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For every close reason, we provide an avenue for reopening. Not so for migrations.

In a recent example, I migrated a question that fit the stated guidelines for Software Recommendations a lot better than it fit Stack Overflow's model. I didn't choose Programmers because it was a question centered around requesting software.

The question was rejected for migration because it did not fit SR.SE's requirements to a T:

We only deal in recommendations with a defined goal (check) and specific requirements (fail). This looks more like Programmers material to me — solving a social problem which is specific to programming. – Gilles 15 mins ago

My issue is that the user is much closer to having a chance for a viable question on SR than they are on SO, but since the question was rejected they don't even have a chance to fix their question to better fit SR guidelines.

Migrations are a way to make the entire network work well together.

The current method of begging other mods to migrate questions and have them only accept questions that are 100% perfect creates too much overhead in the wrong place. If we care about helping users around the network, we should be opening doors, not closing them.

As a Stack Overflow mod, if I put a question on hold I do my damnedest to make sure they know if this question could ever be reopened on SO, and how. With migrations, it feels like they don't get that opportunity because of the migration rejection.

I'm not talking about blatantly offtopic things, like postung a recipe on travel.SE, I'm talking about questions that just need a little work to be great questions on the target site.

Proposal: allow questions that are migrated the same 5 day on hold period during which time the user has the ability to edit and fix their question on the target site before kicking the question away.

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    Maybe the whole migration thing should just be killed outright. – ale Feb 28 '14 at 0:57
  • It's not just “did not fit SR.SE's requirements to a T” — that question fits on SR like a question about installing Word fits on SO. – Gilles Feb 28 '14 at 1:08
  • @AlE. Migration is primarily useful for answered questions that are only detected to be off-topic after the fact. And then they're often not doable because of the time limitation (which is complete nonsense) or excessive voting. – Gilles Feb 28 '14 at 1:09
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    @Gilles If that's so, your comment should say so. Based on reading your FAQ and reading your comment, it just needs a little sprucing up. Do you have some hidden requirements? – George Stocker Feb 28 '14 at 1:10
  • So is your proposal to not lock rejected migrations for 5 days? Because I think I'd be in favor of that (I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of locking the original is in the first place, if it is rejected by the target site). – Robert Harvey Feb 28 '14 at 1:14
  • @RobertHarvey Yes. Don't lock it, and don't 'reject' it. The close reason should state why it's "On hold" and what can be done to re-open it. Again, this is for questions that are mostly there. Questions that are extremely offtopic still have the typical moderator override. – George Stocker Feb 28 '14 at 1:15
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First off, don't migrate things to beta sites. Just don't.

Ok, if it's blatantly off-topic where it was asked, a shining example to the world of a bomb-ass question and you're 110% certain it'll be well-received where it lands... Yeah, just don't migrate to beta sites.

That out of the way... Generally, moderators shouldn't be the gate-keepers for a site. A well-run site with a thriving community will have a host of active users who can close, edit and comment, working to salvage any worthwhile questions that come their way. Of course, beta sites are not generally thriving communities with hosts of active, moderating users - see above...

With all that out of the way, all that's really needed to "fix" the current migration system is a message in the "off topic" banner on rejected questions noting the site where the close voters thought it was on-topic. Anything more complicated than that is a waste of effort, IMHO - only something like 60% of askers even follow their questions to the destination site anyway, and a much smaller number will ever put any effort into fixing them if they're closed.

Disclaimer: I'm stating a general policy here, guidance that should be followed in most situations - but if you know better in a specific case, then ignore it. That said, if you're not confident enough to migrate without asking a moderator on the destination site, you're not confident enough to ignore this guidance.

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    "Dont' migrate things to beta sites." That seems like a shortsighted policy (no offense intended). First: Having too much traffic is a champagne problem. Beta sites seem to be fighting for every bit of traffic they can get. Second: Good content should be welcome no matter the site's age. Given the crap content I see day in and day out on Stack Overflow, this SR migratee question was a gem. It wasn't good on Stack Overflow (it just doesn't fit our format, and can't based on what they want), but it wasn't so bad that it shouldn't at least be tweaked on SR. – George Stocker Feb 28 '14 at 1:05
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    I disagree with the “don't migrate things to beta sites” schtick. It needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis. For example, a community migration path from Theoretical Computer Science to Computer Science would be just fine — the source community by and large knows what's a good question that's just not material for the source site. I'm against migrations to SR for now because SR's problem is quality, not quantity, and we're still very young and have boundaries that are still malleable. – Gilles Feb 28 '14 at 1:05
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    @Shog9 It's easier for me as a moderator to just decline a migration flag than it is to ping a mod, ask them, get an answer, and then migrate. It's almost as easy for me to migrate it as it is to decline the flag and just close the question. It's not good for our image (or the user who has the question) to decline it, and it's a lot of unnecessary work when we have migration paths in place for me to have to do manual synchronous work to make sure to get "Mother May I" before migrating. All I'm asking is that we treat migrations better when they need a little work. – George Stocker Feb 28 '14 at 1:08
  • Standard disclaimers apply: I'm stating a general policy here, guidance that should be followed in most situations - but if you know better in a specific case, then ignore it. That said, if you're not confident enough to migrate without asking a moderator on the destination site, you're not confident enough to ignore this guidance. – Shog9 Feb 28 '14 at 1:08
  • @GeorgeStocker In general, you should not ping a mod — but you need to be a bit more familiar with the site than the name. For example, if you don't know the difference between Computer Science and Computational Science, don't migrate there unless requested by a regular of the target site. – Gilles Feb 28 '14 at 1:11
  • @Gilles See my comment in the question. According to what I read on SR and your comment in the question, it was a mostly good fit. Heck, if we should only migrate those things that should be accepted, why even have a rejection path? – George Stocker Feb 28 '14 at 1:12
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    If the mods on the destination site would rather slam the door in someone's face than fix some trivial problem, it's their own feet they're shooting, @George. I'd strongly prefer you just declined migrations to beta sites - particularly early beta sites - since they generally cause more problems than they solve, but if you feel strongly in a specific case then send it over and wash your hands of it; ain't worth wasting any further time on it. – Shog9 Feb 28 '14 at 1:13
  • Not exactly a ringing endorsement of migrations there, @Lower! I do prefer the folks who leave comments - this gives the asker a chance to look around and learn something about the local culture before putting his feet on the ground, so to speak. – Shog9 Feb 28 '14 at 2:33
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You're not begging mods to migrate - you're checking with them to see if it's on topic. If you aren't sure, it's not going to hurt to ask. SU, SF and AU do this, and it works surprisingly well. SF has removed SO from the auto migrate list, and SU has occasionally had to politely remind people not to migrate things, so not asking works less well.

If it's a site you're active on, and you know what's on topic there - and this should be the majority of migrations, it's fine. If it's not, it's useful to check - if not with a mod, with chatroom regulars, just to make sure it suits the place. The overhead only really is needed for exceptions where it's not really here nor there.

If you're going to throw a question over the wall, getting it thrown back is a very real possibility.

You shouldn't be migrating things to beta sites anyway

  • You've hit on the problem. If you've got a question that is 80% of the way there, it creates a lot more friction to say, "No", than it does to say, "Hey, let's send it, put it on hold, but give the user a chance to fix that remaining 20%". Heck, I'd kill for an 80% question on Stack Overflow. That's what my point is about -- the process is too rigid and doesn't allow for recourse the same way our other close reasons do. – George Stocker Feb 28 '14 at 0:57
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    Well... First of all, I don't ask. The whole point of rejected migrations is to kick the question back to its origin without any further debate. If I read the Help Center of the target site, decide that a question is on-topic and migrate it, but it gets closed on the target site, then that is a problem with their Help Center being unclear about their scope. I don't really mind if it gets thrown back over the wall. – Robert Harvey Feb 28 '14 at 0:57
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    The "Don't migrate to a beta site" mantra has always seemed backwards to me. "WAIT, Don't you dare send us traffic or content! We don't want that!" – George Stocker Feb 28 '14 at 0:57
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    Secondly, if I abided by the "don't migrate to beta site" rule, I would seldom migrate anything. Many of my migrations and suggested migrations are to Code Review and The Workplace, both of which are in beta, both of which could benefit from good content posted to the wrong place. The migration rejection acts as a safety valve in those cases. – Robert Harvey Feb 28 '14 at 0:59
  • @GeorgeStocker Keep in mind the size ratio between established sites, especially SO, and young betas. What is an imperceptible trickle of posts from SO can overwhelm a beta site. Add to this the tendency of sites to tolerate good off-topic content and only push for migration stuff that's dodgy: you're pushing the worst stuff out. I'm not fundamentally against migrations to beta sites (for example, I encourage migrating decent CS questions to Computer Science), but they need to remain under control. SR is still very young and needs time to find its bearings and grow organically. – Gilles Feb 28 '14 at 1:02
  • @Gilles: Content can only be migrated to beta sites by a mod; I can't speak for all of the mods on the SE network, but there's universal agreement among the SO mods that we Don't Migrate Crap.™ I don't personally migrate anything to SR because I don't think its scope has stabilized yet. – Robert Harvey Feb 28 '14 at 1:08

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