The system in place for migrating questions on Stack Exchange is confusing and overly-complicated. But don't just take my word for it: go use it for a few years, try getting a bunch of decent questions asked on the wrong site onto the right sites reliably and without migrating a bunch of stuff that shouldn't be moved.
No, really: if you don't already know what I'm talking about, stop reading right now and go learn. Or at least, stop reading and go read all this stuff.
Still here? Cool. Then you know how much of a beast this thing is. But I'll summarize it anyway so we're all on the same page:
- There are at most 5 migration paths defined for any site, and one of them is always meta. If the site you need isn't on that list, tough cookies.
- To even get a site onto that list, you have to petition The Community Managers. And we're all bastards who think you're up to no good and will stonewall you as long as possible. Well, I am anyway. If you're on a beta site or asking for a path pointing to a beta site, I'll laugh right in your face. Even if the site has been in beta for 3 years.
- Even when the site you want is on the list, you have to get at least 2 other people to agree with you and vote to migrate the question there. Three other people if you're on Stack Overflow. If you're even one vote short, the question won't get migrated - it'll just get closed as Off Topic, probably with a really generic description that doesn't even hint that there's another site where the question could be asked without any trouble.
- If you decide to be a good guy and leave a comment pointing the asker to another site (in case the question doesn't get enough votes and is just closed as OT), and the asker goes and posts there, and then the question gets migrated anyway... You just contributed to an exact duplicate on another site and the mods there are probably saying really mean things about you behind your back.
- Some sites get so many off-topic questions that are nominally on-topic elsewhere but which are too poorly-asked to migrate that they have custom Off Topic reasons defined that point to the same sites in their list of migration targets. Not only is this confusing, it can result in folks using one when they mean to use the other, and then wondering why the question wasn't migrated.
Let's add an optional "migrate to" field to site-specific off-topic reasons
Site moderators are already able to define custom off-topic reasons. Let's give them the ability to also associate a "destination site" with these reasons:
(There's been a bit of confusion here... This is the UI in which moderators create site-specific off-topic reasons, not the "other" field shown to folks voting to close)
If enough voters choose that reason (4 on SO, 3 everywhere else) the question is migrated; if >= 2 but <3 choose it, no migration happens but the explanatory text is still displayed below the question for the benefit of the asker:
This is a much more helpful experience for askers, and not only does this put a site's moderators (and by extension, community) in charge of which sites they can migrate to, it gives them the ability to identify - in the close reason itself - specific reasons for migration.
the number of available off-topic reason slots would need to be increased somewhat to make up for the loss of off-topic migration slots.
Using heuristics beyond simply the number of close-votes when deciding whether or not to migrate would be an interesting way to build "don't migrate crap" into the system itself.
Guess what? That idea for putting migrated questions in some sort of limbo / review queue has been proposed many, many times before. Go read (and contribute to) those discussions if you're really interested in that; I'm not interested in re-hashing the same stupid argument in every single thread that mentions "migrate". Oh yeah - go propose "let's put all questions from new users into limbo" while you're at it. Have fun.
There are no plans to actually implement this in the near future; it was one of the things on my list from last year that I never got around to writing up, so I'm throwing it up now so that folks who are interested can discuss or help refine the idea. Which, if you haven't gathered yet, is why I'm trying to limit the discussion to stuff that hasn't already been discussed 9000 times. Kthxbye.