Tl;dr: Replace the migration feature with by-design simultaneous posting questions on multiple sites, with links.
Computer science is a broad field that touches many others. We use programming and mathematics. Our methods and results are used in programming, mathematics, biology, physics and basically any other science or engineering discipline. Naturally, many questions are right on the border between areas or lie firmly within both -- and such questions create problems for Stack Exchange. Which site to post on?
Currently, there are two "solutions":
The deliberate cross-post
Even lazy and deadline-driven homework-dumpers aside, many a question warrants being exposed to experts of more than one area. So, why not crosspost my statistical algorithms question with bioinformatics application on Computer Science, CrossValidated, Computational Science and Biology?
The migration odyssey
Being mindful of the network-wide "don't crosspost"-policy, you pick one of the sites your question might be a good fit for. Depending on your chosen focus and wording (and the mood of the reviewers of the day), your questions flies or -- and that's the issue -- is migrated to one of the other maybe fitting sites. Iterate until frustration peaks.
I'm sure computer science is but one example for this, but it is a good one: the sheer number of existing and proposed (on Area 51) sites dedicated to fields that are part of or have significant overlap with CS is conclusive proof that people are unsure where to pitch their tents with some of their questions. This effect is not limited to computer science, either.
When I browse the list of SE sites, I can imagine that, for instance, History has overlap with all the religion sites; Academia with Workplace and all the science sites; Mathematics Educators with the other sites (plural!) about mathematics; Physical Fitness with Sports and Bicycles and probably even Seasoned Advice; AskUbuntu with Unix & Linux and SuperUser.
My proposal derives directly from this observation, namely that many questions fit more than one site. It is this:
Make it possible to (virtually) post questions to multiple sites at once and connect the instances.
In detail, this is how I think this would work (all subject to discussion):
- As has always been the case, user Jane selects site A she thinks fits her question. She chooses a title, writes up her post and selects some tags.
- Optional: A data-driven miracle occurs: the system detects that the question may fit more than one site! It proposes, "Your question may be ontopic for sites B, C and D; do you want to mirror your question there?"
It'd be great if it could work (e.g. via tags that exist on multiple sites, comparing only such with existing migration paths?) but I'd rather not have it if it's crap.
- Jane thinks sites B and D might work as well (she didn't even know D existed!) and checks them; C is too far away in her estimation.
- One post is created and published on all of A, B and D.
- Moderator John on A comes up with a better title and 10k user Susan on D fixes a formula; these edits are shared across all sites. Tag edits remain local, of course.
- Community votes on B close the question as offtopic; the other instances are not affected but no longer link to the closed one on B.
- Moderator Lisa on D thinks the question might merit from being on E, too. She "migrates" the question, but decides to keep the D-copy around. The community on E decides to keep the question as well.
- Helpful users post answers on A, D and E, all of which are shown on all three sites (with an icon indicating their origin). Jane is excited; the combination of perspectives solves her problem more completely than any one site could have managed alone.
- Users reading the question on either site are exposed to other perspectives and learn, both about the subject matter and the other sites' scopes (which enables them to migrate better in the future).
As I said, discussion is definitely in order, and I deliberately do not touch some issues (e.g. which vote can be cast where and gives reputation where). However, I think that a feature that follows along these lines
- solves the problems I outline above,
- changes little in terms of using SE (closing and migrating already exist; the rest is sugar) but also
- lets each community remain in full control of their scope.
But crossposting is bad!
Is it, really? The "official" FAQ accepted answer does not give any justification, and several commenters echo my concerns. The only real argument I have found so far is this:
Crossposting wastes time because of redundant answers and/or moderation actions.
My proposal mostly circumvents this; only site-specific moderation is duplicated (but it would also be with the close-repost workaround).
Please consider this and put an end to network fragmentation due to ever narrower Area 51 proposals. Let us embrace interdisciplinarity!