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tl;dr

Can we get what Jeff has referred to as the "first rule" or "golden rule" of migrations on quite a few occasions - namely "Don't. Migrate. Crap." - added to the off-topic / migration dialog?

It could even be sugar-coated with nice words if necessary.

Migrating users don't receive a lot of guidance on how to manage migrations unless they look for it, so we should be providing that sort of information to them when they perform a migration.


I'm basically stealing ChrisF's commented suggestion from one of Jeff's answers. It's something I'd quite like to see implemented, and I thought to bring it to the wider stage. First, here's the comment:

Can we get "Never migrate crap" (or similar) added to the migrate dialog? I know most people won't read it, but at least if it's there we can point to it as visible documentation of this rule. And if it stops a few people posting that first migrate vote then it will be worth it.

Now, ChrisF obviously makes a very good point that many people won't read it, but at least then we can point them at the UI and say "look, you're not paying attention, please don't do this again," and hopefully at least then stop some repeat offenders.

Low quality and zero-effort questions that get migrated seem to be (based purely on observation, and with no real evidence) much more likely to just sit on their target site abandoned (that is, with no owning user account)—even if they are strictly on-topic on the target site—because often the person who has posted it really doesn't care all that much.

Migrating users don't receive a lot of guidance on how, what or where they should migrate, unless they go looking for it on [MSO] or the privilege pages, which we can only expect a small proportion to do. As such the only real opportunity to educate these users about the migration system is when they are performing a migration, it's the only time they'll be paying attention and be interested in migration, so a few guidelines or rules (but not so many as to put people off) subtly mentioned during the migration process could help guide these people and improve the quality of migrations.

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What I find interesting is the number of users with full edit privileges who make no effort to clean up a post but are happy to flag it for migration and expect someone else to clean up the mess. –  Kev Jun 30 '11 at 8:52
    
@Kev Indeed. Possibly we should consider other rules/guidelines that could be useful on the dialog, although I guess we don't want too much on there lest it become noise, but something about polishing the crap before even considering migration could be good. –  DMA57361 Jun 30 '11 at 9:00
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Yeah, I'm not suggesting "polishing turds" but there are some posts that do have good questions suffocated in all sorts of beating around the bush, or the OP's english is poor. I often strip them right back to the core question, see if it looks good then if it does migrate. –  Kev Jun 30 '11 at 9:06
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Sorry, polishing wasn't really the right term, my fault. But I think I know what you mean: Clean away the crap to find the question within before considering migration, and if it turns out to be crap all the way through, then just close it down. –  DMA57361 Jun 30 '11 at 9:14
    
Exactly what I meant. It's a bit of extra work but often worth the effort, that and liaising with another site's mod to make sure the post is worth moving if unsure. –  Kev Jun 30 '11 at 9:40
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Add a clickthrough, "Are you sure this isn't crap, because if you migrate crap we're going to punch you through the intertubes". Perhaps, if a question gets migrated and closed (not a real question, not constructive) it should result in a rep hit? –  Won't Jun 30 '11 at 13:35
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Side note: word from on high is that they're "working on" a better migration system, which will address many of the concerns with crappy migrations. Unfortunately, this is more like 6-8 months out, not weeks, so it may be a while until we see this. In the meantime, I think a warning like this would indeed be appropriate! –  nhinkle Sep 9 '11 at 1:25
    
@Kev In the end I see it as two errors from the poster: he wrote a bad question and he asked it in the wrong place. I think I should correct only the second one. The target forum will correct the first one. They know their rules for questions :-) –  xanatos Sep 9 '11 at 17:22
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3 Answers 3

I generally ask on chat on the site I might vote to migrate to about questions I'm not sure on. That has the advantage that even if someone's not around immediately to discuss it you get an alert in the inbox when they do (provided they say your name) so questions don't get "lost".

You could "encourage" people to not migrate low quality questions by adding some kind of rep based incentives, e.g. if on the receiving site a question you voted to migrate gets 10 up votes you get 1 rep, if it gets 10 down votes or closed completely you lose 1 rep. That would certainly force people to think before voting to migrate every off-topic poorly asked question to one of the other sites. Effectively it's making a wager on the quality of the question you want to see moved.

Of course you'd need to handle the cases where one person votes plain off-topic and four vote to migrate so the migration still happens.

Alternatively voting to migrate could require more than a certain amount of rep on the site you vote migrate to, even if it's low (e.g. 500) would still indicate a minimum level of knowledge on the receiving site.

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Require minimum reputation on the target site for migration is [status-declined]. Not criticizing, just pointing out that some arguments on this topic have already been made. –  Pops Sep 9 '11 at 18:23
    
Asking on chat is always a good move. Rep-based methods aren't perfect but could work, and I like that you're thinking about alternatives. So, bounty'd! –  Matthew Read Sep 16 '11 at 17:58
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+1 from me.

How about also moving the "off topic" close reason to the bottom so its the last option on the close dialog - if you can find another reason to close the question then you should use that one instead.

While we are on the subject of this dialog why not also add a subtle link to the faq for each site as well:

Screenshot of the modified close question dialog

The faq contains the definition for what questions are and aren't suitable for. I'm not a regular user of any of the other sites and so every now and then I find myself refering to the faqs - having a link to it on this dialog would be a subtle reminder that its your responsibility to check the question is stuiable before voting to migrate.

Update: Perhaps a link text of "is this question suitable?" instead of just "faq" would be better, although it is a tad lengthy.

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ummmmm.. the links in blue that say "serverfault.com" and "superuser.com" are in fact links to the faq on the respective site. try it yourself.. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 11 '11 at 9:14
    
also "exact duplicate" is at the top of the close dialog, not off-topic. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 11 '11 at 9:17
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@Jeff: Nice hidden feature. Didn't know about that. –  Robert Harvey Sep 15 '11 at 21:51
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@Jeff Now I feel pretty stupid for not checking to see what those links actually do... I just assumed they went to the URL that made up the link text. –  Justin Sep 16 '11 at 9:28
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The close-vote privilege page doesn't even mention migration. It should! And it should say something like the following:

DON'T MIGRATE CRAP.

Perhaps worded a little more clearly and nicely.

Secondly, I like Will's idea; there should be a clickthrough when you vote for a migration. I am partial to his wording — "Are you sure this isn't crap, because if you migrate crap we're going to punch you through the intertubes" — but again that should probably be nicerated1.

nhinkle's rumor of an improved migration system is nice to think about, but I agree with others that one of the more simple options should be done now. I have one thought on how it could be improved, however. Currently not even mods can migrate a question if said question is closed (presumably because closed questions are crap). This implies that closing and migrating are separate actions, and thus I propose that we actually separate them. Voting to migrate should be separate from voting to close.

1nicerate, v: to make nice. "We should nicerate that crabby woman."

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I am in favor of this but I'm not sure how to put it on that dialog, exactly. All I can think of is changing "belongs on" (in bold) to "is of sufficient quality and belongs on" –  Jeff Atwood Sep 16 '11 at 10:03
    
@JeffAtwood That would definitely work well with the current dialog. –  Matthew Read Sep 16 '11 at 15:06
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