Since it's forbidden to use the word "problem" in titles, and there's not even a way for experienced users to add it (or mods) we all know users just get around that filter by typing various permutations of the word "problem".

The filter has scientifically™ been proven effective. The bottom line there was:

"Hacking around" the filter is in fact very very rare.

I beg to disagree. I tried searching Stack Overflow for the following variations of the title:

problme probelm probeml probmle probmel prolbem prolbme prolebm prolemb prolmbe prolmeb proeblm proebml proelbm proelmb proembl proemlb

These are just a couple of permutations from 5040 possible ones. I also tried searching for variations with left out letters, like proble, or prblm. Here's just a graph of a subset from maybe 20 searches—but in reality, there might be more ways to get around the filter:

Was this ever intended? I know it saves a lot of bad titles from being created, but on the other hand it enforces even worse titles as well. 3% based on the above stats aren't much, but they're 3% crap the filter actively provokes.

Now, my questions up for discussion are:

  • What are we going to do about this large number of porblematic posts?
    It seems almost impossible to fix all those. We now have a really good review system that allows people to dig through low quality posts the entire day, so that'd be a way to address this of course.

  • Are there any plans of getting rid of the filter again?
    This, at least, would give you a good indicator of poor quality. If a post title contains the word "problem" you instantly know something's off. Why not have it reviewed? I understand that some people will choose a better title after being blocked, but I don't even want to start looking at the number of those who merely did a s/problem/issue, or even worse, just used "problems" (because that's not blocked, just sayin').

In the end I'm just thinking if there was a way to clean up the back log on this, or how to prevent more posts of this sort in the future, even with a title filter in place if it has to be.

  • 2
    I agree, something should be done. Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 22:24
  • 3
    I think a "Filtered Questions" review queue would be useful for questions which pop up using a word that is commonly associated with poor titles, or even for titles which appear to include a tag in them.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 22:26
  • 1
    Excluding "problem" (which only shows up in the title of posts from before the filter was added, and so shouldn't be considered) and ignore occurrences in the body of the post (because we're discussing the title) and you have less than 100 matches. Your point is misleading.
    – Jeremy
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 22:27
  • 16
    You mean, "Houston, we have an issue". ;)
    – Bart
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 22:29
  • 26
    So, what I'm hearing is that we need to blacklist another 5039 words... :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 22:34
  • 30
    Nice, even though you missed my favorite workaround.
    – Pops
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 22:38
  • 1
    Do all of the aforementioned permutations start with the letter "P"?
    – user102937
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 23:03
  • 5
    So what you're saying is you purposely ignored melborp? How could you do such a thing!?
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 23:14
  • 1
    "What are we going to do about this large number of porblematic posts?" To fix or not to fix, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind? Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 23:39
  • 8
    Did you even look through your search results? On page 2 it runs out of results in the title and just shows another dozen pages of people misspelling "problem" in the body. These are mostly typos you've found, not title filter work-arounds. Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 23:57
  • 2
    I agree with @BilltheLizard, what we have are roughly ~60 questions where the word was misspelled, some of which might have been in an effort to evade the word filter. I think this narrows down more as a few seem to have the same misspelling as the title in the body. Gotta lvoe us dyslexics, we're often consistent :) I'll look deeper when I get back.
    – user50049
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 3:18
  • 2
    @BilltheLizard You're right about the first search and that there were typos. I changed the search to look for titles only and compiled a graph of a small subset before the rate-limiter on the search would have me wait for too long.
    – slhck
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 9:07
  • 8
    I have a doubt that Houston is in trouble and question the concern you have. Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 9:16
  • 10
    Great, now every time I see the word "problem" my brain automatically reads it out loud as "porblem".
    – user200500
    Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 9:31
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    I just tried to fix a typo in a question about the Traveling Salesman Prblem. Didn't work. Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 6:10