I just had a few questions, one about using stack overflow and one about repackaging an installer, closed as off topic without explanation and downvoted. From my past experience, off topic questions are moved to the appropriate subsite -- especially when they're legitimate questions -- not closed and downvoted (which is reserved for poor questions). Has there been a change in policy? I know there are some new moderators but I never saw anything formal about changing the way the community works here.


Has there been a change in policy? I know there are some new moderators but I never saw anything formal about changing the way the community works here.

The policy has simply evolved over time. When Server Fault first launched, folks would migrate just about ANY question there that wasn't clearly about programming. Needless to say, the good folks over at SF didn't much care for this.

When SU launched, the same thing happened. This practice created a lot of work for the users and moderators there, who would really have much preferred to simply answer questions.

Your best option is to search first - chances are, if you're even considering asking a question on SO and it's not about programming (or directly related to it in some way: development environments, tooling, etc) then you'll want to search on either Server Fault (if it's about managing computer systems in a professional capacity) or Super User (if it's about computer hardware, software, or home networking). But if you're really not sure, you can even search the entire network at once!

Yes, the good folk on SO know a lot of things about computers that aren't directly related to programming. Heck, some of them also know a lot about cooking - but that's still not a good reason to ask for cooking advice there.

BTW: a quick search on SU turned up two questions that will probably give you what you want:

If neither of those does the job for you, you can always ask another one... But be specific about what you need!

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    Thanks! This perfectly answeres my questions raised in the, well, question. And the questions related to the Java updates are just the type of material I was looking for, in fact, theose two questions would have been a perfect response to my question about the Ask toolbar being included with the Java installer (= – David Cowden Jun 28 '12 at 19:33

I recognize you're new to the Stack Exchange network so I hope you take this as constructive criticism rather than a personal attack. Regardless...

Neither of those questions are legitimate for Stack Overflow.

  • Your question about how to use Stack Overflow belongs on meta.
  • Your question about repackaging an installer...not sure where that belongs, perhaps Super User, but given its current state it does not belong on Stack Overflow (what programming problem is being solved? we don't even have code)

With the sheer number of questions received at Stack Overflow it isn't feasible to ensure that every question gets routed to the appropriate site every time. Moreover, some questions are off topic or not constructive for any site!

A misunderstanding I see is that you expect that your questions will get routed to the appropriate site, regardless of their origin. It is your responsibility to post the questions to the correct site, not members and moderators who vote to close or flag your question.

Another misunderstanding seems to surround downvotes, which is all too common for both new and old users on the network. Downvotes require but one thing: 125 reputation. They don't require a reason nor are they always just in the eyes of the question or answer owner. Questions which are being closed (i.e. votes to close exist) seem to get downvoted concurrently as a form of "agreement".

One good thing I see is that you've amassed over 500 reputation in 3 months, so you're doing things right most of the time. It can take a while to get the hang of how Stack Exchange works, and I encourage you to browse Meta as it can provide insight into how the sausage is made.

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    In the case of the first question, balpha added a comment to a duplicate question on Meta, so if it had been migrated, it would have just been closed as a duplicate anyway. It looks like he wanted to avoid that, so he closed it outright. – Brad Larson Jun 28 '12 at 15:31
  • I'm not that new, I just disagree that either of my questions should have been downvoted. I know -2 rep isn't anything -- that's not what I'm concerned about. Neither are bad questions. They just weren't asked on the apropriate site. From my past experience and based on what's been mentioned, that's an acceptable reason to [close] a question -- but not for downvoting. That's all. I am just wondering if the downvote policy changed or if not what gives? – David Cowden Jun 28 '12 at 15:38
  • If that is a reson to downvote then please tell me so I think more carefully before I ask future questions that are hard to place. I'm just trying to avoid this in the future -- no hard feelings. – David Cowden Jun 28 '12 at 15:41
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    "The question does not show any research effort." Well, didn't research the appropriate site, at least, so checkmark there. "It is unclear or not useful." Certainly not useful where it is, so checkmark there, too. Downvotes ahoy. – Anthony Pegram Jun 28 '12 at 15:47
  • Receiving a downvote for an off topic question is valid. Off topic, not constructive, NARQ...these are all examples of Bad Questions for the Origin Site. However, I'm of the opinion that any downvote (not serial in nature) is valid, so we may just disagree. If you can save the question with an edit, you may get some reversals...usually not. My advice is to learn to live with the downvote pile-up when a question is voted to be closed, because it seems to be the status quo. – user7116 Jun 28 '12 at 15:47
  • @sixlettervariables I can see that given the current status of this question -_-.. I come here to learn and try not to repeat past mistakes in the future and get serial downvotes because of it. Real nice.. – David Cowden Jun 28 '12 at 15:51
  • @DavidCowden: the downvote pile-up helps to clear the question from the front page. – user7116 Jun 28 '12 at 15:52
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    David: That is not what 'serial downvotes' mean. – GEOCHET Jun 28 '12 at 15:53
  • I'll accept an answer and that will clear it up just fine.. Is this not a legitimate question for Meta?? – David Cowden Jun 28 '12 at 15:54
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    @Brad Precisely. I would have migrated it otherwise. – balpha Jun 28 '12 at 16:03
  • That's a common question when users new to Meta are downvoted here, @David, and here's the answer. – Michael Petrotta Jun 28 '12 at 16:20
  • @MichaelPetrotta Thanks for being helpful. Seriously. I came here for help and it's nice to actually recieve some (= – David Cowden Jun 28 '12 at 16:31

For one, we don't migrate crap. Not sure if your posts are crap, but just putting it out there.

Another thing: Only mods can migrate to any site. Normal users can only migrate to a fixed set of six sites (MSO, TeX, SF, SU, SharePoint, DBA). And not every question can be accomodated on some site of our network.

Also, off topic posts are eligible to be downvoted to oblivion. In fact, closing as offtopic gives an automatic downvote.

It really depends on the closers.. Some decide that it is migratable (quality, on-topicness, etc), some don't. Fact is, you should take the effort and find which site it shall be posted on. We won't do that for you.

In the case of the question on how to use SO, balpha answered it in the comments. If it was migrated to MSI, then it would have to be closed as a dupe. More work for us.


Questions that are off-topic for a site are not automatically migrated. This in particular doesn't happen if the question is low quality, if there is already a similar question in the site for which the question would be on-topic, or when the user is not allowed to ask questions in the site where the question would be on-topic (which would result in using the migration as a way to avoid the block).

Don't rely on the fact off-topic questions are migrated in the correct site. Blatantly off-topic questions, such as a question about English posted on Stack Overflow can be down-voted, as asking such question can be seen as lack of research, which is one of the reason for which a question could be down-voted.

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