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I've encountered a number of times when a question has a misspelled title (here's the most recent one; as you can see in the edit history, it originally said "Isomorophism between modules").

Turns out, this seems likely to be a lazy way to get around the "A questions with this title already exists. Please be more specific" error.

First, of course, this happens in particular with vague titles, which we want to discourage in any case. Second, it creates issues going forward, since misspelled titles like the one above would not show up on a search.

Is there a way to be a bit more emphatic with that warning? In any case, I would encourage people who notice such misspellings to fix them.

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  • $\begingroup$ tilde in google might pick it up. and it actually had isomorphic in the edit history. $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee Aug 16 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ math.stackexchange.com/search?q=isomorophism common typo. $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee Aug 16 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ " "this seems likely to be a lazy way to get around the "A questions with this title already exists. Please be more specific" error." or maybe was just a typo. $\endgroup$ – Isabella Aug 16 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee: 8 hits in a site with almost 1,130,000 questions does not merit calling it "common". $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 16 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ how many are duplicates among those. it only takes 20% duplication to make this 25% common. $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee Aug 16 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee: Huh? Duplicates of what? Look, there are over 38,000 hits to "isomorphism", there were 8 hits to "isomorophism". Unless you are claiming that there used to be over 9000 misspellings that have been corrected, it just is not "common" by any reasonable measure. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 16 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ morophism has 13 for homo, 3 for auto, 1 for holo, etc. $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee Aug 16 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee You are still talking about at most a dozen for each, among tens of thousands if not millions. And if you want to do that, fine. "morophism" gives me 1 hit; morphism gives me 16,802. "automorophism" gives me 3 hits, "automorphism" gives me 11,272; "holomorophism" gives me 1 hit, "holomorphism" gives 156; "endomorophism" gives 1 hit, "endomorphism: gives 4096; and "morophism" gives 1 hit, while "morphism" gives 16802. Unless someone changed the definition of "common" while I wasn't looking, these are not common. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 16 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ contradiction with your earlier claim of 1,130,000 on the site as a whole. I make a lot of typos just like this when fast typing. I usually edit them later. $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee Aug 16 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee: "A site with 1,130,000 questions", not "1,130,000 posts with the word "homomorphism"." So, next time you want to claim a "contradiction", perhaps read carefully ? $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 16 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee: Sigh; since you can't be bothered and prefer to guess, fine: "homeomorphism": 1 hit; "homeomorphism": 10,562. "epimorophism": 0 hits; "epimorphism": 2,116; "split" is a separate word, so it would be caught under "morphism"; "monomorophism": 0 hits; "monomorphism": 1,988; "endomorphism" I already did; "normal" is a separate word; "zero" is a separate word. It's just not a common misspelling. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 16 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ In the past it was possible to post a Question with a duplicate title, whence an editor gets stuck with being unable to make corrections or clarifications to the body without also resolving the title duplication. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Aug 17 at 2:51
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    $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee: So no you are trying to fold in different misspellings after claiming a particular one was “common.” Do everyone a favor and stop digging. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 17 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee: “Cop to frustration” means that I admitted that frustration was part of my motivation. What you are doing is certainly not that; instead, you are insisting on trying to justify a claim that is patently erroneous, now by looking at things that are not even related to the original claim. Since you apparently are concerned about your data usage, perhaps you can use it more constructively by not continuing to dig the hole you currently find yourself in. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 17 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ @RoddyMacPhee: My last comment: Look up “moving the goalposts.” Your claim was that the specific misspelling was common. It’s not. That is all. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 17 at 22:01
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First let me stress that I certainly agree that there is a problem with 'lazy' titles. A strategy I noticed is to to add adhoc numbering.

That said, you wrote:

as you can see in the edit history, it originally said "Isomorophism between modules"

However, in actual fact originally it said "isomorophic of module" where the motivation does not apply anymore. Further, in the body it then says "are isomorphi".

Thus, I'd assume honest typing and language issues or less charitably general carelessness, yet not some more subtle motive.

The title you mentioned came about in the second revision, by somebody else. For them I'd assume they had overlooked this particular problem when they thought they were 'transforming' "isomorphic" to "Isomorphism" and thus the extra "o" in error stayed there.

For the warning. Frankly, I am not sure that a 'better' warning would help all that much. Given that such things are not changeable easily, I would not consider it as a priority. In any case, we also say at other places that and why users should use telling titles, for instance on this advice page every new user must confirm to keep in mind.

I agree, of course, that it is important to fix such titles. Such an edit could be accompanied by an explanatory comment, maybe something like:

I changed your title. Please be especially careful when choosing a title. There are many new posts every day and the title is all that some users that could potentially answer your question will ever read of your post. Moreover, try to make sure to get the spelling correct as this is important for users finding your post via searches. If there already is a question with the same title, try to add more details to the title rather then to modify it in a superficial way.

To stress how it is in their own best interest to be specific maybe could have more impact.

In fact, as Arnaud D. recalls, there is also template along these lines. See List of comment templates

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    $\begingroup$ I will cop to frustration; it was the fourth or fifth time in about a week or so that I had run into this problem: question with an obvious misspelling in title, which when corrected ran into the “There’s already a question with this title” warning message. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Aug 17 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, I had to scan the help page several times before I found where it even spoke about titles. It is unfortunate that the site-specific advice is presented with a completely different typography than the general SE-standard advice below the search box -- my eyes wanted the itemized list on top to be a summary of the more detailed text below, and kept skipping it. But there's probably nothing we can do to help that either. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 17 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm it's possible that the bigger headlines below draw attention away from the start. That said, it does not seem to me to be the case that new user follow the rest of the advice all that much. This page is likely actually easier to get changed since it is already site specific. Thus, if there are specific suggestions we might be able to get it changed. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 17 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ @ArturoMagidin possibly more impactfull than a warning could be a comment on specific cases. I'll add a bit to the answer. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 17 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ If one wants to leave a comment to suggest to edit the title, one option is to use the template in the list. There are also templates for the use of MathJax and vertical height, but it's not really related. $\endgroup$ – Arnaud D. Aug 19 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ @ArnaudD. Ah right, I should've thought of checking there. I added a link to the answer. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 19 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ @ArnaudD. I have added also a comment template with a very similar wording, but linking to the newer "How to ask" post. If somebody has some time to look at the templates, any improvements are more than welcome. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 21 at 10:14

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