We have all seen it: a user asks a question on Software Engineering that belongs on a different site. There are many technology sites on Stack Exchange, and sometimes navigating the lot of them to find the right site for a question can be daunting for new users.

Sometimes, another user will respond to an off-topic question by saying "post at site XYZ!" The user who asked the question may then post a cross-site duplicate, which has its own set of problems:

  • The site recommendation might not be appropriate to begin with.
  • The question might be on-topic at the other site, but require editing to avoid being closed at that site.
  • Asking on multiple sites may result in two messes to clean up.
  • The user asking the question gets bounced between sites, which is almost as bad as calling a cable company for customer support and being bounced between departments. I just want an answer to my question and nobody here knows where I belong.

While we have guidance for specific instances of this issue (What goes on Software Engineering (previously known as Programmers)? A guide for Stack Overflow and Which computer science / programming Stack Exchange do I post in?), what is the general guidance for dealing with users who recommend asking on another site when the question is off-topic?

3 Answers 3


The general guidance is simple: don't. Never recommend to another user that they should take their question somewhere else.

Never use a comment to suggest other sites - it simply leads to cross-posting. And if the question isn't a high quality question or isn't appropriate for the community that you suggest, and it ends up getting down votes and close votes on the other site, the asker could end up in a situation where they encounter an automatic question ban. That's not a good thing.

When a user asks a question on Software Engineering, first see if it's on-topic here. Some subjects may be on-topic on multiple sites. For example, questions about data structures and algorithms may be on-topic on both Software Engineering and Computer Science, questions about Scrum may be on-topic on both Software Engineering and Project Management, and questions about using an open-source project in your project may be on-topic on both Software Engineering and Open Source. This is OK and to be expected. Each site is a community of experts, and experts in different fields may have overlapping knowledge.

If you've asked the question and you think it should be migrated to another site, do flag it for moderator attention. You can do this right away, if you feel that you've posted here in error, or you can wait a while.

If you aren't the asker of the question, then you have a few options...

If a question is off-topic on Software Engineering and you can vote to migrate it to the appropriate site, please do so. Software Engineering has a migration target to Stack Overflow that is open to everyone to use. If you think it is off-topic here and needs to go somewhere else, flag it for moderator review. Moderators can migrate questions to any site on the network.

If a question is not off-topic on Software Engineering, simply do nothing... at least right away. If it's been a while and it's not getting answers or you think that it would get better answers somewhere else, flag it for moderator attention. Explain why you think it would get better answers somewhere else.

If you know of similar questions on other sites, do link to those as comments. They may be helpful to the asker. If you feel like it, it's OK to reference answers on other sites, remembering the proper attribution required by CC BY-SA license that applies to all content on Stack Exchange. You could build a summary answer of knowledge on one or more sites. If you feel that it's appropriate, you can also make answers Community Wiki to lower the barrier to entry.

I made a little flowchart to go through how I think when I open any question. I first read it, and then go through this process:

question flow

  • Good answer. Actually, I did suggest other SE sites to people in the past, but last time I did so, I added a statement like "beware, we have a strict no-crossposts policy here in the SE network" to that comment. To my experience, if questioners take the time to read (and follow) a recommendation for another site, they also take the time to read (and follow) that remark.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 13:30

The general rule is to not recommend other sites in comments. It's more effective to flag the question for moderator attention and explain why the question would be a good fit on the other site. Recommending other sites frequently leads to cross-posts and split content across sites.

But if you really need to recommend another site in a comment, there are several things to keep in mind when making the recommendation:

  • Each site has a help center with a list of on-topic topics: here is the one for Software Engineering. Before recommending that a user post on another site, please be familiar with what is on-topic there. That page will typically have links to meta questions that go into more detail. If you are not sure if a question is appropriate for another site, the answer is "no".

  • If a question is more appropriate for another site, it may still need editing to meet quality guidelines. We do not migrate questions that will be immediately closed because of quality. Nor do we encourage users to cross-post questions that will be immediately closed because of quality. Fix the question first.

    • It may be more appropriate to let the question close. The user can then ask in the other site's chat or meta for help before reposting the question, with a link to the closed question.

    • We can edit the closed question and either reopen it and migrate it if there is a migration path, or flag it for a moderator to migrate it if there is not a migration path (moderators can migrate to any site).

  • If you are not sure where a question belongs and you feel it is a good-quality question, the right thing to do is join The Whiteboard chat and ask what to do. If you have enough reputation to leave a comment, you also have enough reputation to join chat.

  • Finally, you can always just do nothing. Stack Exchange uses community moderation: there are enough active members in the community that not everyone needs to speak up about every issue. Someone else who has a better feel for the situation will come along and take care of it.

  • 2
    I think I would make the opening guidance of "Don't! Unless you know the other site well and are an active member of their community."
    – user53019
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 14:21
  • 1
    @GlenH7 then edit it. I won't be offended. This was more of a brain dump than anything, I fully expect the community to help improve it.
    – user22815
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 14:23

In general, do not suggest posting between sites. What generally happens is the asker goes ahead and asks again without heeding the advice "...but check the help center" or "...but delete this one first."

The only acceptable time to propose posting on another site is when the following three conditions are met:

  1. The question is closed on Software Engineering.

  2. Portions of the question are applicable on different sites. For example: a question that asks about software design and licensing. It would then be appropriate to say "now that it is closed, split this into two questions. Keep the first half here, ask the second half at Open Source." Once the edits are done, we reopen the on-topic half here at Software Engineering.

  3. The person making the recommendation is intimately familiar with the scope of both sites. He would be comfortable with the moderators at both sites being violent psychopaths who knows where he lives.

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