My comments here speak of the title Lady and Lord. My underlying feelings also apply to people using most any title, be it shaman, sage, mage, magus, psychic and so on.
The regional pagan gatherings are where I have been rightfully exposed to titles. This occurs outside of coven events and in the protective "bubble" of the pagan gathering. It is to this that I would like to speak. The titles seem to be recognition of rank or training (trad eldership?). It has been explained to me that it is a shorthand way of saying, "I’ve done my time and have some type of rank/degree". On the whole, the people using these titles are credible and do so with a degree of personal integrity.
I strongly suspect the relative integrity of titles at gatherings is a person-to-person thing. The misuse of a title is quickly ended when the poser is busted by others. The group personal presence somehow asks for a bit more personal integrity about titles. Additionally, I am thinking of the quality people I meet at the pagan gatherings. Outside of these local encounters, I have no patience or stomach for the will-nilly use of titles on the Internet.
This raises the question: is the use of titles an advertising of rank or ability? Perhaps it does on the internet. At a gathering I don't thing a title is an advertising gimmick. I believe it is done out of respect instead of a need to put the wares out for customers. The respect is akin to recognition of eldership or dedication to their path, whatever it may be.
I'm of the opinion that a title only gets a person so far. Having a title/degree says something about their dedication to their path. It is up to others to decide how much more it means. Having a degree in one tradition does not automatically give the same status in other traditions. IMO respect is very much earned from one tradition to another. While titles are acknowledged, the abilities behind them are open to testing before full acceptance. I suppose this the source of those "tell me your lineage" type question. While lineage does not automatically prove anything, an idea of who’s one teachers where is an indication of potential ability and knowledge. The lineage game can be overdone. Those who are doing magical workings with others have the right to confirm a 'safe' environment. Outside of this, the nuts-n-bolts of a title should not be automatically open to scrutiny, and if it is, the scrutiny should go both ways.
Titles can be confusing or useful to Newbies. I suppose the newbie could sit back and see how and when people are addressed by titles. The usage should only be a guidepost. There is a lot more work a newbie needs to do before assuming all is gold coming from a titled priest(ess)/teacher/elder.
People LOVE names. Some are addicted to their titles. So? It is part of the human experience. Gatherings are places to step out and walk the mystical side. General titles used with personal integrity are fine in my book. I guess my point is that the general use of the titles Lady and Lord are used at people's discretions. People who insist on wielding them should expect some questions of validity. Those who INSIST on being called Lady or Lord outside of ceremony or a traditional group activity can be looked upon with a suspect eye. I give everyone else the benefit of the doubt, knowing that the test of time will show how true those titles really are.