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If you connect the phrasing of the several steps in the migration dialog, you get:

This question is offtopic because it belongs on x.SE.

These days, there are many sites with overlapping scopes so this reasoning is plain wrong; it only makes sense if scopes are disjoint.

In fact, there is no justification to put migration under "offtopic" at all; we can migrate perfectly ontopic questions (upon user request) because they may get more attention and/or better answers on another site it is ontopic on.
I would even argue that the current placement in the dialog hides migration; non-veteran community members may struggle to find the option when looking at an ontopic question.

Therefore, I propose to move migration to the top-most level of the closing dialog (or give it its own link/dialog) and communicate something like:

We migrate this question to x.SE because it may get better answers there.

We can always tell authors of truly offtopic questions so in a comment.

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    I feel like your suggested alternate migration message has problems of its own. It doesn't address the problem that the current message does address - questions that are posted entirely on the wrong SE site. It's also counter to the fact that SE sites aren't supposed to overlap at all, but you are right that certain sites have a considerably large 'grey space' between them that should be addressed in the migration message, regardless of which site is being migrated to, and from which site the migration takes place.
    – Zibbobz
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:17
  • @Zibbobz 1) Well, the new message is not false in that case. But true, it's not as strong as it could be for those. We could keep both, I guess? 2) That has stopped being true years ago. The fact is that we have heavily overlapping scopes between sites. I give a couple of examples here.
    – Raphael
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:20

2 Answers 2

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A community should not migrate questions that are on-topic just because there's some other site where they're also on-topic. If the OP wants to migrate then he can request that, but nobody else needs a "migrate but not off-topic" option.

The wording is problematic, though, because (as you note) it implies that a question can only belong on one site. We should keep the option under off-topic (the only reason you should be voting to migrate in the first place) and change the text to:

This question is off-topic. It should be migrated to x.SE.

Remove the implied causality. The first determination is that it doesn't belong here. Then, make a suggestion about where to send it.

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  • And where do we put ontopic -> ontopic migrations? They are a thing. When you say "should not", I'd say, "should not lightly". For instance, we'll let such questions sit for a while and if nobody can help the OP, we'd like to migrate. If it's not in the "close" menu, how can we expect community moderators to initiate something like that?
    – Raphael
    Jun 8, 2015 at 15:53
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    The way you do that is to convince the OP to request migration. The community shouldn't do it if the OP isn't onboard (it is on-topic there, after all). So get the OP involved in the decision and then he can request it and you needn't vote at all. Jun 8, 2015 at 15:55
  • They'd have to use the flag -> offtopic -> ... path, too, which would be equally confusing. Even more so, since we'd tell the novice to navigate that path.
    – Raphael
    Jun 8, 2015 at 16:01
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    They wouldn't. Most migration requests I've received from the original posters have come via custom flags. Chances are they can't select the destination site anyway, so they need a mod assist. Jun 8, 2015 at 17:10
  • Well, maybe they would use the correct flags (if a migration path is available, at least) if the option were easier to find. ;)
    – Raphael
    Jun 8, 2015 at 17:51
  • The people who have flagged their own questions for migration on my sites have not had trouble doing that. That's because they don't use the close reason for that. As I've already said, that wouldn't work anyway. As for everybody else, as I've already said, if the question is on-topic you don't migrate it, so migration being under "off-topic" makes sense -- that's the only case where the community should be using it and the OP doesn't use that path himself. There is zero need for an "on-topic but migrate anyway" close reason. Jun 8, 2015 at 17:55
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Understand that "off topic" covers a great deal of ground on this network of sites that you wouldn't see in a dictionary definition. For example, on SO we declare questions off topic if they don't include what we need to repro, or are just a one-off typo that isn't of value to future readers:

  • Questions asking us to recommend or find a book, tool, software library, tutorial or other off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.
  • Questions seeking debugging help ("why isn't this code working?") must include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question itself. Questions without a clear problem statement are not useful to other readers. See: How to create a Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable example.
  • This question was caused by a problem that can no longer be reproduced or a simple typographical error. While similar questions may be on-topic here, this one was resolved in a manner unlikely to help future readers. This can often be avoided by identifying and closely inspecting the shortest program necessary to reproduce the problem before posting.

Many people seeking debugging help are sure their question is on topic. But it is closed as offtopic if they don't include what they should. In the case you are discussing, the fact it is possibly kind of on topic on A but fits way better on B, I think closing it as offtopic on A is no more confusing than these examples.

I could support a small wording change from

This question is offtopic because it belongs on x.SE.

to

This question is offtopic because it is a better fit for x.SE.

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  • Without discussion the semantics of the word "offtopic" too much, the implication in your proposal is still wrong for all questions that fit the scope (as laid out in FAQ, on Meta, ...) of both sites. Your examples all relate to questions being outside of the scope (no matter whether the reason is topic of form), my proposal deals with those that are inside.
    – Raphael
    Jun 8, 2015 at 16:25

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