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After some recent changes whenever I open a question the page title reads <first-question-tag>-<question title>-Stack Overflow.

Tags are often quite long - for example there's visual-studio-2008 tag on SO. If browser uses tabs the tag might occupy all the tab width and no room for actual question title is left - this makes navigating between tabs inconvenient.

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Related (on Webmasters): webmasters.stackexchange.com/q/6556/46 –  Rebecca Chernoff Dec 10 '10 at 13:11
    
+1 for idea, even tho I know why it's being done in the first place. @JeffAtwood (when you get around to this one) doesn't appending them work as well as prepending them? –  jcolebrand Dec 10 '10 at 15:30
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@drachenstern: No, tags placed earlier in the <title> have more weight (for confirmation see Rebecca's link, above) so prepending is optimal. –  Robert Cartaino Dec 10 '10 at 16:19
    
@Robert ~ Are you serious? OY that SUCKS ~~~~ Guess that makes this [status-by-design] then and not likely to go away... –  jcolebrand Dec 10 '10 at 16:42
    
This wouldn't be nearly as inconvenient if the default maximum tab size was about 25% larger. –  Jon Seigel Dec 10 '10 at 17:48
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IMO "not that convenient" is not strong enough. Personally I think the tag-in-title is downright annoying, and sometimes confusing. I hope it can be just a temporary change. –  David Z Dec 10 '10 at 22:14
    
-1, sorry - content-scraping sites do precisely this so that they rank higher, and we have to fight fire with fire. It would be an SEO disaster to not do that. –  DragonLord the Fiery Dec 6 '13 at 2:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Sorry, this is absolutely necessary, otherwise we get demolished by scrapers using our own content in Google ranking.

For background you can read:
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1985264

And:

As for "why not at the end of the title versus at the start", see

http://webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/6556/does-the-order-of-keywords-matter-in-a-page-title

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I'm not convinced that the best way to combat competition is to make your own site inconvenient to use... –  sth Dec 10 '10 at 22:36
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@sth that's not the only thing we are doing, but honestly, if Google isn't enforcing their "no original content" rule, our hands are tied. google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66361 –  Jeff Atwood Dec 10 '10 at 22:53
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Jeff, did you ever get a hold of Matt Cutts at Google? news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1986396 –  Ray Vega Dec 10 '10 at 23:06
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@ray yes, but he's looking at a different problem for us. This was the 90% primary problem, but there is a 10% secondary problem as well. See webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/5385/… –  Jeff Atwood Dec 10 '10 at 23:36
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Couldn't the title be left the old way for logged-in users and just use the new way for logged-out users (including googlebot)? I wouldn't think that'd be considered cloaking since it's not just visible to crawlers, even if that's the major reason for doing it in the first place. –  Ty W Dec 21 '10 at 13:45

For anyone not aware of the problem with this, and why this "solution" exists for the "problem" that most users familiar with SO don't know about:

Report high-Google-ranking Stack Exchange content copiers here

quoting meta (so meta, no?)

for those of you seeing scrapers rank above #stackoverflow can you reply with your exact google query terms? (plain text only, no urls) Tweeted by codinghorror on December 9, 2010 at 7:59 AM

and

What to do when you find copied SF, SU or SO content on other websites?

Why these scrapers have higher ranks than the original stackoverflow pages in Google search results?

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The SO Clones link doesn't list SO scrapers like efreedom and comanswer, but only UI clones. –  BalusC Dec 10 '10 at 17:23
    
@BalusC ~ I finally had time to update my answer. Sorry. –  jcolebrand Dec 10 '10 at 19:58

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