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Misleading question titles are great. They're kind of a thing around here and that's also great. What's not so great is every time one comes along, and we get dozens of comments about LOL, how amusing the title is:

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Usually one or two is kinda okay, but recently every misleadingly titled question has attracted so many of these comments that the decision has increasingly been to remove them all.

This is partly a request for sanity: if you see a post with a misleading title, try to refrain from diving in with a comment pointing out that fact. Certainly try and avoid it if there's a comment there already.

Also, if you come across a question with too many such comments, feel free to flag them for moderator attention.

Misleading titles are one of the great things about Arqade, lets not spoil them with YouTube level commenting.

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    How has nobody written "Sepia Lazers brought me here" on that question yet? – Wipqozn Sep 24 '14 at 10:29
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    What is this? People are having fun? ON OUR WEBSITE?! THIS MEANS WAR!! – badp Sep 24 '14 at 10:33
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    @badp One Two Three Four, I declare a Fun War. – fredley Sep 24 '14 at 10:34
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    What about the "Funny/Pun comments"? Something like this comes to my mind. Are these still ok if not overused? – Jutschge Sep 24 '14 at 11:34
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    @Jutschge I think fredleys post should apply to all joke comments. It's fine if there's only a few of them, but once it reaches the point they're crowding up the comment section they need to be cleaned up (at least some of them). 1 or 2 such comments doesn't cause any problems, but 10 can result in constructive comments being drowned out in the jokes and missed, and make it more difficult for users to engage in constructive comment discussion when required. – Wipqozn Sep 24 '14 at 11:38
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    Almost all of the silly-sounding questions listed here could use some moderator love. – Anko Sep 24 '14 at 22:34
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    I feel like those questions really lent a nice flavor to the gaming stackexchange. Do we really need to be so serious all the time? – ChargerIIC Sep 25 '14 at 14:57
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    @ChargerIIC It's less to do with being serious, and just clearing out the noise. Do we really need several comments on every misleading question titles that don't actually help? There's fun, and then there's keeping the signal to noise ratio high. These are all noise, unfortunately. – Frank Sep 25 '14 at 16:27
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    I think some of those comments add to the site, not detract from it. They show off the "personality" of the community, and I would not like to lose that. I'm fine with cleaning up many of them, but if the comment is something that represent's the community's personality and sense of humor, I'd much rather see it stay. – Rachel Sep 26 '14 at 20:46
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    Related: Programming Puzzles and Code Golf SE recently discussed their silly question titles. – Anko Sep 28 '14 at 16:22
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    @ChargerIIC - It's not so much the questions that need to change, as the comments on it. I'm very in favor of the questions (too much so, really), but I'm ambivalent on the comments. – Bobson Oct 2 '14 at 18:19
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    I strongly feel your overreacting. Hard. Just my opinion, honestly @Badp's strongly upvoted comment at the top up there really says it all in a nutshell. Sometimes Arqade is anti-fun to a ridiculous level IMO. Lighten up guys. – Ender Oct 2 '14 at 21:46
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    @Ender I'm not preventing fun. Merely limiting the quantity of fun. – fredley Oct 2 '14 at 22:14
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    Why did you block the users? – The Idiot Gamer Oct 23 '14 at 23:25
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    Fun on SE? Preposterous! – MasterMastic Nov 27 '14 at 21:54
-1

Funny comments on misleading questions are fine, as is cleaning out the ones that add excessive and unnecessary references to it is fine too - overly conversational comments are one of the many things that are supposed to be flagged. And I admit that I have commented a bit too much on such questions myself.

Our other tool for avoiding this is, of course, the Protected status for questions, which explicitly states this as the reason for its existence.

"This question is protected to prevent "thanks!", "me too!", or spam answers by new users. To answer it, you must have earned at least 10 reputation on this site."

Reading that text, I don't think it protects against spam comments, but if it does, we should clearly add it to more of these 'funny title' questions (Lick a Plane and Eat a Corpse currently aren't protected, and the latter is the highest-voted question on this site). IF it doesn't, then maybe we should try to make it so as a 'fix' for mass comment influx.

And, if that doesn't work, we can always add a tooltip for the comment button, with text along the lines of:

"Please refrain from being overly chatty in comments"

Which we could activate on high-vote questions to deter this kind of behavior.

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    Protection is a different thing, it protects against spam answers. This doesn't happen so much to HNQs, as most of the traffic comes from other SE sites, and hence mostly from people who have a vague understanding of how we operate. Protection is often required for questions with high inbound traffic from outside the network (read: Google), where floods of people come in and think this is a forum (more often than not). Protection is automatic after 3 deleted answers anyway. – fredley Oct 9 '14 at 18:42
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Unless you want to plead to the High Programmers of StackExchange for a feature to lock comments even from higher-reputation users, or to allow downvoting comments, I think all you can do is sweep-delete the comments and move on. I doubt you'll get such a feature, because it's such a specialized use case. And I doubt that any level of education campaign is going to really matter. StackExchange entered its Eternal September long ago, and if people have the rep to comment, they'll use it.

However, the problem is not unique to these Arqade questions. Stack Overflow has the "Jon Skeet effect" and people feel compelled to leave obnoxious comments about how he gets all that reputation, etc. But I doubt the High Programmers are going to lay down suppression fire to place one user in a protective bubble.

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TLDR:

If your title misleads others, it's not a good title. A good title should be able to help future visitors with the same question, not a title that doesn't provide the relative context needed to understand the question at hand.


Titles should never be misleading. I learned this the hard way, when I posted a question: What is the splash range for Jarate and Mad Milk?

Initially, I had decided on setting the title to "What is the splash range for my urine and milk", since Jarate is considered bottled urine, and Mad Milk is milk.

Apparently, my title was re-edited over to make it more "appropriate", and was approved by 2 high-rep users on this community. I understand, and respect that, because the original question title was misleading. Splash range of urine and milk gives no context to the situation. People could be browsing the Hot Questions list, and have no idea what Jarate or Mad Milk, or even what TF2 is, but see the question and be curious about it, and realize it's a bit different than what they expected.

As such, I am highly against titles which give a vague understanding of the context of the question. Sure, it's funny, and great for all your funny jokes, but at the end of the day, titles should accurately reflect the content in your question. For example, the highest rated question in this site has a funny title, but it's easily understandable. From my perspective, reading that title solely tells me "Oh it might be an RPG where you can consume corpses, like Fallout, but it's for nethack, that sounds interesting.". The title isn't misleading, and still informs users what the problem is at hand, is consuming corpses in nethack safe?

The recent questions that people have been asking on this site have been consistently geared towards getting it into the Hot Questions list. I hate this approach; the titles are vague and don't really tell me what the problem is. Sure, fun is fun, but the site should be geared towards a very serious mindset in regards to asking and getting questions. For example, the following question seems to have been geared towards grabbing attention, but doesn't actually reflect the context of the question: https://gaming.stackexchange.com/revisions/185847/1

If I read that, sure it'd grab my attention, but I have no clue what the user is asking for, and what the user is requesting.

The Question Title should be able to help future visitors. If you can make it funny, or have a title that can grab people's attention, great! But make sure that it's relevant to help future visitors. If I want to ask a question about being over encumbered in Skyrim, I could word the title as "Help!!! My Dovhakinn is really fat!!!!!!". Even though that may be funny to some people, that title provides no context to the question (what is being fat in Skyrim? what is this guy even asking for? is it a graphics issue? does it mean he ate a bunch of food?) and is overall useless to people searching for the same issue. More than likely, users will search "how to get past overencumbered" rather than a very niche joke of a title.

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    For downvoters, I understand you are expressing disagreement. But disagreement towards what? Towards my main point? Which is to say, titles should NEVER be misleading. – senpai Oct 3 '14 at 7:06
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    For reference, the title of that question alone is exactly the question I wanted to ask. I didn't even know what the "Nemesis" system was before asking it. Any extra details in the body were to flesh out a more complete question, but the title of the one you're complaining about, alone, is 100% valid and not misleading. – Invader Skoodge Oct 3 '14 at 13:45
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    @StrixVaria Your title sounds geared to draw attention, but is irrelevant. In fact, the answers point out that the names of the enemies are called Nemesis, and a google search on that matter yields many resulsts on the Nemesis system, something that is even explained IN GAME. I don't think you have an excuse for "I had no idea those were called Nemesis" when there are tutorials in game to tell you how the system works. – senpai Oct 3 '14 at 14:57
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    Information from the answer is irrelevant to what the asker knew at the time of asking the question. Nothing was explained to me before I killed the first so-called "Nemesis", so the question is valid. I don't know what point you're trying to prove here. There is nothing wrong with the title. I don't need an "excuse" for anything. – Invader Skoodge Oct 3 '14 at 15:00
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    I think the nemesis question is not the best example for what you are trying to convey, because slaughtering everyone in SoM in the end comes down to the same thing as slaughtering every captain/nemesis, and I believe it was an understandable question with the old title as well. But I do agree with your last paragraph, when titles are made only to be funny but in doing so make it harder to be found when searching for the actual problem. So I agree that titles shouldn't be misleading to make a joke, but the SoM question wasn't really misleading imho. – Kodama Oct 3 '14 at 15:49
  • Titles can accurately represent the question and be misleading, and all of the ones that have attracted the troublesome comments recently have been both. The problem here is not titles. – fredley Oct 3 '14 at 16:15
  • @fredley Give me a title then, a title that can accurately reflect the question and still be misleading – senpai Oct 3 '14 at 16:55
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    I'm on the fence about this. Yes, we don't want titles to be inaccurate, and we do want them to be concise descriptors of the problem space. I also find the current fad of going for misleading titles a little annoying, due to the large number of questions we've gotten lately that have tried for it. On the other, it's been an ongoing meme for Arqade for exactly that sort of thing. Either way, this meta post isn't about misleading titles; it's about the bandwagoning of irrelevant comments on said titles. – Frank Oct 3 '14 at 22:29
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    If a question can have a misleading title without distracting from the actual question, I say go for it. If not, dont' try to force it. Also, to the original poster, your question about Jarate and Mad Milk was more likely changed because urine is somewhat vulgar. Yes it's a very if-not-this-why-this ruling, but I think it also illsutrates that you can't always force a question to have a funny name. Also, a funny name does not always make a good question. Question quality should be the primary focus of each question, and if a name detracts from it, then don't force the name. – Zibbobz Oct 7 '14 at 17:13
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    Also, this question doesn't actually have anything to do with whether or not we should allow 'funny' question titles. It's about the comments in those questions. – Zibbobz Oct 7 '14 at 17:17
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    I'm confused. Someone spoiled your fun, so you're on a vendetta against other people's fun? I have a question "I need help getting rid of a body" and it was 100% accurate. I had a body that was just annoyingly placed and I couldn't move it effectively. It's not misleading, except that people's first reaction is not what my question is about, so yes it is misleading. That's how a question can be misleading and also not misleading. – corsiKa Oct 13 '14 at 0:15

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