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Is there anything with long titles? I don't know what the community thinks. Should they be concise and short, to the point? Or can they be long, and explain more stuff?

For clarification, long, at least in my opinion, means titles that extend beyond one line.

I'm also asking this because of a comment galactic ninja left on my question: How can Booker and Comstock meet?

In short, he'd like me to add a couple of words extra to the title, but for some reason, i feel like it might be too long. Making the question two different sentences could make it confusing, and I don't know how to word it into one.

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    Titles should only be as long as they need to be, but no shorter. – MBraedley Apr 21 '13 at 2:23
  • So, as long as the point is made clear, titles can be as long as needed? – senpai Apr 21 '13 at 2:24
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    That is not what I said. Make a title that is as short as possible, yet contains all necessary information, but don't make it any shorter than that. – MBraedley Apr 21 '13 at 2:26
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    I generally aim for titles that do not wrap around onto a second line, this is usually enough space for a good title for any question – user27134 Apr 21 '13 at 8:22
  • A title is bad if it's hard to understand. Usually a long title is a poorly-written title. If it can be rewritten to be shorter and contain all the necessary information, it usually becomes easier to read too. Which is really just restating what @MBraedley said. – SevenSidedDie Apr 21 '13 at 16:36
  • I think this is a good question worth discussing, and as usual I don't understand the downvotes - but I do think it would be a little clearer if you proposed a definition of "long". – EBongo Apr 21 '13 at 20:18
  • @kalina I hate when that happens. I need to reword it until it's only one line (unless I'm feeling lazy). :D – Alenanno May 9 '13 at 10:54
  • indeed, it just looks messy – user27134 May 9 '13 at 10:59
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I'll also throw in my 2 cents based on what I loosely imagine the consensus definition of "long" to be.

Long titles are bad for multiple reasons:

  • Titles should be a short summary of the most important aspect of the question. It is the only thing that potential answerers can see when looking at the main page. Stack actually already limits you to 150 characters, but I propose that is almost always too much. Consider that if you want to get answers, and share those answers with others, you have to get folks to click on your question.
  • Titles have special significance for SEO, as does word order and word associations. As such, a concise title with well considered wording will outperform a "stream of consciousness" style title in many cases in organic searches. Some searchers use sentences, but most are conditioned to use word pairings or short phrases. A good title will be brief, but long enough to include such pairings or phrases.
  • Long titles can make it harder to tell what you are asking. With a concise targeted title, the reader comes to your question already knowing the game and the basic problem you are having - probably with some initial ideas already in mind ("I know how to do that" or "I have that same problem"). With a long title, there is more opportunity for you to propose multiple problems or concepts - and that can bring more confused readers to your question who may be unsure how to vote on it or how to answer it, and may even provide off topic answers because of what they initially thought the question was about (especially new users). Help the reader out by keeping the title short and to the point.

As with most things on the site, I don't believe in many hard and fast rules - but instead suggest you just be empathetic towards your fellow users. If you look around the main page, I think you'll see the benefits of concise titles. If it is what you like to read, it is what you should seek to provide for other readers.

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