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There is a very elaborated system of close votes, where irrelevant question can be closed real quick just by users with enough rep, without the need to bother a moderator. Migration on the other hand is not so easy.

This happens every day. A newbie user starts a question that belongs to another site (GIS in this case). Let's analyze the options I have:

  1. Drop a comment to the user: "hey, this belongs to GIS.SE". This almost always results in immediate cross-posting, which we don't want.

  2. Close. The question can get closed real quick, but it won't get migrated right away, if at all. The question will be closed for considerable amout of time and the user will be tempted to cross-post. Let alone there is no proper close reason for GIS.SE and other sites.

  3. Flag - other (needs ♦ moderator attention). The problem is involved in the name itself - needs moderator attention. The system is not set up for other higher rep users to speed up the process. It will be slow and thus increase the time the question is at the wrong site, increasing the risk of cross-posting.

So, unlike the great closing system, where moderator is just a human exception handler, migration doesn't seem that smooth.

Shall this process be tuned somehow in the sense of moderation theory?

I don't have a particular proposal how to do that, so just throwing several thoughts:

  • Is moderator attention needed for migration? Or can be based only on high rep users voting? There are suggestions it's needed and also that even moderators of target site might have to be involved, but this could be matter to further discussion. It could also be the high rep users on the target site :-)
  • Higher rep users should be more collaborating and participating in this in the sense of moderation theory and prepare the migration cases on the silver plate for moderator, if his attention is needed (see the point above). Currently, users are lead to both closing and flagging, there is no clear workflow, no place in review items - both for the high rep user and maybe for mods too(?), etc.
  • Don't have clear idea how this would work, but for example, high rep users could vote for migration to any SE site. The significant difference between this and voting to close is that there would be no time gap when the question is closed but not migrated yet, thus, motivating for cross-post. This could be e.g. implemented within current system where question closed for "belongs on another site" reason would not be actually closed but be waiting for moderator (or high rep users on the target site, see above) to migrate it.

So please, come up with your ideas. I am not proposing anything particular because I know these things are extremely hard to tune well. But thanks to great SE network we already know that tuning it well is possible :-)

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Just looking at stackoverflow.com/tools/posts/migrated/away - and the last "away" migration was 8 hours ago... (that's if those stats are correct)... –  Jon Clements Jan 6 at 19:15

3 Answers 3

I like the idea of having high-rep users vote-to-close/migrate on the front end (maybe make it a 20k privilege), and then have high-rep users vote-to-accept on the back end (maybe just a 10k privilege).

After the first migration vote, you could have it in those respective queues on both sites to speed things up (to cut down on cross-posting). There are some race conditions to work out, but I think it would be a good compromise to the migration problem.

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Thanks Lance, this is exactly what I meant, but I wouldn't define it as good as you :-) –  Tomas Jan 6 at 18:56
When I think about this more, its perfectly logical - if we give high rep users privilege to close questions as off-topic, why wouldn't we give them the privilege to accept them as on-topic on the target site? –  Tomas Jan 6 at 19:00

Just another thing to consider: since the OP can delete (sometimes), sign up to the other site and re-post by themselves anyway, why not include them in the process.

Once a suitable site has been suggested (either via close-votes or comments - not 100% sure what criteria would suit best for this) then the OP instead of choosing to delete their question, can choose to "move" their question.

The pros of this are:

  • The OP becomes aware of a more suitable target site
  • As they're involved in the moving, they're less likely to cross-post in the mean time
  • The target site gets a new user, and a post that doesn't have an orphaned user
  • The post doesn't hang in limbo on the source site with people unsure whether to answer or being unable to answer

It's simply what the OP can do now, but in a more organised fashion.

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This is a completely new idea - allow the migration to OPs. Sounds perfectly logical! It's something parallel with the rest though, we cannot rely on OPs only to do that. So while this is a great idea, there should be some mechanism for high rep users too. –  Tomas Jan 6 at 19:05
@Tomas indeed... but I imagine the majority of cross posts come from the OP wanting an answer now - so they're going to be watching the post. Therefore after some suggestions of an alternate site, if they can click a button that says "move to more suitable site" - they'll do that fairly sharpish and that'll be the vast majority of cross-posts sorted removing issues there. And the rest can be handled by existing methods or as Lance suggests... Between them it would be kind of like the OP agreeing that their post is indeed a suggested duplicate... –  Jon Clements Jan 6 at 19:09
I agree completely - it's a great idea. I would see it as a great complement to Lance's proposal. –  Tomas Jan 6 at 19:14
I rather like this idea. Perhaps it could include answer authors as well? –  Shogging through the snow Jan 6 at 21:54
@Shog9 I'm not sure I follow. If it's blatantly OT for the source site, then people that are concerned enough to migrate it won't want to answer it in case it's closed before they submit their answer. And I'm not sure if encouraging people to answer an OT question in the hope they can then sway a migration target because of that is desirable... Or do I misunderstand your suggestion? –  Jon Clements Jan 6 at 22:56
I meant more along the lines of, let answer authors' explicitly acquiesce to the migration of a closed question, @Jon (note that normally the question author would be prevented from deleting an answered question, and I would assume this would apply to migration as well). Might make this too complex, but food for thought. –  Shogging through the snow Jan 6 at 23:06
@Shog9 now I get you... I hadn't considered it from that point of view. Good catch. –  Jon Clements Jan 6 at 23:09

Here's an idea: You can vote to migrate only if you have 10k rep on both sites involved in the migration.

This would hopefully ensure only questions that really belong on the other site would be migrated, and we wouldn't need two queues as in Lance's answer.

Obviously, the rep requirements could be tuned - maybe 10k on the sending side and and 2k on the receiving side would be more appropriate, for example. There might not be that many users above 10k on multiple sites.

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"You can vote to migrate only if you have 10k rep on both sites involved in the migration." - ouch! There would be noone to migrate questions then! Even mods and users like Jon Skeet don't match your criteria. Even if you soften it, it seems too strict. The two queues solution seems better to me. –  Tomas Jan 6 at 19:11
Perhaps you're right. I hesitate to add yet another queue though. And what happens if the question is rejected from the entry queue? –  Blorgbeard Jan 6 at 19:15
Also, just because Jon Skeet has a huge rep on SO, doesn't mean he knows what's on topic on every other SE site. We do need high-reps on both sides of the equation.. Whether that's single users or two queues, I don't know. –  Blorgbeard Jan 6 at 19:17
I definitely think a user that votes to migrate should have at least some rep on the target site. Even if it's just a 50 rep requirement (and maybe we still have an acceptance queue). –  Blorgbeard Jan 6 at 19:18
I support this in principle, but 10k on both sites does seem a bit too challenging. Maybe 3k (= "cast close votes") on both sites? Or 3k on the source site and 10k on the target, with a top-bar notification on the target site for eligible users? –  Ilmari Karonen Jan 6 at 20:50

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