My is a, slightly, stricter version of this, un-actioned one.

If the following conditions are true, can the patterns be automatically be removed from the question title:

  1. Where the pattern ^<tag>\s?(-|:)\s? is matched.
  2. The question has actually been tagged with the <tag> matched in the pattern.

If the tag is hyphenated, then spaces, should be deemed to be hyphens, for instance ruby on rails: should match ruby-on-rails

Basically, I'm agreeing with Tomalak's comment on Jeff's answer to the looser feature request.

###The argument

  1. A while back Jeff approved the removal of the pattern ^\[[^]]+\]\s at the start of titles to remove pseudo-tags; as there "were a ton - around 20-25k"

    The pattern <tag>: matches 120k questions and the pattern <tag>- matches 98k questions. These are far higher volumes than prompted Jeff's original change, though obviously there are now more questions.

  2. The FAQ states that:

    it is completely unnecessary to force tags into your question title

    Can't argue with that!

  3. Back in 2010 Jeff said:

    To be clear, I think it is fine to duplicate the tags in the title, but only when they can be worked into the titles organically and conversationally.

    Neither of these patterns can be said to qualify on this count. They are obviously just tags prepended to a title.

  4. Because we're insisting on the existence of a hyphen or semi-colon there's no danger of accidentally matching something like Java Synchronization Not Working as Expected. But, the needless "Java:" at the front of Java: Can creating an object “return” a null reference? gets trashed.

  5. The amount of questions that start mysql - or python: is really annoying.

  • I wonder how often the tag is added long after the question is posted, though. In other words, it isn't always the case that matching on a tag can happen when the question is created. I do my best to edit a title when the tag is there, but I bet I miss a lot of questions in the tags I follow because they weren't initially tagged correctly.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 18:27
  • So you want some kind of trigger when a tag is added?
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 18:53
  • But don't those happen only when the question is created?
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 18:56
  • I don't understand. You tried changing the title to title Automatically ...? And it removed the title prefix? And this doesn't happen if you try title : or title -? Can you please be explicit about what you tried and what didn't work?
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 18:59
  • 1
    I'm suggesting adding those filters. I tried editing it to [tag] title and the SE system wouldn't let me; there was an error message, try it yourself. I'm suggesting doing this automatically admittedly, as it's just superfluous information. Jul 1, 2012 at 19:01
  • What error message? I was able to edit it fine (although I don't have enough rep on meta.SO for it to not require waiting for peer approval).
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:07
  • @AaronBertrand, you added title not [tag], the point being the square brackets as per the linked posts. The error message is: "Oops! Your edit couldn't be submitted because: title contains a [tag] prefix; please use the tag field to enter tags instead.". I'm deleting my earlier comments so this doesn't get too long. Jul 1, 2012 at 19:12
  • If your question was tagged sql-server I would have added SQL Server to the beginning of the question title. Not [tag]...
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:17
  • You mean removed, by your comments under Rosinante's answer? If so I'm proposing removing that SQL Server: from the beginning of the title. Jul 1, 2012 at 19:18
  • Sorry, I don't think you're following my line of thought or actions at all. I'm going to leave it at this: I agree with you. I don't have patience for mental Olympics today.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:19
  • title: "http://example.com is deemed not valid by my proxy" tags: "http proxy". Removing http: would be disastrous here. May 16, 2013 at 5:34
  • 1
    Removing just http would be disastrous, it wouldn't matter if http:// was removed. Unless it is actually example.com I can't imagine anything with that title being a very good question @jan. Isn't it the definition of too localized? (just realised you're mainly active on SO where this should also be off-topic really). May 16, 2013 at 5:37
  • @benisuǝqbackwards I'm not saying it's a good question. More like "one of the ton of 'plz help debug my codez' questions that don't get closed despite most likely not being helpful to anyone". If it's well asked, it won't even gather (many) downvotes. Admittably, a language tag is missing here. May 16, 2013 at 5:42
  • 3
    Opposed. unnecessary != forbidden
    – Caleb
    May 16, 2013 at 6:01

3 Answers 3


A question title should give a good preliminary sense of what the question is about. If starting with one of the tags has that effect, I'm in favor. I hate having to read a wall of question of go digging for the tags just to see what on earth the question is about. I am opposed.

  • 2
    I gathered :-). I'd counter by saying that you don't need to read a wall. They're on the line below the title... or are you thinking about a different situation? Jul 1, 2012 at 17:47
  • 3
    The tags are visible in the question list views, and the most "important" tag is added to the page's title when viewing that question. That info's available already, adding it at the start of the title is just noise IMO.
    – Mat
    Jul 1, 2012 at 17:55
  • It's more cognitive work to mentally mush in the separate tags. What is the harm in leaving one in the title?
    – Rosinante
    Jul 1, 2012 at 18:06
  • 3
    @Rosinante when I come to a question because it's tagged sql-server, having to read past a leading SQL Server in the title is redundant and also, I would argue, "mental mush." There's no reason for it being there.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 18:58
  • 1
    Hmm. Well, I don't come from the tag. I'm scanning the unanswered questions. So I don't know how to resolve our conflicting views.
    – Rosinante
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:03
  • You're scanning unanswered questions in any technology?
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:05
  • If you are reading a question title in the list of unanswered question and it sounds interesting to you, is it really that much more work to check the tags that are listed right under the question? That is less work than trying to piece together a poorly-worded question anyway - if I see the tags below the title and it's Java or PHP or Android I don't even bother (I don't know what "wall" you mean). Anyway, we don't need to resolve our conflicting views. I can just disagree with your "solution" to leave things as they are, since I don't think a Java question prefixed with "Java" helps anyone.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:16
  • 1
    I have a lot of tags that I watch. I find that new askers generally make such a mess of their tag usage that filtering by tag doesn't have much useful effect at all.
    – Rosinante
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:19
  • Well given that many folks will help the user by editing the tag out of the title and tagging it correctly, and that some users do it correctly anyway, I don't think that relying on the tag being in the title instead of the tag being correct is very useful either.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:21
  • I'm not 'relying' on it. I'm just finding it unobstrusive and sometimes helpful. You have the opposite reaction. The team will be the ultimate arbiter.
    – Rosinante
    Jul 1, 2012 at 19:21

We don't want to make the system any more confusing than it has to be. We should be simplifying it at this point, not adding additional complexity. That said, I think this could get us a net gain in quality if paired with some additional efforts on that front.

Getting people to write good, descriptive and clear titles is hard. Yet, the quality and clarity of your title does tend to determine the ultimate fate of your question:

  • You get the title right, but 'meh' in the question - people edit.
  • You get the title wrong, and 'meh' in the question - people close.

There's a whole lot of 'meh', unfortunately, and without a clear title to realize what you're talking about, you might as well be muttering gibberish.

Android code not working

... >_<

php mysql error in code

... Aaaaaagggggghhhhh! #DIE

So, what we did was expand our current blacklist to also warn instead of block, selectively. We put in a pattern to match, tell the system where to look for it (title, body, tags) and pop up some very custom just-in-time help for folks asking their first few questions.

It makes an insane amount of sense to have the ability to trip on any major tag here, if only to tell folks "Hey, people will know this is about Android by the tags. Use the extra space in your title to better summarize your problem"

I'm going to get with a few folks to find out if it's possible and economical to warn if you do this, and strongly encourage you to revise the title. It won't block, mind you - but I'm good with that for reasons others have expressed above.

  • And who knows, we may be able to take 'problem' out of the blacklist finally, if this works the way I think (and hope) it will. No promises on this yet, but I am going to bring it up on a feature call.
    – user50049
    Jul 26, 2014 at 5:28
  • So, we are a bunch of goats, going "Meh, meh, meh, meeh!" Noted.
    – Braiam
    Jul 26, 2014 at 5:35
  • 1
    BTW, "what we did was expand our current blacklist" so, was this implemented or just "something similar"? What build should I hunt?
    – Braiam
    Jul 26, 2014 at 5:37
  • 1
    Still no love??
    – Braiam
    Oct 24, 2014 at 1:03
  • Is this love..?
    – Braiam
    May 24, 2016 at 14:58

StackExchange sites, and especially SO, already have quite a few rules and unspoken practices that are hard enough for new users to learn. Lets not impose another rule, even if its just an automatic edit of the title the OP chooses. While it may not be necessary to include tag terms in question titles, neither is it currently prohibited. People should be free to use whatever title they like, provided that its appropriate to the question.

There are currently around 36,000 tags on SO! It often happens that people include tagged terms in the title simply because they don't realize that a tag exists for that term, and someone else adds the tag later. Reading past a term in a title is not an undue burden, so lets not add to the long list of SO rules.

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