Today, I got a note that one of my answers was moved to DBA:

SQL Server 2008 R2 Dirty reads - how non-atomic?

While the question is conceivably interesting for DBA's, it's decidedly more important for application developers. But it got moved because "a high rep user on DBA asked for it to be moved". I asked whether a high rep SO user could have it moved back, but received no reply.

Now I just answered another question:

How to create a UDF that returns a complete row in a SuperKey, SubTable database

That turns out to be a repeat question of an original that got moved to DBA:

How to implement superkey sub key method on cascading tables

The asker of course found himself obliged to ask the question again on SO.

Moving questions is quite disruptive, and the current (lack of) process seems rather arbitrary. Last time I asked, the consensus seemed to be that a question that is on topic for both sites would not be moved.

So why do these questions keep getting migrated?

  • 3
    Just my opinion: The question noted here is much more appropriate on DBA than SO. Dec 28 '11 at 19:51
  • DBA is for complex database development questions as well; EG stuff more advanced than "select * from table" but is still purely database related, and not dependent on language-specific app code.
    – Ben Brocka
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:02
  • I think it is not only important to which site the question is interesting, but also which site has the people to give the better answers. Looking this way, it is OK to move it to dba.
    – bernd_k
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:03
  • Well, the question is, if it is on topic for both sites, why migrate it? I do not contend that it is off-topic for DBA.
    – Andomar
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:05
  • 1
    meta.dba.stackexchange.com/questions/535/… also, in order to get a reply from a comment, you have to @ me. I'd be worried if the migration hurt the question; do you feel that there has been instances where this is true?
    – user1228
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:19
  • Also, there is no reason to re-ask the same question. What is this "obliged" notion? If the migration is disputed, it can simply be flagged.
    – user1228
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:25
  • Well, it's hard to @ people with funny characters, and your name seems to change fairly often. If you want ask a programmer, and it turns out you accidentally called the DBA, it makes sense to call the programmer again. And I find migrations seriously annoying-- don't know how that translates to hurt-- or I wouldn't be posting on meta ;)
    – Andomar
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:36
  • @Andomar I think how 'hurt' got involved here is that Won't is asking if you think the question was 'hurt' by the migration, or if other questions are hurt by such migrations. Also, true enough, Won't's name is difficult to reproduce (I wouldn't even try if I was on mobile), but it's still a fact that if you don't @ reply someone, they generally won't have any idea you have replied. Dec 28 '11 at 20:45
  • 1
    @AndrewBarber and Andomar: Highlight "ಠ_ಠ Won't", Ctrl+C, type "@", Ctrl+V. Voila =) Dec 28 '11 at 20:53
  • @jadarnel27 That's what I do with such usernames, yes; but that's much harder than just typing @ then 'ja' then hitting tab, as I just did to reply to you. And on a mobile device, it's more difficult enough that I would rethink replying in the first place (given the lesser importance of comments to begin with). Useful thing to note anyway, though! +1 Dec 28 '11 at 20:56
  • I just use balpha's comment reply stackapp and almost rarely @ anyone anymore.
    – user1228
    Dec 29 '11 at 15:25

I think Robert Harvey's answer adequately covers the Moderator's point of view in migrating such a question, on the assumption that it basically makes sense that the topic of the question is a better match for the target site than for SO.

My opinion (apparently shared by Robert and the 'high rep user' from DBA, gbn) is that the question you noted at the top of your question here is better suited to DBA than to SO. I believe that to be the case because I believe that settings such as those mentioned are better decided upon by a DBA than an application developer. A DBA will (should) have much better information about the database server and database itself to make such a decision than an application developer.

Database questions on SO are generally about SQL code - not the administration of the server itself. I think that many questions about indexes are perhaps even a better fit for DBA than SO.

  • 4
    Exactly -- it's all about putting the question in front of the right set of community experts to answer it. Dec 29 '11 at 8:19
  • 1
    FYI; 'high rep user' is me
    – gbn
    Dec 29 '11 at 11:05
  • @gbn Yup; saw your answer and plussied it. Dec 29 '11 at 11:11
  • @gbn: I've just got one of my question migrated to dba dba.stackexchange.com/questions/14789/… and I'm really frustrated about it. I realized that I'm mostly talking to myself now, since this is a very old thread, but I have to vent. As a programmer I want to write fast SQL queries - no different from any other language. Execution plan helps me with that. So I ask a question and it gets migrated to a site with minuscule audience comparing to SO under pretext that DBAs know better. They do not write freaking code! I do! Programmers do! Mar 12 '12 at 3:56
  • @gbn: And I can't even make a bounty for the question on DBA, since I have no rep there. It seems so counter-productive =( Mar 12 '12 at 4:02
  • 1
    @zespri: don't be so arrogant about DBA.se. Your Q will get more TLC on dba.se than on SO because of the audience. Several top notch SQL folk don't look at SO now because of this attitude and similar
    – gbn
    Mar 12 '12 at 7:48
  • @zespri I'm happy to put up a bounty if necessary on your behalf until you have a bit more rep on dba - I'll keep an eye on the question and see how much attention it gets. Mar 12 '12 at 8:46
  • @zespri I can't judge the answers because I don't personally know SS, but the question seems to have got some serious attention. I hope you'll reconsider your opposition to this kind of migration - dba.se is the perfect site for this question IMO - you just need to get past your narrow view of the initials DBA I think :-) Mar 12 '12 at 13:37
  • @gbn: yes, it seems that my worry that the question won't get attention was baseless. Thank you for listening. My apologies if I did come across as arrogant, that was not my intent. It's just very hard to look past the fact that SO has 200 times more users than DBA.se. In the end you were right and I was wrong. Mar 12 '12 at 19:59
  • @Jack Douglas: thank you for the bounty offer, and see my comment above to gbn it also applies to you. (One can't address more than one person in comments) I appreciate the attention. Mar 12 '12 at 20:01
  • @zespri: thanks. There has been an ongoing debate about the name... meta.dba.stackexchange.com/q/495/630
    – gbn
    Mar 12 '12 at 20:26
  • @zespri thanks for being so gracious - I hope you don't object I've taken the liberty of quoting you in The Heap (the dba.se chatroom) as an encouragement for the SQL Server guys who hang out there. Do drop by the room sometime and say hi :-) Mar 13 '12 at 5:58
  • Andrew, sorry for spamming you on this thread - I'll stop now I promise. Mar 13 '12 at 5:58
  • @JackDouglas No worries at all. :) Mar 13 '12 at 6:03
  • @zespri - "[DBAs] do not write freaking code! I do! Programmers do!" Don't be fooled by our name. Advanced querying is a core focus of DBA.SE. Andrew is correct to note that pure SQL is appropriate on SO, hence the emphasis on "advanced" querying on DBA.SE. Mar 13 '12 at 20:26

If a user flags "Should be on DBA," and the question clearly belongs there, I generally migrate it.

Here's why: Over the past several months, the arguments about whether a question is on-topic or not on Stack Overflow have become increasingly contentious, with the OP frequently citing questions that are already on Stack Overflow as evidence they can ask theirs.

Consequently, if I see a flag that asks for migration, and it's clear to me that the migration will be successful, I generally oblige.

The most common migrations of this type are LaTex, Unix/Linux, DBA, and Statistical Analysis. These are the sites (there may be others) for which questions can clearly and unambiguously be identified as belonging there.

  • So if someone wrote a script to flag the entire SQL tag for migration, you'd "generally" migrate every question?
    – Andomar
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:30
  • 8
    @Andomar: I think you totally missed the point. Your straw man overlooks the fact that not every question containing the SQL tag is going to be appropriate for DBA. I don't just rubber-stamp these flags, y'know.
    – user102937
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:31
  • 1
    @Andomar Additionally, RobertHarvey is a human being (and a very good moderator), surely he would notice thousands of flags for migration and find that suspicious. Your argument is rather childish. Dec 28 '11 at 20:39
  • Well, "appropriate for DBA" or "clear to me that they will be succesful" are so vague that they could apply to the entire SQL tag. You do not even list arguments for migrating this particular question, let alone the general case.
    – Andomar
    Dec 28 '11 at 20:50
  • The question is, when is a question moved that is on topic for both sites? The DBA FAQ is a prerequisite for this question, not an answer.
    – Andomar
    Dec 28 '11 at 21:10
  • 2
    All of the questions you linked are clearly a better fit on DBA. I'm not sure what else I can say about it.
    – user102937
    Dec 28 '11 at 21:19
  • @Andomar I don't think it's really vague at all. SQL tags on SO are about writing SQL code - not about administration of database servers. Dec 28 '11 at 21:23
  • I think Andrew's answer captures the essence of this more succinctly. Dec 29 '11 at 8:19

I wasn't involved with the migration, but I can tell you that the question was a poor fit for Stack Overflow. Database questions generally only fit on Stack Overflow if they are asking about specific sql code snippets. This question did not have any sql. It was asking about general guidelines rather than a specific scenario, and therefore also leans a bit towards the subjective side.

  • 2
    subjectivity is not the reason to migrate to DBA, appropriateness to audience of the right kind of experts is Dec 29 '11 at 8:18
  • True - subjectivity could be a reason to close it outright. Dec 29 '11 at 18:50
  • Outwardly subjective questions that get migrated are indicative of a different problem. (for the public record, not the benefit of the mods here commenting, as they generally know already) Outwardly subjective questions should get closed outright, if the following conditions are met: 1) OP is contacted and an attempt to help make it more objective is made. 2) Edits are attempted pre-migration. 3) a moderator has to review these anyways, so one and two should already be done before migration. If such a question is migrated, that's a bad migration.
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 31 '11 at 1:42

The "high rep user" on SO is me.

I went through my favourite questions and realised I had a dozen+ questions marked that would be a better fit on DBA.SE because of their advanced nature.

You should know that the average code monkey on SO doesn't and won't care about an in-depth or technically correct answer to tricky SQL questions, whether the SQL question is about transactions, ACID, advanced SQL, security or whatever. They'll take whatever fixes their immediate problem which isn't the same as correct or more applicable generally.


Does the objection stem from

  • from "DBA" equating to "backup/restore monkeys"?
  • loss of rep on SO?

If the former, then it's arrogance. If the latter, I voted you up again on DBA.SE...


Also: Migrations to DBA appear arbitrary, and include questions that are outside the regular DBA's job description.


Edit: this is why database types should be consulted by programmers...



  • If someone is looking for answers from a programmer's perspective, he'll post on SO. Moving it to DBA will get him answers from a DBA instead. DBA's have different goals and this gives notably different answers. Btw, the everyday definiton of "DBA" is much narrower than the one used on DBA.SE.
    – Andomar
    Dec 29 '11 at 10:50
  • 1
    @Andomar: So you say Programmers should never ask database specialists or DBAs? And the name is unfortunate as I answered previously of course
    – gbn
    Dec 29 '11 at 10:52
  • What I mean is you can ask the same question from two perspectives, and get different answers. Like the moderator with "Shog" in his name said, "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."
    – Andomar
    Dec 29 '11 at 11:00
  • 1
    @Andomar: I disagree obviously. If only we could rename dba.se to remove the stigma...
    – gbn
    Dec 29 '11 at 11:01
  • @Andomar Given the choice, I would never ask a carpenter about stone masonry. What point is there to asking a group of somewhat less relevance for their "perspective" when you have the proper group at hand? Dec 29 '11 at 11:10
  • @Andomar: How about this test... if the question doesn't have a tag that is programming specific (such as a language, a framework/orm, a pattern, etc), then it is open season for migration. Such a test would be less subjective. Of course, if the OP tags badly, we can have the same contention over the migration...
    – user1228
    Dec 29 '11 at 15:29
  • @Won't♦: Well SQL, T/SQL, PL/SQL, etc. are mature programming languages? You have people who program applications, and people that make sure the database runs fast, is secure, and backed up. I think questions asked from the perspective of the first group are better off on SO. (Consider this case closed btw... it looks like I'm in the minority here.)
    – Andomar
    Dec 29 '11 at 22:29
  • @Andomar sorry for reopening a can of worms, I'm curious about this statement (and it seems to be the root of your discontent) "DBA's have different goals and this gives notably different answers." (and I'm curious about the following statement there too, but that's not my point in bringing this back up). Why would a DBA be against the developers? Why would the DBA not know the best way to access/use the database?
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 31 '11 at 1:47
  • @jcolebrand: Well, compare answers from DBA to answers on SO. DBA answers focus on indexes and performance and locking benefits. SO answers focus on interaction with the application and implementing functionality in a convenient way. SO answers add complexity to solve busines problems. DBA answers add complexity to keep the database smoothly operating, sometimes diving deep into database internals.
    – Andomar
    Dec 31 '11 at 2:19
  • DBA answers do provide more complete answers, which you should then be able to understand the reason why you're told to do things in a certain way, instead of just doing them, and know that they are factually correct. In the end, it matters if it's code or not code. If it's code (notice this is pretty much the first criteria I apply when considering if things should be migrated over) then it stays on SO, unless the question is "how can I optimize the crap out of this code" which becomes an engine question. If it's db related and theres no code, I don't care the eyeballs on SO. I want expert As
    – jcolebrand
    Dec 31 '11 at 6:00

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