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People come to Programmers with their questions for a great many reasons. One apparently is that they've been question banned on Stack Overflow.

If we are supposed to treat questions from such people differently, say by how we instruct them in the comments, then we need some way to detect the ban. Is there such a way? Do we just look at their history on Stack Overflow and guess?

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    Do we have any actual numbers for how often this occurs? I know it is commonly asserted, but does anyone have any actual facts? – Philip Kendall Sep 4 '16 at 17:26
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    @PhilipKendall SE developers provided stats in answers to this question: How many questions do we get from users recently blocked at SO, how many of these are closed / deleted? Per my reading as of April 2016 about 20% questions at Programmers were asked by users blocked at SO. Stats from April 2015 seem to be lower, like 13-15% – gnat Sep 4 '16 at 19:04
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    a formal answer to this question is likely "no, we are not supposed to treat questions from such people differently". But with that much blatantly off-topic debugging garbage being dumped to site by these folks this answer would be like advice to close our eyes and pretend that there is no elephant in the room – gnat Sep 4 '16 at 19:39
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    @gnat I hear what your saying, but other than finally changing our name I honestly don't know what to do about that. – candied_orange Sep 5 '16 at 0:34
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    Migration can't occur if a user is question-banned on SO. – EKons Sep 5 '16 at 10:20
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No, there's absolutely no reason to treat a question differently if a user has been blocked from asking questions on a particular SE site.

If a question isn't a good fit here on Programmers, here's a good workflow:

The first thing to look for is questions that aren't a good fit anywhere. If it's primarily opinion based, too broad, or unclear, it's highly likely to be those anywhere in the network. Some communities may be a little more lenient than others, but they are generally applicable. Use one of these reasons if it applies.

If the question is off-topic here, but on-topic on a site that we have a migration path to (currently only Stack Overflow), you should vote to migrate that question. If the user is question banned, the migration will be automatically rejected and the question will be closed here anyway.

If the question isn't on-topic here and isn't suitable for migration, use one of the custom off-topic reasons. We currently have three - career or education advice, writing/debugging code (that doesn't meet the SO minimum guidelines and isn't suitable for migration), or recommendation.

If there's anything else wrong with the question, use a custom close reason. Most of the questions should fall into an existing reason, though.

  • If they're question banned on SO, there is no point in telling them to re-post (and improved version of) the question on SO. – CodesInChaos Sep 8 '16 at 9:39
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    @CodesInChaos No one should be telling them to repost their question anywhere at any time. Those comments are not helpful in any circumstance. – Thomas Owens Sep 8 '16 at 9:45
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    IMO it is appropriate to tell a user that a question would be on-topic on another side, provided certain improvements are made. Even one of your standard close reasons is such a comment: "Questions asking for assistance in writing or debugging existing code are off-topic on Programmers. These questions can be asked on Stack Overflow if they include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error, and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question itself." – CodesInChaos Sep 8 '16 at 9:49
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    @CodesInChaos That links to Help Center pages on SO and requires multiple users to agree before it appears. The reason I dislike individuals commenting to post to another site is that they rarely link to the Help Center for the site to define it and don't suggest reading about the community or asking before asking. There are a lot of people who suggest Programmers without having an account here or having an account with no more than the baseline reputation. They often suggest low quality questions be posted here. We shouldn't do that, and I delete comments suggesting other sites as I see them. – Thomas Owens Sep 8 '16 at 9:57
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    @CodesInChaos The correct thing to do is to either vote to close with a well-written close reason, vote to migrate, or flag for a moderator to migrate if you can't migrate to the intended site. We all know that cross posting is bad and it has the potential to read to a poor user experience if the question is not welcomed by the target community. It shouldn't be encouraged. – Thomas Owens Sep 8 '16 at 9:58
  • I'm talking about cases where the question is closed (or will be closed soon) and isn't fit for the target site in its current form. In those cases I sometimes add a comment that the question would be on-topic on another site, but only if they improve certain parts. – CodesInChaos Sep 8 '16 at 10:08
  • @CodesInChaos That's not as bad, and I probably won't delete those if you do the two things I mentioned above: link to the help center of the other site instead of their homepage and appear to have an understanding of the community there (have an account that has contributions there). Bonus points for explaining what the person can do to make their question acceptable. I'd also hope that you'd flag it if it is improved - if I see someone who requests migration to another site, I check to see if they are a participant there and will likely migrate if they are. – Thomas Owens Sep 8 '16 at 10:50
  • found this old post in the list of related questions at sidebar: "I think we have to assume good faith and that in the first instance people are posting code here by accident, but it would help if people could do a little double checking before voting to migrate to Stack Overflow..." -- given explanation in your answer this reasoning is probably outdated nowadays – gnat Sep 9 '16 at 12:09
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Information on whether or not a user is question-banned is considered privileged, moderator-only information, and even then, only on sites where you have diamond moderator privileges.

There are a number of reasons for this, the most notable being that, if this information were publicly available, folks could potentially use it to game the banning system.

  • can moderator at one site (say, Programmers) tell if a user is banned at another (say, Stack Overflow)? That is, without "testing" that by attempting to migrate – gnat Sep 4 '16 at 21:06
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    Not to my knowledge. They can only tell if a user is banned network-wide. – Robert Harvey Sep 4 '16 at 21:12
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    @RobertHarvey That's not true. If I cast a migrate-to-SO vote on a question and a user is question banned, I get a tooltip that says the migration was rejected. It doesn't say why - automatic question ban, suspension, or network-wide ban. That part is easy enough to figure out though by looking at their profile. – Thomas Owens Sep 5 '16 at 0:05
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    @ThomasOwens Gnat already covered that, above. – Robert Harvey Sep 5 '16 at 2:54
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Comments suggesting asker to try their luck at Stack Overflow tend to read as assumption that they are unaware of this site. This may feel awkward to asker if they are indeed an active user over there.

For such comments to be helpful, it makes sense to first check if a user you want to address them to really needs to be educated that Stack Overflow exists.

This is not really about looking for cryptic signs of a question ban, this is generally not even about Stack Overflow, it can be any other site at Stack Exchange network.

If you are going to teach someone about existence of some SE site (Stack Overflow or any other) it is a matter of simple courtesy to check whether they really need to be told about that site.

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    I deal in good faith with new users. If they're coming here with their off-topic questions, I assume it is because they're lost, not because they're question-banned (which is really irrelevant anyway. Off-topic is off-topic, regardless of their question-asking status). – Robert Harvey Sep 5 '16 at 19:45
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    @RobertHarvey agree. Good faith is a nice complement to knowledge. If you see a user who had 3-5 their recent questions at SO closed and voted down and whose profile shows that they have been at SO a few minutes prior to registering and asking for debugging help at Programmers, no need to blame them in attempting to circumvent a ban. Assume a fair mistake and politely ask why they picked Programmers instead of SO – gnat Sep 5 '16 at 20:08
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    ...as for knowledge, in some cases it is really needed to be nice. I am quite uncomfortable with blind suggestions to try Stack Overflow. It may look polite on the surface but in some cases what it really tells the asker is, "I dumped canned advice because I didn't bother to make two mouse clicks and check if it applies to you" – gnat Sep 5 '16 at 20:31
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Personally I think any user that is question banned on StackOverflow, should get an automatic question ban on Programmers and Database Admin.

I don't think a ban on one side should ban a user on all sites, as some sites have very different rules on how a question is asked. But a case can be made that a user who is unwilling or unable to learn what a site expects is best removed from all sites...

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