I think that over time a large number of questions will be duplicated over superuser.com and serverfault.com.

To cite an example, I'm investigating protocols to mount remote filesystems on linux with full locking capability (to configure NAS for my home network). I've looked at (and had questions on) Samba, NFS, SSHFS etc - server technologies used by power users as much as by network admins.

Is it immediately clear which site these questions should be directed towards ? If not, the same question is bound to be raised on both sites by different users (or even the same user).

Duplicate postings are already an issue on SO, why not nip it in the bud by designing for duplicate/cross-posting for SU and SF rather than trying to manage it later ?

Just as an example, I think this question I asked on SF has near-equal relevance on both sites.

I know a similar question was asked earlier, but I'd like to debate the merits of cross-posting on these two sites only, because of their overlap.

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1 Answer

Cross posting is almost always discouraged even in "traditional forums." If you have a question that would be appropriate for either forum, try handling it in the traditional way.

Select the site that has the most relevance to your question. If you do not receive a satisfactory answer, reword your question to make it appropriate on the second site, and repost. To avoid a backlash, I would reference your original question, citing why you think it is now relevant to the second site.

If the question is that rare edge case that just has to be both sites to serve as an archive for all future generations, I would still post on one site at a time in the sequence I described above. As a bonus, it would be perfectly appropriate to also post any exceptional answers you received from the first site.

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...and you could edit your first question/site with a link to the followup site - so that any searchers who happen upon the first question will have the benefit of both answer sets. –  akf Aug 1 '09 at 15:18
The point I'm making is that when questions have relevance to both sites, it's quite likely one user will prefer SF and another will post to SU, and you'll end up with duplicate postings. The users who do this will be mostly casual users who will not stop to ponder over which site is more relevant or search both sites first. Your suggestion might work for a dedicated SO/SF/SU user, not so much for a casual user. Also relevant is that when sites grow popular and reach a certain critical mass, there are more casual users on the site than dedicated users. –  nagul Aug 1 '09 at 16:01
If the question does not belong on both sites, that other user would be closed and redirected to the correct site. In that rare, rare case where a question truly needs to live and grow on both sites, I would personally recommend that the question be allow to stay on both sites. Both sites have a unique audience and a different purpose, so the question would be answered in a different context and likely contain unique information of value to each audience. Links in the question and comments would take care of any cross-referencing that would be helpful. –  Robert Cartaino Aug 1 '09 at 17:11
To illustrate my point, I thought of a question which could potentially work on both sites. "How do I allow access only to certain websites?" This could be asked on both Serverfault and Superuser (corporate network vs family PC). But, given the context of the two sites, you would likely received very different, but equally helpful, answers. –  Robert Cartaino Aug 1 '09 at 21:09
@Robert Cartaino: I think that the note on the recently closed Vim proposal which indicates that it is a duplicate of 3 different sites may indicate that this topic warrants further discussion. What are your thoughts on the ideal way to get expert answers to questions on Vim? Specifically, a non-programming related Vim question posted to SuperUser could be missed by the expert Vim users that are only on StackOverflow or Programmers.SE. Perhaps this could be a part of the expansion of community around the tags to promote visibility of questions using the same tag on other sites? –  Eric Weilnau Oct 1 '10 at 17:06
@Eric Weilnau: There has been some discussion of supporting some type of cross-posting at the database level (i.e. post on another site by reference, linked to the original question... somehow) but it is a pretty complicated issue and I don't know where it is going to go. Just to let you know that situations do change and we ARE thinking about these things. –  Robert Cartaino Oct 1 '10 at 19:55
@Robert Cartaino: That is great to hear. I also appreciate the difficulty given the complexity (and sensitivity) of the issues involved. I truly look forward to what changes may come. –  Eric Weilnau Oct 1 '10 at 20:46
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