I flagged a Code Golf question on Stack Overflow for attention after voting to close. Granted, it was nearly 2 years old - but that's why I sent the flag in; I found it randomly and doubted it was going to achieve enough views to close without intervention.

I sent in the flag as "other" with a suggestion to close or migrate (it was an interesting question, so migration may have been fitting). There was a reply:

declined - Its very old; ask on meta.codegolf if they want it.

I thought SO was for practical questions, and didn't think Code Golf fit into that category.

Its very old

I flag old stuff all the time. It's pretty common to have an old OT post necro-bumped by a new user, so the idea was to nip this in the bud. New users should only see a question like this with the words CLOSED nearby, else they may get the wrong idea. I didn't think age of the post mattered.

ask on meta.codegolf if they want it.

Was this a serious suggestion? I don't even have an account there, nor am I interested in starting one. Even if I did, I would have never thought a post like "Hey, you guys want this?" would be appropriate. I would fully expect a response like "Just flag it and let the mods decide".

I understand this response may not speak for the whole moderation team, but if any part of does, I'd like to understand it better. I didn't care what happened to the post, as long as it was closed or removed, but perhaps Code Golf is OK for Stack Overflow and I'm wrong about that.

What was my mistake, if any?

P.S. For the record, I don't care about flag weight or badges - that's not what this is about. I do care about keeping the site clean and useful, removal of off-topic posts, and understanding how and when to flag content.

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    +1; Age seems like an irrelevant criteria for whether or not a flag should be declined. You might not care, but others do seem to care about their "declined" score. E.g. I saw it mentioned on the SO moderator polls as a sort of meta-badge by some candidates that they only had one declined flag. Nov 22, 2011 at 20:31
  • Is this really a veiled feature request for the ability to flag responses to flags? :) Nov 22, 2011 at 20:39
  • 1
    @MichaelMcGowan: Definitely not, mods are busy enough (smile face noted). It's more of a question like "Did I misunderstand something, or was this perhaps just a bad call?"
    – user159834
    Nov 22, 2011 at 20:41
  • Questions older than 60 days can't be migrated, FYI. (I see this is a very old question. I don't know if that was true then, but it is now.) Aug 28, 2015 at 22:16

4 Answers 4



Its been awhile since I pissed off someone through my mod actions! I thought I was getting rusty!

I'd like to copy and paste Gilles' entire answer here. The only thing I'd change is "mistake" to "reason why I wouldn't unilaterally migrate".

Other points from the OP I would also address:

  • The age of the question

Of course, feel free to flag old questions. I've handled 20-30 flags on old questions/answers today. That's fine. The problem here isn't just the age of the question; its the action being requested on an old question that is on topic and has an accepted answer. Migrating old questions, that already have accepted answers, is a tough decision to make. The subject has been debated here several times, and there hasn't been much of a consensus. Some of our other sites' mods and users are fine with this. Others feel like this is akin to using them as SO's "toilet bowl". I try not to migrate things that other sites don't want. That's why I'd prefer to have approval from the other site before doing so in questionable cases such as this.

  • How dare you suggest I ask on their meta? What are you, stupid or lazy? Or both?

Well, perhaps that's not what you said, but it certainly felt that way on my end. Sniff. Let me remind you that us mods are just volunteers. We borrow a minute or two here and there to help keep the ratio of crap to cream low, just like you do. Chugging over to [codereview.se] to see if they want me to migrate a question from SO that is on-topic here and that already has an accepted answer isn't high on the priority list. Damnit, man, there are spammers whose accounts are crying out for the ban! But, if you really care about moving it, then by all means it can be arranged. Simply ask on Code Review's meta to see if they want it, and one of their mods would have been happy to flag it for migration. Which is what I suggested (but with a twitter-like character limit). Its not that outrageous a suggestion, or at least I didn't think it was.

You did nothing wrong. Its just that the resolution of your flag is a little bit more complex than you might have expected.

  • 1
    Hey thanks for chiming in, you and Gilles response has been very helpful. I'll be honest: I "felt bad" for the OP and answer posters. To have all this work evaporate (as closing makes eligible for deletion) seemed like a waste. That's the only reason I even suggested migration. Next time, the text would read "Off topic" and nothing more. "Do what you see fit" is simply implied. Does that seem about right?
    – user159834
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:47
  • @Madmartigan: Sure thing.
    – user1228
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:49
  • OK. For the record, as you surely know and perhaps are proud of, your initial anonymous response was discouraging, unhelpful, and confusing. I thought it was a joke of some kind. "Not a good migration candidate", or something along those lines would have been clearer. Once again, thanks for taking the time to reply - it's been helpful. I don't know what it's like on the other side of these flags.
    – user159834
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:53
  • @Madmartigan: I would definitely be for any proposal increasing the amount of information mods can include in the declined dialog... Oh, wait, I already proposed this! I didn't include "give us more room to explain why we declined a flag", but if you add it as an answer I'll definitely upvote you.
    – user1228
    Nov 22, 2011 at 22:47
  • It's understandable now that I think about it. My flag looks like I participate on code golf (and looks like I think I know what should be migrated) when really I was merely aware of the site's existence. Looking at it from that perspective, your response "ask on meta" was not entirely inappropriate. I had no idea old CG questions were "grandfathered in", I assumed they were way off topic by today's standards and should be closed. I haven't seen any other exceptions like that. Not to disappoint, but it didn't exactly "piss me off" - I found this discussion very helpful.
    – user159834
    Nov 23, 2011 at 1:13

Speaking as a mod for a couple other SE sites:

It's not a user's job to ask the other site if they want the question, though as Bill notes below, a user is absolutely welcome to do this, particularly if they're familiar with the target site. If you're not familiar with the site or don't have an account or simply don't want to do it, then flagging and letting the mods handle it is the correct course of action. It's a mod's job to handle it after that and ask the mods of the target site if need be.

I would have viewed and marked your flag as helpful, and probably just closed the question due to its age.

  • Even if the flag was marked "declined", I'd have expected the post to still be closed or at least a second vote. In your opinion, the post is off topic for SO, right? As I recall, you and I recently discussed this (VTC then flagging).
    – user159834
    Nov 22, 2011 at 20:21
  • @Madmartigan Yes, it should be closed regardless. I'd go so far as to delete it if it wasn't going to be migrated, but that's me.
    – user154510
    Nov 22, 2011 at 20:24
  • Anybody should be able to ask the mods on other sites if they want a question migrated. The question really should come from an experienced member of the target site rather than an SO moderator. This can be asked on the Code Golf meta site, or in their chat. There's no reason these things can only be discussed in the mod chat room. Nov 22, 2011 at 20:38
  • OK, so for the record - If I come across another old question like this (one that probably will not get enough close votes), ignore the previous flag response and just do the exact same thing (vote to close, flag as "other")? Is there some piece of user/moderator etiquette I'm missing perhaps? I try to keep the flag text concise.
    – user159834
    Nov 22, 2011 at 20:45
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    @BilltheLizard Absolutely, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I will clarify.
    – user154510
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:01
  • @Madmartigan Ideally the mod who reviewed your flag will see your post here and come participate in this discussion ... but yes, I would continue to act helpfully to the best of your ability :)
    – user154510
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:05
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    You do not cater to hundreds of flags per day. While SO mods can and do ask mods of target site if they want a question, it is certainly helpful if users do part of the job. Nov 22, 2011 at 21:12
  • @Gilles The number of flags I field is irrelevant. I understand the SO mods are busy and make mistakes, and I don't blame them for it, but that doesn't make this not a mistake IMO. Nor do I deny that users acting helpfully is helpful. (Also, I'd gladly field some SO flags if I could :P)
    – user154510
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:35

Code golf had a special status as an occasional, but allowed amusement Stack Overflow for a long time. Those old code-gold questions were on-topic at the time.

Since then two things have happened,

  1. Community Wiki has become unavailable to users for questions, leading to some confusion about how to handle questions.
  2. The establishment of Stack Exchange 2.0 and area51.

Eventually, we got CodeGolf.SE.

Since then there has been a lot of talk, but I believe the consensus is that new s are off-topic, but that old ones should not be preemptively migrated.

Alas, your flag seems to have been a victim of the depth of history surrounding these contests.


First mistake: you flagged a question for migration even though it is not clearly off-topic.

There is no consensus that code golf questions are off-topic on Stack Overflow. I believe that there is general consensus that new code golf questions should preferably be directed at Programming Puzzles & Code Golf. But old questions are generally not migrated, because:

  • Old questions are normally not migrated to beta sites, because the beta site might still close.
  • Each site has its own rules, and the old question might have accumulated too much cruft (especially in answers) that do not meet the rules of the target site.
  • Old questions and answers from Stack Overflow often come with a number of votes that is disproportionate for the new site, killing any chance that the best answers will float to the top.

Second mistake: you flagged a question for migration to a site where you do not participate.

The golden rule of migrations is: migrate to us because we want it. Migrations are not a way to shove off the stuff you don't want to some place where you won't see it.

Now it's certainly acceptable to say “off-topic here, but maybe on-topic on Gardening”, and then the moderator who see your flag will ask a Gardening mod what he thinks of the question. It helps, especially on Stack Overflow where the mods are very busy, if you go partway: post in the potential target's chatroom asking the regulars if they want the question, and leave a flag like “off-topic, I think it could go to Gardening, I asked at http://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/NNNNNN#NNNNNN)”. For an old question, you might as well wait for the answer before flagging (and, again, link to the chat message so the mod knows it's ok). All in all, you should not say “maybe on-topic on Gardening” if you haven't even visited the Gardening site.


Your mistakes are certainly excusable, but they're mistakes. A moderator told you that you'd made a mistake, which is exactly as it should be. Please keep flagging the bad stuff.

  • 2
    He said he flagged it for migration or closure. Unless that's untrue then it's equivalent to "off-topic here, but maybe on-topic on Gardening", no? I also generally disagree with your second point because the flagger's knowledge of the site doesn't change whether the migration would be appropriate. Good flags are good flags whether or not they were informed. In this case I think it's appropriate for Code Golf because the only change needed to fit their guidelines that I can see is to make the winning criterion perfectly objective.
    – user154510
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:21
  • @MatthewRead Both the closure and the migration are unwarranted. And declining is the only way for a moderator to provide feedback on the flag. Nov 22, 2011 at 21:25
  • 1
    "migrate to us because we want it" - makes perfect sense and clarifies the purpose of migration for me, really. For new questions: Not "it's a Code Golf question, auto-migrate to CG", but "The OP and/or CG could benefit from this, and it doesn't belong here". Do I have that about right? Still, I would have thought the flag would have been useful and the post closed. This was my flag note: "Bad SO question, good Code Golf question. Not sure what a mod would do with this, but migration or closing seems fitting."
    – user159834
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:30
  • I obviously disagree that neither is warranted, so you're not making an argument. As far as I've heard and seen the old ones are being closed as moderators come across them or have them brought to their attention, e.g. by needing to lock them. Note that the lock message states it's not on-topic.
    – user154510
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:33
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    I don't participate in CG, so I don't truly know, but - I wouldn't expect anything but new/open/unsolved puzzles to really have any value there (once again, not sure). I guess I just felt like it would be a waste to have it potentially deleted altogether. FWIW my flag text was: "Bad SO question, good Code Golf question. Not sure what a mod would do with this, but migration or closing seems fitting." I sound too sure of myself that it would be useful there. Still though, I find it (very) hard to believe that Code Golf questions are on-topic for SO, and that the post was not auto-closed.
    – user159834
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:33
  • Oops didn't mean to re-post the flag text, was trying to squeeze in an edit before the clock expired. Have any reference for "There is no consensus that code golf questions are off-topic on Stack Overflow"? I'd have assumed they are blatantly off topic - but you say "maybe not" Gilles?
    – user159834
    Nov 22, 2011 at 21:39
  • @Madmartigan Ah, your actual flag text isn't quite what I thought from your question here. Ideally (speaking as a non-SO mod), I would like to both mark your flag as valid (in that you were genuinely trying to help), and reply to your flag requesting that you don't raise more flags of this sort. Unfortunately, it is not possible to both mark a flag as valid and provide feedback. You can stop worrying and hate flag weight or lobby for allowing to mark a flag as valid when providing feedback. Nov 22, 2011 at 21:42