I have been seeing a lot of off-topic questions by new users which were originally meant for StackOverflow (or other SE site) & not the meta. So, can we do some survey/analysis to improve upon this situation?

We can ask the OP of such posts as to how they got over to meta instead of the main site. This can be done either directly commenting on the question (linking to the survey page ofcourse) &/or if possible automating the process (looks like a no-no, but am not sure)

This might sound like a lot of work, but might help improving the site. Also, can anyone suggest how one could pull out statistics of question put on-hold for being off-topic?

Edit - The main reason to post this is, often the new users WON'T ask the question on the main site again!

  • 2
    All my 26 helpful flags are on off-topic programming questions on Meta.SO. I think we need this
    – Walker
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:24
  • 10
    We do ask, sometimes. Most often, never to hear a thing. The one or two times anything was given was a "oh, I never noticed". Personally, I gave up, since nothing ever came out of it.
    – Oded
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:24
  • I agree with @Oded but sometimes when I notice long time SO user doing this I still ask. Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:25
  • 1
    I have over 200 helpful flags here, and not too many of them include dupes and spam.
    – Jamal
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:26
  • Sometimes they're Q banned on SO
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:30
  • 2
  • 4
    I've observed the same thing as Oded, asking doesn't seem to work. A large part of the users posting off-topic questions here on meta seem to just post into the first text field they find, nothing to be gained by asking them why. If we actually wanted to find out how people find MSO instead of SO I'd rather take a look at the logs and check the referrers. Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:31
  • Regarding the edit: even worse, many of the programming questions here are too low-quality and would not survive on the main site. Chances are that the OP won't improve the question, and the community may or may not do it themselves.
    – Jamal
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:31
  • 2
  • 2
    People don't tend to answer why they posted on the wrong site. It's either because they intentionally did it because they've banned on the main site (which they occasionally admit to or they've done it by mistake and are embarrassed by it so don't reply because they've embarrassed and would rather not draw attention to themselves.
    – JonW
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:37
  • 1
  • Yup, I do feel my question is a dupe now. Thanks for the links @random. All these do give the various possible reasons & stats. Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


I looked into this once; it's actually not that hard to figure out where most of the off-topic questions come from. Here's why I don't care that much:

  • There are at least as many people who think Stack Overflow is a customer service site for Facebook every day as those who think Meta Stack Overflow is a Q&A site for programmers. Some folks are just really confused.

  • There are thousands of people viewing and asking questions on Stack Overflow every day. The tiny fraction who find their way here instead are a drop in the bucket.

  • Most of the programming questions asked here are pretty crappy anyway; if they never get asked on Stack Overflow, it's no great loss.

  • Eventually, Stack Overflow will have its own meta site - and we'll be able to limit the folks who can post questions here to those who've already had some significant amount of participation on the main site.

  • 1
    Will Stack Overflow have its own meta any time this decade? Just curious. Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 5:58
  • If I say "yes", I'll jinx it again. So... Hopefully.
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 6:03
  • 2
    @JeffAtwood: In 6 to 8 weeks time, apparently. And you know what that means.. Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 18:29

You must log in to answer this question.

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