Title length restrictions are not obvious


(Mikulas Dite) #1

I’ve set up a discourse forum for a new community and this was the very first complaint: “why has the new thread title input turned red, preventing me from posting?” It is fairly obvious to us developers, but traditional users do not know what the red input represents. Might be there are invalid words, topic already exists, or the user cannot create a thread for whatever reason - these are the options that cross users mind, making the red input ambiguous.

It would be great to state what the actual error is so users know what to fix.


(Régis Hanol) #2

The title input will only turn red when the title entered is too short (as per the “min_topic_title_length” site setting).
There is a “(n) to go for the title” message right below the composer to inform the user.
If no one is actually seeing it, one solution would be to change the color in the CSS so that it is more visible.

Regarding the other reasons you mentionned, they will only happen once you submit your post as the check can only be done server-side. They should have a descriptive error message though (eg. topic alread exists, title doesn’t match entropy),


(Jeff Atwood) #3

Well, this is why I wanted to flash the message red as you type.

Perhaps a good compromise here is to flash the (n) to go message red as you type, only for new users?

That way it won’t bug experienced users, but new users get “just in time” education about this.


(Mikulas Dite) #4

Oh, neither I nor anybody else I discussed it noticed that message. Beside the coloring, it’s also inappropriately located - below the body input while the message regards title input. Due to that, flashing the error might not help.


(Jeff Atwood) #5

Flashing as you type, not on error. That’d be hard to miss, I think…

As long as this behavior is limited to new users, it should be OK – we can tie it to the same counters we use to show the new user education panel that pops up when you begin typing the body of your first two topics or your first two posts.


(Sam Saffron) #6

We could super-impose the “N to go” text on the INPUT, to tie the information.


(Jeff Atwood) #7

I’d rather that users learn to look in that standard area for status messages, saving drafts, and so forth… rather than shifting it around willy-nilly.

Changing the color from grey to red, and fading back to grey, on each keypress for new users should suffice, I think.


(Vaibhav Garg) #9

Well, not everyone looks at the screen when typing. Some people type everything all at once looking only at the keyboard!


(sparr) #10

“n to go for the title” is not a great label (especially if it fails to update after each character, as people are used to seeing on twitter and such). Perhaps “n/m required title length” or something similar? Also, the position is not great, it’s not near the title field. Since @codinghorror doesn’t want to move it, perhaps there could be some visual connection between the two places?


(Lowell Heddings) #11

I think the simplest solution is that when the user inevitably clicks on the disabled Create Topic button, they should be alerted and insulted that their title is not long enough, and perhaps if they left a descriptive title, they wouldn’t look like such a newb.

The same thing for the minimum reply. If they click the Reply button and they haven’t entered enough text, show them a popup with a More info link that sends them to an explanation of the like button and how to stop being a pointless person with nothing to say.

Edit: I just noticed the ghost of @codinghorror in my screenshot, adding his disapproval. That’s almost a great feature idea.


(Lowell Heddings) #12

That’s a very good point. Which is why they need to be alerted once they click the mouse, at which point they will be looking directly at the screen.


(Régis Hanol) #13

Actually, the (n) represents the number of characters minus the non-significant whitespaces. This means that it does not count the spaces before and after the actual text nor does it count multiple spaces inside the text.

If you’ve encountered other occurrences where the counter fails to update, then please report it.


(sparr) #14

I don’t know that I’ve seen it in the title, but for comments I often see “17 to go for the reply” for the duration of typing my reply, and I just ignore it.


(Régis Hanol) #15

Next time you see it, do you mind sharing a repro?


(sparr) #16

what’s a repro? (blah blah)


(Régis Hanol) #17

Sorry, “repro” means “reproduction”.

This basically means that I’d like to get a list of steps that I can follow to reproduce the bug so that it can be identified and fixed.


(Jeff Atwood) #18

Who looks up and uses their mouse to click submit? Just press tab then space. :smiley:


(Lowell Heddings) #19

Yeah, you aren’t going to change regular user behavior on that one.

The easiest solution is a message when they click the button, and yes, I know the button is disabled. They are still clicking on it.


(sparr) #20

I deal with too many web forms where tab-space doesn’t work. Maybe it’s tab-enter, or tab-tab-space (because there’s another field, like a “subscribe to replies” checkbox in between the textbox and the submit button), or tab-tab-enter, or maybe there’s no keyboard shortcut for submit at all.


(Régis Hanol) #21

Just made a pull request for your suggestion that may be worth a try.