The halting porblem


  • 1
    Seriously :-) – Naftali aka Neal Dec 6 '11 at 17:19
  • 2
    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/110789/… there also was a request to remove the filter for higher-rep users, which was declined. – Pekka Dec 6 '11 at 17:22
  • @Pekka indeed, here is that request: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/108815/… – Jason Plank Dec 6 '11 at 17:23
  • 3
    Found it: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/108815/… I guess the argument used there applies here as well: The SO team regards it as a quality filter, and why should mods be exempt from the same quality checks everyone else is? (ah, Jason already posted it) – Pekka Dec 6 '11 at 17:23
  • 18
    @Pekka: Because mods are exception handlers, and this is an exception. – user102937 Dec 6 '11 at 17:24
  • 5
    This should be rephrased to "Everyone should be immune to the word filters in titles" – Matt Dec 6 '11 at 17:24
  • Robert: Fair enough, that kinda makes sense. – Pekka Dec 6 '11 at 17:25
  • 5
    The Efficacy Of Stack Overflow's Question Title Filter looks like like a serious pr0blem to me – gnat Dec 6 '11 at 17:27
  • 18
    ... waits for Kevin Montrose to slam it shut based on junk stats – Lorem Ipsum Dec 6 '11 at 17:46
  • @yoda ha! it has been done. – Naftali aka Neal Dec 6 '11 at 20:43
  • 9
    status-decline it if you have to, but I totally disagree with the closing as dupe. This is clearly a separate request. – Pekka Dec 6 '11 at 20:46
  • @KevinMontrose see Pekka's comment above. – Naftali aka Neal Dec 6 '11 at 20:51
  • 2
    @yoda He just declined it outright, without junk stats. This is clearly one of his most cherished features for whatever reason. All arguments will fall on deaf ears. It's pointless. Unfortunately... – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 6 '11 at 20:59
  • 1
    @Pekka I'm not sure how; his answer on the other question says "the same quality filters and rules apply to everyone", which includes mods – Michael Mrozek Dec 6 '11 at 22:16
  • 2
    @prusswan that question was fixed with an ugly hack (a Unicode zero-width space), a technique that very likely breaks search engines in some way. SE corporate does not like their rules hacked in this manner. – user102937 Dec 30 '11 at 18:34

I agree, moderators should be immune so they can edit those few questions where "Problem" does belong in the title, but it would still be a good idea for at least a warning pop-up to remind them to edit it out. The filter has forced me to improve lots of titles that I would have forgotten to check when making other edits, but it would be nice for moderators to be able to dismiss it if the title already makes sense.

  • 2
    +1 @ The idea of having a confirmation dialogue. – Ambo100 Dec 6 '11 at 19:57
  • @BillTheLizard, there are plenty of synonyms to 'problem' that are allowed through the filters. They will never stop me from using the idea even if I have to say "p r-ob l-e m" – This Dec 30 '11 at 17:51
  • @MikePennington 90% of people who use Stack Overflow aren't even aware of Meta and will never realize that they can just hack around the filter. So if 90% of tens of thousands of people actually stop and think about a better title, then the filter is doing it's job. I have no idea why you would insist on writing something like "p r-ob l-e m" in your title when you can just spend a few seconds thinking. – Bill the Lizard Dec 30 '11 at 18:00
  • @BilltheLizard, my point of posting "p r-ob l-e m" is that even if all the other English synonyms are filtered, you can't blacklist enough patterns. Look at my edits, I haven't resorted to that, nor will I unless the synonyms are blacklisted – This Dec 30 '11 at 18:02
  • @MikePennington No one is trying to blacklist all the synonyms. A few words have shown to have extremely high correlation with content-free titles. They already know that filtering those words isn't a 100% effective solution. That doesn't mean they shouldn't settle for a 90% effective one. – Bill the Lizard Dec 30 '11 at 18:08

Moderators should be immune to the word filter. If they can be trusted to handle flag reports, it's likely they already have a history of good quality questions and answers.

  • Well, if users have high rep it's guaranteed they already have a history of good quality questions and answers, and a request to let high-rep users bypass the filter was already shot down – Michael Mrozek Dec 6 '11 at 18:02
  • 2
    +1, but surely we can also extend this to 10K users. – Adam Rackis Dec 6 '11 at 18:18
  • @AdamRackis: I agree, both moderators and high rep users can have their privileges removed by demotion or suspension. Sadly that has already been firmly declined... – Ambo100 Dec 6 '11 at 18:21
  • 6
    @Adam That'd be cool, but it's pretty unlikely. I think getting at least moderators the ability to fix the false positives from the filter would be a good start. Let's focus on that to avoid having this filter modification proposal interpreted the same as every other one so far (status-declined). – Adam Lear Dec 6 '11 at 18:22
  • @Anna - agree. Incidentally last night I posted a question titled "Help understanding semicolon insertion" - I had to change the first word to "Trouble". I'm not sure which is better :-/ – Adam Rackis Dec 6 '11 at 18:24

This request reminds me of the Futurama line "And I say your three-cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!" I support restricting "problem title edit powers," but not to a group as small as diamond moderators.

I think there simply aren't enough mods for this to work. For one thing, mods can't be everywhere. With the number of mods, the number of posts where "problem" titles would be appropriate and the overall number of questions, I have to think the success rate wouldn't be that great. Granted, mod flagging, would help a lot with this.

The bigger issue is that users wishing to edit a question after a special mod edit would be forced to either sit on their hands or re-introduce the error. The former doesn't make the Internet a better place; the latter is inefficient at best, delaying quality and wasting mods' time.

Instead of this, we should give the power to, say, 2k or 5k users. (I do like Bill's idea of a "are you sure" popup either way, though.)

  • And yes, I say this knowing that it has been declined before. – Pops Dec 6 '11 at 19:50
  • 6
    My position is that these are rare enough that mods can make the fixes, and that giving mods this power won't rip a hole in the universe. I also claim that, in spite of their rarity, these titles still need to be fixed, and that mods should be able to do it the right way without concerning themselves with an automated filter that can't recognize legitimate word usage. – user102937 Dec 6 '11 at 19:52
  • 1
    I'm a little confused by your comment, @RobertHarvey. It seems a little argumentative -- sorry if I'm misreading your intent -- but there's not much to argue. I never mentioned the universe exploding or any kind of automatic filter, and I implicitly agreed that these titles need to be fixed. I just think this is a content matter that shouldn't really be dumped on mods, and I want the community to be able to help out. – Pops Dec 6 '11 at 20:44

You must log in to answer this question.