There are many discussions (1 2 3 4 5 6) about what is currently on/off topic or what should be on/off-topic. That question is asked again and again but the way this community is managed it is not going to answered anytime soon.

Meanwhile, moderators & community are doing their job by closing many questions from sometimes desperate programmers seeking help from other programmers (this is us).

Instead of closing the questions by only stating that it's off topic, should we seek for viable alternatives to propose them?

This would help to make the internet better, correct? A place where people could find help from their peers.

Or should we consider that it's not our problem.

  • 1
    What are you proposing? That we still answer off topic questions? All that will happen then is that we'll get more and more of these which will eventually swamp the on topic ones.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 12:58
  • @ChrisF: no no, I have nothing to propose. I want to know if it's in the mindset of this community to redirect OP to an alternative and close, or simply ignore and close. If it's something we may consider, then I'll try to do concrete proposals, but at this stage, I'm still seeking for opinions. It really hurts me when a desperate OP is closed and left alone.
    – user2567
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 13:01
  • Ah - so we'd post something in the comments that said "try Quora" (or whatever)?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 13:11
  • @ChrisF: why not, but there is also communities within stack exchange that could do the trick. My question is: should be make this (redirection) mandatory or a way to do things
    – user2567
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 13:27
  • 4
    If something is on topic elsewhere on the Stack Exchange network it should be migrated there. If you flag it for moderator attention we will do so (assuming we agree and the question is of sufficient quality). I assumed you were asking about questions which were off topic everywhere.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 13:43
  • 1
    No my question was more general. I know there is some area51 proposals that are getting "in shape". I'm just questionning the "procedure". Should we have one?
    – user2567
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


Depending on the question, I try to add a pointer in the right direction in comments either another site or a starting point for solving the OP's problem. I think that's a reasonable approach.

I don't think answering off-topic questions is a good way to go. As ChrisF mentioned in his comment, that would eventually lead to off-topic swarming the on-topic.

So, in general, I'd say if you have something to offer to the OP on an off-topic question, feel free to make a comment and point them in the right direction.


The "procedure" (in my view) for off-topic questions should be:

  1. Is it on-topic on one of the defined migration choices? As of this writing it's only our meta or Stack Overflow, though this will could increase to include Project Management and QA and Testing. If so then vote to migrate.

  2. Is it on-topic for one of the other sites in the network? Code Golf or UX spring to mind. If so then flag for moderator attention stating where you think it should go and we'll deal with it.

  3. Is it on-topic for a site currently in definition or commitment stage at Area 51? If so then vote to close as off topic, but leave a comment directing the OP at the proposal. Their involvement may be just what the site needs to get off the ground.

  4. If there's no where else then just vote to close as off topic direct them to Area 51 itself where they can start their own proposal if their so inclined.

  • 5. If the question doesn't fit the SE model in general, direct to Quora or some other resource?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 20:10
  • @Anna - yes I guess so. Feel free to edit it into the answer.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 20:14
  • I think that migration to superuser, serverfault and ux should also be possible.
    – user281377
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 6:28
  • @ammoQ - if you can find questions that have been migrated to those sites (or simply closed when they should have been) let us know. Jeff only enables migration paths if there's evidence that they're needed.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 7:40
  • ChrisF: A currenct example for a question that has been reasked on ux: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/83714/… I will keep my eyes open for more examples, especially superuser and serverfault
    – user281377
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 8:25
  • @ammoQ - if you could create a meta question and post the links you find on that it would help. It keeps them all in one place, others can add to the list and we've got a single location to point the team at.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 8:28
  • OK, I will do that as soon as I have a few links.
    – user281377
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 8:30
  • @ammoQ @ChrisF UX is still in beta, isn't it? I don't think we'll get a migration path enabled until the beta period ends.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 20:47
  • @ammoQ, @Anna - Oops, my mistake, no migration paths until the site is out of beta. However, that shouldn't stop you looking for potential candidates.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 20:48

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