17

Dear StackExchange, I am very disappointed in you

TL;DR: Should we change the title of the above question, and if so, what should it be changed to?


When I first saw the linked question, I expected it to be yet another angry post about Monica-gate that had, for some reason, not been moved to Meta. It's actually a question from a user who wants to write an angry letter to SE regarding Monica-gate, and wants to know "how to construct a resonating opening line" (in the general case).

The two most recent comments (with 1 and 4 upvotes respectively) indicate I'm not the only one who was confused by the title:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the title is not representative of the question, and an edit to it has been rejected. Therefore, it does not fit the SE standards for proper questions. – Weckar E. 6 hours ago

The title should be changed, I understand the idea but if someone else is trying to find an answer to this and search for it this question won't come up most likely. – DJ Spicy Deluxe 6 hours ago

It's also worth mentioning that the post has hit the Hot Network Questions list, and such a provocative title is surefire clickbait.

I for one believe the question title should be edited, to include the "AKA..." line at the top of the question body, and make it clear that the "Dear Stack Exchange" part is an example. I propose the following:

"Dear Stack Exchange, I am very disappointed in you" - How to construct a strong opening line in a letter?

So why haven't I just gone ahead and made the edit? Well, if it's true (as Weckar E claimed) that an edit to change the title has already been rejected, then I fear we may end up in an edit war. And since we're down to one moderator - who I note has edited the question without changing the title, and after the above comments were made - such an edit war may take a long time to resolve.

So I ask you, the Writing community: Should we change the question's title, and if so, what should we change it to?

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    I guess neither the serious/real points of the question, nor its clever trolling aspects, are diminished by your suggested edit... (Although I like it more just the way it is) – sesquipedalias Oct 3 '19 at 11:04
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    Under normal circumstances, I'd completely agree with you. These aren't normal circumstances. Sometimes we look the other way. – Cyn says make Monica whole Oct 3 '19 at 13:36
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    @Cyn I'd say you should make that an answer. – F1Krazy Oct 3 '19 at 13:37
  • @Cyn I'm not sure why you feel that way. What is it that allowing the title to stay accomplishes? – scohe001 Oct 3 '19 at 16:18
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    Full disclosure, I was one of the users who rejected the edit. I would not have rejected your version. The edit i rejected removed the original title entirely which clearly conflicted with the author's intent. Your version does not do that. – linksassin Oct 4 '19 at 0:15
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    I sometimes edit SE.Politics posts to make them more accessible to future readers, as many of the questions asked there assume that the reader has current-headline news on their mind. Still, transient titles can make sense; just requires a tad more investment from a curator, as they'll need to be edited later. (Good compromise, by the way.) – Nat Oct 4 '19 at 0:58
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    Thank you for the edit. I really appreciate how you did it. – NofP Oct 4 '19 at 21:22
  • And here it is: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/334865/… – NofP Oct 10 '19 at 10:59
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Change the title.

As someone who is completely unaware of whatever drama is going on, and isn't really heavily invested in this particular StackExchange site, I'm going to chip in and say that it would be more useful to users of StackExchange as a whole if the title matches the question being asked.

Remember, Questions should be treated as though they were permanent, since Google can turn them up years later. Whatever drama is going on will fade in time, but this Question will stick around, so it should still be useful to other users five years down the track.

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    In fairness, if you are "completely unaware of whatever drama is going on" and posting on the Meta - I suggest you read a couple of the questions/discussion posts below. The issues SE are facings are going to have a direct impact on this site on the users. – J Crosby Oct 3 '19 at 14:40
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    Unless you are actively trying to distance yourself from any and all messes, which has its own merits :) – Weckar E. Oct 3 '19 at 14:56
  • This seems to be the consensus, so I'm going to go ahead and make the edit now. – F1Krazy Oct 3 '19 at 19:36
12

I have already made my feelings on this plenty clear, I think, but I do feel the reed to reinforce the fact that as it stands this is practically vandalism of the system.

At its heart, it is a useful question that I was surprised to find was not a duplicate. Letter writing appears to be underrepresented on our little stack. With its current title, though, the question is entirely useless to building an actual knowledge base and in fact pollutes said knowledge base with dumb data.

Even being a useful question, however, the response in both its comment section and its edit rejection makes me feel this question was written in bad faith and therefore does not belong--even if it may prove incidentally fruitful.

Nobody gains anything here by burning down the house we've built, even if we do hate the feudal lord whose land it stands on. I'd rather find a way to maintain a space that will still be salvageable by a new moderation team once this all passes.

As for what it should be changed to, if we maintain it at all: the current [[AKA]] is a fine title.

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7

No.

Titles are by definition, clickbait even before the term was coined during the internet revolution. As writers, we all know how important a title is in drawing eyeballs to our fiction, journalism, or other medium of words.

I am not insensitive to the jab implied in the title and the question. However, in this moment of crisis, we must hold our core values at heart.

The stack is a colaborative knowledge base. Authors have (limited) rights to their content, and so long they don't violate the guidelines in the HELP section (and ToS but let's leave that aside for a while) I say make changes to the content only when it is consensual and/or obvious.

Colaborative environments tend to the least common denominator by default. It is criticism colaborative knowledge bases suffered for as long as they existed. How Wikipeida is pasteurized and poorer because of that.

But that is due to respect to the participants. In a multicultural environment, we have to loathe all sorts of disrespect.

So those edits without the agreement of the OP should be made with crystal clear intentions.

Which is why any change to such a post with a strong political innuendo in times of crisis should be avoided at all costs.

If you want to make any changes, do contact the OP via comments and see if they wish to enact them.

Otherwise, leave it alone for its historical value.

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    Overall I agree with your sentiments, but editing to improve questions and answers--even without the OPs consent--is still one of the core pillars of this site. One of the main caveats to that is that edits should not change the intent of the question. As my proposed edit merely moved the AKA to be the actual title; it is hard to argue that changes the intent of the question, as the current title hardly relates to it. – Weckar E. Oct 3 '19 at 13:55
  • I down voted because the title does not match the question being asked. The point and purpose of the title (on this suite of sites) is to ask a question. – CramerTV Oct 3 '19 at 17:47
  • I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with the consensus and make the edit, but thanks for your input. – F1Krazy Oct 3 '19 at 19:36
4

From the Meta.SE faq on writing titles:

2. Make it descriptive, but also to the point.

Make sure you describe your question or problem well enough so that readers get the gist of what it's about ("Problem with Java function" is not very descriptive). However, don't put every detail in your title... that's what the question body is for. Make your title descriptive, but also succinct.

I think the contention here is that being upset with StackExchange is a big part of the question, so making it the title to show that this is "the gist of what [the question]'s about," makes some sense.

But here's my question for you: if this is a question about being disappointing in StackExchange, is it on topic for Writing.SE? And if the focus of this question is not about being disappointed in StackExchange, then why is that the title?

Change the title.

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    As I said, the question is actually about "how to construct a resonating opening line" when writing a letter. OP intends to write a strongly-worded letter to Stack Exchange, hence the question title, but answers should ideally be generalised. – F1Krazy Oct 3 '19 at 16:20
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    @F1Krazy sorry, looks like I was unclear. Those are rhetorical questions. I added a conclusion to try to make it more obvious. – scohe001 Oct 3 '19 at 16:21

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