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A good question, on topic for two sites

Without having read the FAQ on cross-posting, I cross-posted a question (here and here) that was strictly on topic for both sites. In fact, I actually cross-posted a meta question on the same two sites (here and here), as well as a few others to ask whether or not my question was on topic for either of them.

The communities confirmed that the question was on topic for their site. So I posted it to both, without knowing about the issue with cross-posting.

After reading the talk on cross-posting, I don't totally disagree that one of the cross-posted questions should be closed. Fine. Close one of them if that's how we choose to handle it.

But don't put my question on hold for being off topic when your meta site just finished confirming that it's on topic.

My issue is that if one of the two questions is closed or put on hold, I don't think that the reason should be "off-topic" (or any current sub reason of off-topic), since that's strictly false. I don't mean to make an issue for the heck of it. I just want things to make sense.

The off-topic sub-reason:

This question does not appear to be about software development within the scope defined in the help center.

Well, that isn't right. At all..

Tl;dr - The question:

  • Should a strictly on-topic cross-post be closed or put on hold as "off-topic"?

  • Is there no better alternative?

The ongoing "Off-Topic" issue

I'm aware, now, of the "off-topic" related posts:

Can we rename the off-topic close reason label on the primary screen?

If we're not going to change the "off-topic" label, how about a slight change to the wording around it?

Shouldn't "off-topic" be only about... off-topic?

I don't suggest any close reason if none exists that suits an on-topic cross-post. If SE wants to enforce the closure of on-topic cross-posts, (I agree that something should be done in many cases), it should add a cross post reason for closure.

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Well, I've seen places where cross posts were commented on asking to have one of them removed, or for the asker to remember not to cross post in the future, but put on hold right away as "off-topic" ..? –  ColorQuestor May 19 '14 at 18:29
I've never understood the animus towards cross-posting of good questions. If each community is happy with the question, why should the other care? Cross-posting is only a problem when the question is unsuitable for a particular site or just plain bad, but that's the same problem as when it's not cross-posted. That said, I think it's rare to have a question that could be posted verbatim and welcomed on two different SE sites. I'd expect a change of emphasis or level of detail to be necessary in general. –  Josh Caswell May 19 '14 at 18:38
@JoshCaswell See, meta.stackexchange.com/tags/cross-posting/info –  maple_shaft May 19 '14 at 19:43
@maple_shaft That information is internal policy, which is fine, I won't disagree with that. However, by putting the cross post on hold as "off topic", you weren't accurate. Very much the opposite. I suggest that comments be used to combat such questions until SE (who wrote that statement about cross posts) decides to implement a proper way of closing / handling them. –  ColorQuestor May 19 '14 at 19:59
Update: I ran this by the Programmers community and we came to the following conclusions for how to deal with this on our site. I compiled the consensus in the question at the bottom: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/6665/… –  maple_shaft May 20 '14 at 11:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Should a strictly on-topic cross-post be closed or put on hold as "off-topic"?


Is there no better alternative?

Cross-posting is sometimes done to get more exposure to a question, essentially throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. It is this kind of cross-posting that we object to, especially with questions that are poorly-written.

Generally, such questions can be closed on their merit, meaning that they are either genuinely off-topic, or are unanswerable for other legitimate reasons.

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Note: I feel that this should come to a community vote so I am playing devils advocate here and am going to suggest an alternative to the currently accepted answer. Please downvote if you disagree, and note that I don't necessarily disagree with the accepted answer.


There are no better alternatives. It should be the moderator or high-rep users discretion of the target site whether cross-posting should be allowed or not. As the moderator who put your question on hold, I am merely following the pattern set by my peers and people before me that this is the appropriate way for cross-posting to be handled on Programmers.

Cross Posting Tag - It is frowned upon

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If SE wants to enforce the closure of cross-posts, (I agree that something should be done in many cases), it should add a cross post reason for closure. Until then, there is no proper way to handle on-topic cross-post closure. –  ColorQuestor May 19 '14 at 23:34

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