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I posted a question that I thought was a reasonable programming question, if somewhat tongue-in-cheek, to Stack Overflow:

It was upvoted a few times and people were responding reasonably. But a few people I guess saw it differently and moved it to Meta Stack Overflow. It wasn't a Meta question and I would never have posted it here, but it was moved without my input and I had no control over it.

Predictably, the Meta voters REALLY didn't like it, because it was off-topic, and got downvoted badly and closed as noise, costing me a bunch of points.

Now, I think that closing the question on SO was incorrect, but whatever. But also migrating it incorrectly to Meta just to have Meta hate on it, that is an injustice IMO. I didn't want it posted on Meta and had no control over that decision.

So what can I do? Maybe there should be a policy change to not allow question migration without asker permission? Or at least an exception to penalties on the new site?

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Now that the question's been deleted, request a reputation recalculation. You might want to delete this question first too. – ChrisF Jul 14 '10 at 13:31
I think it belonged on SO. It's a programming question. – Andreas Bonini Jul 14 '10 at 14:22
It was a poor rambling in the first place. – random Jul 14 '10 at 14:40

So what can I do? Maybe there should be a policy change to not allow question migration without asker permission?

No, I don't think so. Questions need to be migrated when the original poster doesn't know what site to post to.

In this case I just deleted the question here on meta and recalculated your rep.

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Thanks for the help - is there a method of appeal like this without asking a question (which apparently was also a bad question to ask on Meta ;) ). – Scott Stafford Jul 14 '10 at 13:35
@Scott: Yes, you can flag your closed question for moderator attention and ask for it to be deleted. I think this was a reasonable question though, people probably just disagree with your suggestions. – Bill the Lizard Jul 14 '10 at 13:37
@Scott It's not really a "bad" question, but as Ólafur points out, downvotes on Meta sometimes indicate disagreement rather than the validity of a question. Here, there's disagreement at any points of your question such as the thought that it is unfair or that migration needs asker permission. – Grace Note Jul 14 '10 at 13:37

For the most part, no one should be migrating a question just to get it bad press. Remember that everyone on Meta can also be on Stack Overflow - there's nothing stopping them from pouring any negative intention right on the first site. The purpose of migration is to move a question from where it is off-topic, to where it belongs. This is saying nothing about the validity of your specific case, as a note.

To answer your title - no, it isn't unfair for a question to receive downvotes post-migration. Just because a question belongs on another site doesn't make it a good question - it's perfectly valid for votes to accrue on the target site, and in fact is intended. Negative score gotten prior to migration is in fact zeroed on migration, to neutralize any votes given on the grounds of "posting on the wrong place". This lets it remain as votes that apply specifically to the destination site.

Bill succinctly explains why we need to have closing without the user's input.

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Thanks.. and closing without input is definitely useful. It's downvoting after migration that seems unfair to me. If it belonged on the other site it was force-migrated to, it wouldn't have been downvoted. So downvotes there really reflect on the movers more than on the asker, no? – Scott Stafford Jul 14 '10 at 13:40
@Scott I don't think they do. Downvotes don't indicate that a question doesn't belong on the site. They indicate that there are problems with the question (either in content or formatting) that should be addressed in order to make it a good question. This, again, is independent of whether the question belonged. Otherwise, why would people need to downvote any questions that belonged on the site in the first place? – Grace Note Jul 14 '10 at 13:59
@Scott_Stanfford I'm sorry to hear about your poor experience. It's worth a note that the Meta crowd is quite different than StackOverflow. They are more finicky and have their own highly-evolved insider jokes, terminologies, and tags (See the many memes of meta) . Sadly for you, it doesn't take any majority to migrate a question, only 5 people who think so. I hope that you will continue to be a valuable StackOverflow user, and this experience doesn't put you entirely off. – rlb.usa Jul 14 '10 at 14:26

Votes on meta are not "like / dislike" it is "agree / disagree"

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It would be really nice if this was true. – Chris S Jul 14 '10 at 14:12

Warning: Big and scary 'telling-off'-speach ahead...please do not consider this personal!

Predictably, the Meta voters REALLY didn't like it, because it was off-topic, and got downvoted badly and closed as noise, costing me a bunch of points.

I think the people didn't liked it because they'd consider it as 'cheating'...nobody likes cheaters.

In the end the reputation and badge system should motivate you to actively contribute to the community. If you get a badge, you earned it, if you get mod rights, you earned it. I think that people just feel a little 'uneasy' of the thought that somebody might trick out this system and gains badges and maybe even reputation he does not deserve.

Take Jon Skeet f.e., he is 24x7 online and he is at least a semi-god (or he has destroyed the gods and is now sitting on the throne, anyway) he has also earned his 195K of reputation and his countless badges...simply because he has written astonishing 0.4% of all the answers on SO. Now somebody comes up with gold and silver badges he didn't earn, but gained through 'automation'...what's the point of that anyway? Just because you have them doesn't make you to a more valuable member of the community. You can say 'I have gold badges on SO', but you'll fail on the question 'And how much did you contribute to the community'. Also, there are many people who have spent a significant part of their live contributing to this community, and I can imagine that seeing others getting badges 'for free' must be very frustrating.

I posted a question that I thought was a reasonable programming question...

Yes, and it was also related to the SO trilogy, so technically this should be on, and not on meta. Every about writing things which interact with SO are going there. But since we lack the ability to migrate questions to stackapps, it was migrated to meta, since here it fits best.

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Jon isn't one of the founders. Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky founded the site. – Bill the Lizard Jul 14 '10 at 14:13
...I get a very bad feeling when I see that Jon Skeet's huge name is now associating him as a site founder. – Grace Note Jul 14 '10 at 14:15
@Bill the Lizard, @Grace Note: What the...?! Fixed embarrassing...I must have confused him with Jeff Atwood then... – Time Traveling Bobby Jul 14 '10 at 14:25
@Grace why would it matter? Regardless of his not being a founder, he has certainly been a prime motivator and factor in the success of SO. He was the first celebrity born entirely (afaik) of SO fame. – devinb Jul 14 '10 at 14:28
@devinb Oh, he's an excellent user, I do not deny that, and certainly a celebrity to whom "SO" is practically associated with now. But there's a big difference between having the site associated with your name, and having the creation of the site associated with your name. – Grace Note Jul 14 '10 at 14:30

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