By Stack Exchange policy, "better fit elsewhere" is not a sufficient justification for closing or migrating a question; there actually needs to be a bona fide reason, stated in the Help Center, for the question to be off-topic.

Unfortunately, this kind of abuse of custom close reasons is rampant, and remains so despite attempts to educate users. (I believe that the misconception is partly perpetuated by a bad UI.) Manually fighting this meme one comment at a time isn't going to work.

I propose that custom close reasons that contain the phrase "because it belongs on" be blacklisted. That phrase is a pretty reliable indicator that the custom close reason is in violation of the policy.

  • +1 but blocking those because it belongs on, I assume, would result in users finding alternate ways to do comment. Just like blocking help resulted in finding halp, helpp etc..
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:31
  • 8
    I disagree that saying "because it belongs on" indicates a violation of the policy. Usually by that people implicitly also mean "and it doesn't belong here"."
    – xnor
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:31
  • @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M Presumably the error message should link them to the reeducation camp. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:32
  • Reeducation camp - Which is. . .?
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:33
  • @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M Some meta or Help Center page. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:34
  • I back this, mostly because they're probably telling people to go crack a squat on a sister site.
    – user1228
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:44
  • 7
    @xnor Then people need to cite a valid reason for why it doesn't belong here. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:58
  • "By Stack Exchange policy, 'better fit elsewhere' is not a sufficient justification for closing or migrating a question" - citation needed. Direct link please.
    – cp.engr
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 22:05
  • 2
    @cp.engr Shog9's explanation of what qualifies for migration should be authoritative enough. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 23:02
  • 2
    Thanks for the link. Seems reasonable. I think if that blog post is meant to be policy or best practice, at least some of its content should actually be made into pages on the site(s) - or at least linked to from them.
    – cp.engr
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 23:18
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/251568/… Commented Dec 9, 2015 at 3:50
  • Ironically, Shog9’s explanation of what qualifies for migration has been migrated to the Blog’s new URL. Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 15:33

3 Answers 3


The catalyst (but not the only cause) for this question appears to have been one of my close votes, on a question that was obviously off-topic on SO and obviously on-topic for CR. @200_success is of the opinion that the close-vote should be the generic "too broad" (or possibly "primarily opinion-based"). I respectfully disagree.

Really, this would be a lot simpler if we could flag for any migration path directly. Overloading the "moderator-attention - other" box just adds work for everyone involved, so most good-quality migratable questions don't get migrated (the fact that the obvious off-topic close reasons are nonmigrating and you have to click harder for the migration list is also to blame).

The main justification for only showing the top 5 is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if users don't see the path, they won't use it even when it's applicable.

  • If you want to warn users to not migrate crap, give them a warning that they should not migrate crap in the migration dialog.
  • If you want to warn users that it might be on-topic in both places, warn them that they shouldn't close things only because it's on-topic elsewhere.
  • If you want to only allow migrations for users accustomed to the destination site, only allow initial migration votes from users with some reputation on the destination site.
  • If you want to provide a per-site "what should be migrated here?" readme, link it from the migration dialog! Many sites have one, but they are hard to find.

And yes, I have read the previous MSO post, Update On-Topic Help with Links to Common SE Sites. And I agree about "let's do something", because the current status quo sucks.

  • I think we're in agreement. I'm proposing one warning; you're proposing that and more. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:53
  • 2
    @200_success Yeah, we're chill.
    – o11c
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:58
  • 6
    Related proposal to your suggestion: Better “Flag for migration” interface (though don't forget Add a “don't migrate crap” migration 'path' to all sites)
    – user213963
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 21:15
  • 4
    you are vastly underestimating the incompetence of close voters. Most 'migrate please' comments and flags are utterly misplaced. They try to migrate crap posts or posts that are OT for the target site. Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 7:53

This seems impractical.

  • "...since it belongs on..."
  • "...because it's better for..."
  • "...it's a question for..."
  • "...because it's in-scope at..."

and a virtually unlimited variety of equivalents I haven't thought of

Blacklisting a particular phrase only prompts people to work around it. (See all of the various misspellings of "problem" in question titles, for instance.)

  • 2
    Inability to catch everything is not a good justification for doing nothing about a very real problem. I'd be glad to have any automated method to help get the message out. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:37
  • 2
    @200 it is, because mostly people just find a way to bypass it and call the system stupid rather than trying to learn. Also, this might block some legit close reasons. Oded once set up a block to reduce spam on answers, but it failed; since the spammers figured out easy workarounds and some legitimate good answers were confusingly blocked.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:59
  • 5
    @200_success, I sympathize. But, at risk of being pedantic: This answer doesn't propose doing nothing. Rather, it argues against doing the specific thing you requested (blacklisting a very specific phrase). One can oppose your specific proposal without necessarily supporting doing nothing. Also, one can oppose your specific proposal even if one agrees that it's a real problem. So, I think it's possible you might be reading things into this answer that aren't stated there. Ultimately, one must decide whether the benefits of your proposal outweigh the costs.
    – D.W.
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 21:38
  • @D.W.: Indeed. It may very well be a problem, but I don't think the proposed solution will really help. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 14:57

The phrase "belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network..." is used because (as you know very well), the UI of closing dialog uses it.

Banning a phrase that is built into UI makes no sense.

  • 3
    The UI is bad though. The "close" reasons you reference aren't in fact close reasons. They're migration votes. Questions "closed" through these reasons aren't closed, but migrated. Questions closed with the custom close reason are always just closed.
    – nhgrif
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 0:40
  • 2
    So maybe we need a better way to propose migration. The choice is either selecting from a very limited list or flagging for moderator attention.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 19:51

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