Inspired by this rant (which listed a couple-dozen question titles with "PHP preg_replace" and nothing else useful in them)1, I figured that there may be a practical way to improve the poor title detection.

Pseudo code like this would probably work; test a title-string by:

  1. Strip common words and frequent misspellings, EG: a an and in the teh but not of by to too you u i with for.

  2. Strip numbers, EG: 1234, 555.867.5309, etc.

  3. Strip "junk words", EG: about, code, codes, codez, error, errors, exception, exceptions, fault, faults, help, need, porblem, porblems, problem, problems, question, questions, etc.

  4. Strip tags, EG: php preg-replace and tag variants, EG: preg_replace pregreplace.
    If, and only if, junk tags muck this up (it is possible for users to make most any word a tag), then only do this step for tags that have at least, say, 5 questions.

  5. Strip single-letter words, EG: U I J T, etc. This will also help in cleaning out the leftover s of possessive forms (EG: PHP's).

  6. If the resulting string does not contain any word characters (regex: \w), then the title fails the filter.

This should help staunch the generation of new, poor question titles.

As a bonus, also create a special review page that lists the existing questions that fail this filter.

As a super-duper bonus, create a new badge, or give some additional reward to users who edit, or correctly flag or successfully close-vote such questions.

1 This search lists a lot of very poor PHP titles, at the moment.

  • 2
    That last link demonstrates why the words "question", "help", and "problem" don't belong in titles something like 99.999% of the time. Jan 31, 2012 at 0:28


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