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I have noticed a trend recently of people inserting tags into the title of their posts. I have edited quite a few to remove those tags, and it occurs to me that it would be a very simple operation to just remove them with a regex when they submit the question. So instead of having a post title like this:

[c#] Here is my question about how to create an object

we just end up with this:

Here is my question about how to create an object

And we could possibly take this one step further and add the (removed) tag to the post as a proper tag if it isn't already present.

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I've been removing them by hand if editing for some other reason, or explaining to user that this convention is unnecessary on SOFUE because of the tag system and asking them to remove them. Also directing them to the interested/ignored system for tags. This has met with generally positive response. –  dmckee Nov 19 '10 at 1:34
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While we're at it, we should remove "Here is my question about" from the title as well. ;) (FWIW, tags in the title bugs the heck out of me too.) –  Bill the Lizard Nov 19 '10 at 2:13
    
Sadly, this has made it harder to ask questions on Meta about tags. Small price to pay, though. –  Pops Sep 13 '11 at 15:21
    
    
Why haven't the pseudo-tags been removed from stackoverflow.com/questions/8797071/…? –  John Saunders Jan 10 '12 at 0:37
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This is being circumvented by adding a space after the opening bracket. –  MPelletier Feb 14 at 14:31
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@MPelletier Do you want to post a new question about your observation, and use this question as a reference point? –  slugster Feb 15 at 1:17
    
@slugster Excellent suggestion. I have it here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/221247/… –  MPelletier Feb 15 at 3:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Well, there were a ton of these -- around 20-25k -- so I felt it was worth removing them.

Generally any pattern of

^\[[^]]+\]\s

was removed, that is, anything of the "title starts with faux tag" pattern:

[jQuery] Entire page or multiple divs with '.mousemove'
[Tornado] Invalid OpenID response: HTTP 599: SSL certificate problem, verify that the CA cert is OK.
[ios] How enable canGoBack/canGoForward while using UIWebView with anchor(#)?

Remember that we always add the most significant tag to the title of a question in the HTML page title (if it isn't already in the title organically), so nothing is really lost here.

It would be slightly better if these words appeared naturally in the title as appropriate, but duplicating the tags in such a grotesque form in the title is definitely worse.

On second thought, I decided we should also enforce this in questions, since it is so grotesque and the "starts-with" matching is highly unlikely to provide false positives.

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You're not adding the most significant, but the most used tag to the title. On most sites this is the same, on Gaming.SE it fails for almost every game. To achieve good SEO we sometimes have to duplicate the tag in the title because the most used tag on the question is xbox-360 or game-mechanics, not the game name as it should ideally be. We had some ideas on how to solve it, the situation at the moment is not ideal. –  Mad Scientist Aug 1 '11 at 7:50
    
@fabian it's fine to put whatever you think makes sense in the title organically, so long as it is not in brackets at the start of the title. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 1 '11 at 7:52
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@Jeff I usually try to do it that way, it then still leaves a completely useless tag like game-mechanics taking up the precious first words of the title. Many users don't know or care about this stuff, which leads to the game title not being in the HTML title at all, which hurts the SEO enormously. It's not that big a deal, but it would be nice if the tag system would do the right thing by itself, instead of us working around it. –  Mad Scientist Aug 1 '11 at 7:57
    
@fabian well, IMHO the gaming site is absurdly broad since it covers every videogame ever made in the history of recorded time, from Pong to Battlefield 3. So it has some.. unusual.. problems. Anyway, take this up on your meta, it does not belong here. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 1 '11 at 8:09
    
Am I missing something or is this not in effect anymore? I've been editing loads of questions on SO that have this exact issue. –  j08691 Aug 8 '12 at 15:15
    
@j08691 it was a one-time fix for existing data; as I recall we don't block this from happening on new posts. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 8 '12 at 23:59

I would be hesitant to let a regular expression be responsible for that. What if I want to post a question about foo vs [foo]? A solution more robust than regex could look in the database for existing tags I suppose but what if somebody makes a tag foo?

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Yeah, i agree it would turn out quite flakey. Never mind, we can continue to do it manually. –  slugster Nov 19 '10 at 2:29
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A question "php vs .net" would be closed. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 18 '11 at 6:20
    
Many of C# questions looks like: C# How to x, without any brackets –  abatishchev Aug 9 '11 at 6:24

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