• let's stamp out bad thread subjects

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General discussion about the RAILROAD.NET site, forums, or content ONLY. Please do not post your general railroading questions, please choose an appropriate forum. For help using the site, please post in the Help Using RAILROAD.NET Forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

  by Patrick Boylan
 
Folks, I'm tipping my hand pretty early here, chances are what I list here will be examples of what I think are bad titles.
I haven't seen any 'incident on...' threads popping up, you know, the ones devoted to fatal train-pedestrian accidents, but I have lately seen a bunch of "question about..." titles, like "question about Amtrak" where the body's something like "Why doesn't Amtrak run on time?" in which case I wonder why the original poster didn't just make that the thread's subject.

If anyone sees any exceptionally good thread titles, I hope they'll mention them here, but I suspect we'll find an abundance of bad ones.

Today's example
http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=72&t=102669
What would the conductor do in this situation?
2015Railfan wrote:What if you got on a SEPTA Regional Rail train and when the conductor asks for money or passes you didn't have either? I've always wondered this because I doubt if it happens that much.
I feel "What do conductors do when passengers don't have money or passes?" would have been much better.
  by charlie6017
 
Maybe some of the other moderators will think differently, but I'm not about to spend hours combing
through the forums I moderate. To me, that's kind of micro-managing and I'm not doing that here. There's
not enough hours in a day already sometimes.

No disrespect to you, and I'm not saying your idea is a bad one. That's why I say that maybe others
will think differently. I'm just saying that I have zero interest in spending the time to do that.

Charlie
  by Patrick Boylan
 
I'm not trying to compel anyone to micromanage, or even respond to my ramblings. I hope those who agree with me will post in this thread, as I hope those who disagree with me will also post. Anyone of course who has better things to do is welcome to use their time for the benefit of mankind, leaving this nitpicking stuff to those of us who don't have anything better to do.

One other thing I hope is that anyone who thinks a thread title's bad won't just say so, but will also offer a suggested improved title.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Patrick Boylan wrote:Folks, I'm tipping my hand pretty early here, chances are what I list here will be examples of what I think are bad titles...
That was my crusade for years... I would often edit a thread title to better reflect what the subject was about, and encouraged other moderators to do the same. Not only is it important for search (casual and indexed), but I think it also instructs the members about what we expect... By all means, edit vague thread titles, combine redundant threads, split clear tangents into their own new topics, and make this site easier for all members to read and use!

I speaks to you as a lowly volunteer moderator, and remind you I no longer have any admin or ownership rights on this site. I'm just expressing my opinion as a regular member like you guys! Jeff Smith is the admin now, and you all should be developing policy with him.

-otto-
  by Otto Vondrak
 
charlie6017 wrote:Maybe some of the other moderators will think differently, but I'm not about to spend hours combing
through the forums I moderate. To me, that's kind of micro-managing and I'm not doing that here. There's
not enough hours in a day already sometimes.
Then ask for help or add a co-moderator. No one should feel like they are being put-upon. You're all volunteers doing a hard job. What's more, you shouldn't have to spend hours combing through the forums, especially if you put a quick eye on every new thread that comes up. There's no reason to have to wade through months of posts to make edits... Nor does every new thread require an edit.

Did I mention we're all volunteers?

-otto-
  by MEC407
 
I encounter this issue in the Pan Am forum occasionally. Well-intentioned members will start threads with titles like "Derailment" or "POED on the ground" -- I usually edit these to be more specific, such as changing "Derailment" to "Derailment on the Watertown Branch 03-05-2009" or changing "POED on the ground" to "POED on the ground in Biddeford 11-29-2008." Not that I'm implying anything about the frequency of Pan Am's derailments. :wink: I just think it's preferable to have non-generic subject titles, lest we end up with a dozen different "Derailment" threads.

Sometimes people will find news articles about Pan Am and they'll use a subject of "Pan Am in the news." In cases like that I'll usually change it to reflect the subject of the article, like "Pan Am fined for EPA violations at East Deerfield" or "South Portland residents concerned about PAR oil spills." (Again, not implying anything!)
  by Otto Vondrak
 
MEC407 wrote:I encounter this issue in the Pan Am forum occasionally. Well-intentioned members will start threads with titles like "Derailment" or "POED on the ground" -- I usually edit these to be more specific, such as changing "Derailment" to "Derailment on the Watertown Branch 03-05-2009" or changing "POED on the ground" to "POED on the ground in Biddeford 11-29-2008."
Yes, by all means, reports of news should have details so we know what incident we're talking about.

"Derailment" - bad. This could be anywhere, anytime, any place.

"Derailment today" - actually worse. every day is "today!"

"Derailment today near my house" no wait, this is worse. today? at your house? which is where again?

BETTER:

"CSX derailment" - at least we know which railroad

"CSX derailment - 9/25" now we know which railroad and what date

"CSX derailment near Podunkville - 9/25" - okay now we have the basics. what road, what happened, where did it happen, and when.

-otto-
  by Patrick Boylan
 
these new threads popped up within the last week

Queston about Conductors
New employee - division question

this one's a bit more forgivable
Crescent Questions/Comments
since it implies there are more questions than can easily fit into the subject line. In all these cases though there's not enough in the subject to make me want to open the thread. For all I know, the first one could be "How does a conductor help dog bite man?"
  by Patrick Boylan
 
Really Random Article http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=124514
it's got 2 replies. Does this imply what I've implied before: if the title doesn't describe the contents well it kind of doesn't give much incentive to read the thread.

Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=48823
this is one of my favorite, or infamous redundant titles. How about going whole hog, rename it "Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread Conversation place to Talk about Discussing Downeaster Train on Amtrak"?
  by MEC407
 
I'm reminded of the time I went to Home Depot to have a key duplicated. After 10 minutes of trying to find an associate, I finally found one, and asked him where I should go to get a key duplicated. He said "the hardware aisle" and walked away. I thought to myself, "The 'hardware aisle'? Really? THIS IS A HARDWARE STORE. Every [email protected]#$#% aisle is a hardware aisle!"
  by Patrick Boylan
 
http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=141517
Niagara Falls question
and it turns out the question is why do trains go so slowly between Niagara Falls and Buffalo.
There's plenty of room in the subject line to have said something like "why so slow Niagara Falls to Buffalo Exchange Street".
I private message asked the poster why he thinks his subject's a better one to use, he replied
Why does that matter? What is your point?
  by MEC407
 
"Train speeds Niagara Falls to Buffalo" also would've been perfectly acceptable.

Why does it matter? It matters because "Niagara Falls Question" is extremely vague and could refer to literally thousands or millions of different questions.