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I asked one question over on skeptics.stackexchange.com about empirical evidence for programmer productivity. One user then prompted me that I'd have more luck over on programmers.stackexchange.com, so I cross posted there as it clearly fits both sites.

I thought until very recently that it's not encouraged to cross post until Robert Cartaino stated:

There is no concept of closing as a duplicate on another site. Each site is autonomous. This is a rare case of where the question might actually be appropriate on BOTH sites-- one set of answer from the point of view of an expert on the subject, the other from a skeptic challenging the science.

Which seem to say that each site is autonomous and there are cases where one question might be appropriate on both sites such as the question on skeptics.SE Is stretching beneficial after exercise? and the question over on fitness.SE Should I stretch after exercise?.

So I referenced the above reason for cross posting when I was challenged by moderator ChrisF on programmers.SE. Then later moterator Sklivvz over on skeptics.SE challenged me linking to an older statement by Jeff Atwood that says this is probably not okay and that you should ask, delete and re-ask questions, citing that it's a slippery slope to allow such a thing:

Allowing cross-posting is a slippery slope.

If you might have slightly better odds of getting an answer by posting it on two sites, well, by gum, why not maximize your odds by posting it on twenty sites!

There are some questions which fall into grey areas between sites, and I think it's OK to ask and delete, then re-ask if you feel you have asked on the wrong site.

But as a general rule, do not cross-post questions, please. Pick a site and go with it.

I'd like to point out that I did pick one site first and only cross-posted when prompted. Is it acceptable in this case to cross point, and what is the rule in general? Perhaps the greater Stack Exchange community could benefit from examples of when it's appropriate (if ever) and when it's not. Most relevant to my case Jeff Atwood recently said:

It is considered outright abuse to copy and paste questions across the network.

If you tailor your question to adapt it to the different audiences on a site -- and genuinely make an effort to to so -- then it can be allowed. But copying and pasting is indefensible.

And Robert Cartino said:

There are somewhat rare cases where you may benefit by asking different groups of users a similar question, because the context of their expertise will provide a different perspective.

But if you are asking the same question of two different groups simply to reach a larger audience, I would frown upon that. Ask the question first on the site you feel will most likely provide the best answer. If you do not receive an adequate answer, then it might be okay to ask your question again to another group of users — as long as the question is on topic and appropriate for that second site.

But cutting-and-pasting between two sites is never okay. If you want a different perspective, you should phrase the question specifically for that group.

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Also from Jeff (comment on another answer): “[cross-posting] can be OK [in rare cases], so long as the question is tailored to each audience on the different sites and is materially different in each case. Just to be 100% clear, copy-pasting a question across sites with no changes is considered abusive behavor.” –  Gilles Apr 17 '11 at 16:30
    
For all that's worth it, I think this specific case (let's call it the python skeptic) is a good example of a copy pasted cross posting that's valid on both sites just as it is and it already proved its value on each one. –  Cawas Apr 27 '11 at 14:14
    
Though I believe it does fit better in programmers than on skeptics! :P –  Cawas Apr 27 '11 at 14:16
    
When you add stuff in, it's always helpful to say "I added this part on this date" or whatever, or put it at the bottom with a HR so we know where it got added. Chronology is wonderful. –  jcolebrand May 3 '11 at 14:50
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@drachenstern I've never really liked that style of editing in a wiki where you can click the timestamp to check the revisions. –  Kit Sunde May 3 '11 at 14:56
    
Well that's how I did it too, but ... it was disorienting at first I suppose is my point. idk, need more cafpow, the problem is when you first open meta and you haven't even opened your dev environment... –  jcolebrand May 3 '11 at 15:00
    
" It is considered outright abuse to copy and paste questions across the network. "If you tailor your question to adapt it to the different audiences on a site -- and genuinely make an effort to to so -- then it can be allowed. But copying and pasting is indefensible." But what if the question stated in the exact same way comes as appropriate to both sites? –  Doug Spoonwood Oct 16 '11 at 22:36

3 Answers 3

I think it's pretty clear when cross-posting is becoming abusive.

If you are posting to two sites because you're not sure which site is more on-topic, that will sort itself out naturally, via the usual close mechanisms. It will either get closed on one or both sites, or it will not, in which case it apparently is on-topic for both sites.

If you are posting on twenty sites to maximize your odds, then you are clearly a spammer, and should receive the spammer treatment. Common sense rules here.

Robert Cartaino is right; there's no concept of closing as a duplicate on another site. Down that road lies madness.

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I think cross-posting should be OK, provided each site chosen as an audience for the question due to differing audiences/viewpoints, and not just an effort to get more answers.

For example, I came across a question on programmers.se about application vs database for business logic. As the answers were biased towards app developers, I though it was perfectly valid to put the same question to the dba.se audience, who will have a bias towards the database.

Time will tell how the community feels in this case.

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I'm willing to bet that when the original case was brought up, it was when we had less than 40+ sites. As the network grows, I imagine that it will be more important to say "Hey I cross linked to this post" rather than to try and play the guessing game.

What sucks is when people see it is posted on multiple sites, and say "well it doesn't really belong here" and close/delete it when it should really just be edited a bit.

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