The following question was asked and then flagged.


By all accounts it is inappropriate for Programmers, more appropriate for Stack Overflow but still should be considered "Not a Real Question" on SO. Moderator Thomas Owens added a comment with the hopes of the question being improved before migration, however this occurred after somebody had already provided an equally bad answer that shortly after was accepted by the user who wrote the question.

What is the right thing to do here? The question DOES NOT belong here but by all accounts it would just fall like a terrible needle into a stack of needles on SO. The question and answer are so poor that it will never benefit anybody and it will never get appropriate moderator attention over there. The active SO community that actively participates and flags bad questions is hopelessly outnumbered by the legion so it like every other bad question over there will fall into obscurity.

Do we close and delete it because it doesn't belong on SO? If we do then are we setting the precedent then that we may be making moderation decisions for questions that belong on a different SE site than Programmers? Is this acceptable because we know that if we don't then we are just adding to the growing malignant "Plz teh codez! Plz teh designz!" cancer on SO?

  • 1
    The question doesn't belong on SO, at least not as is. That's a clear cut decision. The OP has the chance to improve it, and if he does he can flag it and ask for it to be moved and we can review it again. There are a ton of similar questions on SO though, even a vastly superior version of the question would probably be closed in minutes as a duplicate. But, that's not our concern, our concern is the version of the question we happen upon, we can't really wait for ever to see how a question will change over time. Close early, it's just a peer review mechanism, and we can re-open if improved.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 13:11

2 Answers 2


The first rule of migration is:

Don't migrate crap *

So if the question is on topic for somewhere else, but is a "bad" question then it should be just closed as off topic in place rather than migrated.

Comments should be posted to encourage the user to either:

  1. Improve the question so it can be migrated.
  2. Go to the target site and search there for similar questions that might answer their question. This should also demonstrate that they need to ask a better question.

* Here "crap" covers a multitude of sins and basically means "bad question" where "bad" is relative to the other questions on the target site.


To add to Chris's answer, should the question have been cleaned up, I would have also cleaned up the answers as well prior to migration. The rule Don't migrate crap should extend to answers as well as questions. Although it's likely some suboptimal answers get migrated alongside a good question, the migration of bad answers should be minimized at the point of origin.

However, at this point, the person asking the question has been seen after I posted the comment, had what I considered sufficient time to improve the question, and has not. Because of that, I simply closed the question as off-topic so crap wasn't migrated.

As far as deciding if migration is in order goes:

  1. Look at the question. Is the question a good one? Is it well written? Does it have what I would consider sufficient detail?
  2. Check the comments and answers. Are there crap answers? Are there link only answers? Are there any invalid, rude, or unncessary comments? If there are any, clean them up before migration.
  3. Check the user's status on the potential target site. If they appear to be trying to evade a block, I close as off-topic without migration. Otherwise, I can potentially migrate.
  4. If I'm not pretty sure the question is a good fit, I can ping the other mods (when I'm not at work, since WebSense blocks chat.stackexchange.com these days, sadly) and confirm with them that the question is now in good shape. However, I'd probably close for off-topic and leave a comment letting the user know what other sites exist and that I'm consulting with the mods on those sites to see if it's good in its present form.

However, when it comes to migration, a few things do bother me (and I've cleaned some up in the past):

  1. Users that don't understand another community suggesting the poster ask there. Don't! First of all, you don't know what that community accepts. I (or any other mod) might not either, but it's easy for us to check. Second, cross-posting is bad - migration is better.
  2. Duplicates of good, on-topic questions are a good thing, except for exact, word-for-word copy duplicates. Once in the right place, the question can be closed as a duplicate. Now, there are more indexed search terms that people can use to find answers.
  3. One community can't be expected to police another community. There are only simple checks that I can do to see if a question belongs. I can check the FAQ of another community, I can check the user's profile, and I can ping their mods. I'm not going to construct lots of searches and and hunt around their Meta for 20 minutes.

TLDR: Don't migrate crap extends to answers and comments as well as questions. Moderators on one site shouldn't be expected to fully police another site, but some basic checks are in order to ensure any migration is appropriate.

  • This makes sense. I was trying to figure out our level of effort here. If I feel that it might belong on english.stackexchange.com let's say, then I will now have to familiarize myself with their FAQ before I should expertly migrate it. With StackOverflow this isn't a problem, just check for cross posts and ban status and we all know what it is about. The other sites I am less intimately familiar with. Bottom line is, do your best.
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:39
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    Well, we can delete answers before migration... If the question is any good that is...
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:41
  • Yeah. I'm kind of familiar with PM (but tend to advocate keeping questions exclusive toward software project management here). Not familiar with things like Security, UX, Unix/Linux, DBA, and some of the other sites that might be similar in nature. I might tend to close->ping->migrate for those.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:42
  • @Yannis That's what I'm referring to. If the question is good (or made to be good), delete any crap comments and answers prior to migration. Apply "don't migrate crap" to all content being moved to a different site.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:43
  • @maple_shaft Before you migrate to any site: Come to TL and ask the site's mods. That's it, plain and simple, there's nothing else you should be doing, even if you feel you are familiar enough with the target site.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:44
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    @YannisRizos I disagree. If you understand the other site and its subject matter extremely well, there's no reason to not migrate. I feel confident migrating to Stack Overflow, assuming the user doesn't look like they are doing anything funny. For other sites, I'd tend to ping first, depending on the question.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:48
  • @ThomasOwens SO is an exception because we overlap in expertise (and because it's so vast and full of crap, a couple of wrong migrations from our side won't really hurt them). However the simple thing to do is ping the target site's mods. If you feel confident the question should be migrated, by all means go for it... But if you have some doubts, then ping the target site's mods.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:49
  • @Yannis That makes more sense. I interpreted your previous comment as "always ping the mods". If you're an active contributor and participant on another site, you can probably make the judgement call on your own.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:56
  • @ThomasOwens You interpreted it right: always ping the mods. That's the rule. And there are common sense exceptions to the rule, the best example of which is ChrisF, being a mod on DYI and WebApps... Of course I wouldn't expect him to ping the mods there before migrating from here.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 13:06
  • @YannisRizos Wow, I forgot there was a DIY.SE site! Can't say how much I wish that site was there 4 years ago.
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 13:17
  • @maple_shaft There are so many of them, it's hard to keep track...
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 13:19
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    @Thomas As for your third point: You don't need to guess if OP is question banned, if you try to migrate a question to a site where OP is question banned the migration will be rejected automatically.
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 13:31
  • @YannisRizos Perhaps not just question banned, but also if it's a copy-paste duplicate or if something just looks wrong. If the user just looks like they are doing something fishy, I'd consult with the mods on the target site to get to the bottom of it and decide what to do.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 13:35
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    @ThomasOwens Yes, checking for cross posts is an unfortunate burden that we can't get rid of... Or can we?
    – yannis
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 13:36

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