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summary

What should I do when I feel some other Stack Exchange site would be a better location for someone else's question? How can I do that so that the original poster doesn't mis-interpret my comments as encouraging "the wrong way" (manual copy-and-paste repost)?

long version

Often people feel that some question would attract better answers if it were on some other Stack Exchange site.

Often we mention that other site in a comment under that question (as I did ).

Those comments can be seen as "encouraging reposting", and I hear that I shouldn't be making such comments — How to discourage people encouraging reposting?; "Belongs on" comments; etc. What should I do instead?

Then often the person who originally posted the question (the OP) mis-interprets that comment as "Hey, go ahead and re-post that question to that other site", and copies-and-pastes that question to that other site.

Some people feel strongly that it's much better for a moderator to "migrate" a question to some specific Stack Exchange site rather than to manually re-post it to that site — Is cross-posting a question on multiple Stack Exchange sites permitted if the question is on-topic for each site?; What should be done when a question that is asked on two SE sites is found?; etc. Although there are apparently some situations where manually copy-and-pasting the question is somehow better than moderator migration: What if I think my question would be better on a different SO/SE site?.

What can I do to encourage people to migrate questions "the right way"? How can I start or participate in a discussion about which particular Stack Exchange site would be best for some particular question, without "encouraging reposting" by the original poster "the wrong way"?

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    If the question is older than 60 days, it cannot be moved. In those cases, I find it best to just ignore it... If it's a great question, it will be asked on the proper site eventually. – yannis Feb 10 '16 at 15:21
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Generally, if the question is on topic on both sites, it requires the OP to want to have it moved. The moderators of sites I use with overlapping content seem to be generally very strict about this. They're also usually pretty good about not trying to hold onto something that the OP wants to have moved. This means that it's really the OP's choice which site it "belongs" on.

First, I would strongly discourage you making this sort of comment unless you are very versed in the target site's policies and you know that it would be acceptable there. The first rule of migration is "Don't migrate crap"... and that means two things.

  • If a question is poorly asked and would be closed for content reasons, being too broad, being too subjective etc..., the last thing you want to do is send it over to another site. Trust me, the target sites don't like that.

  • Don't migrate stuff to sites where it isn't on topic. Be certain that it's on topic before you suggest it, don't wait to find out that it's off topic when it gets closed on the target site.

Both of these cases cause issues both between the mods of the two sites and, if the OP doesn't have an account on the target site, it makes for a very bad first impression.

Now, once you're certain that the question is clearly written, well formatted, and would be on topic on a target site, how you write the comment becomes important. As a member of Movies & TV, we often get questions about subjects that are very popular on Sci-Fi & Fantasy. In the past, comments on these questions have caused some very negative reactions and long Meta conversations. So, be sure to be considerate of the local site before composing your comment. No site likes to have their users' abilities to answer a question well impugned.

Additionally, there's nothing wrong with a user deleting a question and asking it somewhere else (provided they're still able) and, if a question is closed as off topic, there should be no reason to not repost it on the site where it is on topic. If they are unable to delete due to there being answers with upvotes, then migration is, of course, the better choice.

When composing a comment, I think it's important to consider actually telling the user (particularly if they are new) about the site policies, albeit briefly. Consider something like

  • Welcome to _____! While this is on topic here, the answer you seek may also be found on _____. If you visit that site and believe it is a better audience for your question, you can either delete this question from our site and repost it there or flag it for migration by a moderator. Please don't cross post the exact same question, however, as that is generally discouraged.

If they mention in comments that they would like to migrate the question but can't figure out how, explain how the "flag for moderator attention" flag works and go on your way.

If you use the AutoReview Comments Script, you could even add it as a default so that you don't have to think about it much.

You could even edit it slightly to use it for questions that aren't on topic so that the OP doesn't just get their question closed when there's another site it would be perfectly acceptable on.

As a final note, as you've probably seen in the questions you've linked, if the OP can target their question for both sites to emphasize the site's topic in the question, they can post the question on both sites but this is very complex and can be difficult to explain.

this can be OK, so long as the question is tailored to each audience on the different sites and is materially different in each case. Just to be 100% clear, copy-pasting a question across sites with no changes is considered abusive behavor. – Jeff Atwood♦ Jan 15 '11 at 3:51

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Ensure its a good fit - Some sites have a reputation for migrating crap. If you don't post there, you may not have an idea what's on topic and welcome there.

Suggest triage if it just needs some polish - comment or edit as needed so you migrate a better question, and suggest changes.

Vote or flag to close. If you must suggest a migration, make sure the process is clear on your comment, and that you suggest the user read the relevant help pages.

Just remember though, that not all questions have a home and sometimes its better to let it whither on the vine.

While commenting is nice, lots of those comments are counter-intuitive for a new user.

You should post on cheese.se

is a bad comment. On the other hand:

Your question on velveeta is a bad fit for mayonnaise.se. We do have a sister site called cheese.se which may be a better place for your question. You might want to narrow your scope somewhat - and edit out the bits about pickles, and I've taken the liberty of fixing your spelling. cheese.se is not on our migration paths, so you may wish to flag it for migration instead once you've take a look at their help and have ensured its on topic.

is a good comment.

We cover fixes that need to be, or have been made, the process of migration and how/where the OP has gone wrong.

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If you don't want to get involved in a possible conflict that might not end well, simply flag and move on:

Flags are not visible to the OP. He/she won't know the question is flagged, and this might have two possible results:

  1. The moderator reviewing the flag agree with you, and migrate. The question appears in the correct site, deleted from the wrong site, no words exchanged. OP will come to learn and understand it's for the best without having to "blame" anyone.

  2. The moderator will disagree with you, rejecting the flag. Nothing happens, the question stays, nobody has to blame anyone else in trying to move anything.

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    If a question is on topic on both sites, the OP generally must want the migration themselves in order for the migration to be approved... most mods aren't going to migrate good, on topic questions. – Catija Feb 10 '16 at 15:25
  • @Catija well, in those rare cases guess there's no choice but to risk confronting the OP – Shadow The Princess Wizard Feb 10 '16 at 15:28
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    flag message looks bit incomplete, it would better explain why question is a bad fit at the original site. Without this, flag risks to be declined by a moderator aware of "Be a bit jealous of your site..." guidance – gnat Feb 10 '16 at 15:42

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