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I was wondering if it is poor practice to redirect a new user to a more appropriate Stack Exchange site when they ask a question that is not suitable for the site they asked the question?

If it is ok, then why have I never seen anyone do this? Instead, many questions get shut down (often accompanied with a sarcastic or nasty comment), when they should have just been redirected to another Stack Exchange site.

There are obvious benefit for doing this including:-

  • The new user still uses Stack Exchange to get their question answered.
  • The new user is educated about the different sites and appropriate questions for each site.
  • Stack Exchange will grow and retain members.
  • The first experience of Stack Exchange becomes a positive one instead of a negative one.
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    Never, really? I see (and post) comments stating that a question belongs on another site all the time. – Dukeling Nov 5 '13 at 11:20
  • I have been using the site for about 6 months now, and no, I have not once seen it in any of the questions I have come across. I am not a liar, as your "never, really" would imply. – Remixed123 Nov 5 '13 at 11:25
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    This might be a better fit on etiquette.se which is still under discussion, or possibly on philosophy. :). (Just joking. Someone had to suggest it!) – Affable Geek Nov 5 '13 at 11:35
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    @Remixed123 I am in disbelief, but that doesn't mean I think or am implying that you're lying. – Dukeling Nov 5 '13 at 11:58
  • @Dukeling - fair enough. – Remixed123 Nov 5 '13 at 12:06
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    Related meta.stackexchange.com/questions/195008/… – user213963 Nov 5 '13 at 13:01
  • @MichaelT - Hmm, interesting discussion, I can see the issues are quite complex. – Remixed123 Nov 5 '13 at 13:40
  • The big problem with recommendations is that it encourages cross-posts over migrations. – CodesInChaos Nov 5 '13 at 16:16
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Directing to another site is just fine. But you might want to hold off on making that a comment, if the question is not closed.

You'd risk the user asking a cross-site duplicate, which is usually not appreciated. A better way to approach this would be to flag for moderator attention, recommending migration if possible. Or to simply vote for migration if such a path is available. Or, of course, you could recommend the user to migrate instead of duplicating.

As for sarcastic or nasty comments: flag.

  • Hey Bart, did I do better with this question? :-) – Remixed123 Nov 5 '13 at 11:01
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    Much @Remixed123. ;) P.s. to illustrate this, this is what you're trying to prevent: stackoverflow.com/questions/19773362/… – Bart Nov 5 '13 at 11:02
  • LOL, that discussion reminds me of when I was working for a large (unnamed but apparently evil) international software company....where a customer would be bounced around different departments because no one knew how to solve a problem that didn't neatly fit into a box. This is one of the problems with extreme specialisation, where do you place the fence that differentiates one area from another. I dislike these sorts of decisions, which is why I prefer to be a specialist generalist. – Remixed123 Nov 5 '13 at 11:17
  • @Bart since that one is a 10k only link now, you might enjoy the read on its P.SE history once it was reposted there (migrated to CR, rejected, reopened, migrated to SO, rejected). – user213963 Nov 5 '13 at 15:10
  • It amuses and pains me to see that we went through similar (futile) editing attempts @MichaelT. ;) – Bart Nov 5 '13 at 15:22
  • @Bart the credit really has to go to Jamal and his heroic editing on CR. I just grabbed that when it was rejected so that it would be in better shape for a migration to SO. I am throughly impressed at his dedication to copyediting that question even if it was fairly clear (multiple close votes at the time on CR) it would get closed. – user213963 Nov 5 '13 at 15:25
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if it is poor practice to redirect a new user to a more appropriate Stack Exchange site

No, it is not a poor practice. It is appropriate to point the new user towards the relevant site provided that the question is on-topic for that site. It would be better to provide more information to the new user that cross-posting is highly discouraged. The user should migrate the question (or delete) before posting on the other site.

why have I never seen anyone do this?

Maybe you missed some of these, here is a recent example (which was later migrated to the appropriate site):

https://stackoverflow.com/questions/19671649/how-to-simplify-my-jquery-codes?noredirect=1

On this quesiton, one of the user commented:

This question appears to be off-topic - It belongs on codereview.stackexchange.com

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A few random thoughts on migration comments:

  • Do not just tell the OP their question is off topic. If you don't have the time or energy to explain why it's on topic, please do not post a comment at all. Someone else will, soon enough.
  • If you are going to suggest migration, please also:
    • Let the OP know they can flag the question and ask the moderators to move it, or
    • If the question was closed without answers, encourage them to delete it before posting it elsewhere
  • If you are not 100% certain that the question is indeed on topic elsewhere and that it fits that site's quality expectations, do not comment. Instead, flag the question yourself and ask for it to be moved.
  • Even if you are 100% certain, you should still let the OP know that they should familiarize themselves with the other site before posting there.

Migration comments, although almost always well meaning, quite often create a very disappointing experience for newer users:

  1. This is off topic on Foo.SE, it belongs on Bar.SE.
  2. OP re-posts on Bar.SE.
  3. Question is quickly closed on Bar.SE.

And we are left with a newer user who now thinks we are a bunch of circlejerks, playing migration ping pong with their question, and two closed questions1. That's not nice.

Recommending a more appropriate Stack Exchange site is definitely not wrong. It is, however, very hard to get right. If you have even the slightest doubts about the question's suitability on the target site, you should probably avoid commenting.

1 And if Foo.SE and Bar.SE happen to have automatic question bans enabled, the OP is now a step closer to getting question banned on two sites. This might seem like a narrow edge case, but it happens at least once per day (on average) between SO and Programmers.

  • But surely a circlejerk is a better experience for a new user than a form letter closure which provides no details? Especially since migration ping pong is likely to be the exception rather than the rule. Concern about potential bounce around is less of a concern than the form letter response...is this, not so humble newbie's opinion. – Remixed123 Nov 5 '13 at 13:35
  • @Remixed123 the issue is the raised expectations of "post to another site and get your answer" which are then dashed. Low expectation to close is a preferable outcome to low expectation, (repost) high expectation, close, close. Consider also the rather important bit that having closed questions on multiple sites each contributes to their own automatic question ban. So at someone else's suggestion (no mention of fixing it up), they had a poor experience, closed, down voted and think that the other site are all jerks. – user213963 Nov 5 '13 at 19:01

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