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Re: One word titles

by jdporter (Chancellor)
on Feb 23, 2005 at 15:45 UTC ( #433723=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to One word titles
in thread Appealing a consideration?

Then, by all means, fix the search functionality.
Patches welcome.
One should realize that titles are just, uhm, titles. They are not a list of keywords to an index.
In fact, quite the opposite is true. The node titles are keyword lists (in addition to being plain titles). Understanding this fact should go a long way towards understanding why site policy regarding titles is the way it is. Which is why your protestation that:
it's certainly not true that any one word subject line doesn't describe the node accurately.

is entirely beside the point. Good titles should be able to serve as abstracts of the node or thread (just as Mr. Lee suggests, elsewhere in this thread). "HaXml", like most one-word titles, fails miserably in this, because it doesn't tell me anything about the node — other than, perhaps, that the word "HaXml" also appears in the node body. The title ought, at the very least, to mention "Haskell", don't you think?

In addition, I believe that, as a general rule, node titles which look like root node titles (i.e. there's no "Re:" in front) should only be used on nodes that look like root nodes. One recent breach of this standard is Shorter code. Such a title conveys zero information about the node's content. In fact, one must resort not only to ancestor nodes in that thread to discover the context, but to other non-ancestor nodes in the thread. That's a crappy retitling indeed... and it doesn't even suffer from the "one-word title" disease. "HaXml" is that much worse, because it does.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re^2: One word titles
by Anonymous Monk on Feb 23, 2005 at 16:40 UTC
    The node titles are keyword lists Then more than 99% of the nodes have insufficient titles. Not just the one word titles.

    The title ought, at the very least, to mention "Haskell", don't you think? Why? Why should it mention Haskell? Should it also mention Extended markup language in the title? Or should it mention Haskell because of all the people on perlmonks searching for nodes discussing Haskell? But the node doesn't discuss Haskell. In fact, it's parent node has more Haskell related content than the HaXml node. But the parent node is title "Re^10: Better mousetrap (getting top N values from list X)", although it doesn't discuss mousetraps at all (but was the title of this node, or any of its ancestors considered? Bet not). It doesn't even discuss lists, or getting the top N values. But that's fine. But a reply that mentions HaXml gets all the flak - flak it wouldn't have had if it used a title mentioning mousetraps and lists, while not discussing any of them. Come on, give me any good reason why we're discussing whether or not "HaXml" covers the content of the article, and why we are not discussing the mousetrap title of its parent.

    In addition, I believe that, as a general rule, node titles which look like root node titles (i.e. there's no "Re:" in front) should only be used on nodes that look like root nodes. I think, in general, that data shouldn't be duplicated. Whether or not a node is a root node or not is already known to the system because of its lack of ancestors. The newest node page doesn't have a problem with it - it's not using the existence of a leading 'Re:' to determine where on the page to list new nodes.

    In fact, one must resort not only to ancestor nodes in that thread to discover the context, but to other non-ancestor nodes in the thread. Oh, right. It's common that a node that's referring to more than one node in the thread reflects that in the title. Like say, all the nodes benchmarking the proposed solutions to a problem. I think not.

    "HaXml" is that much worse, because it does. Agreed. "Re^11: Better mousetrap (getting top N values from list X)" would have told me instantly what the node was about. Just like its parent.

      Why should it mention Haskell?
      Because it's about Haskell. Specifically, XML processing in Haskell. That makes it essentially off-topic for the site, and having this info in the title would be a great service to users of the site.
      Should it also mention Extended markup language in the title?
      I would say it ought to mention XML in the title, but since a title search for "XML" would get a hit on "HaXml", it already does, as far as I'm concerned.
      But the node doesn't discuss Haskell.
      I'm not sure how you can say that. It mentions Haskell by name three times, and refers to (by my count) three items of Haskell-specific software and a Haskell-specific paper.
      it's (sic) parent node has more Haskell related content than the HaXml node.
      By no measure other than number of words; but the parent node has lots of words, about quite a bit of stuff other than Haskell. HaXml was posted as a response to a question at the tail end of the parent node.
      It doesn't even discuss lists, or getting the top N values.
      Not sure where the disconnect is, but it does now.
      But a reply that mentions HaXml gets all the flak...
      You calling me a computer-language racist? Because that is certainly not what's going on here.
      ...why we're discussing whether or not "HaXml" covers the content of the article...
      It doesn't cover it, and that's one of my major complaints. Sure, you know that HaXml is a Haskell-specific tool for doing XML processing, but try putting yourself in the average ignorant monk's (e.g. my) shoes for a sec. Have a heart.
      ...and why we are not discussing the mousetrap title of its parent.
      Granted, "better mousetrap", by itself, would be a lousy title. But "getting top N values from list X" does a fair job of summarizing the OP's problem. And if someone wanted to make the case that some node intermediate in the thread would have been a good place to retitle due to shift of subject, I for one could be convinced. In any case, the argument that "HaXml" is a better title than "Ah, but Haskell DOES have a module for processing XML: HaXML!" (or whatever) is completely unsupportable.
      I think, in general, that data shouldn't be duplicated.
      Different strokes, I guess; but one of my long-standing peeves is that some people (e.g. my boss) send out emails with subject lines like
      Meeting at 3:00 in room 12 to review document ABC-XYZ-001
      and then, in the body, say "The subject room has been reserved at the subject time to discuss the subject document". That is a PITA, plain and simple. So is the (probably more common) converse situation: All the details in the body, the subject says "For your info". (Admins are more prone to do this, in my experience.) Point is, data duplication between subject and body is a matter of great convenience for the reader, and the cost to the writer is small.
      ...The newest node page doesn't have a problem with it...
      My point has nothing to do with how the site handles root vs. non-root, etc. Didn't mean to imply such.
      Oh, right. It's common that a node that's referring to more than one node in the thread reflects that in the title.
      All I can say is that it's a matter of continuity. As written, the node in question depends rather heavily on continuity of context with the rest of the thread; therefore, changing the title makes no sense and does nothing but inconvenience the reader. OTOH, the node could have been written in such a way as to present the issue "stand-alone"; and in this case, an appropriate retitling would not be out of line.
      "Re^11: ..." would have told me instantly what the node was about...
      I for one never recommended that the original default title be restored. I have only argued in favor of a "good" title, which "HaXml" is not. My original consideration suggested (IIRC) "You can use HaXml for munging XML in Haskell", or something close to that. I've no doubt a much better title than that could be devised.
      A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
Re^2: One word titles
by Anonymous Monk on Feb 23, 2005 at 16:43 UTC
    Patches welcome.
    No. I don't think the functionality is broken - I am not the one thinking one word titles need to be renamed by policy.

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