Does Title Length Matter? (Hint: I don't mind including this parenthetical statement)

Conventional wisdom has it that journalists should strive to cram as much information into as few sentences as possible. Entire books have been written about how modern man has no attention span.

So I decided to test this out. Here are about two thousand stories that have appeared on Reddit over the past few months, plotted with the length of their title vs. how many votes they got.

At a glance, there isn't a lot of correlation. To quantify this, we can use the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient.

 Correlation with title lengthp
Up votes0.1238e-8
Down votes0.1147e-7
Net votes0.1264e-8

(Crash course: r = 0 means no correlation, r = 1 means perfect correlation; p < .05 is usually considered "significant".)

So not only are longer titles better, they are significantly better, the exact opposite of what the conventional wisdom holds! (Of course, there may be confounding issues like articles with longer titles tend to be better written.)

It would be interesting to continue this for article length, but screen scraping to find the article content is a bit beyond my current technical prowess.

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