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There's a sad little loophole in the suspension/question-block system: migrations.

Example: Let's say you've been suspended on MSO, but you really, really want to post a question here now. All you need to do is:

  1. Go to any other site and ask your question.
  2. Chances are good that a moderator there will automatically migrate it here. If not, request it.
  3. Success! Your question is now on MSO.

Can this be fixed? The best approach, imo, is to check if the user already has an account at the destination, and if they do, if they're allowed to post.

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I think the request makes sense, although I'd hope the posts that this blocked weren't just crap that was better suited for burnination than migration. –  Tim Stone Aug 14 '11 at 1:39
    
@Tim - well, you can make your own call about the quality of this question. –  Dori Aug 14 '11 at 1:42
    
Ah, that's actually a pretty reasonable example in support of your request. –  Tim Stone Aug 14 '11 at 1:45
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If people vote to migrate it should just close as off-topic instead –  Michael Mrozek Aug 14 '11 at 2:36
    
Is that user suspended? I don't see a notice or the temporary 1 rep. –  Awesome Poodles Aug 14 '11 at 2:50
    
@Brock - the user self-reported being question-banned on MSO. –  Dori Aug 14 '11 at 2:51
    
Ah, question-blocked. Thanks, Dori. –  Awesome Poodles Aug 14 '11 at 2:56
    
an example "SO-targeted" off topic question at Programmers posted as a means to get round a post ban / quality filter at SO - by getting this question migrated to SO: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/116507/… Wonder if it is possible for a user to systematically trick the system in such a way? –  gnat Oct 31 '11 at 19:35
    
@gnat - In that particular case, the OP ran into the 50 question/month limit — but if he hadn't mentioned he couldn't post on SO, it might have been migrated. And yes, it is possible to trick the system in that way, hence my feature request. –  Dori Oct 31 '11 at 19:59
    
I see - actually I discovered your question when doing pre-check to one I was going to ask myself. Have to admit, the very idea that someone / anyone can post 50 off-topics/month at Programmers just to get them "successfully" migrated to SO scares the hell out of me. I am considering adding my bounty to your question when one from @Ninefingers expires –  gnat Oct 31 '11 at 20:06
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@gnat - Just to be clear, in that particular case: he posted 50 questions on SO which made him hit the limit. He then posted a question on programmers.se, and requested it be migrated to SO. –  Dori Nov 1 '11 at 22:43
    
@Dori you are right. This stuff seems to be rather difficult to learn for a non-mod guy like me :) –  gnat Nov 2 '11 at 6:23

4 Answers 4

up vote 24 down vote accepted

I'd suggest that users which engage in any behavior to overcome a single site ban should be introduced to the multi-site ban.

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I'm not disagreeing with the goal, but it's a different (and much larger) feature request. –  Dori Aug 14 '11 at 1:31

I've added a "suspended" block (at some future deploy) - I wonder, though; on the "can ask" check - I would hope that a really bad question would simply be closed at source. This check is useful when asking directly as there is no feasible review process, however... is it too optimistic of me to hope that "don't migrate rubbish" would apply when it is being eye-balled?

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True, but if some friendly user decides to improve the question it could still end up migrated, probably better to be safe than sorry. But you're right: stop migrating rubbish! –  Ivo Flipse Oct 28 '11 at 13:54
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I think the problem here isn't junk being migrated... I too hope such stuff would simply be obliterated. I think the problem is people getting question-banned ("sorry, we are no longer accepting questions..."), then asking on other sites the question they want answered with enough quality to be deemed passable for migration. That's a workaround to the question ban... –  user142852 Oct 28 '11 at 13:58
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The other issue is people trying to sidestep the rate limit as well. And don't forget the users on the other site might not be as critical as SO users or the automatic script. –  ChrisF Oct 28 '11 at 14:07
    
@Marc - should I split this into two questions? It sounds as if you've fixed the smaller of the two issues, but not the larger. And as for migrating crap, that's another separate issue entirely, and one I wasn't trying to address here. –  Dori Oct 29 '11 at 0:48
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@Dori it is included next build, so : probs not. –  Marc Gravell Nov 2 '11 at 11:57
    
@Marc - Sorry, you lost me on that one… If your change doesn't relate to the real issue here, should I reword the request to only be about the major problem? I'd hate to have to start it all over again. –  Dori Nov 2 '11 at 18:24
    
@Dori what I mean is : the code has now been tweaked to consider both scenarios. This change will take effect when we next deploy - roughly daily, but no rigid schedule. –  Marc Gravell Nov 2 '11 at 18:31
    
@Marc - And that's best of all—thanks! –  Dori Nov 2 '11 at 18:34
    
Mark - as of now, would it be reasonable to expect automatic blocking of migration if the suspected account is indeed blocked at target site? I ask because I have recently seen a question where knowing this would be helpful: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/118128/… Please note comment from ChrisF♦: ...there are indications that your account is blocked over there and you are posting here to avoid them. If that's not the case I apologise in advance and will migrate. –  gnat Nov 7 '11 at 17:47
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Marc - Does this block also cover users with low quality question bans or those that have been rate limited? See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/112595/… –  ChrisF Nov 17 '11 at 12:27
    
@ChrisF I've answered on that question. –  Marc Gravell Nov 17 '11 at 12:54

I think the code that migrates a question could first check if the user has an account on the SE site where the question is being migrated, and require a moderator's action in the case the account is suspended or blocked from asking questions. The moderator could decide to migrate it, or close it as off-topic.

Alternatively, the code could just close as off-topic the question, if the OP is not allowed to ask questions on the SE site where the question should be migrated (which includes also the case the user account is suspended).

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A moderator of the target site, or of the site where the question was posted? –  Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 14 '11 at 14:00
    
If the moderator sees a message such as "The user is not allowed to ask questions on the site where the question is proposed to be migrated," then it could be a moderator of the site where the question has been asked. I guess that allowing a moderator of the site where the question should be migrated to do something would require more changes in the code, as the moderator of the receiving site should be notified of the question being migrated, and then the moderator should do something. Maybe this is related to allowing the receiving site to vote for the migration. –  kiamlaluno Aug 14 '11 at 15:07

To me, not having a pre-migration check like looks like an attractive nuisance.

I mean, it basically encourages users subjected to post ban / quality filter / 50 question/month limit at one site ("abuse target") to intentionally post an off-topic an another site ("abuse transport") in order to overcome imposed limitation by means of off-topic migration to abuse target.

  • a recent example of "SO-targeted" off topic question posted at Programmers as a means to get round a 50 question/month limit: http://programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/116507/native-string-mathing-algorithms
    note above was caught only because user was forthright about the intent to trick the system "...I know that this site is not for question about algorithms, so I will post question here and please migrate it to stackoverflow.com, they made constrain to my account..."

This brings damage to both sites. Abuse target site damage comes from the fact that intended limitation gets broken. Abuse transport site damage comes from the need to deal with off-topic question.

Note how things supposed-to-be-punishment can be perceived as pure benefit from (ab)users perspective here. Indeed, they get their question successfully delivered to target site over the limitation that was intended to teach them ask better next time. As for being migrated from transport site, this means nothing for them simply because they did not intend their question to stay there anyway. If this is not an open invitation to misbehave then I don't know what is.

Given above, suggest to pre-check whether user is allowed to post at "target site" prior to migrating question. If it turns out that this is not so, suggest to keep the question at target site and close it as off-topic. This suggestion is intended to let (ab)user know that tricking the system in such a way won't work. Also this is intended to help detecting and blocking systematic abusers at transport site.

  • It would be also helpful to indicate that closed question was "blocked at migration" so that readers at abuse transport site would not have to wonder why some off-topics stay and close and similar others (those coming from users not subjected to block) gets migrated.
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