Background: ...Migrations were never meant to simply shuttle off-topic question to the next “closest fit” (source: December 2011 Newsletter of SE Moderator Blog)

At target site, display who voted for migration in order to make it easier for close-voters (alternatively: for 10K users, or for moderators) to contact them.

The feature I think about could look like as marked green at below sketch


  • Side note. Before asking here, I also tested an option to use the list of close-voters shown at original site, using one of the off-topic migrations recently discussed at Programmers Meta.
    Unfortunately it didn't do the trick - original site has shown me just plain list of close-voters, including those who attempted to prevent erroneous migration.


For the sake of completeness need to mention that later on I also tested flagging the problematic question (inspired by this mini-discussion in comments)


Moderator action on the flag was as follows: "I recognized the problem (another bad migration), but took no action because..." (if needed, refer here for full reply: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/120987/165773)

  • I don't know how feasible it is to only display the people minus those who tried to prevent the migration. I think that simply displaying who voted on the other site would be a huge step, though. Feb 1, 2012 at 13:57
  • 4
    Out of curiosity, what's the point of pinging the migrate voters? While I agree that poor migrations are a problem, I'm not sure having other users directly address the users is the best idea. I could see mods being able to do so, but not general users.
    – cdeszaq
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:05
  • @cdeszaq the point is demonstrated in the comment text at the sketch image. Basically it is about having an option to educate them about what was wrong in their decision
    – gnat
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:15
  • @ThomasOwens simply displaying who voted on the other site didn't do the trick for me, see side note. For particular example I mention, it lists maple_shaft who was the one trying to prevent erroneous migration
    – gnat
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:19
  • 5
    We don't contact users. We don't have a private messaging system. We provide feedback via comments in regards to questions, answers, and comments, keeping the feedback on topic for the content in question. That's not what you would propose. This suggestion is flawed from the outset. Feb 1, 2012 at 14:23
  • 9
    That being said, I'd not object to killing the vote-to-migrate option entirely. Most voters don't know enough about the target site and essentially tend to migrate crap. Feb 1, 2012 at 14:24
  • @AnthonyPegram I've seen reasonable explanation against suggestion to kill vote-to-migration. As for feedback via comments it is exactly what is suggested (see sketch), and it looks like perfectly on topic for the content in question doesn't it
    – gnat
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:30
  • 1
    @gnat I'm saying that it might not be technically feasible to differentiate between people based on how they vote. There's no way as it stands now to see how someone voted - you just see who voted and the end result of the vote. If it's not feasible to differentiate based on how individuals voted (ie - only identifying those who voted to migrate), then I'd prefer to see the list of migrators called out on the target site as a whole rather than no identification at all. Feb 1, 2012 at 14:30
  • 5
    Don't hate the players, hate the game. While personally I've pretty much stopped ever voting for a migration to p.se, since I don't know what it's actually for, I can see it's going to take a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time to undo the damage done by the initial positioning of p.se by people seen as authoritative as a good place to send non-code-y SO questions.
    – AakashM
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:35
  • 2
    @gnat - I agree that education is critical in this situation, but I feel that it could be rather touchy and viewed as an attack on the migrator, especially if the education is coming from a community member as opposed to someone of higher standing, like a mod. Migrations, while good in theory, seem to be both a hot topic, and often incorrect, so I agree that something needs to change, but I don't agree with the idea of giving general users the ability to essentially private message people, regardless of the reason. That's what mods are for...to intervene if there's an issue.
    – cdeszaq
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:39
  • @cdeszaq That's what mods are for I see. To me that sounds like one could flag the question asking mod to take care of educating mistaken voters. I'll test that
    – gnat
    Feb 1, 2012 at 15:02
  • 3
    @gnat - Please note that I'm not a mod myself, but as a general user, I would be much more receptive to a mod's chastisement than I would to a general user. The last thing I would want is for migrations to devolve into a naggy b**ch-fest that would need a mod to step in anyways.
    – cdeszaq
    Feb 1, 2012 at 15:05
  • @cdeszaq sure no problem I fully understand that I am testing this at my own responsibility. Just flagged... let's see how it works
    – gnat
    Feb 1, 2012 at 15:14
  • 2
    Just because a moderator marks a flag as "helpful" doesn't necessarily mean they agree with it. It can just means "thank you for bringing this to our attention. There was some merit in it but I haven't done anything". (NOTE I wasn't the moderator that cleared the flag).
    – ChrisF Mod
    Feb 1, 2012 at 22:14

3 Answers 3


I was the one who dismissed your flag as helpful: I recognized the problem (another bad migration), but took no action because the problem won't get solved by reading the riot act to random SO users.

While I appreciate the frustration brought on by our high reject rate of questions from Stack Overflow, individually telling people about the bad migration is a somewhere between "catching rainbows" and "herding cats" on the effectiveness scale. For every one person educated, there are literally hundreds to thousands of people who still don't know the golden rule of migrations, and a non-trivial portion of those people who don't particularly care.

Programmers has always had a bit of an image problem, and the migration path hasn't really helped. But it's not just us: Stack Overflow users (in general) don't even try to understand what's on-topic on the sites they migrate to:

This, unfortunately, is what happens when you let a large community decide for themselves what's on-topic for other sites they don't belong to.

Due to this, in an ideal world, migration paths would just go away, but I have to assume SE has done the math and found the status quo to be good enough for now.

So if we can't turn off migrations, and trying to educate SO users one person at a time is untenable, broader strokes need to be made. Educate and inform through MSO questions about migrations: instead of just sending a comment to 5 people, you reach everyone reading the question. Generally that's good for at least 100 people.

  • +1 for a nice coverage of status quo and explaining the role of Meta discussions. To avoid misunderstanding I'd like to make it perfectly clear that current approach makes good sense to me. (unrelated note - there's a typo in your answer "trhough")
    – gnat
    Feb 2, 2012 at 8:10
  • 2
    How about instead of mod information, making this an automated system? If a question I helped migrate is closed, show me a message bar Question x that you voted to migrate to X.SE was closed there. Please make sure you migrate to the right site. Read more in the FAQ. that would reach only the clueless voters, but it would reach them every time they make a bad decision
    – Pekka
    Feb 2, 2012 at 8:20
  • @Pekka'sOrganicRepFarm While I'm sure not insurmountable, the logic behind when to display that message and when not to hurts my head. Do you show it to everyone, even the ones who didn't vote to migrate? What about moderators? Those who voted to migrate to a site, but the migration short circuited by others? How long of a window do you check for: if the question's closed a year later, does it still count?
    – user149432
    Feb 2, 2012 at 8:56
  • 1
    @Mark I added a separate feature request, I tried to address some of your concerns there. It should be shown to only the user who voted; although a note about the failed migration in the question might be educational, too ("Migration of this question was rejected by X.SE") Re the time window, I think it'd have to be a views vs. time formula
    – Pekka
    Feb 2, 2012 at 9:01

Wouldn't it be better to post over on the originating sites Meta?

The close voters are more likely to see it there anyway, and you can use it as a Teachable Moment™ to inform all the users of the originating site about what sort of questions you don't want sent over.

It's worked for Gaming in stemming what had been a rising tide of bad migrations from SU, it can work for you too!

  • 1
    well I checked five (5) close-voters in particular erroneous migration example: 1) has no MSO account at all, 2) was seen at MSO a month ago 3) was seen about a week ago 4) was seen yesterday 5) tried to prevent migration. Somehow I doubt that posting over on the originating site Meta will do the trick
    – gnat
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:25
  • 1
    It takes 4 close votes explicitly choosing to migrate to make it happen. 2 of those 4 have been to Meta in the past week, and 3 in the past 30 days. If only one of them had read a meta post on the subject, it wouldn't have happened. Feb 1, 2012 at 14:40
  • 3
    I don't follow sorry. Per my recollection there are plenty meta posts on the subject of "don't migrate crap" kind already - somehow though crap migrations still happen. Which makes me suspect that reaching for some migrate-voters personally by comments-pinging makes better sense doesn't it?
    – gnat
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:52
  • 4
    Wouldn't it be better to post over on the originating sites Meta? - The originating site was SO, so the originating site's meta is here....
    – Rachel
    Feb 1, 2012 at 16:09

Dealing with bad questions is never going to go away. I say just vote to close the questions if they're bad for the site and don't harass the users who were trying to help. The question that was migrated wasn't that off-topic anyways, and I edited it to make it more on-topic.

It's not SO's fault that Programmers.SE is a site about software development, not programmers. The site name is misleading.

In fact, the migrate option list can also be mis-leading since all the other SE sites say who the site is for, while the programmers.SE site states who the site is for AND what the site is about, but isn't very clear that the "what the site is about" part defines the on-topic questions, not the "who the site is for" part

enter image description here

  • 2
    I totally agree with the misleading name. Also, it might help to make that point more visible in the P.SE faq.
    – cdeszaq
    Feb 1, 2012 at 15:24
  • @cdeszaq Feel free to stop by our meta and vote to support a request to change either the site name or scope. Currently all the answers posted are against the idea, although there are 13 up votes for the question itself (and 8 down votes), so I'm assuming there is some support for the idea even if nobody wants to post their support as an answer :)
    – Rachel
    Feb 1, 2012 at 15:33

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