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As it was revealed in discussion with Shog9 in Reset votes on migrated questions,

  • the actual parameter governing migration eligibility is "the ratio "question value by the troublesomeness of irrelevant stuff in it"" which is "virtually equivalent to just "amount of irrelevant stuff""
  • the current criterion - the age - is a crude approximation to that parameter
  • this approximation proved to be too crude

So, I'm proposing to replace it with a better approximation. An example can be:

  • No more than X votes total (both up- and down-) on all non-deleted posts, and
  • No bounty in any state

X of somewhere around 5 seems adequate. Acceptance mark can be counted as 1.5 votes.


The problem it's intended to solve is:

  • Sometimes, I come over a decent question/one with potential to give reusable knowledge, maybe even with decent answers, that has no future at SO due to being off-topic but could do so much better if only it was in the right place. Since decent questions are a precious rarity at SO, I don't want it to go to waste.
    • Since this happens the moment I come over that question, it can be two days or two years old with equal probability
    • They generally fall into two cases: 1)seen no activity on the source site, or 2)have been adequately answered but received few votes and/or downvotes due to being off-topic. Either may have been justfully closed as off-topic.
  • Since this is my desire rather than someone else's, it's my job to see it to completion, and I cannot expect anyone else to help me voluntarily (mods aren't strictly volunteers, they have signed up for processing requests) - so migration is the only option the system currently provides.
  • Likewise, it doesn't matter to me if the OP is still there and willing to give additional details.
    • If I see the question lacks critical details that it cannot be answered without, such a question cannot qualify as "decent" for me (as it means insufficient understanding/effort by OP). Thus the case of "abandoned questions that cannot be answered without feedback" is not a concern for the current suggestion.
      • But if it only lacks minor details (=leaves sufficiently little room for guesswork) or applies in the general case (=specific details are not needed), it's not a hindrance for handling it
  • Since the OP posted it in the wrong place, I can assume I know better than them whether to migrate and where. In any case, the only way to validate this assumption is to peer-review my suggestion (currently, the system forces a mod to make a personal decision. All else they can do is consult other mods manually).

Examples that I came across lately:

Related discussion:

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    Your third example makes no sense to migrate. It has wrongly been closed as off-topic on Stack Overflow (IMHO) – DavidPostill May 15 '16 at 18:58
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I have a better idea. Why don't we get rid of migration entirely, and if users post on the wrong site, just let the user delete their question and post it on the right site? Migration is an endless pit of woe; arguably, life would be better without it.

Reasons why I don't think your proposal is a good idea

OK, to respond to your specific proposal: I don't think you've made the case for your proposal. The first step in any new proposal is to identify the problem and provide evidence for that it is a problem and isn't adequately handled by existing mechanisms. I don't think that burden has been met. In particular, it's rare that I see a super-old question that would be valuable to migrate.

If the question is older than 60 days old, there are typically two cases:

  • Abandoned. The original user has disappeared and is no longer responsive. In this case, there's no point in migrating it, as the original user no longer cares about it. It's not helpful to migrate an old, abandoned question. If the question is useful to others, someone else will come along with the same question, and at that point they can ask at the right place and maybe it'll get a better answer -- but until then, trying to migrate an abandoned question is not likely to end well. I've seen this happens many times: we migrate an abandoned question, and then on the new site, people ask for clarification and get no response. At that point, it's basically wasting their time to dump a question on them if the original user doesn't care any longer and isn't around to improve the question in response to feedback.

  • Still loved. The original person who asked the question is still around and active, still cares about the question, and is available and willing to respond to requests for clarification, feedback, etc. In this case, there's not really a burning need to migrate the question. Instead, it's easy enough for the poster to delete the original copy of the question and post it on the right site.

Remember, we don't migrate crap; we don't migrate questions that are on-topic (even if they might be a better fit elsewhere); we only even consider migrating a question if it's off-topic and thus should be closed on the original site. At that point, if it hasn't received a satisfactory answer and has been closed, there's nothing preventing the original user (or you, if you prefer) from deleting it and posting it on a Stack Exchange site where it is on-topic.

As a bonus, if the user deletes the original copy and posts it elsewhere, this will force them to create an account on the other site, which avoids a specific failure case (where we migrate a question to a site where the user doesn't have an account, and then people post comments requesting feedback but the user never gets notified because they aren't signed up on that site).


I write this as someone who has requested migration for one of my old (> 60 days old) questions, and had it denied because it was too old. So I understand why in some cases you might want to migrate a question. But I think your proposal would open up a can of worms, and there are existing alternatives (delete-and-repost) that are good enough and don't have those problems.

Analysis of your examples

You list some specific examples. Let's go through them, one-by-one. I don't think any of them supports your case.

  1. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/34280026/is-positioning-absolute-with-percentages-a-good-technique - Why do you think that this question would be well-received on Programmers.SE? Programmers.SE isn't a dumping ground for everything that's off-topic on SO. The question isn't very cleanly formulated and I don't think it's something that should be migrated.

  2. If f(n) = O(h(n)) then c*f(n) = O(h(n)) for all c > 0 - proof challenged? - This question is probably not a good fit for CS.SE. We don't do "please check my answer/proof" questions; they rarely work out well. See here and here for explanation. This illustrates a common pitfall of migration: if you don't know the target site well, you are at risk of suggesting migrations that sound good on the surface but actually are quite poor. I see you don't have an account on CS.SE; as a heuristic, you should avoid suggesting migration to a site you're not active on.

    Also, the topic is pretty well covered by CS.SE's reference questions, so the question would be at risk of being closed as a dup, even if it weren't a "check my proof answer". Anyway, it already got answered in a comment, so I'm not sure what the point of migrating it would be.

  3. Find lines by length in NotePad++? - I don't see what the point in migrating would be, rather than asking a new question on Super User. It's not like the question is a paragon of research effort. And the original user who originally asked the question hasn't been seen since February 2014 (and has no account on the target site), so this would hit all the pitfalls of migrating an abandoned question.

    Also, it's a question that has multiple answers with a high vote count. Those kinds of questions are poor candidates for migration. Generally, you should avoiding migrating questions where answers already have lots of votes on them, because that makes it harder for the target site to curate the question: vote totals are preserved after migration, so now the vote totals don't reflect the judgement of the new site's community. (In principle the Super User users could vote on this if it were migrated, but it's annoying: it'll take a lot of users voting to outweigh the 12 upvotes that would be carried over from Stack Overflow. As a user on a site that used to receive a bunch of questions like that, I found it annoying to get a question with highly upvoted answers where, in my opinion, the answers were actually rather lousy. I prefer that if a question is going to exist on site X, then the vote counts should reflect the judgement of the site X community, not some other random site.)

So I don't think any of the examples you give support your case. I don't think any of them should be migrated.

  • I cannot "delete and repost" another's question because I typically don't have the problem it describes, often even the environment it pertains to. – ivan_pozdeev May 16 '16 at 1:57
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    @ivan_pozdeev, if you don't have the problem, why do you care whether it is migrated? I'm not clear on what problem you're trying to solve (and since you're proposing a change to the system, the burden is on you to articulate what problem you're trying to solve and to demonstrate that the problem exists). – D.W. May 16 '16 at 1:58
  • The problem I'm solving is sometimes, I see a decent question/one with potential to give useful knowledge, maybe even with decent answers, that has no future at SO due to being off-topic but could do so much better if only it was in the right place. Since decent questions are a precious rarity at SO, I don't want it to go to waste. ... – ivan_pozdeev May 16 '16 at 2:18
  • ...Since this is my desire rather than someone else's, it's my job to see it to completion, and I cannot expect anyone else to help me voluntarily (mods aren't strictly volunteers, they have signed up for processing requests) - so migration is the only option the system currently provides. – ivan_pozdeev May 16 '16 at 2:18
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    @ivan_pozdeev, OK. I appreciate your desire to help others! I'd say: if this question really will be of future use to future users, then the next time someone else has the same question, hopefully they'll ask it -- and at that point it can be asked and answered on the right site. On the other hand, if no one ever has the same question again, there's no point in worrying about the fate of the old, ill-fated question that was posted on the wrong site and thus closed. If you think it's a good question you can answer, you can always post a new question on the right site and answer it yourself. – D.W. May 16 '16 at 5:59
  • "If users post on the wrong site, just let the user delete their question and post it on the right site?" While I hate migration as much as the next mod, your suggestion doesn't work if there's even a single answer with a single upvote (which, let's face it, doesn't necessarily mean that the question has been 'answered' and no longer needs to be moved to the other site.) – ff524 May 16 '16 at 6:57
  • I like your idea, but I would leave just the migration option for like a day or so. As if the question survive the first day without being migrated, it was kinda ontopic on the site IMO. I note too that to bypass the problem to migrate too old question, the site i'am on got a close vote that tell "the question belong on site X or Y.", from memory, to have seen the statistic, it's much more used than migration already. – user276487 May 16 '16 at 13:17
  • I added the "problem to solve" to the question. IMO it invalidates some of your statements. – ivan_pozdeev May 16 '16 at 15:40

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