A significant amount of migrations are rejected by the target site, the most problematic being migrations from SO to Programmers.SE. Rejected in this case means the question is closed also on the target site, either for being off-topic or generally not being a good question (NarQ, not constructive, ...).

A failed migration like that is very confusing to the user asking the question in the first place, and also unnecessary work for the moderators of both sites, as they have to coordinate to clear the migration history and delete the migrated question.

I think it would be useful to provide direct feedback on failed migrations. Obviously, a perfect SE citizen would be observant enough to notice when his migrations are rejected often, but I would guess that most users don't closely monitor the state of questions they voted to migrate.

Instead, a rejected migration should either cause a notification in their global inbox, or at least an entry similar to declined flags in their profile.

It could be something like this

You recently voted to migrate [Question X] to [site Y], where it was closed as [close reason]. Please familiarize yourself with [FAQ of target site] to see what kind of questions are on-topic there. Don't migrate low-quality questions, close them directly using the appropriate close reason.

Educating users is the first step, it might be necessary to go further if users consistently migrate bad questions. After a certain number of failed migration to a specific site, the user could also be blocked from migrating there.

  • 9
    If all else fails, strip the user of their migration powers to said site, because they obviously can't be trusted with the privilege
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 13:14
  • 4
    "I would guess that most users don't closely monitor the state of questions they voted to migrate." - That's only because there is no close vote summary page for users with 3000 to 10,000 reputation, as there is for a flagging summary page.
    – Peter O.
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 15:14
  • 11
    If this is implemented, it should take into account that someone might vote just as off-topic and not for a migration. Those people should not be penalized if a migration happens either by vote majority or a moderator. (Although banning a moderator from migrating to specific sites would be kind of amusing.)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 15:39
  • @Mrs.Cratchit Is there a special event today? You and Mrozek both have weird names :P
    – user154510
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 15:58
  • 4
    @MatthewRead Just having a bit of fun. It's all Tiny Tim's fault.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 16:05
  • I'd prefer every rejected migration to make their browser background bloody red - and keep it that way until they post something at Meta in migrated-questions tag (parphrasing self)
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 10:11
  • "A significant amount of migrations are rejected by the target site, the most problematic being migrations from SO to Programmers.SE. " Normally I'd just do a data.se query but that's missing until the next dump. But since it sounds like you know, what's a significant amount? Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 16:28
  • @ConradFrix The numbers I remember were roughly 30% rejected on Programmers, while most sites are closer to 10% rejected. Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 16:56
  • Does a failed migration count against your review target?
    – Neil
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 22:39

7 Answers 7


In addition to the ability to provide feedback directly from the target site to the close voters on the source, I propose that if enough number of their migrations (5 is reasonable) are closed on the target site either by the community or a moderator (or reversed by a moderator on the source site), that particular migration path should be grayed out and a message displayed as to when they will be eligible next. Here's a mockup:

enter image description here

It is possible that the user might go for 7 days without ever migrating anything and hence might not even have been aware that they were blocked. So this could appear as a notification in their inbox so that they are aware. As with suspension times for troublesome users, repeat offenders should face increasing blockage times, perhaps a doubling each time.

Although moderators are not immune to most of the restrictions (such as min rep for downvoting/number of close or delete votes), I would suggest that the message be displayed to them if they would've been technically blocked as a normal user. However, they're still allowed to migrate in order to keep the site running. This might make them pause a little bit before clicking the button and might perhaps leave the flag/question for a different moderator.

I don't think that this is unreasonable. If you think about it, most user actions that are rejected by the community and can be reasonably measured, come with a suspension. Too many rejected edits? Sorry, wait for 7 days. Too many closed/downvoted questions? Sorry, improve your answer score. Too many crappy answers? Sorry, permaban. So why not a small ban for poor migrations?

As Anna Lear mentioned in the comments, it should not penalize the lone user who voted for something other than the final outcome (nor should the messages from the target site reach them).

  • 2
    If a user is trying to vote to migrate a question, but can't select the site he wants, I fear chances are he might either 1) select just "off topic" or a different close reason, which might sabotage a valid migration, or, 2) select a different site. For this reason, I think just taking away the close vote privilege completely for the duration of the ban might be a better choice, as it is less likely to cause these kinds of problems.
    – hammar
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 19:51
  • This is effectively what happens for rejected edits. It should happen for rejected migrations too.
    – Flexo
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 19:05
  • @Flexo - I'm not sure I agree with this. Let's do something that educates the entire community, instead of pointing out a user's flaws. Something that tells the user how horrible they're doing can wait until after we try engaging the entire community first. See my answer here for more details.
    – jmort253
    Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 8:53

I totally agree.

I also think there should be a time limit: Only if the closing happens very quickly after migration, should the message be shown. As to how long that time should be, I don't have a perfect answer to that but I'm sure it could be determined. One would want to err on the side of caution - i.e. if in doubt, don't show it. The right recipe would probably be some formula of the number of views vs. time. Alternatively, a fixed per-site time limit (e.g. a day on SO, 3 days on less frequented sites) might work. There would also be exceptions: If a migrated question gets closed by a mod within a day of migration, the message would be triggered; if it takes, like, 300 views to get closed, it would not.


The way I see how things work now is that migration-voters are effectively blocked from receiving feedback on their mistakes except for sporadic (and frankly not particularly reliable) discussions at MSO.

Per my reading of December 2011 Newsletter of SE Moderator Blog, approach like above leads to practice that feels opposite to the way how migrations are intended to work:

...migrating great content to another site can sometimes be appropriate. But don’t hesitate to simply close mediocre off-topic questions. Migrations were never meant to simply shuttle off-topic question to the next “closest fit.” Ideally, the author should re-ask the question in the context of the proper site, but if a lot of great content has already been added to the post, migrations can be a useful tool. But don’t feel obligated to ... migrate a question. Just close mediocre off-topic questions...


I like this idea, but can we extend it to rejected migrations also? I see a lot of questions flagged as belonging on Server Fault that are clearly not aimed at professional server admins (and therefore not appropriate for SF). Notifying the people who voted for these migrations that it was rejected, with a blurb from from SF faq might help keep the flag queue down a bit.

  • Do you mean rejected as in "not enough other users voted to migrate there", or "migrated and then closed"? Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 22:54
  • @PaŭloEbermann - probably migrated and then closed. If not enough users vote to migrate then the migration didn't ever really happen (from my point of view at least). Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 4:15
  • Okay, then I don't see the difference between what the question proposes and what your answer proposes (and the "but" seems to indicate there should be one). Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 19:23
  • @PaŭloEbermann - oh - maybe I meant the other then...this was months ago...mind is a bit hazy ... Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 20:27

Educate and Guide the Entire Community:

Most people don't learn very well when upset, embarrassed, or bitter. Instead, people are more likely to soak in information when they are positive. Thus, below are the details of how a feature should be implemented in order to positively reinforce good behaviors, not just for the few, but for the entire community:

  • Don't use a global notification to tell someone they suck: Global notifications are intended for positive reinforcement, not punishment or negative reinforcement.

  • Display a post notice: When users visit the question, display the reject reason below the question, listing the reasons why the question was not a good fit for the target site. Use the same font and backgrounds used for the five close reasons and other post notices. For instance, here is an example post notice for a rejected Server Fault migration:

This question was migrated to Server Fault but was migrated back to Stack Overflow. Questions on Server Fault should be about problems faced by professional system administrators. This question is not about a problem that a professional admin faces. If in doubt about a migration, vote to close as off-topic.

This creates a signpost for the community to help gently guide them towards the right course of action, similar to how not constructive close messages educate the community on what types of questions aren't a good fit.

  • Display message in "Helpful Flags": In addition to community learning, eventually a user will make his or her way back to the helpful flags queue in his or her profile. Show the rejected migrations in the helpful flags queue, just like we do with declined flags.

The goal here is to educate. Users are rewarded with global notifications, and guided with profile messages and contextual, guiding comments, as well as post notices on the posts themselves. This feature ensures that we maintain an overall positive vibe on Stack Exchange while educating users on proper behaviors and reducing the number of bad migrations.

  • I like the idea of showing it in the flag queue (even if not really a flag) since that's already used for both positive and negative feedback. I also like the idea of showing the rejection reason on the original site. Not so keen on bumping though - that seems to be promoting things for being bad, I don't think it would be very productive.
    – Flexo
    Commented Aug 3, 2012 at 9:13
  • @Flexo I didn't think about the bumping as a potential negative, and my answer does revolve around concepts like educating and staying positive... Come to think of it, closed questions don't get bumped to the top, unless they are edited. I guess no one needs to verify this action like they would an edit, since the original community already decided it's not really a good question for their site. I'm editing my answer and removing this point. The post notice is sufficient. Great suggestion! :)
    – jmort253
    Commented Aug 4, 2012 at 2:44

I feel there is a need to really put some of these ideas into production, admitted the communication between sites has really become better.

But today we had another question that got migrated from stackoverflow to serverfault that was completely off topic. Thanks to a vigilant SO user we were made aware of this and just closed it off.

The problem is all the users noticed the question was off topic but "thought" they knew where to migrate it too, they weren't aware of their mistake and at this moment probably still aren't. One suggestion by Shane Madden was to at least give users that wrongly migrate a question, a notification if the post gets rejected/closed after migration. Blocking might be a bridge too far, but surely a notification can't be bad?

Also just some numbers: 28 out of the last 50 rejected migrations from SO were to SF


I think if we do such a thing, bans are overkill.*

Let's take this situation:

Steve just got the power to migrate. Steve is happy because the unicorns have granted him great power! Steve quickly spots a question about code on [insert site], where this isn't on scope. Steve quickly votes to migrate this to SO, as he knows it has code content. However, it's asking for help that a SOer doesn't like to give (i.e. what language should I use).

Once migrated, it's quickly closed. Steve notices this and checks out meta to see why these types of questions are not allowed. He learned by his mistake.

The next day he notices another question that he thinks would fit SO. It's migrated, but it's a weird example.

He gets banned for a couple days, trying to make his site better. Mistakes are part of learning. I do truly think we should notify a user, but why do we have to beat them up when they're just trying to make the community better? Bans are used for serious, reoccurring problems, not just an occasional bad migrate or two. A user with this much reputation generally will care about his/her mistakes, and try to fix them in the future.

Another idea: : show high bad migration rates to the current site on the moderation panel and add a possible ban for migration to that site and/or show the user what they are doing wrong. Skip the auto-ban unless for obvious problems (see bottom of post).

*If a user has only like 2% good migrations in in a large quantity, a ban might be okay. Sample algorithm:

if(bad_migrated >= 6 && percent_closed > 75) {
  ban(); //Do a short ban (.5 days for every closed question, minimum 1?)

It'd have to look at the last 7 days or so if someone starts improving their skills, they shouldn't still get banned.

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