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Incorporate off-topic migration route content into Ask Question page

Many questions asked on Programmers have to do with career-related stuff like interviewing, recruiting, etc. Often, these questions get closed or are marked as "off-topic" just because they are only marginally related to software development, even though they might be useful questions in their own right.

There's a site proposal in the works, Professional Matters, that's supposed to handle these types of questions:

Proposed Q&A site for people in a workplace interested in discussion that relates to general office or business without a specific tie to any professional field.

And as the creator puts it:

I created this to counter the large number of "not programming related" closures on P.SE because they pertained to a more general business sense. – Josh K Apr 2 '11 at 22:07

I propose adding a new, "related sites" section to the sidebar near the "related questions" section that shows up at the right margin while the user is editing a new question. Something like:

Hint: Ask career-oriented questions on "Professional Matters"

Other similarly-related sites, like Personal Productivity, could also be shown.

This would help expose Area 51 and smaller Stack Exchange sites to the user base who might not know or have the inclination to go looking for more appropriate Stack Exchange sites.

  • You seen the sidebar? Its a bit... cramped. Can you add a mockup?
    – user1228
    Jan 25, 2012 at 12:46

2 Answers 2


I have recently started adding a list of relevant sister sites to tag wikis1. I thought of adding Area51 proposals as well, but as Mark notes from the perspective of the asker the point is to get answers; there is no guarantee that an Area51 proposal will ever become a full site.

But I really love your idea! I think an easier way would be to associate tags with related sites, even betas, and include a notification to the tag suggestion box:

enter image description here

By associating tags with sister sites, the lists I've been making by hand will now be automated, yay!

There is a problem though. When a user reaches the point to select tags, (s)he has probably finished writing the question, and may be a little bit reluctant in doing the whole other site dance:

  1. Checkout proposed site,
  2. Read FAQ,
  3. Search for similar questions.

And of course I'm also assuming people will tag appropriately2.

1 One of my many delusions is that people actually read those.
2 Second delusion in the same post. Achievement unlocked.

  • Neat little addition, but consider the kinds of Facebook questions that can be asked. Some might be best on SO (FB application developers), some might be best on WebApps (users trying to get the most out of specific Facebook applications), or Android (users trying to get the most out of various Facebook mobile interfaces). Most tags could be appropriate on three or four sites; depending upon what the question is asking it might only be on topic on one or two of them.
    – sarnold
    Jan 24, 2012 at 23:39
  • @sarnold No. I refuse to consider Facebook. :P
    – yannis
    Jan 25, 2012 at 8:50
  • This is a great idea for tag wikis! If there is a site that has related content, call it out. I think tag wikis are a poorly used resource, and things like this might actually make them valuable. Jan 25, 2012 at 14:36
  • @ThomasOwens I wonder where I've mentioned it before :)
    – yannis
    Jan 25, 2012 at 14:40
  • (Yeah, just throwing my support behind it in a more widely visible place.) Jan 25, 2012 at 14:44
  • 1
    @ThomasOwens Yeap I know, and thanks for that. (and I only linked back for others to see your good suggestions on tag wikis). There are quite a few problems I can think with the feature I describe above, we can join forces at some point and write a proper feature request.
    – yannis
    Jan 25, 2012 at 14:52
  • @Yannis: I picked Facebook because I figured you'd hate to see more Facebook questions at the incorrect sites than already happen. Pick any technology; Mathematica was, until the addition of a Mathematica-specific site, significantly worse than even my little example with Facebook.
    – sarnold
    Jan 25, 2012 at 23:01
  • @sarnold When (if) I come up with a proper feature request, I assure you that [facebook] will be excluded from being linked to any of the sites. I will need some time to find out which tags could work and which wouldn't, and if the latter are more, I probably won't even bring it up.
    – yannis
    Jan 25, 2012 at 23:04
  • @Yannis: hrm; I had assumed that it would just be controlled via new fields on the tag wiki page and handled same as the tag wiki updates. Hehe. Thanks! :)
    – sarnold
    Jan 25, 2012 at 23:10
  • @sarnold Something like that, but reserved for moderators or SE staff. I'd definitely wouldn't want everyone to associate tags with sister sites, that would fail sooner than later. I think? Anyways I'll post a followup when I have something a bit more concrete - but if you come up with ideas, feel free to steal mine and post a proper feature request :)
    – yannis
    Jan 25, 2012 at 23:15

I like it! A few notes:

  • The goal is to get a question answered: suggesting an Area 51 site proposal when they're about to ask a question seems like a bad user experience. It'd be saying, "to get the best answer, ask on Professional Matters: but, nope, sorry, not available yet. Sorry!" I wonder if, for Area 51 proposals, closing and leaving a comment is still the best user experience.

  • Beta sites—even though there are a number that are working well and take our off-topic questions—are generally kept segregated from launched sites: no community migration paths, no footer cross-linking, etc. If such a feature were implemented, I'd like to see an exception be made for beta sites, as the purpose would be for discovery of unknown (but far more appropriate) Stack Exchange sites.

  • Community migration paths are already pretty slim -- if we go with just the sites with "real" logos, that's still just five of the sixteen "real" sites that the community can migrate questions to.
    – sarnold
    Jan 24, 2012 at 23:35
  • 1
    Perhaps three sections to the list would work. "Related Sites" would show related live sites and would be visible to everyone, even anonymous users. Logged in users would see any "Beta Sites" below them and "Proposed Sites" below the Beta Sites. Do you think that might work? Jan 25, 2012 at 14:45

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