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We just had a question pop-up at Arqade that was pretty off-topic. It's a game development question, but what little I understand about GameDev is that they don't accept, "How do I get started?" questions, either.

So I was a bit surprised to see one of our mods just up and send it to GameDev. And not at all surprised when it was punted back just as quickly. When asked about this in chat, we're hearing that mods are supposed to be less stingy about migrations, and can't talk about it. Is this new initiative public at all? Arqade's policy includes not migrating (or recommending the asker ask) questions we know aren't on-topic on the suggested site, so this new effort seems to directly conflict with what we believe we should be doing.

Is this something that can be made known to us users? If not, is there a reason it's being kept secret, and community and SE policy that contradict each other? If there's something new happening that our mods are in the know, but we're not, it doesn't really help the community shape the process.

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  • There's almost nothing that we keep secret. I don't think there have been any changes to the migration policy lately, but I've passed this along to the community managers so someone can post a proper response. Everyone should be on the same page, and we're clearly not for the moment.
    – Laura
    Oct 23 '14 at 19:39
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    "still won't be our problem" -- hmm. Too many rejected migrations and site will be thrown out of the standard targets list. After users and moderators find out how it is to migrate via mod flags, well they probably reconsider whether it's a problem
    – gnat
    Oct 23 '14 at 20:47
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    The "don't recommend" by other users is often coupled with a "... because then the OP will just repost the question when its closed." If its closed because its crap, that just leads to two crap questions not he network. If it isn't closed, it means more work for the mods at the target to dup and merge. Its often easiest and less impacting to just flag it and let the mods handle the migration.
    – user213963
    Oct 23 '14 at 23:41
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There's only two major rules we have for policy on migration. The one, cited already by Mad Scientist, is Don't migrate crap. Closely related, primarily more of import to moderators who can migrate anywhere, is respect the community, yours and others, summarized in the blog post I just provided from Shog9.

Completely and totally unrelated to all of this above, there's been this "migration askenizing" business where moderators are scared to migrate unless they get approval from the other side, or similar. And basically there's a huge amount of time wasted on all sides for... often no good reason as a basic idea of "Don't migrate crap", "don't migrate stuff that fits where it is and is answered", "migrate if it is off topic on your site and looks like a really good and valuable question that looks like it'll fit on the target site", and "don't migrate crap" all would conclude the decision. The amount of time lost in having one or two questions sent over on a very rare basis only to get rejected is far, far less on all sides than having to quibble on each thing that the comes up which might possibly maybe work if migrated.

To deal with this, we (primarily Shog9, really) occasionally drop by the Teacher's Lounge and remind people about not to waste time with migration inquiries and maintain all the general logical rules about migration. This "less stingy about migrations" isn't new, it's guidance that's basically being passed continually over the last two and a half years.

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    I've heard mention of a third rule that is approximately "If the OP asks for it to be migrated, do it." The idea being that if the OP (when flagging it) doesn't get it migrated, they're likely to repost it which just leads to fragmented questions. That said, I might have misunderstood it.
    – user213963
    Oct 23 '14 at 23:39
  • @MichaelT If the original copy doesn't have any answers on it or anything worth migrating in the first place, it's a lot less mess for them to just repost. If there were answers to begin with worth preserving, that would qualify as a logical migration without needing the asker's request.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Oct 24 '14 at 1:49
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    The key being delete and repost. I've too often seen it without the delete (leading to fractured answers). And often the question includes comments which can be useful for not having to re-ask those clarifications.
    – user213963
    Oct 24 '14 at 1:51
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The new policy, which isn't really new but has been emphasized again recently, is that we shouldn't worry too much about migrations. Asking the mods of the target site before migrating is pretty noisy in the Teacher's Lounge and can be rather annoying when no moderator is currently online. It is also a method that doesn't really scale all that well, and was established at a time where migrations couldn't be rejected easily (it was necessary to act on both ends to actually reverse a migration).

Now that migrations can be rejected by the community simply by closing the question, bad migrations are much, much less of a deal than they used to be. This means that we shouldn't worry too much about getting it wrong, and we shouldn't be bothered all that much if we receive a bad migration.

That said, the old "don't migrate crap" rule is still in effect. Questions that would be clearly off-topic on most sites, or that fall under the other common close rules should not be migrated. Moderators should generally know the major off-topic rules of a target site they frequently migrate to, but for many sites migrations are so rare that this doesn't really happen automatically.

The question that triggered this was clearly a recommendation question, and those are off-topic on most SE sites. So I wouldn't have migrated it for this reason alone, but it is also not that much of a deal that it was migrated in this case, the community on the target site can easily deal with this.

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    This is the answer. And there's nothing secret about it, other than perhaps the fact that I've been repeating roughly the same guidance for 2.5 years and folks are still ignoring it. The public statement is here: blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/03/…
    – Shog9
    Oct 23 '14 at 20:36
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    "is that we shouldn't worry too much about migrations" but @Shog9, you know how hard is closing a question in any site, why making their workload more unbearable?
    – Braiam
    Oct 24 '14 at 1:20
  • @Braiam Shog likely doesn't know how hard it is, his favorite site is SO which doesn't have problem quickly closing questions
    – gnat
    Oct 24 '14 at 8:19
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    Bad migrations are rarely a significant addition to the workload on any site, @Braiam. Be sure to check /tools/posts/migrated/stats before worrying. A big part of my frustration with the "horse trading" that likes to happen between mods is that it ends up costing more time and involving more people than just closing/deleting mistakes would - IOW, the cure is worse than the disease.
    – Shog9
    Oct 24 '14 at 16:05

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