Don't Migrate Crap

This is the golden rule of migrations. And we do it far too often. I'll even admit to it. It's sometimes difficult to justify to one's self to spend more time drafting a custom off topic reason to say it when it is more work than the OP has spent putting into writing the question.

This question is off topic on Programmers. It would best be asked on Stack Overflow, however, the question doesn't meet their minimum requirements. Please read the Stack Overflow question checklist and [edit] your question to make it suitable for migration.

(sometimes looking that up takes more effort than just close > off topic > elsewhere > belongs on Stack Overflow)

Still, we need to not migrate crap.

One approach would be to put this as a custom off topic reason for various sites. Some sites have already filled up their custom reasons and getting another one involves begging SE to expand the count on a per-site basis.

The proposal: Add another migration 'path' to all sites - just like that the meta migration path always exists on all sites. This 'path' would be:

This question would be better asked on another Stack Exchange site, but it is not of sufficient quality to be migrated to that site.

(I welcome any wordsmiths to improve the wording of this)

This path would be found in the migration dialog that would give a person some pause to think about "is this crap?" Once they got to the "belongs on ${site}" dialog in the close vote wizard. The presence of this would then give them a way to close the question without selecting a site where it will get closed and rejected, or going back a few levels and drafting a custom message (or using 'unclear' as a proxy for a not high enough quality for migration).

  • 5
    If a question is not of sufficient quality to be migrated to some site, then it does not belong on that site. There's a difference between topicality and suitability. (And I'm still not all too happy that "off-topic" is currently being used for things that simply don't fit the definition of topicality 1 2.) Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:21
  • @Vogel612 the reason that bit of text shouldn't be there is the message should be agnostic to the site. The only help center that would be known would be the current site's help center which isn't always useful in saying it should be migrated elsewhere.
    – user213963
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:26
  • @MichaelT The how to ask help is largely generic across SE-Network from what I saw until now... Sure you'd need to refer to the current site How-To-Ask, but I think that the "minimum requirements" are somewhat the same on every site here.... Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:28
  • 1
    But I thought since the recent close vote reason change on SO, we're not supposed to close based on low quality (excepting V LQ); we're supposed to edit-into-shape (if we're feeling virtuous), or downvote and walk away (if we're not). While I personally would like there to be an SE-wide "Oh, just go away" close reason, I suspect we're not going to get one.
    – AakashM
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:32
  • @AakashM I smell a discussion, well you got me on the "Get lost!" close-reason, though we should maybe restrict it to Mods / Diamonds. Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:34
  • 1
    @AakashM I shouldn't migrate a question that is "how do I write the codez for this?" to SO. Its not on topic at all on P.SE because code questions are always off topic there. Its also closable on SO as unclear, or lacking an MVCE or a typographic error (if its a debugging question). If it was edited into the proper shape to not get closed as one of those, then it could get migrated... but it doesn't belong on P.SE at all in any way shape or form.
    – user213963
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:35
  • However, these migrations of "question and code dump" do get migrated. And that is where this close reason on the migration page should give help. Also note that it tries to instruct the OP not to continue asking this type of question on that site because it really doesn't belong and will continue to get closed (and is more work for us to close it, try to get them to edit it, and then get a mod to reopen and migrate it).
    – user213963
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:38
  • 1
    So what you're saying is we need a new reason for closing that clearly and unambiguously communicates that the OP put in insufficient effort? Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:56
  • @LawrenceDol that the origin site is unsure if the question would be a rejected migration and feels that it needs to meet a higher standard before migration. It doesn't matter if I'm migrating to SO, or UX, or Math or CS if the question would get closed there for whatever reason.
    – user213963
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:57
  • @Michael: Sorry, I was being a little tongue-in-cheek; I've long felt, like Aakash, that we need an "Oh, just stop it already!" reason to close. Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:59
  • 2
    related (almost a dupe): Can we try to dissuade some bad migrations by adding the “first rule” to the dialog?
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


Alternative message suggestion:

This question belongs on {hyperlink to other site} but is currently not of sufficient quality to be migrated there. Please read {site name}'s {link site's /help/on-topic}, {link site's help/dont-ask}, and {link site's /help/how-to-ask} for more information.

I envision this as a checkbox on the migration tab. If checked (or unchecked), it would take the proposed target site and link to them and the relevant parts of their help centre so they know what is expected from them on the site where it's on-topic and not migrate the question.

There are problems with this approach, and a more generic solution like the one in the question may be preferred to prevent users from suggesting sites they don't understand (something that is done in comments today). We don't want users to be directed to inappropriate sites.

  • 4
    Some users may also ignore the quality part and just post on the other site with whatever they have. If the same happens when someone recommends another site in the comments of the question, then it could happen here as well. Perhaps the recommended site shouldn't even be mentioned until the question is fit for migration (if it's otherwise on-topic there). This hits close to home as it's a problem for Code Review with questions on SO.
    – Jamal
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:32
  • @Jamal As if the sheer amount of people that sees a OT-crap question would all let it slip past, without mentioning another site, where it might probably be on-topic... Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:36
  • 14
    @Jamal That happens now with comments, except more people can leave comments just directing a user to a site without even linking to their help center or understanding that site and what they expect. The biggest advantage of this is that it moves this out of the comments into a consensus thing (instead of one person posting a site) and provides direct guidance from the target's help center. I don't think anyone can stop people from blindly copy/pasting unless the issue with comments was also addressed. Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:38
  • 1
    @ThomasOwens: I agree with this, especially if it can be done in place of these comments (biggest point is that the help center will be linked). Though, even if more people are aware of this (if it takes effect), some may still add comments. But if there's less of that, then that's still good.
    – Jamal
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:42
  • 1
    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/215054/…
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 16:47
  • @Jamal I totally agree with you. If we had a efficient filter in place, it would be no issue. I've major issues just with a normal comment, but having the system do it automatically is just asking for pure chaos. Commented May 30, 2014 at 14:49
  • Clarified the possible message.
    – bzr
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 19:06

The Programming Puzzles and Code Golf community faced a similar situation. We began with this close reason:

General programming questions are off-topic here, but can be asked on Stack Overflow.

We were using this close reason far too often on "crap", and we decided to fix it. We looked to Stack Overflow for inspiration, and arrived at a new close reason:

This site is for programming contests and challenges. General programming questions are off-topic here. You may be able to get help on Stack Overflow.

We opted not to mention quality, and instead go for a non-committal phrasing. If you browse through the other answers on that meta post, you'll find that one of the popular answers did mention the high quality standards of Stack Overflow. You'll also find my little suggestion at the bottom, which doesn't mention Stack Overflow at all.

  • One challenge that other sites have is that if they've already used their three close reasons on other things, they don't have a spare one for "off topic here, on topic over there, would still get closed for other reasons." Sometimes this gets headed off with a custom close reason (a pain to type), or a 'unclear' as a way to head off people who would otherwise have the tendency to click off topic, other site, stack overflow to punt the question for another site to deal with. This is also chiefly an issue for sites that have migration paths other than to their own meta.
    – user213963
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 14:19
  • ... Consider if you ever got a CodeGolf -> StackOverflow default migration path. You would need to make sure that you aren't migrating the 'homework statement and some broken code' questions there that would get closed for 'not enough information for debugging' on Stack Overflow. Those are the ones that this suggestion targets - to squash rejected migrations from regular users.
    – user213963
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 14:20
  • @MichaelT I didn't understand the difference between "default migration paths" and "the three custom close reasons" until your comment prompted me to do some research. I think now that I posted in the wrong place. Do you have a suggestion for what I should do? I believe there is one small nugget of useful/relevant information in my otherwise mostly off topic answer.
    – Rainbolt
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 14:35
  • I suggest you leave it. Adding additional custom close slots (above the three) for sites could be a way to elevate this issue if the communities of those sites wish to use it as such.
    – user213963
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 14:43

You must log in to answer this question.