See How to rewrite a form action on the "Help Page" of an ASP.NET web service, where the word is properly spelled "Help Page".

There is an actual "Help Page" involving ASMX Web Services. That's what it's called. There is no alternative name for it. I shouldn't have to play around with the title in order to correct the title to refer to the correct object here, but the system forces me to:

edit error when help is used in title

  • I actually like Hellp...it implies something I know too well... Oct 11, 2011 at 15:02
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    If nothing else, it seems like just blocking on variants of (need|please) help|help (me|with|needed) might be a bit more sane.
    – Tim Stone
    Oct 11, 2011 at 15:06
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    I think you may need to exclude words within quotes. What if there were an exception or other error message like, "Problem connecting to Help Server"? Where are the rules for this exclusion discussed? Oct 11, 2011 at 15:11
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    This is yet another example of trying to be too clever with automatic text processing. Jeff knows this is a bad idea for profanity yet it happens across SE in non-profanity contexts. Oct 11, 2011 at 15:14
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    @PaddedCell: I was going to change it to "Halllp", but thought that was going too far. Oct 11, 2011 at 15:45
  • How about 'Haylp', à la Penelope Pitstop?
    – AakashM
    Oct 11, 2011 at 15:56
  • Same issue as here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/108815/…
    – slhck
    Oct 11, 2011 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


While help is a crazy strong indicator of "this is going to be a poor question title" (take a look), it was being a bit... over aggressive.

The match has been tweaked to hopefully better match the "help as a pointless addition" cases, and ignore the "help because the thing has help in its name" cases.

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    Any chance of getting a closer look at the actual spec so we can comment on it? Oct 11, 2011 at 18:30
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    After looking at the... creative sort of ways people create terrible titles with "help" in them in the Data Explorer, I'm glad it was being over aggressive before, and not too lenient.
    – Tim Stone
    Oct 11, 2011 at 18:31
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    @Kevin, I think this misses the larger issue. With just about any automatic classification system to parse user input, there will be false positives. Those false positives are highly annoying to established users and we wonder if there is maybe a better way to handle the issues. Jeff Atwood himself has commented that this type of thing never works correctly for obscenity filters, but you guys keep implementing it for other things with various degrees of success. Oct 11, 2011 at 18:33
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    @MichaelMcGowan - the data on SO strongly disagrees with that assertion. These checks save us from more than a thousand really bad questions a day (we've done audits over time to check there efficacy). Oct 11, 2011 at 18:48
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    @KevinMontrose Are these checks really saving us from the questions, or are these questions just reworded in a form to pass the filters, while still being bad? Oct 11, 2011 at 18:51
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    @KevinMontrose If you've done audits, what false positive rate did you deem (before the audit) to be acceptable and what was the actual false positive rate? To that end, I'd be interested in seeing the entire confusion matrix. Oct 11, 2011 at 18:54

Based on the observation that some specific words in the title are a strong indicator of a bad question title, Jeff decided to simply disallow "Help" (or "Question" or "Problem") in the titles.

The problem with this is that it does not automatically lead to a better title – it has mainly the effect that the bad titles are less easily found now. (And some rare legitimate titles, like in this example, are banned, too.)

Maybe a better way of doing this would be to put these questions (even if the user changed the "forbidden" word away) automatically on the review-page.

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    Yes. If I am the type of user who writes "Help with … " or "Problem Question" titles, I'd just take out the offending words and leave behind a title that's even worse than before. Maybe you could bring up a new feature request, collect all the previous "title madness" posts (like mine) and get them to rethink this decision?
    – slhck
    Oct 11, 2011 at 20:07

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