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By analogy with a tag-based taxonomy (versus a hierarchical one), why not copy the question to the additional SE Site, leaving the original in place?

Clearly the boundaries that separate StackExchange Sites subject-matter wise are fluid (which seems like a good thing) and not clearly discernible--i.e., for cases near those boundaries the only way to know which Site has jurisdiction is to ask the question and see if it gets migrated.

Question migration is usually an unwelcome surprise to OP and to the answerers. Likewise, it's probably a headache for the network engineer--as evidenced by the fact that SE has been doing this for a while yet recent posts on SO Meta indicate that migration doesn't always occur cleanly, and it's not always done consistently across questions and users associated with questions (as OPs or answerers).

Putting extreme cases aside, when is migrating a question ever a good idea? Migration refers to taking something from one place and putting it in another. Unlike my library of Dr. Dobbs Journal, in which i have put each magazine in one stack or the other (by subject matter according to the article i'm most interested in) but one magazine can't be in both--SO questions are in the fancy new digital format, so they can be moved to another place and still remain in their original location.

Certainly this "copy over" scheme (i.e., migrate but leave the OP in place) most honestly reflects the reality of the overlapping and fluid boundaries between SO Sites.

But what about confounding issues like double-counting reputation, etc.? I can't imagine this would ever be a problem; every question has an one and only one originally-posted home Site.

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I don't understand your edit (first line). I really don't see any similarity with a flat tag-space and copying questions. And are you really suggesting copying questions, i.e. the "two" questions would live different lives on the two (or more) sites? –  Mat Oct 23 '11 at 9:14
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3 Answers 3

Question migration is usually an unwelcome surprise to OP and to the answerers.

Why? It is a good thing for both. A question is migrated when it is determined that it would be a better fit for the target site. That means better answers, and better review for the existing answers. (And it's trivial to log in/create an account on the target site if you don't have one already.)

Likewise, it's probably a headache for the network engineer

It's automated. Mods can do some extra work (w.r.t. votes and cleaning up comments I believe), but for community-migrated questions, it is automagic.

... migration doesn't always happen ...

If the question is at home on more than one site, it usually won't be migrated because it doesn't need to. If the question would be better somewhere else, but it is of low or very low quality, migration doesn't happen either to avoid pollution of the target.

Migrating a question is a good thing if there is a better fit for it somewhere else on the network for reasons stated above. Having "mutli-homed" questions would only increase the confusion between the purpose of the different sites, which is not a good thing in my opinion.

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By analogy with a tag-based taxonomy (versus a hierarchical one), why not copy the question to the additional SE Site, leaving the original in place?

Because each Stack Exchange site has a scope that is defined from the FAQ. If the questions that would be asked on a different SE site would not be migrated, then the alternative would be close them, and who asked the question would not get any answer (the question could still get answers before it is closed, though). Keeping the question open in two different sites would create confusion, as the OP could get different answers on both the SE sites, and the original site where the question was asked would soon become a mess of different, unrelated questions. Imagine what would happen if, for example, somebody would ask parenting questions on Stack Overflow that are then still answerable after they are migrated.

Question migration is usually an unwelcome surprise to OP and to the answerers.

Questions are migrated to the correct SE site, where the questions have also more chances of getting an answer. For example, both Drupal Answers and Stack Overflow have questions about Drupal, but on Drupal Answers Drupal questions have a bigger visibility than on Stack Overflow, where questions tagged are just 7,415 against a total of 2,204,110 questions.

Certainly this "copy over" scheme (i.e., migrate but leave the OP in place) most honestly reflects the reality of the overlapping and fluid boundaries between SO Sites.

SE sites don't have so much fluid boundaries. A question about parenting is clearly off-topic on Stack Overflow, as much as a question about English usage.
There are clearly some cases of overlapping between different SE sites, but I think there are few cases where it's not clear when a question better suits a site, or another. For example, I could ask a question about Mac OS X software on Ask Different, and the same question could be asked on Super User (if it is not about iPhone, iPod/iPad), but if the question is about connecting computers using different operating systems, then the question better suits Super User.

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By analogy with a tag-based taxonomy (versus a hierarchical one), why not copy the question to the additional SE Site, leaving the original in place?

There is no analogy. What your suggesting is like having a copy of the question for each of its tags. An analogy to our tagging system would be a question accessible from several SE sites. Migrated question can still be accessed from the original SE site, but it is temporary...

Clearly the boundaries that separate StackExchange Sites subject-matter wise are fluid (which seems like a good thing) and not clearly discernible--i.e., for cases near those boundaries the only way to know which Site has jurisdiction is to ask the question and see if it gets migrated.

It is really not as fluid as you think. If you read the FAQs of all SE sites that are remotely related to your question, you will know exactly where your question should be posted in 99% of the cases.

Question migration is usually an unwelcome surprise to OP and to the answerers.

  • Unwelcome to OP?

    Why? If you ask a question about how to implement a hashing algorithm to store and validate passwords, it will probably get migrated to crypto. And that is good. While many users on Stackoverflow might know how to implement the hashing algorithm in software, it is the people on crypto that know how to use it. Which is what the OP is looking for...

Also, even if there are experts on the topic on the original SE site, migrating the question will permit better peer reviewing.

  • Unwelcome to answerers?

    Maybe so. I could picture two scenarios in that an answerer would not want to see his answer migrated.

    1. The answerer was looking forward to the rep he would gain on the original SE site.

      Answering questions is about providing answers. The rep system is nothing more than an indicator on how reliable your answers are. If you are doing it only for the rep, your doing it for the wrong reason.

      Also, if your answer is any good, you will still gain rep on the other SE site.

    2. The answerer gets downvoted on the other SE site.

      I have seen more than one answer that got upvoted on the original SE site, but downvoted on the other. While annoying to the answerer, this is supposed to happen. If a question gets downvoted on the site that has more experts on the topic, it is because it was a bad answer.

  • Surprise?

    1. If you post a question on the wrong SE site, you should not be surprised if it gets migrated.

    2. If you answer a question that is posted on the wrong SE site, you should keep in mind that it might get migrated.

      If you do not enough enough about the topic to answer it on the correct SE site, do not answer it on the original one. Otherwise, there is really no harm done...

Putting extreme cases aside, when is migrating a question ever a good idea?

See above.

Migration refers to taking something from one place and putting it in another.

Correct.

Unlike my library of Dr. Dobbs Journal, in which i have put each magazine in one stack or the other (by subject matter according to the article i'm most interested in) but one magazine can't be in both--SO questions are in the fancy new digital format, so they can be moved to another place and still remain in their original location.

There is a big difference: SE sites are interactive. Magazine articles are not. Again, maintaining a (permanent) link to the migrated question on the original SE site might be of value in some cases, but leaving a copy is not.

It is not about where the question is asked. It is about where it gets answered.

And if you really need the attention from experts of two different sites, you should ask two different questions.

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