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When this question was brand new, I voted to close and also flagged it, suggesting that it was perfect for the UNIX Stack. Hours later, when the flag got to the top of the queue and a mod finally looked at it, it had already been closed, and the user had answered their own question, noting that they found the solution on that self-same UNIX Stack. My flag was declined, and that stung a little.

My questions are these:

  1. In general, is this kind of flag ("Please migrate to site X") welcome? It seems like it should be, as it helps train new users.
  2. Given that the user found their answer on the target site, the question was clearly on-topic, but may have been a dupe, and may have been closed anyway. Should I vet for dupes on the target site before adding a flag like this? Should only questions likely to be unique on the target site be flagged this way?
  3. In this specific case, do you think this was a bad flag, bad timing, or just a bad moderator decision?
share|improve this question
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Migration to other sites can be a thorny issue. I can see two reasons for not migrating that question to the Unix & Linux site.

  1. While it's not a terrible question, it's not the highest quality either. The author didn't use complete sentences and didn't show a lot of research effort. The golden rule of migration has always been "don't migrate crap" but lately the bar has been raised a little higher. I usually try not to migrate questions unless I think the community on the other site would actively want the question on their site, as opposed to just not minding it being there.

  2. As you pointed out, migrating this question would have created a duplicate. The only time we'd migrate a question to a site where it was already asked is if the question on Stack Overflow already has good answers that should be merged with the existing question and answers. This question didn't have any answers, so that's not the case.

Personally, I would have just marked your flag as helpful and taken no action on the post itself, since that was a Unix & Linux question and your flag (and others like it) are potentially helpful. This was borderline call by the moderator who processed your flag though, since there were two reasons not to migrate the question.

Should I vet for dupes on the target site before adding a flag like this?

Yes, that would be awesome! We probably get dozens of flags per day to migrate questions to other sites, so this would save us a lot of time. If you flag a question for migration, just include in your message that you couldn't find the same question on the target site. We'd really appreciate that extra little bit of information.

share|improve this answer

I was the moderator that declined your flag.

We get a lot of flags that say, "Hey, migrate this over there." Here's what usually happens:

  1. We migrate the question.
  2. It gets rejected from the target site.
  3. The target site moderators make a snarky comment in admin chat about migrating crap, or migrating old questions, or migrating something that doesn't fit on their site (that's ok, because I'm sure we do the same thing).

As they say, Once bitten, twice shy.

That having been said, here's generally what I'm looking for in a question that should be migrated:

  1. Not already answered.
  2. Well written.
  3. Fits in the target site much better than on Stack Overflow.
  4. Recent. Questions that are old that have no answers and no updates by the OP are not good candidates because it means the OP has forgotten about them.
  5. Has not already been asked on the target site.
  6. Effort was put in by the OP.

Keep on Keepin' On. You're right to flag them for migration, and sometimes you may get into an instance where a moderator was recently burned and decides to decline your flag instead of marking it 'Helpful, but no further action taken'.

Mea culpa.

share|improve this answer
Thank you George. I have a better understanding now thanks to what you and Bill had to say. The short version is that its better to close low-quality questions on SO than migrate them only to have them closed them on a target site, and that makes perfect sense. Don't flag to migrate unless the question is likely to add real value to the target site. – Ernest Friedman-Hill Jul 23 '12 at 1:24
@ErnestFriedman-Hill Well put. – George Stocker Jul 23 '12 at 12:28
Is it a good idea to flag for "It needs moderator attention - other" and explain in the box when you're on the fence between migration and closing? – smcg Jul 23 '12 at 19:34

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