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The criteria for migrating a question are:

  1. The question is off-topic on the current site.
  2. The question is high-quality.
  3. The question is on-topic for the target site.

Or, as stated in the FAQ,

  • Don't migrate for the sake of migration. We only migrate questions because they are off-topic on the original site. It is perfectly possible for a question to be on-topic on multiple sites, but that is not a reason to migrate it elsewhere. As a general rule, if someone asks a question here, and it's on-topic here, it should stay here.

However, the UI doesn't make requirement 1 clear. The sequence goes…

  1. Click "close" or "flag".

    The dialog asks,

    ◉ Why should this question be closed?

    or

    ◉ I am flagging this question because …
    ◉ it should be closed for another reason…

  2. Click "off-topic".

    One of the options is:

    This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network

The UI does not require an off-topic reason to be specified — in fact, it prevents you from specifying an off-topic reason if you want to suggest a migration. Thus, the UI improperly suggests that "better fit elsewhere" is a valid reason for closing/migrating.

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Well, it is under the "off-topic" heading, thus implying the question is off-topic for that site. – hichris123 Mar 18 '15 at 23:28
6  
@hichris123 But at no point does it make you state why you think it's off-topic. – 200_success Mar 18 '15 at 23:29

This has been a big problem on some sites -- questions that are on-topic here are perceived as a better fit somewhere else, so people propose migration. But questions should only be migrated if they don't belong on the original site.

So let's do it in two steps. First a question must be closed as off-topic, and only then does a migration option become possible. I'm not sure what the UI for that should look like; here are a few possibilities, in (approximate) ascending order of difficulty to implement:

  • No special UI; people can flag for a moderator to migrate. Almost all migration attempts I see as a moderator come via flags, though I'm not a moderator on the really big sites and maybe it's different there. This is easiest to implement (all that's required is to remove the migration close path and give moderators a migrate option), but is least visible to users. It also requires moderator action.

  • Add a "vote to migrate" link to the closure notice. Clicking this link takes you to the "migrate" part of the current off-topic dialogue, where you can choose a site. For bonus points, make it easier to see what's welcome on the target site. If there are migration votes, show a number as with close/reopen/delete votes. This is more work but is more discoverable.

  • Add a review queue for questions closed as off-topic that offers a "migrate" option. I think this probably isn't the way to go, but I'm including it for completeness.

I favor the second option, but even the first would be better than the status quo.

Where I've said "closed", also include "on hold". There's no reason to make an asker wait five days.

Finally, there's an argument to be made for disabling migration entirely, but that's a much bigger and more-controversial change. So long as we have migration, let's make it work better.

share|improve this answer
    
A sequence point between the closing and migrating processes would put the onus of nominating a question for migration largely on the last deciding close voter, and cause a lot of other people to revisit a question unnecessarily. – 200_success Dec 9 '15 at 3:54
    
I'm not sure what you mean about revisiting unnecessarily. Fewer people will notice, yes (because closure doesn't generate any notifications), but most questions don't get migrated so we're trading this against asking people to consider migration for every single off-topic question. This approach is more organic. – Monica Cellio Dec 9 '15 at 3:57
    
This proposal might improve the quality of migrations, but it would certainly have a cost in terms of agility and labour. Some sites have a hard enough time keeping their close queue in check. I'm not sure that it would be a worthwhile trade-off. – 200_success Dec 9 '15 at 3:58
    
"Revisit unnecessarily" in the sense that you're making people re-read a question that has already been closed. Ideally you want to triage questions by reading them just once. – 200_success Dec 9 '15 at 4:01
    
While other sites have people who are over-eager to migrate. I don't know which situation is more common. – Monica Cellio Dec 9 '15 at 4:05
2  
This sounds like my proposal of choice, but I always envisioned migration as a checkbox-like control. When you vote to close a question as off topic, you'd also have the option of checking a box indicating that you think the question would be on topic on another site, and picking the site from a short list of options (as there is in the current dialog). If the question gets closed, and enough of the close voters wanted to migrate it to a single site, then the migration goes through. Does this correspond to one of your options, Monica? – David Z May 1 at 3:18
    
1  
@DavidZ that would be a good way to streamline it. The main goal is to ensure that it is first closed as off-topic and then migrate it; collecting the migration votes at close-vote time would be a fine idea IMO. (See also the discussion on the post I just linked.) – Monica Cellio May 1 at 3:21
    
@MonicaCellio Ah, thanks for the link, that's just the kind of thing I've been thinking of. – David Z May 1 at 3:23
    
@DavidZ it looks like I had to write several posts on this subject in order to develop the idea. :-) The one I just linked to is the latest and so has benefit of the prior ones, including this one. – Monica Cellio May 1 at 3:26

I propose to change the workflow so that a closure reason is required after suggesting migration. Namely,

  1. Click "close" or "flag".
  2. Click "off-topic".

    The dialog looks just like it does today, with one of the choices being

    ◉ This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network

  3. Choose a migration target site.

    The dialog looks just like it does today. (I'd add emphasis that it needs to be a high-quality question.)

  4. Specify a closure reason.

    Flagging > Closing > Off-Topic > Migration > Closure Reason

    Why is this question off-topic for insert current site name here?

    ◎ Standard reason A
    ◎ Standard reason B
    ◎ Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)


    Vote to migrate Cancel

    The migration flag is cancelled unless a closure reason is given.

One disadvantage of this proposal is that the thought process is a bit backwards: normally, one would classify a question as off-topic before suggesting migration.

share|improve this answer
1  
"(I'd tweak it so that each site links to the /help/on-topic page, and emphasize that it needs to be a high-quality question.)" It used to do that at one point. Has that been lost again? – ChrisF Mar 18 '15 at 21:30
1  
@ChrisF You're right, it does link to /help/on-topic already. – 200_success Mar 18 '15 at 21:43
1  
This seems like a quite good approach to me, but I am not sure if it is the best solution. – Simon Forsberg Mar 18 '15 at 22:32

I propose to change the workflow so that migration options are presented after choosing a closure reason.

  1. Click "off-topic".

    Choose a standard reason for closure, or enter a custom reason.

  2. Click Vote to Close.

    The UI would ask:

    Flagging > Closing > Off-Topic > Migration

    Would this be considered a high-quality question that is on-topic on another site?

    ◉ No, the question should simply be closed.
    Stack Overflow logo belongs on Stack Overflow
                      Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers
    Super User logo belongs on Super User
                      Q&A for computer enthusiasts and power users

One disadvantage of this proposal is that the common case (simple closure without migration) requires an extra click to dismiss the migration dialog.

share|improve this answer
    
Why have you made 2 different answers? Couldn't you make them into one (i.e. This or this). – Tim Mar 18 '15 at 21:25
16  
@Tim because they are mutually exclusive proposals for rectifying the situation, to be voted on separately. Furthermore, the door is open for anyone (including myself) to suggest an even better solution. – 200_success Mar 18 '15 at 21:27
5  
I think there are way too many questions where this would not be relevant, so I think this would do more harm than good. – Simon Forsberg Mar 18 '15 at 22:31
    
Agreed with Simon; automatically putting migration front and center as an option is going to lead to more people doing it willy-nilly. Better to leave it a little more buried. – Matthew Read Mar 8 at 20:12

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