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I have noticed that several questions get migrated to WPSE (WordPress Answers), simply because the question is asked in the context of WordPress. For example, this one: Cannot Upload Custom Header Image into Wordpress Dashboard

The WPSE FAQ clearly indicates that the scope of the site is limited to questions regarding WordPress development and administration:

WordPress - Stack Exchange is for WordPress developers and administrators to ask questions...

Perhaps it is a fine distinction, but just because a question is asked within the context of WordPress does not mean that the question falls within the scope of WPSE. Generally speaking, if the question can be asked and answered whether or not WordPress is included (see: PHP, HTML/CSS, jQuery, server configuration, etc.), then the question is clearly out of scope. Other questions, the line is less clear.

Perhaps it could be more explicit, but the FAQ clearly implies that user support questions are not in the scope of WPSE. Such questions should be directed not to WPSE, but to the official wordpress.org support forums.

The WPSE users are struggling to build the quality of our question-and-answer knowledge base, and the influx of out-of-scope questions migrated from other network sites continues to impede that effort, by diluting the site with off-topic questions, and contributing to the low percentage of answered questions/accepted answers.

What can be done to fix the problem?

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I guess I could keep a closer watch on WordPress questions, particularly while patrolling the mod queue. I should be able to tell at a glance which questions are more user support than development/administration. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 8 '12 at 19:21
    
For the record I (WPSE mod and FAQ editor) think is is big stretch to formulate and drag "user support" out of scope as it is currently written. I hope to drag Chip into our chat when he has some free minutes and talk this out. –  Rarst Feb 8 '12 at 19:26
    
Leaving aside this particular question (which I merely used as the most-recent example of a migrated question), I would prefer to focus on the question of migration decision-making, which IMHO too often tends to migrate anything that merely mentions WordPress to WPSE. The finer details of what is in-scope and out-of-scope can be handled by the WPSE community; my concern is the community-decided scope isn't being considered at all for questions migrated to WPSE. –  Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 20:10
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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Getting the easy part out of the way first, being the mod who migrated it to your site, I felt that it was on topic as it pertains to your FAQ.

Your point about the FAQ:

WordPress - Stack Exchange is for WordPress developers and administrators to ask questions about:

That pertains to whom the site is targeted for, but in reality anyone can and is encouraged to use the site.

This line is extremely subjective (as are all the site FAQs in regard to their target audience) and should not be used to determine whether or not it is suitable to migrate a question there based on whom it might appeal to.

Quoting your question:

Generally speaking, if the question can be asked and answered whether or not WordPress is included (see: PHP, HTML/CSS, jQuery, server configuration, etc.), then the question is clearly out of scope

As well as the title of the question you linked to itself (emphasis mine):

Cannot Upload Custom Header Image into Wordpress Dashboard

I don't see how that question can't be answered if Wordpress wasn't included; it involves Wordpress and administering it, the OP wants to customize the dashboard, which in itself, is used for administration.

Maybe the answer involves php and requires a programattic solution, but that doesn't mean that the solution is a general programming solution who's scope is more clearly defined on Stack Overflow. The context is overwhelmingly Wordpress in this case.

I appreciate if you don't agree, and if your community decides that it's not on topic, then please, close it as such (it's open as of this writing and has one off topic vote), and inform the moderators of your site to confer with us to remove the migration history.

Moving onto your more general points about building your site and site quality and migrations, that's more a discussion for your site's meta about the scope of your site.

You state:

Perhaps it could be more explicit, but the FAQ clearly implies that user support questions are not in the scope of WPSE. Such questions should be directed not to WPSE, but to the official wordpress.org support forums.

I don't believe this to be the case. By your own admission, it's an implication and I don't see that implied anywhere. There is also no mention anywhere about the Wordpress support forums in the FAQ.

When you ask what can be done to fix the problem, I'd recommend conferring with your colleagues on meta.WP.SE first to more explicitly define what is on and off topic for your site, as it appears that this isn't clearly defined in the first place and then, if necessary, codify it better in the FAQ.

The FAQ is the first line of defense for things such as this and it's what most moderators are going to go to when looking to see if something is on or off topic for a site. If it's not clear, then it's usually an indicator that the scope of your site is not clearly defined, and needs updating to reflect the general consensus of the community.

Granted, moderators who are doing the migrating can always ask the moderators of the target site, but given the volume of some sites, as well as the availability of other mods (or responses on the meta's target site), it's just not feasible.

This means that the target site really needs to recruit more users to do the appropriate cleanup work for those things that slip through the cracks. More high-rep users need to flag content for moderator attention, issue down/close/delete votes, etc.

Again, if that's something that's not happening on your site, then that's something that you should bring up on your sites meta, as a discussion on ways to handle the lack of participation of the community in common cleanup tasks that users engage in on the Stack Exchange network.

Here are some excellent examples of what was done by Zuly Gonzalez (a moderator) on the OnStartups meta site to encourage people to engage in performing more of the cleanup aspects of the site:

Now, you don't have to specifically offer monetary incentive, but meta posts like these help to raise awareness in the community to make the site better overall. I highly recommend reading them for tips on how to raise awareness to your own community about the issues it faces.

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I brought up the question here, because it has been pointed out that the WPSE mods have no control over incoming-migrated questions. I'll concede that this particular question may be in the gray area (due to the question of correct file permission schema for WordPress that may fall under the "administration" scope), but this question is but one of many that have been migrated. What I ultimately asking is that what appears (at least from my perspective) to be a default action of if the question even mentions WordPress, migrated it to WPSE needs to be addressed. –  Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 20:06
    
@ChipBennett If it's systemic, like you say, then while it's possible that all of the other mods on the Stack Exchange network (or even Stack Overflow, which is where I imagine the majority of the migrations come from) are migrating incorrectly, it more than likely reflects that your FAQ is not as clearly defined as you believe it to be. If it is indeed the latter, then that is an issue for your site's meta. –  casperOne Feb 8 '12 at 20:12
    
Also, I should add: if your community decides that it's not on topic, then please, close it as such (it's open as of this writing and has one off topic vote) - as is also being discussed by the WPSE community, number of close votes is apropos of mostly nothing. There are only two dozen people who even have close-vote privileges. Auto-closing questions is essentially impossible right now, which is why I'm also trying to address the quality of incoming-migrated questions. –  Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 20:14
    
@ChipBennett If you have only a dozen people who have close vote privileges, then they need to be motivated more to contribute to the cleanup activities of the site (the last few paragraphs of the answer). Also, you can always flag for moderator attention, who's vote is binding on such matters. So while the number of users who can clean up might actually be low, you have users in the form of moderators who's job is to do this. I appreciate you're trying to take the proactive approach here, but I think it's better to shore up your defense first (which one of the things your meta is for). –  casperOne Feb 8 '12 at 20:18
    
I cannot ask our moderators to bear even more of the burden. They are already over-taxed as it is. –  Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 20:29
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@ChipBennett The solution to that particular problem is more moderators, which is a discussion for your meta. Voting is not on a fixed schedule, voting for new moderators can occur on an as-needed basis. –  casperOne Feb 8 '12 at 20:31
    
We're definitely addressing the question of a more explicit/clear scope statement. I agree that it is a matter for the WPSE meta. At this point, I would simply be content knowing that moderators migrating questions to us are doing so according to our FAQ (in need of improvement or not), rather than what appears to be, if it mentions WordPress, it belongs in WPSE. And thanks for the heads-up on the moderator-election matter. I'll go start a related topic in our Meta, to see if we want to ask for more. –  Chip Bennett Feb 8 '12 at 20:40
    
@ChipBennett Moderators are expected to adhere to the target site's FAQ, but at times when it's ambiguous/not well-defined, we do the best we can. The fact of the matter is that it happens, and while raising awareness here is a good approach, it's easier to address it on your end in the FAQ, as that's usually the first (and considered by most, the canonical) resource to use when determining whether or not a target site is good for a migration. –  casperOne Feb 8 '12 at 20:45
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