We've grown considerably as a network since the days of the original trilogy, when the prospect of growing into a network of over 100 thriving Q&A sites was a distant glimmer in a cloudy night sky. Today, Stack Overflow continues to graciously host discussions about the entire network on its extremely hard won meta site, but those discussions are now dominating what should be the most important things discussed here - stuff about Stack Overflow.

Jeff talked about this some time ago with the beginnings of a plan, I'm extremely pleased to announce that we've finally worked out the remaining details, and will be proceeding with the split in six to eight weeks. No, I'm not kidding, we're shooting for somewhere around the middle of January. Seriously, stop laughing, six to eight weeks is a perfectly reasonab .. I digress.

Here's what you need to know, grouped by general topic. If you're not interested in details, the take away from this is quite simple: Stack Overflow needs a meta site of its own, and will get one soon. You won't lose any rep or badges, you'll just need to bring your questions about the network itself to a different place, the new Meta SE.

Let's get on with it, shall we?

How, precisely, do you plan to do this?

The plan is extremely straight forward, here's the outline that will form the project timeline when we execute it:

  1. Meta SO goes into read-only mode, or possibly maintenance mode. It's then moved to meta.stackexchange.com and the last post ID noted.
  2. A brand new, blank child-meta site just like every other meta site in the network is brought up on meta.stackoverflow.com, where the first post ID will be the last post ID we noted on MSE plus one.
  3. Establish redirects from MSO to MSE for lower post IDs
  4. Normalize MSE, and the new MSO, fix anything that needs fixing

There are other things to consider, such as chat MSO. Rooms there will probably be migrated to chat MSE during this transition, but we aren't entirely certain of that; I will be updating this post with additional details as they become available.

How will this affect me?

You'll need to remember to bring questions that concern the general network to the new MSE site, questions about Stack Overflow will still belong on MSO. Certain links (like tag pages) can't be easily redirected, so you may need to update a few browser bookmarks, or settings in whatever gadget you use to pull feeds.

Internal links that we control will be automatically updated during the transition. This really isn't a technically spectacular operation.

When you post re-tag or burnination requests on MSO, they'll get more attention as they'll stay visible for much longer. When you come to MSE, you'll see far fewer really smelly programming questions on the verge of being deleted. Everyone gets more of what they like and less of what they don't.

We'll just migrate SO specific content back to the new MSO?

Not initially, but yes, eventually. Stack Overflow is going to get a shiny new empty meta site to begin using as they see fit right away; it's up to them to decide what goes there. In the weeks following the split we will be identifying content that really does belong on MSO and sending it back, but this is going to be a very selective, very methodical process.

We'll be working rather closely with the Stack Overflow moderators during this time. We envision more migrations from MSO than to MSO once this happens.

Who will the moderators be on the new Meta SE?

Initially, us. Employees from the community team will be the primary moderators (and folks providing official responses as we do now) while core and careers developers will be doing their usual bug and feature hunting.

Eventually, we do plan to appoint several moderators from within the larger network community to help make sure that things run smoothly, and to ensure that the community on the new site is represented properly on the moderation team.

We don't yet know if we'll be running elections, we have to see how things go. The original MSE was built to support SE 1.0 - this is something completely different, and completely new to all of us.

What should be asked where? I'm drowning in meta!

  • If your question is about a specific site or community, ask on that site's meta site, that goes equally for Stack Overflow.

  • If your question is about something that concerns the entire network, such as:

    • A bug report or feature request that applies to more than just one site
    • A question about the network, or Stack Exchange in general
    • A question about why we do things a certain way as a network or a proposal to do things as a network differently

.. then it belongs on the new MSE site. Proper help centers will be set up on MSE and MSO during the transition, explaining clearly what purpose each site serves and types of questions that belong on them respectively. Questions about Careers will live on MSE.

Area 51 remains a bit of a lone island when it comes to meta discussion about Area 51 itself; those discussions should be posted on discuss.area51.stackexchange.com.

In short, Stack Overflow and its new child meta site will be like every other site in the network; that's something we probably should have done long before now.

I realize that we're moving a lot of cheese around in a relatively short amount of time, but this is something that we really just can't postpone any longer. If you have questions, concerns, ideas or anything else to say about this, feel free to do so in an answer below.

As a MSO user since day 1 and a community elected Stack Overflow moderator, I'm personally looking forward to this finally happening. MSE doesn't need to be attached to Stack Overflow any longer to maintain its culture, that's long since been established. But, we're taking quite a bit from our long-term gracious host, it's time that we let them go about their normal business with a little less noise.

Update (10th January 2014)

I've added some additional details about what content will be quickly migrated back to MSO - please see the linked question and feel free to provide whatever input that you have.

Update (5th February 2014)

Work has been progressing on this in the background. We're still tying up some loose ends on other projects, so the actual switch is slated to happen this month, likely in the next two weeks. However, that's largely dependent on variables that aren't quite clear at the moment, so it might be the end of February. I will continue to post updates here when we near a more definite schedule for throwing the metaphorical switch, but work is underway.

Update (12th March 2014)

Here's where things are:

  • Back end work has progressed nicely, a substantial portion of code changes are done and a test is being brought up on our dev tier for us to poke and prod.
  • Community end of this is basically done, I've got some miscellaneous copy to finish including a blog post (that mostly just reiterates this meta post)
  • Some task-specific tools need to be built, which folks are working on
  • A list of stuff that should be migrated back to the new child MSO has been cultivated, and will be updated again a few days before the target date.

We don't yet have the target date outside of the approximation of 2 - 3 weeks, could be less depending on how testing goes on the dev tier. We're going to more or less simulate the whole thing there.

We'll notify everyone at least a few days in advance of this happening. It's moving, we're just being extremely careful and diligent.

Update (18th March 2014)

Core work is coming along very nicely. They're now to the point where they're looking at how they're going to handle the actual migration in a way that (optimally) performs well and (minimally) doesn't explode. There's also quite a bit of work going into tools that will need to run immediately after the migration to update links, rebake content, and other things that go into doing a tidy job of this.

I've got a list of a few hundred active tag/question/moderator action discussions that are both seemingly unresolved, and related strictly to Stack Overflow, I'll be sending these back as soon as both sites stand up on their own and things seems stable. That probably means one of you lucky users will have the opportunity to get the first post on the new MSO, but you'll need to compete with me to do it, and they don't call me Post for nothing.

We think this might be the week when we can actually pick the weekend we're going to throw these switches, but I won't know for certain until close to the end of the week. I'll continue revisiting this post weekly until that happens, just to let you know what's going on.

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    Nooo!!! My shiny 5th DiamonD!!!!1!eleven! :( – ChrisF Mod Dec 19 '13 at 14:35
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    "Moving a lot of cheese around"? This is nothing. Come work with me at the bank. ;) – Bill the Lizard Dec 19 '13 at 14:37
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    @ShadowWizard - Wasn't already decided to use an unicorn head? – SPArcheon Dec 19 '13 at 14:41
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    Maybe this will stop programming questions from being asked in the wrong place, but probably not. – Taryn ModStaff Dec 19 '13 at 14:41
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    @ShadowWizard: I'd expect the logo to follow the convention of all other Meta logos, so that'd be a grayed out Stack Exchange logo. – Makoto Dec 19 '13 at 14:42
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    @bluefeet most users will try posting programming question on MSO but being ordinary per-site Meta it will require 5 rep points so 99% of them will be blocked before posting. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 19 '13 at 14:44
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    Will there be an obvious link on every site to tell people that MSE exists somewhere? – ben is uǝq backwards Dec 19 '13 at 14:45
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    More important question: I assume that Current Meta Rep --> new MSE rep and the rep for the old meta site will then be shared with the main site right? – SPArcheon Dec 19 '13 at 14:48
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    @bluefeet - Nahhh... It will add a new vagon in the fun train. Question ban on SO -> Post on MSO and receive a second ban -> post on MSE. :P – SPArcheon Dec 19 '13 at 14:51
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    @SPArchaeologist Your rep on SO will be your rep on MSO. Your rep on MSE will be the rep you've earned here to date, and independent of all other sites. SO/MSO will work just like every other site / child meta that we have. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 14:51
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    Friggin finally. – user98085 Dec 19 '13 at 15:16
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    Original Question: asked Feb 29 2012. Date put into action: Jan 2014. Kinds knocks the "6-8 weeks" meme off a bit. – tombull89 Dec 19 '13 at 15:30
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    @tombull89 soon to be "6-8 years" :D – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 19 '13 at 15:31
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    Tim Stone for Meta.SE Mod! – The Unhandled Exception Dec 19 '13 at 16:40
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    @TRiGisTimothyRichardGreen We just met again about it today, due to a bit of backlog with the SSL stuff, it's probably going to be around the first week of Feb. I'll update the post again as soon as I have a firmer time frame. However yes, this is going forward and soon - the community team end of it is moving, we just have to let the devs clear some room off their plates before we go full throttle. – Tim Post Jan 22 '14 at 18:32

That's a great thing! However, I think moderators from any SE sites should get some symbol after their username to make it clear to other users that they are a moderator somewhere. Maybe even show a list of the moderated sites when hovering that symbol?

For that symbol, I propose a cat: 😻 - cats are great and pitchforks are nice but we are not that evil. ;)

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    You already have an Octocat avatar and a kitty cat hat. Does the addition of this cat symbol mean you'll be a Decacat? – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 19 '13 at 15:00
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    That cat appears to me as an empty rectangle, this character doesn't seem supported widely enough to use it for this purpose. – Mad Scientist Dec 19 '13 at 15:01
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    Square cat?? i.stack.imgur.com/hpY2c.png is this a new type of cat? – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 19 '13 at 15:01
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    Damnit, I guess your font doesn't support 💩 either? :p – ThiefMaster Dec 19 '13 at 15:02
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    It must be a box cat. – Amicable Dec 19 '13 at 15:02
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    No cats and no bananas – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 19 '13 at 15:02
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    I'd suggest to just display the logos of the site the user is a mod on after the user name. But that is going to use too much space for at least one mod ;-). – Mad Scientist Dec 19 '13 at 15:07
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    I think something like the A51 gray diamond + count would be good there. – Kevin Dec 19 '13 at 15:20
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    @MadScientist - I don't know who you could mean ;) – ChrisF Mod Dec 19 '13 at 15:24
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    @shadow-wizard why, it's Schrödinger's cat of course! – Korneel Bouman Dec 19 '13 at 15:47
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    @KorneelBouman So it's important that I not import whatever character encoding my browser is missing because if I am able to observe the cat I will be killing it? – Servy Dec 19 '13 at 16:40
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    How about using ? – badp Dec 21 '13 at 15:59
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    I suggest that all non mods get pitchforks, because meta is where you try to run the mods out of town. – Manishearth Jan 1 '14 at 6:48
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    Building on badp and Kevin's suggestions, non-native moderators should be marked with ◊, and moderators marked with ♦. All diamonds followed by superscripts listing the number of sites they rule over with an iron fist (e.g. ◊³). – jmac Jan 6 '14 at 4:33
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    All other jokes aside some kind of indication that you're a moderator somewhere (and maybe something on the user card showing the icons of the sites you're a mod on?) does sound like a good idea. Might be a Phase 2 development thing, but I think it makes sense. – voretaq7 Jan 10 '14 at 22:33

This is great. It's like expecting a new baby. Our baby!

Some questions though:

We'll just migrate SO specific content back to the new MSO?

Not initially, but yes, eventually. Stack Overflow is going to get a shiny new empty meta site to begin using as they see fit right away; it's up to them to decide what goes there.

How will new askers be directed to the correct site for their question during that time? What will be the correct site to ask on during the time? Will there be easy migration paths? Will a moderator be needed for every needed migration?

In the weeks following the split we will be identifying content that really does belong on MSO and sending it back, but this is going to be a very selective, very methodical process.

There are many feature requests that technically belong on Meta.SE (as they are about site agnostic features) but practically they apply to SO only. How will those be handled?

Will the Meta community be involved in the selection process of what goes where? Or are moderators planning to do this all on their own?

You won't lose any rep or badges

That's a nice gesture, but this would involve artificially inflating rep scores, correct? Because some of your content will be on the new MSO site where it isn't counted.

I'm not keen on losing my shiny points, but an argument could be made that rep should be eliminated completely on both new Meta sites. Yes, it'll already be eliminated on MSO, which is great because heated newbie discussions about everyday situations won't end up with the sting of rep loss through downvotes. But the new MSE would still perpetuate the problem.

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    We've got the system message bars we can use to direct traffic initially, and we're prepared to move things about as needed. We're going to be digging deep into what we've got on MSE when we split, and it'll be individual calls. Yes, the community will be involved and likely flagging stuff to go back to MSO, but it's going to be up to us what gets sent back. Folks might lose some rep here or there as 'spring cleaning' happens, but I don't really see a reason to eliminate rep on MSE altogether. On MSO, it'll just match your main site rep - so that's pretty well settled. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 15:57
  • @Tiny Tim cool. Looking forward to this. – Pekka Dec 19 '13 at 16:00
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    "It's like expecting a new baby." Does that mean you expect to be elbow deep in crap for the first few weeks? ;) – gnostradamus Dec 20 '13 at 4:15
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    @gnostradamus oh yes. That, and plenty of wailing. – Pekka Dec 20 '13 at 5:03
  • If meta SE rep was eliminated how would community moderation work? – Richard Tingle Dec 31 '13 at 0:56
  • @Richard you could link it to SO scores for example – Pekka Dec 31 '13 at 2:22
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    @Pekka but that would exclude all non SO people – Richard Tingle Dec 31 '13 at 8:58
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    It is funny to see how this "question" is all upside down. Tim states facts in the question and you are asking questions in the answer :-) – Tomas Jan 6 '14 at 6:29
  • @TimPost, you say may lose 'some' rep, but if I'm understanding correctly, people who have mostly asked questions specific to SO will lose most of their rep when those questions are transferred back? – Benjol Jan 6 '14 at 9:46

On the new MSE, where will point? Will they be recursive, pointing to the site itself? Or will they link to some sort of cross-SE tag page (does any such page exist?)? Or will they continue linking to SO?

Ideally, you'd do something like:

  • [tag:tag] is recursive, pointing to MSE.
  • [tag-so:tag] is special, and points to SO.
  • All instances of [tag:*] are changed to [tag-so:*] in the initial migration, so links are preserved.
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    They're going to continue to link to wherever they once did, but a lot of them are going to need to be automatically cooked again once updated. We don't yet have a plan on network wide tags (which, if we're going to do something, we should do it for all sites) but [sitename-tag:tagname] is definitely not a horrible idea. – Tim Post Dec 20 '13 at 5:18
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    There is a cross-site SE tag page ... random link: stackexchange.com/filters/113613/favorite-tags – jcolebrand Dec 20 '13 at 16:31
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    I'll add another voice for [sitename-tag:tagname] -- definitely sounds reasonable. (IDK that there would be much need for it - tags are pretty much site-local and should be discussed on the per-site Meta - but if you're going to implement it anyway this method sounds pretty sane) – voretaq7 Jan 10 '14 at 22:35
  • Here's a pretty good syntax proposal: meta.stackexchange.com/a/223752/223030 – michaelb958--GoFundMonica Mar 4 '14 at 22:41
  • I'd add a status-completed here, but I can't any more ;) Good work, guys. I'd complain more about losing my diamond if I'd actually done more work as a mod over the last two years... and if that were true, I suspect y'all would have found a way to let me keep it anyway. – Joel Coehoorn Apr 17 '14 at 16:36

This is still happening. Though we've been quiet here on this thread, things have not been quiet at Stack Exchange. We've gotten a lot of the back end prep work finished, written a bunch of guidance to help ease the transition, and are about to start testing the process to make sure we don't break anything too horribly or lose any precious unicorns when we do the move for real.

I still don't have an official launch date for MSE yet, but we are, in fact, progressing. We didn't feel that there was anything to report here since we couldn't announce an actual date, but it appears that some update was desired, so there you have it.

Six to eight weeks more, I'd say, and then we'll move into our new house.


You didn't completely address the user issue. I assume that like the other per-site metas, the registered users will be those registered on the parent site (so Stack Overflow in this case), but there are probably a fair amount of users of the current Meta SO that aren't registered on Stack Overflow. How will you be handling the current and future users of the two Meta sites?

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    They'll just be two independent sites. If you have an account on Stack Overflow, you'll automatically have one on the new MSO (just like any child meta). If you have an account on MSO but not SO, then you'd just have an account on MSE but not SO, if I understand your question correctly. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 16:55
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    @TinyTim, ok, you understood it right. I think the concern will be in post attribution, we'll end up with a lot more ghost-authored posts. – Lance Roberts Dec 19 '13 at 16:57
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    Good catch, and you might be correct. We're not going to be migrating a whole lot of content back to MSO though, just what's current and relevant, and possibly some historical artifacts that should just stay there, so the problem will be effectively minimized. It is definitely something I'm going to keep in mind. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 17:28
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    And if you already have an SO account and have the Quorum and Convention badges because of MSO, will those go away? I see that the OP says rep and badges will stay intact but I assume that meant on the new MSE. I don't care if I lose those badges on SO, but somebody probably will... – Monica Cellio Mar 4 '14 at 23:10

I want to complain about a suggestion in the above post:

If your question is about a specific site or community, ask on that site's meta site, that goes equally for Stack Overflow.

If your question is about something that concerns the entire network, such as:

  • A bug report or feature request that applies to more than just one site
  • A question about the network, or Stack Exchange in general
  • A question about why we do things a certain way as a network or a proposal to do things as a network differently
  • A question having anything to do with Area 51

On the other child metas, we have suggested that if there is a bug or feature report (see first bullet above) that it should go on the child meta, and then the moderators can tell the community team about migrating it over, or as a community can discuss on meta and suggest it go to MetaSE (we're using that now, deal with it, and have @balpha add it to chat :D)

So basically, I'm suggesting that the first bullet belongs on the previous section, based on previous discussions.

Unless I'm woefully out of date and should turn in my diamond (cold dead hands)

  • Not sure what you mean... as I understand it, Tim means that bug specific to one site should be reported on that site's Meta but if the bug is cross-network or affecting more than one site, it should be reported in MSE. What did I miss? – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 19 '13 at 15:58
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    I'm kinda wondering the same as @ShadowWizard - per site issues belong on per-site metas .. that didn't change. We'll still patrol all meta sites anyway, so if something doesn't go in the right bucket, we'll catch it quick enough. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 16:00
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    Most people don't know what affects multiple sites. – jcolebrand Dec 19 '13 at 16:00
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    @jcolebrand That's fine, and they can ask on the child meta and mods can handle it like they normally would. My post was intended for this audience, who generally do know where to toss what when it comes to network related stuff. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 16:01
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    I'm just saying, encourage people to go through the gatekeepers that ARE their local meta mods. Don't encourage them to go straight to MetaSE. I'm just saying don't encourage them to go straight to MetaSE. I don't encourage anyone to go straight to Meta. Ever. – jcolebrand Dec 19 '13 at 16:01
  • Well at that point @TinyTim if you have to tell this crowd what's the difference, they don't need that advice and should go to local meta anyways :p – jcolebrand Dec 19 '13 at 16:02
  • Let me put it this way: Mrozek would know where to put the issue, you don't need to tell him ;-) – jcolebrand Dec 19 '13 at 16:02
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    Now I'm completely lost. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 16:02
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    +1 Allow me to quote the immortal rchern "Your community is here. It is not expected that you live on Meta Stack Overflow. Bug reports are absolutely valid here." and "Posting on a child meta is absolutely fine! ... I can't stand it when I see a post on a child meta and the first comment is "You should have posted this on MSO". ARGGGGGGGGG" – Hod - Monica's Army Dec 19 '13 at 16:24
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    I think what jcolebrand is meaning to say is that many bug reports will end up on Meta.SO because users experience the bug on a specific site, and may lack the knowledge to post it on the network Meta site. Not sure whether that's a problem though, mods will simply migrate as needed? – Pekka Dec 19 '13 at 16:24
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    I added a "if ever unsure" to the end of that, which I think takes care of it. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 16:33
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    Actually, I took that back out, it's kind of old guidance. We should just handle it when things show up in the wrong place - and not worry so much about it. – Tim Post Dec 19 '13 at 16:53
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    @TRiGisTimothyRichardGreen Ah, yes. I'm pretty sure we're going to be setting up migration paths, but I'm not 100% positive of that. I'd rather wait and just see what happens, and do what feels to be the simplest thing if it becomes an issue (which might just be migration paths). – Tim Post Dec 20 '13 at 6:29
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    This sort of idea would make me sad; meta stack exchange becoming an inner sanctom that regular users weren't supposed to use without authorization from their home mods – Richard Tingle Jan 6 '14 at 8:25
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    @jcolebrand I think you're greatly overestimating how hard it is to use 2 sites and see some common features. – user154510 Jan 10 '14 at 22:11


this is something completely different, and completely new to all of us.

then according to protocol this should first go in beta phase i.e. MSEbeta. And should then have it's official graduation ceremony.

Just curious, how would the new site look like, if it didn't go into beta in it's initial phase (meaning the beta skin)?

And yeah will this question stay in MSO or be moved to MSE?


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