This question got migrated to DBA by a moderator (not community vote):

Performance issue with xpath in SQL Server 2008

The wikipedia article for DBA lists the tasks of a DBA (the list corresponds with my experience):

  • Transferring Data
  • Replicating Data
  • Maintaining database and ensuring its availability to users
  • Maintaining the data dictionary
  • Controlling privileges and permissions to database users
  • Monitoring database performance
  • Database backup and recovery
  • Database security Stop

None of these activities require interpreting execution plans or modifying queries. That is a developer's job. Yet questions about query plans are now apparently force-migrated.

A few of the better DBA's (certainly most of the ones on the DBA SE site) can do those things. But that is not true for DBA's in general. New DBA's are not expected to debug and improve queries. That only happens when over time they grow into a developer role.

  • Why is the question migrated by moderator move, not the community?
  • What is the criterium for when a question is so far in DBA territory that it no longer has a place on Stack Overflow?
  • Re: your recent flag... We had a high rep user on DBA flag for migration; the DBA mods have asked in the past if high rep users on their site ask for migration, to go ahead and do it.
    – user1228
    Dec 28, 2011 at 12:39
  • So as an SO user, can I ask you to move this question from DBA to SO?
    – Andomar
    Dec 28, 2011 at 12:46
  • @Andomar: Not quite the same.
    – user1228
    Dec 28, 2011 at 20:22
  • 3
    That only happens when over time they grow into a developer role. Funny you view it like that, I moved from dev to dba.
    – atxdba
    Feb 5, 2012 at 6:40

4 Answers 4


There is significant overlap between SO and DBA when it comes to query optimization. Of course, there are also significant overlaps between the professions of Programmer and Database Administrator when it comes to query optimization...

So it should hardly be surprising that a given question could be seen as on-topic in both locations.

How then should the decision to migrate be made?

Well, I would re-use the rule we put in place for Server Fault: if the question is asked from the perspective of a DBA or is intended to solicit advice from DBAs, it belongs on DBA.SE. If it's asked from the perspective of a programmer, targeted at programmers, it belongs on SO.

So if the original asker asked on SO, and has not himself requested migration, I recommend leaving it there. If someone feels the question is not well-answered on SO and wishes to provide a DBA-oriented answer on DBA.SE, leaving a comment suggesting this on the question could be appropriate - but blind migration of any advanced SQL questions is not the way to go.

I would reverse the migration in this instance, however the author of the question has since updated it on DBA.SE. Since it's not off-topic there, and the asker has followed it, the migration should do no harm.

  • 1
    Entirely agree with this answer, I hope moderators will move a bit in this direction :)
    – Andomar
    Nov 28, 2011 at 7:17

The rules for what is acceptable/on-topic for Database Administrators is not Wikipedia, it is that site's FAQ.

If you have a question about...

  • Database Administration, including installation, provisioning, scaling, replication, migration, tuning, partitioning, clustering, referential-integrity, ddl
  • Database backup, restore, export, import and etl
  • Database recovery
  • Data Model / database-design
  • Advanced programming in server-side languages built into databases, including stored-procedures and triggers
  • Advanced Querying, eg: windowing-functions, hierarchical data, dynamic-sql, Advanced optimization and pivot queries

…then you're in the right place to ask your question!

To me, that question fits in the last two sections of that FAQ pretty well. So the migration is legitimate in my opinion.

I don't think the question is entirely off-topic on Stack Overflow, but complex queries like those, that don't have other (non-SQL) code-related aspects can be better off on a specialist site.

  • 2
    If every question that matched the DBA FAQ was migrated, you could pretty much abolish the SQL tags.
    – Andomar
    Nov 27, 2011 at 17:59
  • 6
    The key here is "advanced" I think. I don't believe anyone has the intention of migrating simple SQL questions to DBA, just the ones that are both good, and complex/advanced and don't have non-SQL/non-database engine tuning/knowlegde stuff in them.
    – Mat
    Nov 27, 2011 at 18:02
  • 3
    But in the normal world, "advanced" is exactly what puts a question outside a DBA's work area
    – Andomar
    Nov 27, 2011 at 18:36
  • 8
    @Andomar: Says who? Many DBA's assist developers with advanced coding on the database side. They'd better know this stuff, or they're not a very good DBA. From this page, under "Working with Developers": "It is important for the DBA to work closely with development teams to assist in overall database design, such as creating normalized databases, helping developers tune queries, assigning proper indexes, and aiding developers in the creation of triggers and stored procedures."
    – user102937
    Nov 27, 2011 at 18:44
  • 2
    I know there are some SQL gurus that think of themselves as DBA. But the average DBA (at least in my experience) is not comfortable with raw SQL at all
    – Andomar
    Nov 27, 2011 at 20:11
  • 4
    @Andomar - Though that may be true from your experience, that is not the kind of audience we have or encourage on DBA.SE. A lot of us are quite adept at SQL and database design, and advanced questions on those topics are a core part of the site. Nov 28, 2011 at 0:26
  • 3
    Part of this is that a lot of programmers have only every worked with Database Backup Administers, so would not expect a DBA to know about anything more than day to day operations. Nov 28, 2011 at 12:36

Why is the question migrated by moderator move, not the community?

For what it's worth, the community can't migrate questions to http://dba.stackexchange.com, so only a moderator could have done it anyways. The question did get an off-topic flag however.

What is the criterium for when a question is so far in DBA territory that it no longer has a place on Stack Overflow?

I've also been against the fragmentation of Stack Overflow into many sites (eg: programmers, webmasters, dba, and a few others). But many questions that would have been considered on-topic for SO in years past would now be migrated to new SE 2.0 sites.

Since the question in question didn't present a specific programming problem (at least in my opinion) and it asked why a query was performing badly, I migrated it to the dba site. This kind of questions seem to be acceptable on dba.se, and it just seemed to be a better fit there when I migrated it.

  • 5
    This kind of confirms that it's arbitrary (depends on the opinion of the mod that is handling the flag.) Since it potentially affects a large number of questions, this results in an unpleasant experience for asker and answerer alike.
    – Andomar
    Nov 27, 2011 at 18:37

I've done a lot of flagging for DBA.SE and I think I did this one.

The name "DBA" is up for debate: We need to formalize a site title/name. Does "Database Administrators" still ring true? I don't like it so much but no-one likes my "data monkeys"

The SO vs DBA question debate: Should our FAQ draw a line for "DBA" SQL questions and "SO" SQL questions? Is there one?

In my view, we're trying to capture the "interesting" database questions for all platforms: DBA or Developer or Design. We do flag questions back to SO too if they are simple ones.

Several other database centric SO users contribute on DBA.SE as well as me: why not join us? One advantage of DBA.SE is you have time to do complete and proper answers: whereas on SO answers can be accepted while you're trying to do a complete answer

Finally, a good DBA or Developer overlaps and the route into either or both isn't the same: assuming a DBA grows into a Developer is a false assumption

  • I've been planning to read DBA more, hopefully when I figure out SE tag sets :) Moving a question is disruptive and I don't think it should be done for questions that are programming related.
    – Andomar
    Nov 28, 2011 at 7:16
  • Hence the discussion about "dba.se". Some folk don't like it because we don't want "DBA" only stuff but advanced database "stuff". I wanted "data monkeys" but surprisingly it didn't get far... And jump into chat too. You'll see discussions about "do we want this" or "put to SO" etc: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/179/the-heap
    – gbn
    Nov 28, 2011 at 7:39

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