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Would it be a good idea to change the migration destination sites based on the question tags?

The new migrate option allows one to select from a limited number of destination sites. This group of sites is the same for a whole site, to keep the list short. However, if a question is tagged with , it is likely that the WordPress SE site would be a good destination.

What do you think of extending the destination list based on question tags? This would give smaller SE sites a chance of migration input, without polluting the list for all questions. So you still have three or four standard destinations, and then add tag-based destinations to the list.

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I'm in the middle on this. Its a great idea, but your also extending the number of choices there are for moved sites, which is bad. –  TheLQ Oct 19 '10 at 11:18
@TheLQ: The pressure to expand the list will only increase, looking at the computer-related sites that near the end of their beta period. I think my proposal offers a nice way to deal with this. –  Jan Fabry Oct 19 '10 at 13:42
Example requests: Ask Ubuntu ([ubuntu] tag), Programmers ([subjective]?). –  Jan Fabry Oct 19 '10 at 13:51
@TheLQ: It might well reduce the pressure to have more than a couple of sites on the destination list, if the choice of tag for the retag and vote to migrate option is clear. –  Charles Stewart Oct 20 '10 at 12:34
While it makes sense in some situations, I'm afraid of the possibility that this might shift people from judging on the merits of the questions to judging on the presence of tags. This largely affects the sites which have cross-applicability instead of simple exclusion. I wouldn't want to see a question on Gaming moved to AskUbuntu just because it had the [ubuntu] tag, because we can answer some of questions about Gaming on Ubuntu. –  Grace Note Oct 20 '10 at 12:58
@Grace Note: It would still take five votes to effectively migrate it of course. My problem was that otherwise there would be no way to migrate a question to a smaller site, even if all signs indicate that it would be better off there. –  Jan Fabry Oct 20 '10 at 13:44
@Jan 5 isn't really a small number. There's already a lot of cases where people use the existing migration paths incorrectly, which causes no end to complaints from Super User (who is typically on the receiving end). I see this being worse if it is mechanically encouraged by the system to tie the presence of a tag to a need for migration. It's not the most convenient thing to have to repost instead of getting the community to migrate, but I personally see a lot more problems in this than the convenience it offers. –  Grace Note Oct 20 '10 at 13:50
@Grace Note: Good that you bring up Super User, because I think this proposal will result in less incorrect migrations, not more. Games, Apple, Android: all these sites might not get on the site-wide SO list, so people would continue to migrate to the"catch-all" SU. If the small sites would be available for some questions, at least they would have a greater chance of not going to SU. Incorrect migrations are a problem, but I don't think this will make it worse. –  Jan Fabry Oct 20 '10 at 15:10
@Grace Note: And maybe this was not clear enough, but I do not propose that the system suggests a question should be closed, but only that if a user votes for migration, the target list could be expanded. –  Jan Fabry Oct 20 '10 at 15:15
I understood that there is no explicit recommendation. But my thought pattern is that what this introduces is a dependency between tags and migration that can end up tied together in people's minds. To migrate a question to Apple, it needs the [apple] tag -> A question that has the [apple] tag can be migrated to Apple -> A question that has the [apple] tag must be migrated to Apple. –  Grace Note Oct 20 '10 at 15:23
This logical jump is already done within the question body. We get migrations from Stack Overflow to here on Meta because of the simple mention of the name "Stack Overflow" in the question body, even when it can be a completely legit Stack Overflow question (like a question that uses SO as an example of what is desired, not necessarily wanting specifically SO's implementation). I can easily see this logical jump being applied to tags and people not even paying attention to the question body. And if the system then enables the migration due to the tag, it only strengthens this logical jump. –  Grace Note Oct 20 '10 at 15:25
I think this is a really good proposal. I've been noticing lots of questions here for [wordpress] where the answers OPs are given are in many cases just bad practice, especially when MySQL is involved. MAYBE what we could look at instead if to have a notice given to the user when the use specific tags that there are other sites that might do a better job of answering their questions? –  MikeSchinkel Nov 11 '10 at 3:45
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5 Answers

I like the idea.


  1. Where does the list associating tags to sites come from? The SX team, from site moderators on the receiving site, or from some sort of tag wiki-ish process?
  2. Is there meant to be one such list for all sites, or is it to vary from site to site?
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I don't think this needs much automation, so just some discussion on the meta would be enough, like we currently decide on migration paths. Involvement of the moderators of the receiving site is probably needed, since they know what is in scope and what is not. And different tag sets for each sending-receiving site combination? I don't know, it might make things too complicated. Maybe start simple, and see where it goes? –  Jan Fabry Oct 20 '10 at 12:50
Agreed. The tag list would not be huge to start and be reasonably obvious and could grow slowly when new reasonably obvious cases emerge. –  MikeSchinkel Nov 11 '10 at 3:46
We could take history on migrating and calculate tag-paths from already migrated questions. –  om-nom-nom Mar 25 '12 at 19:03
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As a relatively new SO user, one of the few really frustrating things to me once I hit 3k rep was the migration options. I see a question that clearly belongs on another site, in my case (as a SAS programmer) stats, go to mark it as off topic; and then am presented with a list of irrelevant sites. Prior to hitting 3k, I could always flag for migration; now I can't even do that.

If you don't want regular users migrating based on their judgement, then don't give a migration option to us. If you do want us migrating, then give us logical sites. Based on tags, based on keywords, or just an open text field to enter the URL. Whatever.

Alternately, give the list as now, and then add another option, "Other Site", which then goes into the moderator queue. That at least would make sense, and leave users with a logical response to the OT list...

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I started out really liking this idea, but a discussion we had internally swayed me the other way.

Stack Overflow is the only site that would benefit from this for the foreseeable future. That isn't a problem in and of itself, although we do prefer to avoid adding site-specific behaviour, but when a feature would not be used on most of our sites, it gets harder to justify spending time figuring out how to get a feature just right.

Here is our initial (and probably incomplete) list of issues that'd have to be worked out before something like this could be implemented:

  1. In the past, we've had to remove a site from the migration destination list because the migrations to it had a very high rate of rejection. In addition to being able to configure per-tag destinations, we'd also have to build a way to prevent certain sites from being chosen.
  2. Don't discount the value of a consistent user experience. Showing different choices based on tags could be confusing.
  3. We would be opening up a way to retag abuse to force the choice of available migration paths.
  4. Migrations are always disruptive to the asker and potentially the answerers, so we don't necessarily want to encourage more of them by making it too easy to migrate a question.

For now, the current system works well enough, with the most popular and functional paths being available to everyone and with the moderators standing by to handle the more exceptional/unusual migration requests.

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I hope you will reconsider. The votes seem to be lining up in favor of this modification. Nothing prevents the adjustment of the options being offered if they promote incorrect migration. My suggestions to move questions to CrossValidated from SO with R tags are accepted by moderators with high probability. There ought to be a mechanism to offer users of statistical packages (R, SAS, SPSS, others?) the option to send theory/methodological questions to CV. –  DWin Sep 27 '13 at 19:55
I hope too, you'll reconsider. The current system is so severely broken that the last resort oftentimes is to skip a question that should be migrated because it's simply way too much effort to type in a manual comment. I believe the tag based shortlist would really be useful. I certainly understand it's a lot of work to implement this but I don't agree to your arguments. In the meantime, if it's easier to implement, why not let us type in the URL of another site, possibly with autocompletion? –  Ortwin Gentz Oct 28 '13 at 17:28
There's no harm in closing a question as off-topic (assuming it is) when migration is not available. –  Anna Lear Oct 28 '13 at 18:46
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I think overall the concept is good. However, while some cases will be fairly clear, for other cases, something like this would be hard to implement.

Which tags apply to which affiliate sites?

Which tags would be used to determine the affiliate? (making up a tag combination for example, ++ -- Where would this "obviously" go?)

Is there a weighting system involved, or is everything taken to be a 1:1 match? I think weighting would be better, but that much more difficult to tackle.

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No algorithm is going to be perfect at categorising, but remember there are 5 choices so it doesn't actually need to categorise accurately... in the worst case it can be done manually afterwards (as it is done currently). in your example math.stackexchange and db.stackexchange are two (obvious) possiblities. –  hayd Aug 17 '12 at 20:15
@haydoni When there is no obvious match, which results would then be returned? Or how would you handle false positives? (i.e. some random question about java the drink.) I'm trying to play the devil's advocate here. I do like the idea, despite my vetting. –  Gaffi Aug 17 '12 at 21:09
If you've no idea display the 5 currently displayed. If there are false positives, so what? We are no worse off than now. :) –  hayd Aug 17 '12 at 21:15
At least with a variable 5-site destination list there would be Mathematics and DB Admin sites listed, letting the user make the final determination on the vote. Seems more helpful than simply choosing "Off Topic". –  JYelton Dec 3 '12 at 21:17
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This feature would be very useful for some tags where the vast majority of questions are being asked in the wrong site.

Approximately 90% of questions about Nginx on StackOverflow should (imho) be migrated to ServerFault as they are almost all 'How do I write this config file?'.

For some of the questions raised above:

  • The mapping of tags to other sites shouldn't be complex, it should just be each tag can have one suggested site to migrate questions to.

  • The mapping of tags to other sites doesn't need to be dynamic, it should just be set be appropriately high-level moderators.

  • In the rare case where there are more than 5 tags that have suggested migrations set for them, which sites are shown should be selected by the popularity of the tags.

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