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I've been a Stack Exchange contributor for a couple of years now, currently most active on travel.SE. One thing that keeps coming up is questions that would appeal to audiences on two different Stack Exchange sites but there are almost no features taking advantage of these questions.

On travel.SE we have crossover questions most often with outdoors.SE and possibly next most often with bicycles.SE - but it can happen with almost any SE site. Today alone we had a question that would cross over with money.SE and opendata.SE had a question that would cross over with us.

I am absolutely sure that this must happen all the time between arbitrary pairs of Stack Exchange sites but the only feature that takes advantage of it is the possibility of migrating off-topic questions which leaves the original question acting as a redirect across the two sites.

I think there is a missed opportunity to build the network between sites where users of one site don't realize they could make valuable contributions to a sister site they have had so far little to do with.

At the very least there could be a way to "advertise" a question on a second site that could be interested in it. Probably by listing it in the sidebar where there are also links to meta questions, linked questions, related questions, new blog posts, and

But there could also be some kind of features that make some sort of acceptable crossposting. There could be gamification/badges added around building cross-site questions or whatever else you can think up.

I think this is a great way for people to spread their expertise from their main site onto other sites, to make the network stronger and more cohesive, to bring more attention to questions that would have a divided audience between two sites. I can think only of positives and no negatives.

Does anyone else have some ideas to add or think this is a bad idea for any reason?

Example crossover questions:

Here are some links to some crossover questions I've been finding in the Stack Exchange network here. (This was previously posted as an answer, but more people wanted it to be part of the question.)

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It's a nice idea, I just worry that if an option is provided to 'cross-post this question to X site' or to 'advertise this question on X site' then everyone will just select that option, regardless of the relevancy of the post to the other sites. –  JonW Oct 8 '13 at 15:06
Some thought is needed. Maybe "suggest this as a crossover question". Maybe having a set of default crossover sites for each site and a moderator would need to create the crossover to a site not on that list, etc. –  hippietrail Oct 8 '13 at 15:08
How about something like vote to share to community X option? Available to users having 5k (1k for beta) rep. –  AsheeshR Oct 8 '13 at 15:17
Another related question that got a positive reception: Asking on Multiple Sites: “Soft-Migration” –  hippietrail Oct 8 '13 at 15:26
The linked duplicate is over 4 years old, before there really was a StackExchange network. This question is about discussing community building features to introduce users to other SE sites via promoting relevant questions. It's not about just crossposting between StackOverflow and Programmers. –  hippietrail Oct 9 '13 at 4:32
@hippietrail I fail to see how your question achieves that. To me, it looks like it looks like you've just identified the issue behind the linked feature-request and tacked on the "What do you think?" Your idea of "advertising" it on other sites consisted of a whole one line out of the entire question. I tell people this often - we don't need a million questions about the same topic just because each one has a slightly different idea. The issue is identified in that question - if you have a better idea of how to achieve it, post it there. –  animuson Oct 9 '13 at 5:28
This is an idea to highlight good questions and bring people across sister sites. It is not about making the cruft situation worse. I've also changed it from feature-request to discussion. As such I'm inviting input from other SE contributors to help develop the idea. –  hippietrail Oct 9 '13 at 5:43
Also related: Make country-specific travel questions more likely to be advertised in language and usage sites (received an answer from Jeff Atwood). –  Andrew Grimm Oct 11 '13 at 6:55
Should this be tagged feature-request? –  gerrit Nov 12 '13 at 10:39
@gerrit: I think I tagged it feature request intially and there was a negative reaction whereby it got quickly closed. Since then I've reworked it, got it reopened, and it seems to have accumulated some votes. But I don't mind if somebody else adds the "feature request" tag back. –  hippietrail Nov 12 '13 at 10:51
Nice to see this idea is getting some traction again, another possible dupe: Stack Exchange network with overlapping questions –  Steven Jeuris Jan 18 at 15:13
+1 for a great question - despite [Display Name] LIKE '%hippie%'. ;) Coming from a cognitive science (i.e. an inherently cross-domain) background, I couldn't agree with you more. The site in which a question lands is presently its single über tag; and ontology just isn't that simple. –  J0e3gan May 20 at 14:49

7 Answers 7

You have some great points, however the reason it will not currently work is because of the point systems being individual to each site.

And the badges primarily being individual to each site.

I could see improved performance on users using multiple sites if there were more badges added to stack overflow that were based on the point/reputation of other sites.

I don't necessarily think it would be good to add a whole lot more badges, to the already numerous gold/silver/bronze badges there are. What I think would work, is to create a platinum badge or something, that is relative to how many sites you have a total rep score of over 1000 points or something.

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Well points and badges are just toys really. Whether and how to implement those are up to the SE devs. The main part is getting people flowing between the sites. The platinum badge idea for your activity across the network rather than just one site is a great idea! –  hippietrail Dec 30 '13 at 3:29
If you visit from travel, you get rep/badges on travel. If you visit from aviation, you get rep/badges on aviation. Why would this complicate issues at all? Each question would have a postID based on the site it originated from anyway, so it would be clear which you accessed from. –  jmac Feb 6 at 7:24

I don't think there should be any crossover feature that would allow posting a single question on multiple sites (how should edit/close priviledges be calculated for the users of both sites?). The sites should be designed so that the topic crossover should be an exception, not the rule.

However, there are many common interest areas, so I'd vote for the idea of stronger linking between sites. For example, by adding a network-wide linked and related questions section on the left side. The question would always belong to one site, but it would be easier to browse related questions on the other sites.

For example it could look like that:

Linked (Travel)

  • question 1
  • question 2
  • question 3

Linked (other SEs)

  • question 4 (The Great Outdoors)
  • question 5 (Physical Fitness)
  • question 6 (Photography)

Related section would be more tricky to implement, because network-wide looking for duplicates must be something more intelligent than simply word-based (I don't think people on Pets would be happy seeing Python programming questions in every second raptiliae question).

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sorry luksaz .. i think this feature will be very helpful .. it happnes quiet a bit time tht question on SO has been answred on dba.stackexchnage.com .. this is a nice feature –  Dhaval Jan 7 at 16:30
I think the cross-site Related section would be an extremely fun machine learning challenge though it would do fine with just tf-idf. It might be worse if there were a programming language called "cat" or "dog" though (-: But a way to nominate articles into the related sections of other sites would prevent this at a cost nothing being automatically discovered. –  hippietrail Jan 21 at 2:23
I think Łukasz 웃 L ツ has it exactly right here. Cross posting can potentially lower the total value of the question while raising awareness and giving opportunities to enter new communities helps all exchanges. I recommend that the Other SE's section be done through a simple reputation/flag mechanism (at least at first) to keep a very high signal to noise ratio. In fact, if it's done through flags/reputation, you could potentially just put them into the other SE's standard list with a clear indicator that it's from another SE. That would hopefully minimize system changes. –  kobejohn Feb 28 at 16:31
Actually, that what I've written was already proposed as feature request: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/59569/… –  Donaudampfschifffreizeitfahrt Apr 2 at 14:50

I like this idea, and agree with the rationale insofar as it helps a question reach an interested audience (not creating clutter, iow).

Some potential challenges:

  • User privileges -- ability to edit, delete, etc. -- greater on the shared-with site than the originator site... Is that OK?
  • Tags -- how would those be treated?

Implementation ideas:

  • add this as a review category (?) -- for reviewers to include/exclude questions nominated for sharing?
  • add a new privilege category (?) -- so a person who wants to nomiate a question to be shared with SO, for example, would have to have some level of rep on SO?
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I imagine this might be better if, instead of multi-posting the same question on multiple sites, allowing the same question to be shown on multiple sites, and show up in the search results for those sites, while remaining just one question in the database.

I understand that this would come with some challenges, such as determining which tags should and should not be used (per-site), but it would be a cool way to see how different communities can contribute to the same question.

Answers could then include an icon indicating which site the user answered from, and badges or reputation would be only for that site, simplifying this. Furthermore, it gives users of one site an idea of what the other communities are like, and may get more users on the sister sites.

This approach could also work either by letting the OP specify which sites to share on (and those sites can close it on their respective sites), or this could be something left to reviewers with high enough reputation - but either way I think both models would work.

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To build on Phil's great start, here is how I think it should work.

Question is Asked

A user on physics asks:

How Do Bicycle Spokes Work?

This is assigned a post ID of #94,0001 on physics. It is a physics question.

Cross-site Users Show Interest

hippietrail with accounts on both sites is browsing physics and sees this question and thinks it would be great on bicycles too. So he clicks a button:

Recommend on Other Site

This brings up a list of the sites he is a member on and allows him to pick which one wants to suggest it as a good fit for. Other users can see this on the question as they would a close vote:

Cross-Site Recommendation Pending

They can either up-vote or down-vote the cross-site recommendation perhaps along the lines of a review or somesuch.

Both suggesting cross-site posting and voting on existing suggestions should be only visible/available to high-rep users on the destination site

Review Gets Created

On both the target-site and the original-site a review task for trusted users gets created. For the original-site they are allowed to vote either:

Migrate or Cross-Post

For the destination-site they are allowed to vote either:

Accept or Reject

If the receiving-site votes 'Reject' it does not get sent regardless (it stays on the original site akin to a rejected migration). If the receiving-site votes 'Accept' then it gets Migrated or Cross-posted depending on the choice of the original-site voters.

Managing Post IDs

We know how migrations work, so let's ignore those for now. The original-question has an ID of #94,001 on Physics, and it and any answers get new IDs on Bicycles. Post-type in data.se could be set as 9 - Cross-post to be able to distinguish the origin of each post since it is existing in two time-stack continua at once.

Yes, continua is the plural of continuum apparently. Latin, it's dead for a reason folks.

Any additional answers tacked on would be automatically assigned an ID on any shared site(s) with the same cross-post PostTypeID while being assigned a proper answer ID on the site it originated from.

Voting on Cross-Posts

If you are on Physics when you vote:

  1. Votes/flags on Physics-originated posts are treated as normal
  2. Votes/flags on non-Physics posts have no impact on reputation/score, but impact display

If an answer accumulated too many downvotes/flags that originated on a different site, it will be hidden from people accessing the question from the physics side. The answer may be good for bicycles, but not have so much benefit to the physics readers. And that's fine. The same would happen the other way around too. So we hide any inappropriate answers that a site's community deems aren't right for them (but don't lose them from the other site).

Hiding Cross-Posts from New/Google Users

For new users (under the association bonus level) and for google crawlers, only answers originating from the site being browsed should be applied. This means that bicycles.se answers will be more bicycle-oriented for search terms, and physics.se answers will focus more on the physics and differentiate the search results (hopefully). New users will not be confused by the potential for very contrasting answers or other issues related to differing community standards without losing out on anything.

Moderating These Questions

Locks/Protects would be per site and not mirrored on the other site (no sense in preventing good answers to be given on Physics for issues with the popularity on Bicycles).

Close votes would work as follows:

  • Closed on original site ▶ Migrated to target-site
  • Closed on target-site ▶ Treat as rejected migration

Flags on questions by users of either site would only be shown to trusted users/moderators of that site (no moderation of the other communities' questions).

I think this is a tremendous idea and will reduce poor migrations as well as give people a much better resource for comprehensive information on a cross-discipline topic, improving the quality of SE as a resource.

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This would certainly be interesting. As for a suggested trial of this, you could look at sharing cross site content between MSE and MSO (it would be easy to just assume the questions on MSE tagged stackoverflow could be the basis of this trial). –  Travis J Aug 5 at 14:28
This seems pretty well thought-out, and I wholeheartedly approve. –  Kyle Strand Sep 3 at 18:31
Tangentially, though, I'd argue that Latin pluralization is quite a bit more consistent than English pluralization; in fact, there are only 5 forms of nouns (they're called "declensions"), and the declension-type of each noun pretty consistently determines how that noun is changed to represent pluralization and syntactic role. Moreover, it's usually possible to guess how a noun is declined based on its spelling. So for those familiar with the language, "medium->media" and "continuum->continua" are as unsurprising as "shoe->shoes", and far less surprising than, say, "person->people." –  Kyle Strand Sep 3 at 18:33
Also, I'm not sure the proposed voting system change is completely solid. If a vote is going to have different effects based on which site the current user is on, it should probably not do so silently; perhaps a notification could be provided briefly explaining the different behaviors, or offering the option (if the user is a member of the source site) to treat the vote as a "source site" vote. Also, the same user should NOT be allowed to vote multiple times on a question if they're a member of each site on which a question is posted, and of course OP should never be allowed to vote. –  Kyle Strand Sep 3 at 18:36
This is a great pseudo-replacement for the currently broken migration paradigm we have now. In reality, verbose notifications when voting on the non-originating sites wouldn't be too much of a UX hassle - SO is good at explaining things in most other places, this would be no exception. I'd love to see this. –  Qix Sep 3 at 18:57
@Qix However it's handled, it's a pretty tiny wrinkle. –  Kyle Strand Sep 4 at 16:55

Crossposting is bad.

A question which could be answered on two different sites is not a good question. Perhaps it needs to be more reasonably scoped. Perhaps the person asking needs to understand their problem a little better so they know who best to ask for a fix. Perhaps they need to understand the audience a bit better and reword the question so it's obvious what they need to know.

  • Stream Airfare data --> This isn't about travelling. It's about getting data from a specific database on the internet. A traveler might have this problem, but it isn't a traveler problem.
  • Is it possible to “cook” pasta at room temperature with low enough pressure? --> This is two different questions. "Does pasta need to be cooked, or just rehydrated?" and "Does cooking happen by temperature, or by the state change of water?" They both belong on cooking.
  • If travelling through excessively cold regions, what steps should you take to keep your vehicle warm enough to drive? --> The author specifically states they do not want vehicle advice, they want general procedures for a specific type of emergency during a trip. You could post something similar to an emergency prepardeness/survival/wilderness site, but again you'd tailor it for that group of experts.

I could go on, but here's the key:

If a question is well-written for a specific group of experts, it will irritate the experts in the other group. If it waffles or tries to address both groups, it will merely irritate both of them. It will be given close votes, comments indicating it's inappropriate nature for the site, etc.

We already allow links in the questions. So I've seen many questions that present the problem, then provide a link to a related question on another site. The answers aren't the same, because the expertise on each site isn't the same and it shouldn't be.

It may be that there's some room for another sidebar, "Related questions on other SE sites" which links to explicitly linked questions, and uses keywords and tags to link to related questions elsewhere.

But we should not see the same exact question on two different sites. It shows a lack of understanding about the group of experts the question is being addressed to. We don't want to encourage this behavior, because it requires bad questions that try to address two different groups of experts. If the user isn't sure, let them post it on the site they believe is best, and the moderators can move it, others can edit it, in order to make it work on the correct site.

Crossposting shouldn't be encouraged or supported.

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For a contrasting view you can read the Stack Exchange official blog post on a related theme: The Pee-Wee Herman Rule –  hippietrail May 21 at 14:21
Then again this seems to be a straw man agreeing with the idea but not agreeing with another idea which is not the one presented here \-: –  hippietrail May 21 at 14:24

I would support such a feature.

I feel the segmentation of SE sites has become a bit excessive (e.g. SO, Code Review, Programmers and CS). This causes the average user (like myself) to worry more about where to post than how post correctly (partially because of fear of being scorned by the more hard-core users). In my case it ends up with me completely giving up on the post and searching for answers elsewhere.
I think that cross posting would allow the average user to post the question in the most fitting site (without worrying about not reaching some potentially interested experts), and use the cross-post feature to try suggest that the question be published on another site where the question might also be relevant.

I do agree with some other answers here, that in some cases, a question that fits more than one SE site might be indicative of a bad question, but I believe that these cases are not the majority. In any case, I don't think that such feature, if moderated correctly, would contribute to more bad questions being posted.

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