It was a bit of a side topic in the thread last night about giving other people access to some organizational tools for topics, so I wanted to have a more specific discussion about how we should handle title-editing.
Editing titles is definitely a useful ability, both for being able to fix typos/mistakes as well as remove editorialization or misleading phrasing, or even update the title later if the story progresses and the original title is no longer correct. However, it can also be confusing or mis-used—the title is the main way that we (the users on the site) identify a particular topic, and when the title changes it can be difficult to recognize what happened.
So I just want to have a general discussion about how we should handle title-editing, and especially whether we should allow people to edit their own topics' titles, and if there should be any restrictions on that. For example, should a topic's author only be allowed to edit the title in the first 5 minutes? Should they always be able to edit it, like they can always edit the post text itself? Maybe it varies, based on their history/account-age/something-else?
One thing to keep in mind is that this doesn't need to be a system that's immune to abuse. If someone uses the title-editing to change a popular ~music post's title into a Star Wars spoiler or something, we don't just shrug and go, "oh well, they're allowed to edit titles, nothing we can do." We edit the title back, and either take that ability away from them or ban them from the site entirely if it was done maliciously. Trust people, but punish abusers is a good approach in my opinion—we don't need to hobble features constantly to try to make them un-abusable.
Also, whatever we decide to do doesn't necessarily need to be kept forever. We can always try something, and if it obviously isn't working very well, we just change it. Decisions about how the site works don't need to be final, it's very difficult to predict how features will actually be used in practice.
Anyway, let me know what you think. Thanks.