The gray text shown in the "Title" and "Tags" edit boxes when creating a new question doesn't follow the usual UI convention for watermark text.

The usual behavior (e.g. of the watermark text of the Browser's own search box, and of other websites) is to clear out the watermark immediately when you set focus to the edit box, and then to restore the text onblur if the edit box is still empty.

On Stack Overflow, the watermark text remains in the box until you start typing. I found myself selecting and deleting the text in the box before starting to type.

  • 1
    +1 - been too lazy to post this, but I totally agree. Jan 29, 2010 at 9:52

2 Answers 2


It confused me at first, too: on other sites where I've seen that type of behavior, it usually meant that a script hadn't finished loading/processing, and I thought that's what was happening here.

The secondarily confusing part is that you can focus that text box in the middle of the watermark text.

Much like Dominic, I was too lazy to post this (because it is a little thing, after all), but I agree that it should be changed to the more standard behavior.


The title field always has focus by default on the /ask page.

Thus, the title field would never have help text -- except when you move the focus away from it. Not exactly so "helpful"

  • 5
    That's fair, but the same issue is present in the 'tags' input field, which clearly doesn't have focus by default. Jan 29, 2010 at 17:09
  • 1
    Yeah, it's actually kinda odd in the tags box, since if you click twice, the second time on a word that's part of a tag (like, "3" or "feature-request"), you'll get the tag suggestions drop-down.
    – Shog9
    Jan 29, 2010 at 17:19
  • Why not use the same mechanism used for other parts of the UI (including the comment box I'm typing into now) where help text is shown next to the edit box you're typing into? Feb 2, 2010 at 1:51

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