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On the various sites I participate in, I see many users asking technical questions about how SE itself works on the site-specific metas.

The same question can be asked 60 times on various site-specific metas. In these cases, the correct answers and input are the same for all sites. Some of them may go unanswered, some of them may have a low quality answer, some of them may not have votes on the answers, etc. Often, content is copied around. But when the source of the original post gets improved or updated (or a new, better answer comes along), it won't be applied to the copies. To avoid this fragmentation, I'm suggesting a policy that all technical questions that are the same for all sites should be migrated (or cross-duped) to this Meta SE.

When these are purely about technical things that are the same for all SE sites, I'm suggesting that they be be migrated to this Meta SE (Currently, they typically are not migrated, which looking under the "support" tag on any site-specific meta shows.) Now, certainly > 95% of these questions would be closed as duplicates here on Meta SE. So, I therefore recommend @Glorfindel's suggestion of closing questions on site-specific metas as duplicates of Meta SE questions (without migration.) Yes, I know, this would have to be a new feature to be implemented. If it's not possible, then I suggest migrating and then closing as a dupe.

That way, there will be high quality answers, plenty of votes, united resources, and no fragmentation.

If this is already a policy (is it?), It's currently not being practiced very well (as I explained above.)

If implemented, mods on all sites may be notified about such a policy, and encouraged to practice it. Maybe there could even be some system to make it easy for high-rep users to participate in such migration?

Of course, not all sites have to be forced to do this. If one community was to oppose it, they could of course have their way.

I have already taken this discussion to the meta of the site at which I'm the most active. Others who agree with this proposal could do the same for their respective communities.

@ShadowWizard has made a very good point by pointing out that since many users may not know about Meta SE, they may thus miss out on useful questions if this was practiced. I agree with that. I therefore feel that this suggestion needs to be coupled with some feature to highlight the existence of Meta SE to users of various sites. I already know of a proposal on how to achieve that, but that's just one suggestion. It could be achieved in many ways.

If questions involve particular circumstances of a particular community at all, then they should not be touched as per this suggestion. A very liberal view of what constitutes "particular circumstances" can be taken.

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    I don't think it's really that important. Community Managers sometimes do migrate such questions here, but not always, and I doubt per-site moderators are doing it, as they probably think it's not their responsibility. Data duplication is not elegant and prone to problems, but keep in mind many people have no idea about MSE. If something does not exist in their per-site meta, they'll simply miss it. So having the same thing over 20 metas will help more people see it. Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 10:16
  • @ShadowWizard Very good point. I have updated OP to address it.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 10:21
  • @Glorfindel That is such an excellent idea. I'll add that to OP if you don't mind.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 10:39
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    @Fiksdal please do.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 10:42
  • @ShadowWizard Awesome, thanks.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 13:14

2 Answers 2

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Standard support questions should typically be kept on the per-site metas. There are several reasons for this, yet a main one is that having them helps to educate the local community.

In my experience most users have no interest to follow MSE or also to look something up here, or to even just look in the Help Center. They just won't do this.

They'll ask on the local meta, they'll get an answer, and a couple of others will read it and some of them might learn something from it.

Moreover, migrating them here, just creates noise here. Mainly the requests will be duplicates of a anyway. But, often the are too verbose for casual users. They are better served with a short version for their particular concern and a link to further details.

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  • I have to say that these are some very good points.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 16:33
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I may be wrong but my understanding was that the Stack Exchange preference was for as many issues (including technical) as possible to be resolved on the per-site Metas, so that only the unresolved network-wide issues that really needed to come to Meta SE actually did.

I think part of the reason for this was to maintain a highly skilled set of moderators and experienced users participating in all site Metas rather than having all technical questions redirected to Meta SE.

Having moderators and experienced users knowing how to resolve most technical issues "locally" in per-site metas means that they can take into account any particular circumstances of that community and its subject matter when providing answers.

I would expect such answers to often link to Meta SE Q&As, but often with site relevant context to frame them.

Options when question is duplicate of one with no/inadequate/old answers? is an example of a question from one of the sites I moderate, that involves site mechanics that are the same network-wide. However, by knowing the site, and having ample reputation on it, I was able to not only encourage its members to use bounties to address unanswered questions of interest to them, but also to demonstrate that practice using the example cited in the question, and encourage them to keep accruing reputation.

I would be the first to redirect a question to Meta SE when I thought there was any chance that it could not be resolved well "locally", but I think migrating this question would have been counter-productive to our site Meta, and just created another duplicate on Meta SE.

We could just take a very liberal view of what constitutes "particular circumstances" and choose to not migrate this one and to migrate others, but then we can do this already so there does not seem to be anything new in this proposal beyond moving the scale on which questions to migrate to Meta SE and which to leave on per-site Metas.

All site users know about their Main site, many know about their per-site Meta and few know about Meta SE. I think it will be unnecessarily hard to educate users into the idea of there being two Meta sites their question could finish on when they may still be barely comfortable with using their own site Meta. I think it is better to make them aware of Meta SE when they actually have a question that means they need to be.

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    If questions involve "particular circumstances of that community" at all, then they should not be touched as per this suggestion. A very liberal view of what constitutes "particular circumstances" can be taken.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 11:20
  • What would be "new" would be that iit would be an actual, agreed on policy to migrate/cross-close the questions. In the same way that it's a policy to close duplicates within a single site. You always do it. It's not about the criterias for migration. They should only be migrated if they are only about SE in general and not the specific site. And at the moment, very few such questions are migrated. Check out any "support" tag on any site-specific meta. Vey few questions are migrated. That's what's new about this suggestion. I'm suggesting it actually be done.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 11:49
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    @Fiksdal I think you are trying to make a policy where none is needed. I think the strength and resilience of the Stack Exchange model is that the network and its sites evolve using very few policies. I cannot think of any beyond Be Nice and Privacy.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 11:52
  • Even duplicates can be left open or voted to be re-opened without proof of their non-duplication being required. I often check out our support tag and I cannot recall any of them being migrated, and that is because they are triaged and resolved locally. On the other hand our Meta Q&As have vast numbers of links into Meta SE Q&As so that our users who need to be aware of them are able to follow them and then become aware of Meta SE.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 12:02
  • Yeah, I do say in OP that each community should be able to choose. And if duplicates are reopened or left open, that's because the community has decided that they are not duplicates. No community does this if they agree that they are duplicates. And yes, there are a lot of links, copying of content, etc. That's what I'm trying to simplify and avoid.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 12:06

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