After trying to edit https://stackoverflow.com/questions/7557104/serializableattribute-in-asp-net I get this error when I click on "Save Edits":

title contains a [tag] prefix; please use the tag field to enter tags instead


It seems there is a disconnect. If the above is true, why was the user able to enter in [SerializableAttribute] as part of the title.

At any rate, this check needs to be fixed as I think we can allow .NET attribute names in the title.

Can we change the error message here to explain the problem a little better? Perhaps:

Please don't use tags in the title of the post

  • Is the error about the [SerializableAttribute] or about the asp.net? If it's the asp.net and the reason for leaving it is context, the question doesn't really need asp.net as the context, does it? – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 16:19
  • PS: see that I edited the Q – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 16:20
  • Just remove the brackets. They don't really add any value here anyway. Or, rephrase it so that there are some other words in front. – hammar Sep 26 '11 at 16:20
  • Seriously, what the hell is a tag prefix? – MPelletier Sep 26 '11 at 16:41
  • @MPelletier: You got me. – Brian Sep 26 '11 at 16:47
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    @MPelletier It's a practice of prefacing a question with a tag identifier. Like, say, prefacing some string question on C# as "C#: How do I manipulate strings?", which has also been done using brackets. It's redundant with tags on a categorical sense, and if you find it necessary in the title, it could be done more naturally and organically like "How do I manipulate strings in C#?". – Grace Note Sep 26 '11 at 16:48
  • @GraceNote: Makes sense - but WHY was the OP allowed to do it in the first place? It wasn't caught until editing. And this is not a tag, it's part of the actual language. – Brian Sep 26 '11 at 16:50
  • But note in this case the brackets have syntactical meaning in the language, and therefore may be warranted. The fact that the language construct uses brackets and so does the error message are not related facts. – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 16:51
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    @0A0D so we have two problems here? – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 16:51
  • @jcolebrand: Yes, it was in the strikethrough'd text. – Brian Sep 26 '11 at 16:51
  • @GraceNote: Thanks. No, seriously, thank you for translating that error message. – MPelletier Sep 26 '11 at 16:52
  • @0A0D I couldn't tell you why it didn't trip in the first place. I wouldn't have expected it to trip in this scenario, either, though I do share the hindsight sentiment that the brackets could simply be skipped on the title. – Grace Note Sep 26 '11 at 16:57
  • @0A0D there's a reason I left it as struck text (altho people constantly complain when I do that, so whatever) because the thing in the struck text has no bearing on the error (as seen by my edit to the Q) – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 17:03
  • @jcolebrand: Yes, I see that now. – Brian Sep 26 '11 at 17:15

It seems that the phrase "tag prefix", while well-understood among the regulars here, is perhaps a big unclear: it refers to the prefixing of a title with a tag.

Can we change the error message here to explain the problem a little better? Perhaps:

Please don't use tags in the title of the post

That doesn't describe the problem particularly well. There's nothing wrong with repeating a tag within the title - indeed, this is often desirable! If you'd written, "What does [SerializableAttribute] do in ASP.NET?" that would have included one, possibly two tags - but it reads well, and describes the question effectively. And it would have been accepted without complaint.

Perhaps the message should read,

Please don't begin your title with tags or keywords

(Assuming "begin" is more understandable than "prefix")

  • I like your suggestion. – Brian Sep 26 '11 at 16:56
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    +1 Begin is definitely more non-native speaker friendly than prefix. – MPelletier Sep 26 '11 at 16:59
  • But it seems like everyone here thinks the problem was with the square braces around the C# keyword, and yet that is patently not the case. Additionally, the problem was around using "asp.net" in the title, but it wasn't prefixed and yet that's what you're alluding to above. – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 17:02
  • @jco: I thought the problem was that 0A0D didn't understand what the error-message was trying to communicate? – Shog9 Sep 26 '11 at 17:09
  • The original few comments on the post and the usage of the brackets in the text of the error message. Maybe at this point that's no longer the concern, but it seemed to be at the beginning. – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 17:14
  • @Shog9: I understood it, though your suggested text is great. However, I thought it was tripping up on the [SerializableAttribute] tag, but it was not. Somehow the brackets in the beginning made the filter skip over those tags and only saw asp.net regardless of any other words in the title. – Brian Sep 26 '11 at 17:14
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    It seems there may be a bug here with the tag-detection routine, but I haven't tested this yet; I read the edited version (ignoring @jco's strikeout) and assumed that'd been dealt with. – Shog9 Sep 26 '11 at 17:17
  • @Shog9: It has not. – Brian Sep 26 '11 at 18:18

Basing on Automatic removal of bracketed tags from question titles, and the answer given by Jeff Atwood, the problem is the word between brackets, not putting "asp.net" in the title. Jeff Atwood is also not against using tags in the titles, if they are "organically and conversationally" put in the title; that is what he reports in this answer.
Actually, [SerializableAttribute] is not a Stack Overflow tag, but it is a .NET attribute that is written between brackets, as per C# syntax. It should not probably raise an error.

It would make sense if the user would be warned, but still be able to use a word between brackets, especially if the user who wrote the question was able to use brackets. The OP should have been the first one to be warned, and the user who edited the title without to add any word between brackets should not get that warning.

  • isn't the problem around asp.net? – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 16:17
  • The error message speaks of "prefix"; "asp.net" is not prefixed to the title. – kiamlaluno Sep 26 '11 at 16:48
  • Hence my edit to the problem. FWIW I know what the error is, but I'm not sure that everybody else does. It's because the title contained "asp.net" and so did the tag set. – jcolebrand Sep 26 '11 at 16:50

The problem was never about [SerializableAttribute] (where the brackets in the language do indicate something) but the problem was about asp.net being in both the title and the tagset.

The fact that it's asp.net has no real bearing on the question, and it's a rather simple question that should be solved by googling, but that's another topic.

So, apparently, what needs to happen on this post is that we need to make it about "this error alert is confusing and needs to be rewritten to be more clear" or somesuch.



If the algorithm is able to detect the prefixing of a title with a tag, such as:

[c#] - I'm having the problems

Can't it simply edit the tag away automatically to give:

I'm having the problems


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    I guess it could but in this case it would just leave in asp.net as the title. I'd imagine that would go through a "short title" filter eventually anyways to prevent posting and throw an error message. BUT in this case [SerializableAttribute] is part of .NET so I don't see why it can't be allowed. – Brian Sep 26 '11 at 16:55
  • @0A0D Oh, anywhere after position 0 would be fine for [SerializableAttribute], no argument there. – MPelletier Sep 26 '11 at 16:57

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