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Shouldn't the Stack Overflow editor disallow posting questions when title contains only "What am I doing wrong?"

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Bah, you made a screenshot... I was totally expecting I'd be able to scroll through that "looong list of similar threads." :) –  Jeff Mercado Jul 22 '11 at 23:38
    
@Jeff Link! –  Chris Frederick Jul 22 '11 at 23:39
    
@Chris: Hah I was doing the same and was going to edit that in. –  Jeff Mercado Jul 22 '11 at 23:40
    
Even when the title attempts to frame the problem, often it's wrong. See for example stackoverflow.com/questions/6797384/… –  Mark Ransom Jul 23 '11 at 0:28
    
Same as this. I think "What am I doing wrong" is OK if there's a few more words in the title to distinguish from the other questions, to make the title more specific. –  Robert Harvey Sep 2 '11 at 18:49

3 Answers 3

I think that a better solution would be to automatically flag questions with identical titles for moderator review. This would have several advantages:

  1. It would save reviewers the effort of finding and flagging duplicate question titles
  2. It would make duplicates more visible to the moderator community
  3. It would address questions with a variety of titles other than simply "What am I doing wrong?"

I would actually be interested to see how prevalent these kinds of duplicate titles are on Stack Overflow.

UPDATE: Mark Ransom has helpfully provided a sample query for duplicate titles (screenshot below), but it only counts exact duplicates. I think that a "fuzzy" match for question titles that differ by only one or two characters would be even more effective at weeding out duplicates.

Query for duplicate titles

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@Mark Interesting! There's no way to do a slightly "fuzzy" match, is there? In other words, search for titles that differ by only a few characters? –  Chris Frederick Jul 23 '11 at 0:37
    
I'm afraid that one is beyond me. –  Mark Ransom Jul 23 '11 at 0:41

You might be able to eliminate this particular wording, but there's a long tail of similarly useless titles. I think the current system of letting other users edit the title is sufficient.

It really only matters when the question is fresh anyway. Google will find it later no matter what the title says.

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Perhaps it would help to automatically flag questions with identical titles for moderator review? –  Chris Frederick Jul 22 '11 at 23:42
    
@Chris, now that might be useful. –  Mark Ransom Jul 22 '11 at 23:45
    
@Chris, you should post that as an answer so it can be upvoted as a proposed implementation of the feature. –  Mark Ransom Jul 22 '11 at 23:51
    
Done. Thanks for the suggestion, I was thinking that answers had to address the question directly ("Shouldn't the Stack Overflow editor disallow posting questions when [...]"). I'm still getting used to the conventions here; they're slightly different from SO proper. –  Chris Frederick Jul 22 '11 at 23:54

I like Chris's idea about sending them for review. Another thing that might be feasible to cut down on editing would be to popup a message when people ask a question to suggest they improve the title if there are already more than a handful of questions with the same title.

To determine what's "the same" we'd probably want to do something like:

  • strip punctuation
  • ignore case
  • strip plurals and perhaps other word endings

and then compare. Might end up using a lot of server resources though.

Possibly you could also ignore the word order if you wanted to cast a wider net. Just sort them alphabetically for easy comparison.

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