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Currently, when we try to migrate a question but the asking user is blocked from asking questions on the target site, the system closes the question anyway. It always picks the blanket "this is offtopic, see [faq]" message.

This may not be the most appropriate one, though; we have custom offtopic close reasons now, after all. Please take us back to the closing dialog if the user is blocked, and let us choose another close reason.

  • Does clearing migration history let you change it? – Kevin Feb 28 '15 at 17:13
  • @Kevin Maybe, but that would be even more hassle reopen/reclose or commenting. – Raphael Feb 28 '15 at 19:08
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    Why does the migration being blocked change the reason why a post is off-topic? It should not depend on the user that asked the question! – Martijn Pieters Feb 28 '15 at 19:41
  • Why can't you just delete it then? Why does it have to stick around when it wasn't right to stay on the site in the first place? – random Feb 28 '15 at 19:45
  • @MartijnPieters It didn't change -- it's offtopic. But there's more than one offtopic reason/message. – Raphael Feb 28 '15 at 23:31
  • @random For the same reason we don't delete bad questions before they have been closed for some time. Feedback, chance for improvement. – Raphael Feb 28 '15 at 23:32
  • What chance for improvement was there on the origin site if you sent it off to another place? – random Mar 1 '15 at 0:19
  • @random I can, again, only speak in examples. Sometimes, a question may be close to the border between programming and computer science, and the user may (after our) prompt move it over to our scope. Or we misread, and the question was about CS but expressed in programming terms so our trigger finger reacted preemptively. Granted, that does not happen often, but it happens. That said, if nothing else than closed questions should be around for some days for community members to see and learn. – Raphael Mar 1 '15 at 12:39
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This should never be necessary. You should only ever be migrating a question that is a good, on-topic question for the other site. That means none of the other close reasons should be able to be applied to it.

If one of the other close reasons does apply to it, then you shouldn't be voting to migrate it. Just vote to close the question for that reason and, if you feel like being helpful, direct them to the other site where they could re-post the question after they've fixed the issues with it (which probably wouldn't help much for a user that's question blocked there). There's nothing wrong with re-posting a new, better question to another site if it was off-topic for one, and there's no reason that the very original question needs to be fixed then migrated or migrated then fixed. Migration is not an absolute requirement in the process.

The off-topic reason is automatically chosen because by migrating the question you are saying that the question is off-topic for our site. If the migration gets blocked, the question should still be off-topic.

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    Your assumptions are wrong since the introduction of custom, offtopic close reasons. For instance, on Computer Science we have a custom close reason for closing programming questions (mostly for when they are too bad for migration, or we are not sure they are welcome on Stack Overflow). When migration to Stack Overflow fails, that's the one that I want to use. – Raphael Feb 28 '15 at 16:31
  • That still is not necessary. If the asker is question blocked on Stack Overflow, then explicitly using a custom off-topic reason that mentions Stack Overflow is unnecessary. They know about Stack Overflow and they know they could have asked their question there. – animuson Feb 28 '15 at 16:32
  • The message also specifically addresses that we don't do programming on Computer Science. But well, that's just an example. My point is, your reasoning is flawed from the beginning -- the basic offtopic closing message is not automatically the most appropriate -- so you don't make a valid point against the request. – Raphael Feb 28 '15 at 16:36
  • Off-topic is the most appropriate reason, though. Whether a sub-reason shows is really not important enough to kick moderators back down to the dialog to have to choose the reason over again. I would suggest just posting a comment, which is in-line with how sites who don't have a custom off-topic reason for that scenario would have to go (off-topic > custom > type reason). – animuson Feb 28 '15 at 16:39
  • Well, as a moderator I dislike having to reopen/reclose or write an obsolete comment more than I would being taken back to picking a new offtopic close reason (which would mean only two clicks). – Raphael Feb 28 '15 at 16:41
  • Tbh reopening and closing again is probably a bad approach to the situation either way. But if you know the user is blocked on the other site and they explicitly came to you and asked an off-topic question, call them out on it. Something like: "Please do not come here to ask your programming questions because you are blocked on Stack Overflow." We used to do this on Meta SO all the time, even when we had the custom off-topic reasons. You can't put that in a custom off-topic reason. – animuson Feb 28 '15 at 16:45
  • Afaik, users being blocked is private information. I don't see a reason (or a mandate) do announce that publicly. In fact, the moderator statutes pretty much say that mod-only information should remain such. (I seem to remember a meta post somewhere to that effect.) – Raphael Feb 28 '15 at 16:47
  • Question blocks are not private information. We don't go around telling anyone who wants to know who is blocked from asking questions, but if a user is going to other sites to ask off-topic questions because they are blocked, there's nothing wrong with mentioning it in a comment and telling them to stop. The only thing you should never ever post in public is personally identifiable information (email, IP, etc). – animuson Feb 28 '15 at 16:51
  • This really isn't necessary. If a user posted a programming question on Computer Science or somewhere else precisely because they were banned on Stack Overflow then they know full well what they are doing and don't really need additional guidance beyond "you can't do that." We see these sorts of questions on Server Fault all the time, unfortunately. Notably, for the most part we don't attempt to migrate them. – Michael Hampton Feb 28 '15 at 17:03
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I see where you're coming from. It always bugs me when circumstances change in one way or another, and a close reason (user- or system-placed) is no longer (or never was) the best or most relevant one.

But I fear I agree with other people. This is such an edge-case, at best, and probably should never even happen, that I don't think we need first class support in the Stack Exchange engine for doing it.

I would, however, support a modification to this system, wherein the question isn't closed automatically, and we just get an alert saying we can't migrate there. Granted, admittedly, I've never had this happen, so I'm not sure how much of a priority it needs to be. Typically, I suspect, users who've received question bans probably don't ask awesome questions that are deserving of migration. But of course, yes, some users improve, so I do understand the cases when you'd want to do this.

To add onto that, though, I think the best thing you can do is write a comment. I tend to write a lot of comments to people in my day-to-day moderating routines, and I think this is a good time, if you feel strongly, to do it. The only real difference between a close reason and a comment comes in analytics--analytics that we currently don't have access to. And again, this shouldn't be happening enough to cause any bad data down the road.

But if you're worried about teaching users how to use the site (which I like to think most of us, particularly on smaller sites, are), sometimes I find it appropriate to actually copy a custom close reason verbatim into a comment, which works. More often, I write something myself that goes over the key points. My decision to not leave a comment, copy a close reason, or write my own, would generally just be a subjective call on whether I think the user is actually listening and looking to improve. It's also up to you based on their involvement whether you want to publicly announce their question ban in that comment. I'd probably default against it, unless the user was being very troublesome or was clearly trying to avoid that very ban by posting on my site.

Of course, on the subject of whether they're willing to improve, sometimes leaving a comment and just deleting the post is actually the best way to go. They probably won't be learning anything new from it, particularly if they were using your site as a means to avoid a question-ban on another site.

Ultimately, I think commenting is the best work-around for this. There's no need to alter the closing system for such an edge-case, when we already have the ability to speak with users and provide criticisms on their posts.

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