Today I edited this question to be more compact and actually state the problem, in order to use it as a reference question for any time a user posts an "I get a 500 Internal server error!" question.

I did not significantly change the meaning of the title, I made it better findable for future searches. The title was:

Deploying website: 500 - Internal server error

I changed it to:

How to find the underlying cause for an HTTP 500 - Internal server error in IIS?

The terms '500 Internal server error', 'deploy', 'web' and 'site' are still on the page, and the title is now more helpful if you link it as a duplicate as it describes the actual question. You can also get this error without deploying, so in my opinion the original title was worse than what I made up.

Another user however thought the original title was better, because I apparently am "wrong on what google think". I don't know what search term that user used, but I don't agree.

I don't want to start a rollback war, but I think my title was more descriptive and is more helpful for future searches and linking to the question.

What do I do now?

  • 8
    I really want someone to edit this question's title so that I can roll it back...
    – Servy
    Jan 9, 2014 at 15:54
  • I change the title back, not rolled back, in the term of roll back. As I say because I did this to CodeCaster, I did it because I have discover that the question was first on google search as it was ! and I have search my self on the past and see that question come first on google. This is the only reason.
    – Aristos
    Jan 9, 2014 at 15:55
  • 3
    Google results are different for everyone, based on your search history, location and other preferences. What was your search term, and why do you think my change will cause it to disappear from Google?
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 15:56
  • 1
    Do prefer the version with the IIS part, it's helpful to be helpful in what environment you're working under
    – random
    Jan 9, 2014 at 15:58
  • 1
    How about "Deploying to IIS server causes HTTP 500 Internal Server error"?
    – random
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:30
  • Surprised no one rolled back this title change.
    – Amicable
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:39
  • @random I really don't find the "deploying" part relevant. If you don't deploy it, you won't get the error. The thing I wanted to emphasize by my edit to the title was that this is a generic error which has a deeper cause. The community disagrees with this, so now I wish to just let it be as is. :-)
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:40

2 Answers 2


I don't know what Google thinks, but when I see the title

How to find the underlying cause for an HTTP 500 - Internal server error in IIS?

it takes me a while to parse and see what it's about. Brevity is definitely a virtue in titles (see How do I write a good title? for tips based on experimental measurements of title speed-reading), and the first words are the most important. In titles, it's essential to make every word count. What are the important ideas in this title?

  • this is about HTTP
  • only relevant if IIS is used
  • it's about an error case
  • specifically, about a 500 status

“How to find the underlying cause” is verbiage. A question about “HTTP 500 - Internal server error in IIS” is highly likely to be about finding out why it occurs. (It could be about something else, such as making IIS generate such errors… but that would be a rare interpretation, in need of mentioning explicitly.) “How to find the underlying cause” is also irrelevant as search fodder: a lot of questions about any topic can be “how to find the underlying clause”. Verbiage is bad, leading verbiage doubly so, search-irrelevant verbiage triply so.

Therefore the following title is better (not necessarily the best, but better than your longer version):

HTTP 500 - Internal server error in IIS

“Internal server error” is redundant with 500, but that's good redundancy: not everybody looking for that question knows HTTP status numbers by heart, and this is important search fodder as well.

I don't know how much “deploying website” is relevant to the question, because I lack subject knowledge. Does this question concern a situation which is likely to happen if a website works in a test environment but doesn't work in production? If so, “deploying” is an important part of the question and definitely should be retained. If not, the title is better off without it.

  • I like your analysis, and agree with what you said about my title. But I find "HTTP 500 - Internal server error in IIS" is so utterly unhelpful as a question title. Like I said in my question, I want to use this as a reference / duplicate question, where the title will tell exactly what is wrong. Point is, the error is a very general error that you cannot use for any purpose, and IIS returns it by default. You have to perform the steps in the mentioned answer, or you cannot get a helpful error message.
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:15
  • @CodeCaster People copy/paste what they get as an error message ! this "How to find the underlying cause for an" is not included on error message !
    – Aristos
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:16
  • Anyway I can of course always link to it like "See this question to find out the underlying error".
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:20
  • 1
    @CodeCaster How is this unhelpful as a question title? What's wrong with “See ‘HTTP 500 - Internal server error in IIS’ to find out the underlying error”? Jan 9, 2014 at 17:49
  • It is an error message, not a question.
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 17:57
  • @CodeCaster It is not an error message (it contains one, of course). It isn't a question either — why should it be? It's a title. Stack Exchange titles are not just titles for the question, they are titles for the whole thread. Since most people are not in fact after questions but after answers, it's generally better for the title to reflect this — the title tells potential visitors what the content of the page is primarily about, and the most useful content is the answers. Jan 9, 2014 at 17:58
  • Yeah sorry, it is an error message followed by "in IIS". From Help: "Write a title that summarizes the specific problem". The title "HTTP 500 - Internal server error in IIS" doesn't cover what is addressed on the question's page, but instead raises more questions than it answers. One can for example wonder: is the asker getting this error when running his code, or is it an error that OP wishes to return from IIS. The core of that question and answer are to enable detailed errors on a web server, the 500 ISE part is just a symptom.
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 18:16
  • Also, you link to a question about getting attention for new questions, making it jump out by its title. Again, I was performing maintenance on this question to make it a reference, as the question itself has long been answered and doesn't need attention from answerers anymore. It is only found or linked to by people who want to discover the underlying, detailed error, and a somewhat longer, descriptive title hugely improves the rate at which readers can detect whether the Q&A are relevant for them - with your suggestion you can't, as you'll still have to read the entire question.
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 18:17
  • @CodeCaster Jump out in the list of questions, jump out in search results, same difference. Maybe (again, I can't tell due to lack of subject knowledge) this question specifically addresses “cause” or “deploying”, in which case these words should appear in the title. But “How to find the underlying” carries no meaning and only hinders reading, it is absolutely not helpful in determining the content of the page. Jan 9, 2014 at 18:45

I am the one that edit the title as it was, (not make roll back).

The one and only reason that I do it, is because google make this question appear first on google search for this error.

I know that Code Caster try to make it better, base on the answer, and it did do it better, but better for one that know what the 500 error is.

Most did not know that this is a general error, so search what was previous on the title, and not what Code Caster add.

In any case, my intentions are only to help, and as the answer have get many votes, and the question get many hits, I believe that must stay as it was... but ok, if others here believe different, I follow.

In the end I am see the results, if the answer get many hits, "its works" - and something that works, I do not change it.

Now about that title

"How to find the underlying cause for an HTTP 500 - Internal server error in IIS?"

This is the issue for me, that people that get the "HTTP 500" error, did not realize at first that this is a general error - but this title is refer to a person that all ready know the answer.

And now what ? (from the question)

From the moment that the question is not of him, and some one (me) change the title back I say that is better accept the community, this is the community, to be able to accept what other say together with him.

The important here is that he can not accept the fact that some one do, what the same did the same moment. And now what ? move on....

  • 2
    Thank you for joining the discussion. :-) Like I asked, for what exact search term is it the #1 hit for you, and why do you think all users that end up finding that question use the same search term? Mine is broader and will be better found. Anyway for me, Googling "500 internal server error" doesn't even show any SO question on the first page.
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:00
  • @CodeCaster I believe that is too much to make it question on meta... anyway... you find the same questions as many other before you - why you change something that works ?
    – Aristos
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:02
  • 1
    @Aristos: To make it better. Also, you turned "personalized" results off for this test (and I still believe Google does personalization even with this option turned off)? Jan 9, 2014 at 16:03
  • @TimeTravelingBobby I really really say, that I am say what I say, and all the rest of you decide, and make the title what you like - I follow... no problem.
    – Aristos
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:05
  • 1
    Your only rationale for changing the title back is "it is the first Google hit", but you don't answer my question of for what search term it is and you seem to think Google only looks at the title of a page. Also, you (N=1) are as much community as I (N=1), so now what?
    – CodeCaster
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:16
  • @CodeCaster This is the community, me, you, the rest of all, all are a sum of ONE.
    – Aristos
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:18
  • 6
    @Aristos That makes no sense whatsoever.
    – Servy
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:20
  • @Aristos: What I meant is that there are many things that influence the Google rank. Because it puts it for you on the first place doesn't mean that it will put it in the same place for the guy sitting next to you, much less for that guy from Japan. I know next to nothing about SEO, but I know that it's damn hard to get right and not easy. Also, we shouldn't worry about SEO at all at this level. Jan 9, 2014 at 17:57

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