I've been a Stack Exchange contributor for a couple of years now, currently most active on travel.SE. One thing that keeps coming up is questions that would appeal to audiences on two different Stack Exchange sites but there are almost no features taking advantage of these questions.

On travel.SE we have crossover questions most often with outdoors.SE and possibly next most often with bicycles.SE - but it can happen with almost any SE site. Today alone we had a question that would cross over with money.SE and opendata.SE had a question that would cross over with us.

I am absolutely sure that this must happen all the time between arbitrary pairs of Stack Exchange sites but the only feature that takes advantage of it is the possibility of migrating off-topic questions which leaves the original question acting as a redirect across the two sites.

I think there is a missed opportunity to build the network between sites where users of one site don't realize they could make valuable contributions to a sister site they have had so far little to do with.

At the very least there could be a way to "advertise" a question on a second site that could be interested in it. Probably by listing it in the sidebar where there are also links to meta questions, linked questions, related questions, new blog posts, and

But there could also be some kind of features that make some sort of acceptable crossposting. There could be gamification/badges added around building cross-site questions or whatever else you can think up.

I think this is a great way for people to spread their expertise from their main site onto other sites, to make the network stronger and more cohesive, to bring more attention to questions that would have a divided audience between two sites. I can think only of positives and no negatives.

Does anyone else have some ideas to add or think this is a bad idea for any reason?


Example crossover questions:

Here are some links to some crossover questions I've been finding in the Stack Exchange network here. (This was previously posted as an answer, but more people wanted it to be part of the question.)

11 Answers 11

up vote 115 down vote
+200

To build on Phil's great start, here is how I think it should work.

Question is Asked

A user on physics asks:

How Do Bicycle Spokes Work?

This is assigned a post ID of #94,0001 on physics. It is a physics question.

Cross-site Users Show Interest

hippietrail with accounts on both sites is browsing physics and sees this question and thinks it would be great on bicycles too. So he clicks a button:

Recommend on Other Site

This brings up a list of the sites he is a member on and allows him to pick which one wants to suggest it as a good fit for. Other users can see this on the question as they would a close vote:

Cross-Site Recommendation Pending

They can either up-vote or down-vote the cross-site recommendation perhaps along the lines of a review or somesuch.

Both suggesting cross-site posting and voting on existing suggestions should be only visible/available to high-rep users on the destination site

Review Gets Created

On both the target-site and the original-site a review task for trusted users gets created. For the original-site they are allowed to vote either:

Migrate or Cross-Post

For the destination-site they are allowed to vote either:

Accept or Reject

If the receiving-site votes 'Reject' it does not get sent regardless (it stays on the original site akin to a rejected migration). If the receiving-site votes 'Accept' then it gets Migrated or Cross-posted depending on the choice of the original-site voters.

Managing Post IDs

We know how migrations work, so let's ignore those for now. The original-question has an ID of #94,001 on Physics, and it and any answers get new IDs on Bicycles. Post-type in data.se could be set as 9 - Cross-post to be able to distinguish the origin of each post since it is existing in two time-stack continua at once.

Yes, continua is the plural of continuum apparently. Latin, it's dead for a reason folks.

Any additional answers tacked on would be automatically assigned an ID on any shared site(s) with the same cross-post PostTypeID while being assigned a proper answer ID on the site it originated from.

Voting on Cross-Posts

If you are on Physics when you vote:

  1. Votes/flags on Physics-originated posts are treated as normal
  2. Votes/flags on non-Physics posts have no impact on reputation/score, but impact display

If an answer accumulated too many downvotes/flags that originated on a different site, it will be hidden from people accessing the question from the physics side. The answer may be good for bicycles, but not have so much benefit to the physics readers. And that's fine. The same would happen the other way around too. So we hide any inappropriate answers that a site's community deems aren't right for them (but don't lose them from the other site).

Hiding Cross-Posts from New/Google Users

For new users (under the association bonus level) and for google crawlers, only answers originating from the site being browsed should be applied. This means that bicycles.se answers will be more bicycle-oriented for search terms, and physics.se answers will focus more on the physics and differentiate the search results (hopefully). New users will not be confused by the potential for very contrasting answers or other issues related to differing community standards without losing out on anything.

Moderating These Questions

Locks/Protects would be per site and not mirrored on the other site (no sense in preventing good answers to be given on Physics for issues with the popularity on Bicycles).

Close votes would work as follows:

  • Closed on original site ▶ Migrated to target-site
  • Closed on target-site ▶ Treat as rejected migration

Flags on questions by users of either site would only be shown to trusted users/moderators of that site (no moderation of the other communities' questions).

I think this is a tremendous idea and will reduce poor migrations as well as give people a much better resource for comprehensive information on a cross-discipline topic, improving the quality of SE as a resource.

  • This would certainly be interesting. As for a suggested trial of this, you could look at sharing cross site content between MSE and MSO (it would be easy to just assume the questions on MSE tagged stackoverflow could be the basis of this trial). – Travis J Aug 5 '14 at 14:28
  • 12
    This seems pretty well thought-out, and I wholeheartedly approve. – Kyle Strand Sep 3 '14 at 18:31
  • 4
    Tangentially, though, I'd argue that Latin pluralization is quite a bit more consistent than English pluralization; in fact, there are only 5 forms of nouns (they're called "declensions"), and the declension-type of each noun pretty consistently determines how that noun is changed to represent pluralization and syntactic role. Moreover, it's usually possible to guess how a noun is declined based on its spelling. So for those familiar with the language, "medium->media" and "continuum->continua" are as unsurprising as "shoe->shoes", and far less surprising than, say, "person->people." – Kyle Strand Sep 3 '14 at 18:33
  • 7
    Also, I'm not sure the proposed voting system change is completely solid. If a vote is going to have different effects based on which site the current user is on, it should probably not do so silently; perhaps a notification could be provided briefly explaining the different behaviors, or offering the option (if the user is a member of the source site) to treat the vote as a "source site" vote. Also, the same user should NOT be allowed to vote multiple times on a question if they're a member of each site on which a question is posted, and of course OP should never be allowed to vote. – Kyle Strand Sep 3 '14 at 18:36
  • 1
    This is a great pseudo-replacement for the currently broken migration paradigm we have now. In reality, verbose notifications when voting on the non-originating sites wouldn't be too much of a UX hassle - SO is good at explaining things in most other places, this would be no exception. I'd love to see this. – Qix Sep 3 '14 at 18:57
  • @Qix However it's handled, it's a pretty tiny wrinkle. – Kyle Strand Sep 4 '14 at 16:55
  • 1
    Would cross-posts have "Share" links? – Nicolas Raoul Apr 1 '15 at 6:52
  • The benefit for the source question owner is clear: by cross-posting, he is getting more users to see his question and potentially more good answers. I don't get what would be the benefit for an user on the target site to answer a cross-posted question... even if he get some rep from people on his site, he gets the "visible blame" (without the rep effect) from downvotes on the other site? Could you clarify that? How would the question work for users on the Bicycles site??? – SPArchaeologist Oct 22 '16 at 19:10
  • 3
    This is a great idea in my opinion. I wish SE staff would respond, at least with a status- tag. – Buffer Over Read Nov 6 '16 at 21:18
  • 3
    @TheBitByte Actually, I am SE staff (though I wasn't when I wrote this). This is something we've kicked around, but has a lot of technical hurdles. – jmac Nov 7 '16 at 8:29
  • 3
    Oh I didn't notice that you were staff, must have missed the diamond sign. What are the technical hurdles by the way? – Buffer Over Read Nov 7 '16 at 10:58

I imagine this might be better if, instead of multi-posting the same question on multiple sites, allowing the same question to be shown on multiple sites, and show up in the search results for those sites, while remaining just one question in the database.

I understand that this would come with some challenges, such as determining which tags should and should not be used (per-site), but it would be a cool way to see how different communities can contribute to the same question.

Answers could then include an icon indicating which site the user answered from, and badges or reputation would be only for that site, simplifying this. Furthermore, it gives users of one site an idea of what the other communities are like, and may get more users on the sister sites.

This approach could also work either by letting the OP specify which sites to share on (and those sites can close it on their respective sites), or this could be something left to reviewers with high enough reputation - but either way I think both models would work.

I would support such a feature.

I feel the segmentation of SE sites has become a bit excessive (e.g. SO, Code Review, Programmers and CS). This causes the average user (like myself) to worry more about where to post than how post correctly (partially because of fear of being scolded by the more hard-core users). In my case it ends up with me completely giving up on the post and searching for answers elsewhere.
I think that cross posting would allow the average user to post the question in the most fitting site (without worrying about not reaching some potentially interested experts), and use the cross-post feature to try suggest that the question be published on another site where the question might also be relevant.

I do agree with some other answers here, that in some cases, a question that fits more than one SE site might be indicative of a bad question, but I believe that these cases are not the majority. In any case, I don't think that such feature, if moderated correctly, would contribute to more bad questions being posted.

  • 3
    Warning: Your question will have to be on-topic on 2 websites, which is even harder than being on-topic on 1 website. – Nicolas Raoul Apr 1 '15 at 3:42
  • 5
    The odd thing is that sites with similar scopes (SO, Code Review, Programmers, CS) are much more precise about where one ends and another begins. None of those would be good candidates for cross-site sharing. The examples in the feature proposal are much better, e.g. Bicycles and Physics. – Wildcard Oct 17 '16 at 23:23
  • 2
    I'm not sure I agree that SO and Programmers (for instance) have a clear line between them. It's more like a gradient. – Neowizard Oct 21 '16 at 19:20
  • @Wildcard the four you picked, sure, but (at least by my understanding of how blurry the lines are) there are plenty of questions that would work just as well (and often have duplicates) on U/L, at least one of SU or SF, and SO, and maybe an application-specific site as well. And maybe also Ask Ubuntu and/or Ask Different. – Random832 Jan 4 '17 at 20:57
  • Some similar sites might practically be delete-able if this gets implemented... some of the math sites and definitely E&LU + ELL... then again that last one might not be a bad thing... – TylerH Jan 4 '17 at 22:04
  • Several arguments for and against: meta.superuser.com/questions/12007/how-to-choose-a-community – Pavel Jan 11 '17 at 19:38

I don't think there should be any crossover feature that would allow posting a single question on multiple sites (how should edit/close priviledges be calculated for the users of both sites?). The sites should be designed so that the topic crossover should be an exception, not the rule.

However, there are many common interest areas, so I'd vote for the idea of stronger linking between sites. For example, by adding a network-wide linked and related questions section on the left side. The question would always belong to one site, but it would be easier to browse related questions on the other sites.

For example it could look like that:

Linked (Travel)

  • question 1
  • question 2
  • question 3

Linked (other SEs)

  • question 4 (The Great Outdoors)
  • question 5 (Physical Fitness)
  • question 6 (Photography)

Related section would be more tricky to implement, because network-wide looking for duplicates must be something more intelligent than simply word-based (I don't think people on Pets would be happy seeing Python programming questions in every second raptiliae question).

  • 1
    sorry luksaz .. i think this feature will be very helpful .. it happnes quiet a bit time tht question on SO has been answred on dba.stackexchnage.com .. this is a nice feature – Dhaval Jan 7 '14 at 16:30
  • I think the cross-site Related section would be an extremely fun machine learning challenge though it would do fine with just tf-idf. It might be worse if there were a programming language called "cat" or "dog" though (-: But a way to nominate articles into the related sections of other sites would prevent this at a cost nothing being automatically discovered. – hippietrail Jan 21 '14 at 2:23
  • I think Łukasz 웃 L ツ has it exactly right here. Cross posting can potentially lower the total value of the question while raising awareness and giving opportunities to enter new communities helps all exchanges. I recommend that the Other SE's section be done through a simple reputation/flag mechanism (at least at first) to keep a very high signal to noise ratio. In fact, if it's done through flags/reputation, you could potentially just put them into the other SE's standard list with a clear indicator that it's from another SE. That would hopefully minimize system changes. – kobejohn Feb 28 '14 at 16:31
  • Actually, that what I've written was already proposed as feature request: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/59569/… – Danubian Sailor Apr 2 '14 at 14:50

I like this idea, and agree with the rationale insofar as it helps a question reach an interested audience (not creating clutter, iow).

Some potential challenges:

  • User privileges -- ability to edit, delete, etc. -- greater on the shared-with site than the originator site... Is that OK?
  • Tags -- how would those be treated?

Implementation ideas:

  • add this as a review category (?) -- for reviewers to include/exclude questions nominated for sharing?
  • add a new privilege category (?) -- so a person who wants to nomiate a question to be shared with SO, for example, would have to have some level of rep on SO?

--EDIT--

Re-reading this post / some of the answers that have come-in later...

One perspective that I think hasn't received much attention here is the cross-suitability of the answer to the cross-posted question. It's one thing for a question to be relevant to two sites (using the 'how bicycle spokes work' example on @jmac's great answer here); but it may be quite another thing for the answer to be relevant on both sites. For example, I can imagine readers on the physics SE will be more interested in answers describing the different types for force and how they be modeled using physics formulas, etc.; and I can imagine the readers on the bicycle enthusiasts' SE site being interested in an entirely different sort of answer (maybe something more focused on performance comparisons with alternative wheel designs on/off road, etc.).

I don't have any great ideas for where to go with this, but it seems like something that should be part of the discussion / proposed solutions.

This has been roughly implemented on the international sites for the use case of linking from Stack Overflow in English to canonical questions written in other languages.

If you go to certain questions on Stack Overflow and your browser language is set to one of the non-English languages that we support, you might see a small banner letting you know that we have a nearly identical question on [language] site, with answers of comparable quality. This works by users on the international sites nominating pairs of links (originating from English site, landing on international sites) which are vetted and put in place.

All of this currently runs on stuff that isn't quite in the code base properly, and probably won't be until Channels is quite a bit more feature complete. But, some functionality does exist.

I'd personally like to have something similar to what has been proposed in various forms here eventually; it would be great to lessen the fragmentation between SO and sites like Software Engineering, for instance. However, I can't give a definitive timeline on an implementation, or what that might eventually look like.

I'm tagging this as deferred as it is something that I really want to explore, but I can't give any promises on when we'll be able to do it. I can say that getting the rough implementation that we have going for the international sites more 'properized' and supported with UI that doesn't require user scripts is a big priority for me once resources become available, so the idea as a whole is definitely near the top of the list of stuff I want to see get more attention as soon as we're able to provide it.

  • 1
    It's also a sort of deep well of possibility, there are some questions on SO that are pretty language-agnostic about dependency injection and inversion of control that could be augmented pretty nicely by some prominent links to certain questions on Software Engineering (just as a more precise use case beyond more generic visibility of stuff to broader groups). Thinking about how this would work gets a little complicated, but I'm super enthused about fleshing that out eventually. – Tim Post Dec 26 '17 at 17:51

Cross-site question association

I suggest to extend question association mechanism to all StackExchange sites. It's already working between mechanism between StackOveflow in Russian and StackOverlow in English.

Something like this

Text translation: This question has answers on StackOverflow in Russian. [link to associated question].

If very similar questions were asked on different StackExchange sites (that have some topic intersection) we can show link under associated questions This question has answers on [StackExchange site of associated question]. [link to associated question]..

You have some great points, however the reason it will not currently work is because of the point systems being individual to each site.

And the badges primarily being individual to each site.

I could see improved performance on users using multiple sites if there were more badges added to stack overflow that were based on the point/reputation of other sites.

I don't necessarily think it would be good to add a whole lot more badges, to the already numerous gold/silver/bronze badges there are. What I think would work, is to create a platinum badge or something, that is relative to how many sites you have a total rep score of over 1000 points or something.

  • 14
    Well points and badges are just toys really. Whether and how to implement those are up to the SE devs. The main part is getting people flowing between the sites. The platinum badge idea for your activity across the network rather than just one site is a great idea! – hippietrail Dec 30 '13 at 3:29
  • 1
    If you visit from travel, you get rep/badges on travel. If you visit from aviation, you get rep/badges on aviation. Why would this complicate issues at all? Each question would have a postID based on the site it originated from anyway, so it would be clear which you accessed from. – jmac Feb 6 '14 at 7:24

I totally agree that as the number exchanges/communities have grown, a lot of overlapping questions are spreading across the lines between the communities.

I also agree Migrating a question that was posted in the "incorrect" Community is not really a good fit for these questions.

  1. The OP participates in and posted in the original Community because he thinks that is where it belongs. He has already expressed what he thinks the "correct" Community it.
  2. Once the question is migrated (if that is possible), content that was posted in the originating community is often lost.
  3. Often the decision of which Community is the one-and-only-one "correct" Community is highly subjective, a situation Stack Exchange generally tries to avoid.

I had noticed this and recently proposed a different way to addressing the problem - Let Communities refer questions to other communities.

I do like your solution as well; but, as a developer, it seems that it might be more complicated to implement. I believe a lot of the problem could be addressed by allowing visibility of the referred questions to other Communities but still allowing them to remain in the original community.

I suggest that there be a Network tab, or similar options to display interesting questions from across the network.
Clicking on questions from this tab would take you to the orignal question on it's "Real" site.

This suggestion is otherwise very similar to https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/219824/144630

I suggest the list of questions to be shown on that list be manually curated. With the curation being an unlockable privilege determined by reputation on both sites.

Possibly with:

  • "Add to cross-site list for X", requiring some level of rep on both sites. Probably 100 would be good, since the assoication bonus kinda indicates "You get Stack Exchange enough to have some respect everywhere in the network".
  • Removing being similar to close-voting, requiring 4 votes by people with a certain privilege on the receiving site (probably lower than close voting).

Mock-up:

Yes the mockup image is inconstant, in formatting, but it is just example. Mockup

I'm not entirely happy with the idea of it as a Tab, but I think it does benefit somewhat from being on a separate list to the real questions on the site. So users who just don't care can ignore it. (I would expect a lot more cross-posts than migrations, so leaving it in the main lists might not be good. Or it might be Ok)

Crossposting is bad.

A question which could be answered on two different sites is not a good question. Perhaps it needs to be more reasonably scoped. Perhaps the person asking needs to understand their problem a little better so they know who best to ask for a fix. Perhaps they need to understand the audience a bit better and reword the question so it's obvious what they need to know.

  • Stream Airfare data --> This isn't about travelling. It's about getting data from a specific database on the internet. A traveler might have this problem, but it isn't a traveler problem.
  • Is it possible to “cook” pasta at room temperature with low enough pressure? --> This is two different questions. "Does pasta need to be cooked, or just rehydrated?" and "Does cooking happen by temperature, or by the state change of water?" They both belong on cooking.
  • If travelling through excessively cold regions, what steps should you take to keep your vehicle warm enough to drive? --> The author specifically states they do not want vehicle advice, they want general procedures for a specific type of emergency during a trip. You could post something similar to an emergency prepardeness/survival/wilderness site, but again you'd tailor it for that group of experts.

I could go on, but here's the key:

If a question is well-written for a specific group of experts, it will irritate the experts in the other group. If it waffles or tries to address both groups, it will merely irritate both of them. It will be given close votes, comments indicating it's inappropriate nature for the site, etc.

We already allow links in the questions. So I've seen many questions that present the problem, then provide a link to a related question on another site. The answers aren't the same, because the expertise on each site isn't the same and it shouldn't be.

It may be that there's some room for another sidebar, "Related questions on other SE sites" which links to explicitly linked questions, and uses keywords and tags to link to related questions elsewhere.

But we should not see the same exact question on two different sites. It shows a lack of understanding about the group of experts the question is being addressed to. We don't want to encourage this behavior, because it requires bad questions that try to address two different groups of experts. If the user isn't sure, let them post it on the site they believe is best, and the moderators can move it, others can edit it, in order to make it work on the correct site.

Crossposting shouldn't be encouraged or supported.

  • For a contrasting view you can read the Stack Exchange official blog post on a related theme: The Pee-Wee Herman Rule – hippietrail May 21 '14 at 14:21
  • Then again this seems to be a straw man agreeing with the idea but not agreeing with another idea which is not the one presented here \-: – hippietrail May 21 '14 at 14:24
  • 8
    This is simply not true. It used to be, back in the trilogy days, but no more. For example, simple bash questions are 100% on topic on Super User, Stack Overflow, Ask Ubuntu, Unix & Linux, Ask Different, and probably Raspberry Pi as well. If I were to ask "how do I assign a value to a variable in bash", there is simply no way to tweak it in order to make it more applicable to any of those sites. It fits all of them. Their scopes overlap. What we have now are the same basic questions repeated on all sites by different users. That is precisely the waste of effort that the no cross-posting rule tries to avoid. – terdon Jul 24 '15 at 10:40
  • @terdon I disagree. For obviously simple, and very easily "googlable" questions, sure, there's a lot of overlap, but the overlap ends after the trivial questions for the reasons stated in this answer. Still, with Stack Exchange moving to a single login and integrating the communities even further, who knows - maybe they will turn this whole thing into Yahoo Answers or Quora. I hope not, but it's their site. – Adam Davis Jul 24 '15 at 11:17
  • 7
    @AdamDavis no, the scopes of many of those sites overlap enormously. Configuring WiFi on Ubuntu, for example, is 100% on topic on Unix & Linux, Ask Ubuntu and Super User (I'm a mod on the former and a >20k user on the other two). – terdon Jul 24 '15 at 11:40
  • @terdon Please quantify "sites overlap enormously." Does that mean we can take 80% of the questions asked on one site, ask them as-is on the other site, and get the same answers? Or are you arguing about a few percent of questions which might need to be modified slightly to really fit the site? If the former, then the sites should simply be merged (and honestly, unix/linux/ubuntu is a weird situation anyway - we should be discussing bikes and opendata, or stackoverflow and cooking) I don't doubt your experience and perspective, I just don't see it as a problem that needs to be fixed. – Adam Davis Jul 24 '15 at 11:46
  • 6
    @AdamDavis it refers to a large subset of questions on each site. Basically all bash questions from any of the 6 sites I mentioned before would be on topic on all 6. What percentage of the site they represent depends on the site in question. At least 80% of AU questions would be on topic on U&L as well. All *nix questions on SU would be on topic on U&L. The difference between AU and U&L is i) some things are Ubuntu only (belong on AU) and ii) Ubuntu users tend to be more GUI oriented so the answers tend to be more often GUI based. – terdon Jul 24 '15 at 11:49
  • 6
    My point is that for a certain subgroup of questions and sites, the overlap is really enormous, yes. Not for all sites, obviously, and not for all questions. The scopes are overlapping venn diagrams, not concentric circles. – terdon Jul 24 '15 at 11:49
  • 2
    @terdon I'm not interested in AU and U&L. As far as I'm concerned one should be closed as duplicate of the other. They are, at best, outliers in this discussion. I remain unconvinced that the rest of the sites should allow cross posting just because you want your favorite sites to allow it. – Adam Davis Jul 24 '15 at 11:58
  • 7
    @AdamDavis hardly outliers. They're actually the 3rd (AU) and 8th (U&L) sites by traffic on the network. SU is the 2nd and SO is the first. The only site I mentioned that's not in the top 10 is Rpi.se (Apple is 8th). I'm talking about the shared scope of some of the most popular sites on the network. I agree that not all sites have overlapping scopes, but we now have several dozen sites, many of whose scopes do overlap. The result is the same question asked by different users on different sites: precisely what the no CP rule was meant to avoid. – terdon Jul 24 '15 at 12:05
  • 2
    @terdon I don't mean outliers in terms of usage or community. I mean outliers in terms of this discussion - their venn diagrams don't just overlap - the U&L circle completely encloses the Ubunto circle. Ubuntu could very clearly be a tag on U&L. So it's really pointless for you to keep using them as a prime example as to why this feature should be implemented. Maybe this is an issue for those sites. It isn't a significant issue for the rest of the network, and further cross posting doesn't solve a big problem so it doesn't need to be implemented. – Adam Davis Jul 24 '15 at 12:10
  • 1
    Let us continue this discussion in chat. – terdon Jul 24 '15 at 12:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .