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I have recently started helping the SO community by editing the posts (almost 200 edits till now) and raising quite a number of helpful flags.

I came across an obvious need of Oh-please-provide-more-options-for-migrating-offtopic-questions, a common one. I saw Jeff's answer on this where he suggested that we should "flag them for moderator attention instead".

Following that, I raised a moderator flag on this question saying that this (and all similar questions) must belong to CSTheory.

The flag was declined with following justification:

declined - When a question is old and answered, its better to ask on the destination site's meta if they want it. If so, their mods can ask us to migrate.

Isn't this a lengthy and a much time consuming process of migrating questions? This process definitely discourages users (at least me) to care for such category of flagging. Can't diamond moderators directly or by voting migrate such questions to other sites?

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OK, but what about the feedback you received on the flag? The moderator just eliminated a whole class of questions that you now don't have to worry about. Because, basically, the answer to migrating old questions is almost always no. – Robert Harvey Jul 16 '12 at 16:56
@RobertHarvey See my comment below the Anna's answer. – bludger Jul 16 '12 at 18:25
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Can't diamond moderators directly or by voting migrate such questions to other sites?

The short answer is "your flag was declined by a diamond moderator who could've migrated the question but chose not to for the reasons described in the decline message".

The migration process has some hurdles in it largely on purpose. Migrations are disruptive both to the question asker and potentially to the destination site, not to mention people who posted answers at the original location.

The point of a migration isn't really to categorize questions into neat buckets. If nothing else, our buckets aren't all that neat - there's a lot of overlap in scope between some sites. Categorization is more a side-effect whereas the primary purpose is to make sure the question gets the best answer it can. When it comes to old, answered questions, there's usually very little to be gained by migrating them.

The specific question you linked to definitely falls into that category, IMHO. It's not strictly off-topic on Stack Overflow to begin with (again, IMHO) and migrating it to Theoretical CS wouldn't accomplish much.

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One thing I'd like clarified about disruption to the asker and destination site: How does migration affect reputation and user attribution when (1) the asker doesn't have an account on the destination site and/or (2) one or more answerers don't have an account on the destination site? – Yawus Jul 16 '12 at 17:22
@Yawus Their usernames will appear on the posts but will be greyed out until they sign in on the destination site with the same credentials as on the source and get their accounts linked up. They'll gain reputation on the destination site at that point based on the question/answer votes. They'll potentially lose reputation on the source site when the migration stub is deleted. (Reputation gain/loss rules are the same for migrated questions as they are for "normal" questions.) – Adam Lear Jul 16 '12 at 17:25
Are users notified of this? It sounds like a stupid question, but I would just like clarification. It would be rather harsh to have your questions/answers migrated without being given notice of reputation that could be redeemed. – Yawus Jul 16 '12 at 17:30
@Yawus Yes, users are notified. – Adam Lear Jul 16 '12 at 17:32
@AnnaLear I agree with your point on overlap of scope between some sites. And migration does affect the people who asked the question + who answered them. But just for the sake of it, does it make sense that the old questions should always remain on SO even though they are off-topic? Even new questions aren't being migrated to CSTheory. My point is: IMHO, if StackExchange have a separate site for specific category of questions, users should always be encouraged to start putting such questions on those websites. I think that's the philosophy we are trying to follow. Isn't it? – bludger Jul 16 '12 at 18:24
@bludger If a question is entirely off-topic, there's a stronger argument for migrating it. I don't think this one is. In some cases, it's still preferable to just close as off-topic (or lock for historical reasons) instead of migrating... it's kind of a case-by-case decision. – Adam Lear Jul 16 '12 at 18:26
@AnnaLear That totally does discourage (or at least doesn't encourage) users to start using specific sites. – bludger Jul 16 '12 at 18:32
@bludger It tends to balance out, IMHO. Some people enjoy the bustle of Stack Overflow. Some prefer smaller, more focused sites. It works out. :) – Adam Lear Jul 16 '12 at 18:33

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