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There is much overlap between the SO, SF and SU sites. For instance, questions about shell programming are programming related (since they are about programming), about system administration (because they manage the shell) and for single users too, if they want to script their computer.

I suggest allowing questions that overlap sites to be posted to more than one site simultaneously in order to:

  • avoid duplication between sites
  • get answers from all 3 communities.

I suggest that the answers be visible on all relevant sites, and that any votes apply to all relevant sites.

Edit: For instance, questions about VIM have appeared in SO (637/222780 questions) and in SF (17/8142 questions). VIM is a valuable tool for programmers as well as sysadmins. Where do such questions belong? I didn't review all the questions in SO but the ones in SF could easily be in SO as well.

How about Perl? 9/8142 on SF and 1772/222780 on SO. If you're a sysadmin but not a programmer, Perl is most certainly relevant.

These are two cases where there is overlap. I'm sure there are many more.

Edit: Here are some good examples of questions on SU that are relevant to SF and SO as well:

Vim Editor is very smart?

Remove lines efficiently in Vim

Edit: Here's another example of such concerns:

Do VBA questions belong on SO or SU?

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I would want to see some examples where this would be useful. – John Saunders Jul 15 '09 at 18:48
@John Saunders: look at this one: – Nathan Fellman Sep 21 '09 at 8:41
It would be useful if there was a lot of overlap, to have one version of the question on multiple sites. But probably, it's better to ask separate version and adapt them to the specific audience of the site. – Ivo Flipse Jun 15 '10 at 21:05
@Ivo, If I cross-posted to begin with, and one of the copies was closed and moved to another site in the trilogy, I'd have a duplicate in that site. Why is that a good thing? – Nathan Fellman Jun 16 '10 at 7:45
I don't mean cross-posting as in having two versions, but having one version that's updated on both sites. Where answers from either site are displayed on both. However, I don't think the system could support something like this due to rep duplication and what not. – Ivo Flipse Jun 16 '10 at 9:06
Newer stackexchange sites are having this problem, now. Particularly, "Pro Webmasters." Webmasters ask programming questions, and we don't want to turn them away. – Andres Jaan Tack Jul 9 '10 at 17:13
+1 that the new proliferation of StackExchange sites makes this all the more pressing. Regarding examples:… That's the same question asked in two different communities; I had to duplicate my answer in both places, and both versions of the questions have inspired other answers and comments, many of which are basically duplicates. Everyone would have benefitted from floating the question across both sites and sharing the conversation. – npdoty Aug 18 '10 at 7:21
I'm agree and I'll vote for this question. It would be nice at least to link answers and questions between different sites. Or to be able to subdivide complex questions (again with linking) – tmow Jan 11 '11 at 21:25

12 Answers 12

up vote 9 down vote accepted

There are two stakeholders, here.

  1. Question-askers want an answer in their problem domain: Programmers want system management tips to help them program, not to be sysadmins.
  2. Question-answerers want to answer questions in their domain: Programmers aren't usually great at answering sysadmin questions.

My suggestion:

  • Cross-posting is something viewers can vote for (as closing or re-opening a question). This helps avoid gratuitous cross-posting.
  • Question askers earn reputation where they asked the question. The value of the question is thus reflected in the correct community.
  • Question answerers earn reputation in two places.
    • 10 ppv in their domain of expertise.
    • 5 ppv in the cross-posted domain (if they have a linked account).

Actually, the point values needn't be different between the two domains: a user's naturally deep knowledge in their primary domain will keep the balance. You do want to reward both, however, as people with cross-disciplinary skills are valuable members.

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this needs to happen as all the new SE sites are coming in, very important i think – TJB Jul 24 '10 at 6:23
"Programmers want system management tips to help them program, not to be sysadmins." This answer is kind of dated because it presents a false dichotomy. More and more, systems administration is going to be about programming. – Robin Green Jan 2 '14 at 18:58
Yeah, I can see that. They're clearly different problem domains, but not necessarily addressed using different skill sets. You could safely predicate my answer with, "so long as we believe the sites represent distinct professions..." – Andres Jaan Tack Jan 5 '14 at 8:22

Can contact with cat feces be harmful for pregnant women? is a question that was migrated (yesterday) from the new Pets.SE to Parenting.SE.

If it was slightly re-worded (see If the kitty litter / pregnancy question was reworded, would it not have been migrated? ) , I don't think it would have been migrated from Pets.

As pointed out in that Meta Pets discussion, it is equally relevant to both sites. It is relevant to pregnant women (Parenting) and owners of cats who maintain litter boxes (Pets).

I am of the opinion that it qualifies as a prime example of an Overlap Question.

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I cast "Summon @RobertCartaino " and draw two mana cards. – JoshDM Oct 24 '13 at 14:26
I really want to change my username to Robert Cartaino and then reply to this, but I don't quite think it's worth it. – Servy Oct 24 '13 at 14:28
Stay classy, @Servy . :-) – JoshDM Oct 24 '13 at 15:23

I tend to think that even if the same question could be on more than one site, it's usually better to make it two questions, get two sets of answers, and then manually update one or both questions to reflect that.

Here is an example from SO and SU:

SO: Is there any documentation of the behavior of built-in Excel functions called with array arguments?

SU: Is there any documentation of the behavior of built-in Excel functions called with array arguments?

I asked first on SO, then asked a few days later on SU, then incorporated feedback from a SU answer into my SO question, and then finally posted an answer to SU that referenced the accepted answer on SO.

I think expecting the asker to do some work to get answers from both sites is fine, and the specific context around the questions probably makes an automated system of cross-posting impossible.

(The fact that this example involves Excel is no accident. I think Excel is a great example of a topic that straddles SO and SU. See: Which site do Excel (or other spreadsheet) formulas belong on?)

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I disagree, as you might get the same answers. Hence: you're using time of two users to write the very same thing. Even the chance of that happening annoys me a lot. – Arjan Mar 19 '11 at 1:17
@Arjan (and other downvoter), Do you really think you'll get the very same answers from users on SO and SU? In theory my two questions might have wasted someone's time. In reality, there is no sign of that. Also note that two users favorited the SO question and one the SU question. This indicates to me that the same question was useful to both sites, but in ways that are different enough to make a built-in cross-post system (the question that I was answering) not very useful. You seem to be raising a far-too-broad theoretical objection to the entire idea of duplicate questions. – jtolle Mar 19 '11 at 20:02

I have had a few questions that fall in the grey area.. For example one recently was about SVN, not really programming related except programmers use it. I asked it on SO because its more programming based and probably more users there actually use it. Now it ended up the answer was on SF and I got linked to it.

Something like that I think falls in the gray area. Although it is very rare it would be nessasary to have the question on both. But the new sites coming into beta through stackexchange are going to confuze things and maybe make this more nessasary.

I can see and stackoverflow having a lot of overflowing questions, and I can see superuser and a few others having overflowing questions

There is a Ubuntu one in there and a linux one that will probably easy conflict with SF or SO when/if they make it into beta.

Also I can see asking about say editing a linux driver falling into that grey area, do you ask a programer or a server guy who might be familure with that.

But then there are people that will absolutly never use this ever

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I recently asked a question on SU that could likely have been asked on SO as well.

I picked SuperUser thinking that there's a slightly different audience than on StackOverflow (overlap, yes, but not complete).

It'd be nice if there was a way for a question to "float" across the different sites, but only earn rep on the one from which it originated.

For example, add checkboxes for also listing a question on SF even though you asked on SU, but any voting/viewing on SF would "count" on SU.

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I share OP's view.

For instance, configuring a tool for programming purposes and other purposes makes strictly no difference. The configurations rules to apply are strictly the same. Except that in one case the configuration is explicitly programming related, e.g. "How to bind one keys sequence to compile my current file according to the language of the file currently edited?"

Unless this question is not programming related (in that case, please close all text-editor discussions that are opened on SO), I can assure you that, in Vim context, the questions "Vim Hotkeys For Specific File", or "How can I grep my edited log files when I hit F5?" are strictly identical to the previous one. Why should we give different answers ?

All these forums disperse communities and the quality of the responses given.

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The amount of times this happens is far and few between. At the moment there is 9300+ questions on SU, and I can recall only 3 I have seen that could be potential cross-site targets. The others, amazingly have been moved to the correct site by the community, and in fact has created duplicates on these site, which end up getting closed. End result

Ask on both sites - One site closes and moves - Second site closes as dup - Single Question

To accommodate the anomolies in my humble opinion is not worth the amount of work it will require. I think the current system works well the way it is.

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Here is my example.

I work for a small company as a Developer. Whenever IT/support staff run into an IIS or ASP.NET related issue with our product I get called in to troubleshoot it. In my example question, perhaps another Developer like myself has seen this problem before and dealt with it. Posting on Stack Overflow may help me more because there is a higher volume of people in the .NET community that might be familiar with this kind of issue or been in my shoes before, however, the question is directly related to troubleshooting a client server/network, so it definitely belongs on Server Fault.

Perhaps a mechanism where the asker could 'flag' (for moderator/high rep community review) a question to be temporarily 'featured' on a sister site for 48 hours. The asker could write a brief explanation of why they would like the other community to see their question.

It could be like the bounty system as well, where the asker must stake some of their reputation in order to do this. If the other community doesn't appreciate the cross post as off topic then the user would lose the staked reputation when the question is down voted by sister site members. If a sister site member is able to solve the problem then they could earn a badge (or extra rep) for reaching out to the sister site.

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There may be some issues where there are system questions and programming questions--but I can almost bet that they aren't the same questions, at least I believe it would not be the case that they were the most sharply-focused possible. -1 for me.

I don't see how sharply-focused questions duplicate much. You might have a repeated preamble:

I'm working on a Iambic 50K Supersonic, running 1080 SuperNIX. We're putting together a project to direct thought-control satellites through email...

So perhaps there could be a possibility to link questions, but I wouldn't like to see a lot of administrative discussions, in a post discussing the COBOL API.

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If your question is so vague that it warrants posting on multiple sites at once, you should probably work to make your question more specific.

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I tend to think that the overlap is only possible when the questions are vague and ambiguous... Each site has a specific purpose and a true programming related question does not belong on meta, sf, or su.

I think this is a bad idea and will only increase the garbage on all of the sites.

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yes, there is a reason that there are multiple sites! – Jon Erickson Jul 15 '09 at 18:34
I still don't see the specific purpose of SU. It looks like a catchall for computer-related questions that don't belong in SO or SF. – David Thornley Sep 21 '09 at 19:46
+1; "overlap is only possible when the questions are vague and ambiguous" – Chris S Jun 15 '10 at 20:59
This is clearly the more popular feeling. :'( – Andres Jaan Tack Aug 10 '10 at 10:17
This may have been true in '09, but I don't think it is true now with the proliferation of sites. A question about how Apple has implemented Keychains in OS X can be equally applicable to,, and – Old Pro Jun 13 '12 at 8:00

Not really feeling it. I think it's better to choose the one site that the question is most appropriate to.

I also think that this would be probably require a tremendous effort on the developers' part, and not provide that great a return on that effort.

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"tremendous effort on the developer's part" is a secondary problem. First we should decide if it's desirable. Let the SO team work out the best way to do it. – Nathan Fellman Jun 16 '10 at 7:57

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