 15 chosen?

(especially this comment from SE head of development)

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+1 Seems plausible. –  michaelb958 Apr 8 at 7:34
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Malcolm Gladwell also thinks this (he calls it the Rule of 150) So... most likely true. :P –  hichris123 Apr 23 at 22:13
    
@hichris123 lol nice find! –  Shadow Wizard Apr 23 at 22:37

One thing one should perhaps keep in mind is that while the final title rather should be shorter, the initial title can and perhaps should be more detailed to better convey the idea. Or if not better, easier to come up with for the person that proposes it.

For an actual example: some weeks ago a site with the name Mathematics Educators was started. Okay, this is a lot below the limit of 45 you might think. But, the original title was

Mathematics Learning, Studying, and Education

which has a length of 44 and does/did not feel overly long to me.

Furthermore, soon there was some discussion if one might not include Computer Science with Mathematics, too. Had OP had this idea, it reasonably could have been called

Mathematics and Computer Science: Learning, Studying, and Education

For sure this is long, and perhaps too long for the final name, but for a proposal it feels still reasonable. This is already 67 characters.

So, to me something like 75 still feels reasonable while certainly long. And, had I to decide on a hard limit for everybody I would think it wise to at least double what still seems reasonable to me.


Full disclosure: I am a proterm moderator on that site, yet none of the titles originate with me (except for the hypothetical one).

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"Learning, studying, and education" isn't overly long eh? IMO, it's triply redundant. –  Nick Stauner Apr 23 at 22:53
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@NickStauner while I agree the title is not that good (and it was change) it is not completely redundant either. And had it been say 'learning, teaching and pedagogy' I would say it is hardly redundant anymore while having about the same length. In any case, the point is not if this title is good or redundant but if one can in principle envision titles of a length of say 70 that might come up. It seems certainly better to have people type a too long title than one with strange abreviations to match some character limit. –  quid Apr 23 at 23:01
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Even "teaching and pedagogy" wouldn't be redundant? Man, you've got a pretty high standard for redundancy...I'm hard-pressed to think of closer synonyms for either word. –  Nick Stauner Apr 23 at 23:25
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@NickStauner if you are insterested in the details of the search for a name for that proposal you can still find them on area51.SE. As said, whether or not the particular proposals' names are "good" is rather tangential to the point I am trying to make. –  quid Apr 24 at 9:46

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