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I've just been quite surprised to click on a highly ranked Google result for a Stack Overflow question just to end up on the search page, because the page doesn't exist anymore. I figured it might have been migrated to meta, and so it did. Trying a few others yielded similar results, so to illustrate the point I might as well pick a random example.

Admittedly the offered Google search might usually guide to the new location, but this could take time for lesser questions, plus requires more precious clicks of mine anyway. Smaller sites would also have to worry about SEO here, but this might be mostly irrelevant for Stack Overflow given its excellent base score in this arena. A more serious problem of course are broken links elsewhere, be it on web pages or with user favorites and the like.

I realize that there had been some related discussions regarding whether to keep stub pages for merges and duplicates or delete migrated questions but wasn't aware that the latter has just been implemented in the meantime.

Still it puzzles me that this extremely useful functionality has been omitted - providing a proper HTTP response status code 301 (Moved Permanently) should be easy, shouldn't it?

I'm marking this as a bug rather than a feature request, because it's actually breaking the web: Cool URIs don't change ;)

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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

For starters, we're doing the redirect on migrated, deleted questions for users <10k rep. We might broaden this at a later point.

If you have less than 10k rep you can avoid this automatic redirect by adding

noredirect=1

to the querystring of the question URL, like so:

http://superuser.com/questions/46663/what-should-software-design-specification-include-closed?noredirect=1

compare to

http://superuser.com/questions/46663/what-should-software-design-specification-include-closed

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3  
The "migrated from superuser.com" link should then point to ?noredirect=1 version, don't you think? Otherwise clicking on it ends up on the same StackOverflow page (for this example) if you are not logged in/have less than 10k rep on SuperUser (and it doesn't give you a chance to log in to SuperUser). –  LeakyCode Jun 5 '10 at 9:57
2  
@mehrdad great idea, implemented –  Jeff Atwood Jun 5 '10 at 10:39
    
@Jeff Thanks. Looks fine to me now. Glad it didn't take 6-8 weeks! ;) –  LeakyCode Jun 6 '10 at 14:01
    
Why would <10k users want to avoid the redirect? The 404 page isn't that cool... I would think this would be a more useful feature for users >10k, who could actually see the original question... –  Shog9 Jun 6 '10 at 17:58
    
@Shog9: Well, it's not possible to magically infer the reputation one has on another site (accounts are not necessarily associated) and that link is nonetheless useless for <10k people. At least it gives a chance for >10k users who are not already logged in on the other site to get back to the original question. –  LeakyCode Jun 6 '10 at 21:24
    
@Mehrdad: makes sense. Guess I should have played with the feature a bit first... –  Shog9 Jun 6 '10 at 22:49
1  
Accepting this solution now as it properly fixes my random example ;) Thanks much for implementing this! –  Steffen Opel Jun 7 '10 at 10:08

I suppose the problem is that a deleted page isn't deleted: Users with 10k rep or more get the actual deleted question, not the "Ooops" page.

They also have an extra chat thread right next to it where they make fun of all the prolos, and there's booze, cigars, and waffles. That's what I've heard, anyway.

However I can't think of a reason not to

  • answer "301 Moved" if the user has < 10k rep or isn't registered at all,
  • answer "200 Have a beer" if the user has >= 10k rep.

Which is what I propose. In the first case, we might need an additional message (Wikipedia style)---something like "The question you're looking for has been migrated here from Stack Overflow."

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7  
Exactly - after all they have no problem to answer "404 No free beer, go away" right now if the user doesn't show his 10k rep VIP card. –  Steffen Opel Aug 26 '09 at 9:15

There's a disturbing lack of redirects on SO, considering how often stuff gets moved around between sites (or merged within a single site...)

I don't know why. Maybe something deep in the bowels of SO, some unfortunate design decision made early on and now rendered all but immutable by the layers of code built upon it...

But it sure would be nice!

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