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I'm mostly on Programmers.SE. All too not-uncommonly we get a question that is multiply posted - once on Stack Overflow, and once on P.SE. It is almost standard practice to check to see if there is a newly asked SO question by the user whenever casting a close vote.

Often when looking at the original question on SO there is a 'helpful' suggestion of posting on another site. One example of this (I'm not trying to pick on anyone - its just a question mentioned in another recent MSO question) can be found at How to write something vertically below another math symbol

This question appears to be off-topic because it is about Latex. There is a Tex StackExchange site at tex.stackexchange.com -- go ask your question there!

The thing is, as I understand it, this should be flagged for migration. Encouraging someone to repost the question often results in multiple questions (cross posting this is bad, but not the issue here - its the symptom, not the cause).

This is especially true of questions that are closed with 'too broad', and 'primarily opinion based' - the entire SE network has these close reasons (P.SE even has some of the same custom close reasons) and something that is closed on SO for one of these reasons will likely get closed on P.SE for the same reason.

So... what can we do about it? How can we discourage people from suggesting other sites in comments and instead encourage them to flag for migration? (one generally finds that migrations from SO done by mods have a much higher success ratio than the reposting by the asker... mods tend not to migrate crap)

Tangential questions:


Just to get an idea of the scope of this issue, a query on data.se: Recent 'P.SE' comments

Returns back 257 rows (when you ask for more than that), granted not all of them are migration suggestions - some are 'this question is relevant to your question'.

  • I think this is more of a programmers.stackexchange.com question. You'll probably get better answers there.
  • I would try Programmers.
  • This kind of question could be probably more suitable for programmers.stackexchange
  • I know this question is on topic... But I feel you may get more interesting answers in either Programmers or Computer Science. Both are sister sites of Stack Overflow.
  • Perhaps better suited for http://programmers.stackexchange.com/
  • Shouldn't this be over on programmers.stackexchange.com?
  • This question might be better suited to programmers.stackexchange.com and formulated as asking pros and cons of each approach instead of asking what is better (for which there is no answer).
  • Maybe programmers.stackexchange.com? But they also don't want questions that are primarily opinion-based.
  • You may find some answers if you ask this question over programmers, although I am not sure whether it will be rejected over there too.
  • This question seems like it's a better fit for Programmers, since it doesn't deal with a programming problem, but rather a development process. Can someone migrate it?
  • Questions about "why" fit better on programmers.SE.
  • programmers.stackexchange.com is for conceptional questions right?
  • Might this belong on programmers.stackexchange.com perhaps?

And the list goes on and on and on.

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You seem to be touching on two different issues, that of a user posting on several sites from the start, and that of a user re-posting a question (rather than using migration) based on comments. These are really rather different issues, and should probably be discussed in different questions. –  Servy Aug 28 '13 at 18:32
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@Servy I wish to concentrate on the 'encourage flagging rather than suggesting reposting in comments'. That is the root cause of half of the other question. Addressing the cause is probably a better approach than trying to address the reposting itself. –  MichaelT Aug 28 '13 at 18:34
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Then I would suggest you edit the question to remove the content not related to that, so that others don't start discussing those other issues instead. It will help focus the discussion in the direction you want. –  Servy Aug 28 '13 at 18:35
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It's worth noting that Tex isn't one of the valid migration targets from Programmers (even though it is on Stack Overflow). –  Servy Aug 28 '13 at 18:45
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Migration by moderator is, as I understand it, a large amount of work relative to other flag handling. It's also not a situation where only a mod can act -- it's not an exceptional case. If the question is definitely off topic on the original site, I'd rather see it closed by regular users and reposted manually by the OP on the correct site. Crossposting -- where the question (seems to be or) is on-topic on both sites -- is another matter, but I'm not sure what moderators can do there either that can't be handled normally. –  Josh Caswell Aug 28 '13 at 18:46
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Reposting isn't itself a problem as long as they delete the other question. Maybe commenters should just be more explicit about mentioning that. Though I guess in some cases this advice could help precipitate a question ban. –  Martin Smith Aug 28 '13 at 18:55
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@MartinSmith and they can't self delete if the question already has an upvoted answer. And reposting a poor question often furthers someone along the road to a question ban (moderators try not to migrate questions that would get closed). I suspect the secret question ban algorithm is more forgiving of failed migrations. –  MichaelT Aug 28 '13 at 19:03
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Related: “Belongs on” comments. –  Arjan Aug 28 '13 at 19:06
    
If you can solve the migration problem, this problem goes away. Until that time... –  user7116 Aug 29 '13 at 14:56

2 Answers 2

As the person who posted the example comment above, I'll say that I rarely flag for migration anymore because my sense is that it's my single biggest source of declined flags. Once bitten, twice shy, as the saying goes. The best way to prevent me from posting comments like that would be to make it easy to recommend migration to a large number of other sites, without fear of reprisal.

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Granted, there are different mods between SO and P.SE, I've got scores of "Please consider this question for migration to " flags that have been done. Often things are migrated. Sometimes they aren't. I'd have to dig, but I don't recall any declined flags if I've done my prep for writing the flag (of checking out the site and making sure it might get migrated) - even if it wasn't migrated. The only one I found declined in recent past was when I didn't do my homework and suggested migration to a non-existent site. –  MichaelT Aug 28 '13 at 19:59
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Ok, I found one another declined flag after digging a bit more that read "declined - Server Fault would burn us to the ground if we migrated this." And thats a good thing. Crap wasn't migrated. –  MichaelT Aug 28 '13 at 20:00
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@MichaelT Hm, I knew it we are too kind with flags. brb, declining everything... –  Yannis Aug 28 '13 at 21:18
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I think this would be less of an issue if there was Suggested migrations review at target site so that target site regulars would have a chance to review what's coming before it hits them at front page. Mods are smart and experienced, but making them judge content for the other sites, instead of regulars at these sites, feels weird –  gnat Aug 29 '13 at 4:42
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+1, you should never flag for migration if you'd like to keep your sanity. –  user7116 Aug 29 '13 at 14:50

I believe the primary issue is that migrating a question is non-intuitive, while cross-posting is.

The stack exchange sites have different names, different domains, different moderators, different Meta sites and different rules (or at least different defitions of "on-topic"). They look and feel different, separate and even (mostly) unrelated. What's to suggest that a question should only be asked on one site and not on two or three? (Certainly not the FAQ or site policy which, to my knowledge, does not address this issue.)* "Cross-posting" is largely a moderator headache, but average users don't feel the pain nor are they able to see the problem - they're here to get an answer to a question, not to maintain order on the sites.

For those who do care about trying to keep the sites organized and unknowingly post their question on the wrong forum, the process of migrating their question is also non-intuitive. If they have the rep, they must vote to close their own question (if the site they need is one of the very few candidates for migration) or contact a moderator by flagging their own post (clsoing/flagging my own post?!?).

Users other than the OP may also flag the post, but those flags are often rejected because the subtle differences in the "on-topic" definitions are difficult to understand unless you are very active on the other site. Users have been encouraged to just close the question as off-topic. But, hey, we are here because we like to help people, right? Doesn't that just feel... wrong?

So flagging is frowned upon and migrating is difficult (and somtimes not possible without a mod). You still want to help the OP but you recognize that the question really doesn't belong here... what's left beside suggesting that the OP try a different site? I'm not saying this is the right thing to do or how things should be, but there aren't many options left.

**OK, that's not actually true: Is cross-posting a question on multiple Stack Exchange sites permitted if the question is on-topic for each site?. You can find this policy if you know that it's called "cross-posting".*

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As an aside, the accepted answer on the 'difficult for flaggers' question says thus: "Also, please don't leave a comment on the question saying "This is a better fit for X" site because that might encourage the user to cross-post their question to other sites and risk getting it closed off there too, which annoys both the target site and the poster and it ends up with loads of comments along the lines of "well I was told by X site that this is a better fit, but now you're saying it isn't!"" - which is also at the heart of the problem in this question. –  MichaelT Aug 29 '13 at 2:55
    
@MichaelT - I've updated the answer. I'm not trying to advocate this (and I haven't done it in a while)... just trying to illustrate that this is the natural, intuitive course of action. What's needed is an easier path, not more education (which doesn't work). –  JDB Aug 29 '13 at 14:12

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