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Users, who most likely come from web forums, who are not familiar with StackOverflow's tagging system, will often include tags in their title, which:

  • as there is a tagging system, it's a little redundant
  • doesn't cause questions to highlight when a user's interesting tag is in the title

It would be nice to see a little notice box, similar to the subjective question warning, letting the user know about the tagging system at the bottom of the form:

Example of message

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38  
It's taking every ounce of strength I have not to edit your title to "Feature Request: Warn users before posting if they have a tag at the start of their title". –  user27414 Mar 25 '11 at 22:19
    
How about, instead of telling the user not to do something, just make the change. If we don't want to risk making an automated mistake, use the suggested edits queue? –  marcog Mar 25 '11 at 22:58
8  
@marcog: I would say it's probably a better idea to educate the user on how the system works and the conventions of the site rather then fix every single question they post. –  Tim Cooper Mar 25 '11 at 23:02
2  
Yeah, we don't want users adding tags to the beginning of the title -- they'll put the SEO optimizer out of business :) –  Michael Mrozek Mar 26 '11 at 1:27
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Well, you've done it Tim: you've convinced me to go and edit those tags/keywords out of my remaining questions. Thank you (and I meant that sincerely). –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 26 '11 at 2:34
    
Different SE sites have different conventions for titles. For example on board games the name of the game is typically somewhere in the title even if that's redundant with the tags. –  CodesInChaos Mar 26 '11 at 13:41
    
@CodeInChaos: I'm not against having words that are tags in the title, but when a user is starting his/her post's title off with: [PHP/MySQL] ..., I see that as a problem. –  Tim Cooper Mar 26 '11 at 13:44
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I see no difference between having "... in C#" at the end of the question or "C#: ..." at the beginning. –  CodesInChaos Mar 26 '11 at 13:46
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(Could anyone then please add the tag "Eeeek!"?) –  Arjan Mar 28 '11 at 15:59
9  
Bumping this. It's happening more than ever and it's irritating. –  Lightness Races in Orbit May 2 '11 at 17:34
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GIMMIEGIMMIEGIMMIE I NEED THIS LIKE A JUNKIE NEEDS HEROINES! –  Won't Sep 6 '11 at 15:07

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

This would directly conflict with the advice at

How do I write a good title?

Which does allow titles like:

Python: What OS am I running on?

That said, we do now block tags in the titles when they are expressed as

[Python] What OS am I running on?

that is, specifically in square brackets.

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3  
although to be fair you COULD express that Python Q as "What OS is Python running on?" to avoid it at the start. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 1 '11 at 6:38
    
And what about titles like "How to convert seconds to date time String[android]"? I suggested an edit today with removed "[android]" part from the question title and removed "Thanks" from its body. However that edit-suggestion was rejected by 2 users. Did I do anything wrong? –  Idolon Sep 9 '11 at 17:00
    
I don't know, that is odd -- I went ahead and made the edit as intended. I couldn't think of a way to work Android in the title that wasn't artificial in this case... –  Jeff Atwood Sep 9 '11 at 18:49
2  
The advice is poor, though, and doesn't seem to hold a huge amount of support. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 21 '11 at 0:23

I like this idea.

IMO it should work differently depending on the rep of the user:

  • Low rep - tell the user about it, he's probably new and should be educated.
  • Higher rep - create a suggested edit and put it in the edit queue with just one vote required.
  • High rep - assume whatever the system considered a tag is something else and do nothing.
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1  
I disagree, especially with the automatic edit. Automatic edits are seldom a good idea. –  Time Traveling Bobby Sep 6 '11 at 15:20
    
definitely a good idea to scale guidance to rep level; we do this a bunch of places now –  Jeff Atwood Sep 13 '11 at 0:22

To be honest, this really doesn't bother me, and as long as the information is also in the tags, I don't see the problem. When scanning a list of questions, it's actually easier to not also have to check out the tags to disambiguate.

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Meh, that's going to have a ton of false positives. Definitely too many for an outright block, and too many for even a warning in my opinion.

Languages on SO: you rarely want to start your title with one. But, for example, applications on SU are reasonable first title words. Two perfectly reasonable titles from the SU front page: RSS reader that only updates at certain hours [rss], Cron not executing jobs [cron]. Even on SO: Regex to replace last occurrence of a string in each line [regex], Python Integration Testing on TeamCity [python].

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1  
The pattern rule could only match it if it was surrounded by braces or a dash directly follows, as those are common ways users do it. Ex: Javascript - ..., [PHP/MySQL] ..., (C++) ... –  Tim Cooper Jun 7 '11 at 22:22
    
per @tim of course we wouldn't even consider detecting this without some kind of non-space delimiter after the tag.. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 13 '11 at 0:23

It seems like there are two camps that need to negotiate a settlement.

Everyone agrees that if you can work the tag organically into the title that it makes a question. But, ...

  1. Will Camp: If you cannot work the tag into the title, always leave it out, that's what tags are for

  2. Jeff Camp: If you cannot work the tag into the title, by all means add it as a prefix to the question, it helps the question to stand alone without tags

Supporting the Will Camp are all the Stack Exchange sites themselves where questions never appear without tags and the Stack Exchange Twitter Accounts where hashtags function as tags.

Supporting the Jeff Camp are "hot questions" in the StackExchange™ MultiCollider SuperDropdown™ and "Stack Exchange question adverts" that both just list a site and a question.

A compromise would be to display question titles with the primary tag as a prefix in all situations where:

  • The title does not already contain the tag
  • The question isn't in the context of its associated tags

For example:

  • Stack Overflow: What OS am I running on?
  • Twitter: What OS am I running on? #python
  • StackExchange™ MultiCollider SuperDropdown™: Python: What OS am I running on?
  • Stack Exchange Question Adverts: Python: What OS am I running on?

If this were implemented, then we could systematically remove tags from titles without risking questions that in some situations appear to lack the appropriate tag context.

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