# "Posts can't contain that content" messages fail to point out the offending part of the content [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate:
Sorry, posts can’t contain that content?

At Stack Overflow, I found what I consider to be either a bug or a GUI design flaw in Stack Overflow:

Oops! Your edit couldn't be submitted because:
* Sorry, posts can't contain that content.
* Sorry, post titles can't contain that content.

The above error message failed to point out the "error", so IMO it is either a bug or a design smell.

I tried to report it at Meta, but I got

Oops! Your edit couldn't be submitted because:
* Sorry, posts can't contain that content.

This happened because Meta does not like the example that I cut and pasted.

In both cases, what is the point of telling me that I have an error without being specific.

• What is your question? Apr 8 '10 at 7:17
• @Lady: there is no question it's a bug report. Here on meta not every "thread" must have a question. Apr 8 '10 at 7:23
• You appear very aggressive in your two most recent questions. Please try and take it down a notch. We want to help you, but you should try and be a little less aggressive. Apr 8 '10 at 7:30
• No one on any of the sites is trying to antagonize you. We sympathize with people who have trouble with this site, and meta is here to help with that. You have to help us help you. Apr 8 '10 at 7:33
• is your example by any chance a LMGTFY link? some links are banned by popular demand. (i tend to agree that the errors you report aren't very informative.) Apr 8 '10 at 7:43
• @Kop: you just don't get. So leave it. Apr 8 '10 at 7:51
• @Ladybug: apparently the question is non-postable on SOFU. maybe he's trying to post it in EBCDIC instead of ASCII or Unicode? Apr 8 '10 at 7:56
• The actual question content is what the problem seems to be about. You can't have a bug report about a bug on posting a question and leave out the question. @kop Apr 8 '10 at 8:18
• @random I left out the question because I could not post it because of the embedded offending line; please see my answer. This was the question that was causing me grief in more ways than one: stackoverflow.com/questions/2590604/… Apr 8 '10 at 8:22
• @Justin Nelson jinguy ... sorry you appear to deem me to be agressive; I'm being assertive, not aggressive, and I have good reason to be assertive. You have a very friendly tone and my guess is you are a great person to have as a friend. Unfortunately, there are a number of SO members who seem to enjoy being unhelpful and closing SO questions rather than help the posters. I'm not the first one at SO and meta.SO to talk about mean spirited members. regards ~~ gerry Apr 8 '10 at 8:27
• Off-site posting of the actual question contents for future bugs would help. But that edit of yours, kind of takes the content in another direction. Apr 8 '10 at 8:28
• @gerry, Perhaps aggressive is not the right word. But the tone you convey with lots of bold, italics, and UPERCASE causes people to interpret the post differently than if you would leave that formatting out. People like to help if asked. They don't if they are being yelled at. Unfortunately, the only medium we have to discuss here is text which is bad at conveying tone sometimes. That is why it important to be very careful when trying to be assertive online. People (like me) may view a post as aggressive, or even angry. Apr 8 '10 at 8:35
• What is so difficult about this? The OP is reporting that the error messages don't point out the part of the content that SO deems problematic. Which is perfectly fine, albeit probably a duplicate. Apr 8 '10 at 9:41
• And @gerry, I know it's not nice to have a question closed, but get over it already. Seriously. Apr 8 '10 at 10:34
• aggression, not-a-question?! give me a break. This is a perfectly valid usability issue. Sure, presentation could use some work and a little research might have turned up duplicates but really, guys.... Apr 8 '10 at 12:09

I've discovered the problem at SO by pasting in the rejected edit a few lines at a time.

The offending like was a

let me google that for you
code signing

Definitely, unclear error messages are a serious design flaw.

The appropriate error message would have pointed to the offending line and stated clearly why I was not permitted to use it.

Personally, I fail to understand what is wrong with "let me google that for you"; we use it frequently at forums.asp.net.

• Apr 8 '10 at 8:21
• @gerry, you should be able to see how a 'let me google that for you' link is mean and not a bringer of good will. It is basically telling the asker of a question that they are incompetent. Also, just because it is ok somewhere else, doesn't mean it is ok here. See: US drinking age. Apr 8 '10 at 8:25
• @Justin: LMGTFY is mean? i always thought it was kind of average. Apr 8 '10 at 8:55
• @gerry: my bad jokes aside, LMGTFY links are considered rude. not in-and-of-themselves, but these sites have seen far too many answers that consist only of a Google or LMGTFY link. those are simply not useful answers. Apr 8 '10 at 8:56
• @quack Yeah.....(I wish I could downvote that comment. -1 For bad pun) Apr 8 '10 at 9:05
• You guys are missing the point. It's not about whether LMGTFY should be allowed, it's about an unclear error message. Apr 8 '10 at 11:07
• @Kop which is a dupe. Apr 8 '10 at 11:32
• @json: and? If it's a dupe we can talk about something unrelated? Apr 8 '10 at 14:30
• One problem w/ LMGTFY and JFGI and so on is that the whole point of Stack Overflow is to help people's google searches turn up the answers they seek; if people come along later and their google search turns up an SO post sending them back to google, that's not so helpful!
– SamB
Apr 8 '10 at 22:43
• @Justin Nelson - jinguy; @quack quixote; please do not take this comment as agressive because it is not. Let me explain. (a) I am not complaining that my LMGTFY was rejected; I am complaining that the error message code not be clear enough to let me know that that was the problem. Four+ decades ago John Pullam created POODL at U.of T. (Pullam's Own Object Definition Language ~~ POODL created explicit useful messages for programmers which is why I know it would be very simple for Jeff et al to do the same. continued ... Apr 16 '10 at 23:57
• (b) LMGTFY does not have to be rude. I never use it that way. I usually use LMGTFY to lead to additional links that add value to my answer. I also use LMGTFY to lead others to links that can sometimes be difficult to get to via Google. Apr 16 '10 at 23:59
• How do you ensure that search results are the same in Google when they're different across countries, cities, suburbs and even sessions? Apr 17 '10 at 1:03
• @ger In what way can LMGTFY lead to links you can't point out with an google.com URL?
– Gnome
Apr 17 '10 at 6:35
• @random ~~ you don't; LMGTFY is a generic search and as such the results are likely to morph with time; however, the basics will be the same via the Next control. To be more specific, when appropriate, URLs are provided instead of/in addition to LMGTFY. your argument also applies to shortened URLs ~~ they can morph and they can disappear altogether if their host stops hosting them. In fact, even URLs are not cast in stone; example, Microsoft recently broke asp.net/mvc/learn. Apr 17 '10 at 6:41
• @Gnome please see my comment to @random. BTW, often I'll simply suggest the Google arguments that I've used. Again, that is not what this post was about ... my hope is that SO will provide better error messages than the coding horror nearly meaningless unqualified "can't contain that content" text string. Apr 17 '10 at 6:47