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TL;DR: Migrations should be one-way and do nothing but move the question to the most appropriate site. That site can then handle bad or off-topic questions as though freshly asked.

At present, question migrations that go sour and are rejected get locked on their destination site and unlocked on the source, which has two results:

  1. They are ignored on the original site, because no one notices them being unlocked (since, as I've verified, they aren't bumped)
  2. They are worthless on the new site, whatever the reason for their being closed — and that includes closing as "Unclear"

What this doesn't do is Provide direct feedback for rejected migrations.

This lock shuffling is therefore, as far as I can tell, a misfeature, something no one really asked for, no one actually wants, and that does nothing but get in the way of anyone doing anything useful with the question. So when a question is closed on the target site, go ahead and increment the counter of rejected migrations for 10k stats, but don't do anything else. (Migration is currently designed to avoid cross-posted questions getting a confusing mix of answers by locking all but one copy of the question. This is fine, but rejection should not unlock the question on the original site as it does now. Instead, the original copy should just stay in locked-stub purgatory until it is mercifully Roomba'd.) Sites can already handle closed bad questions, even those that are truly off-topic in every way; they don't need any extra locking to make things more complicated.

This is especially fun, as alluded to earlier, when a question is specifically closed because it needs to be edited by the author in order to be answered (Unclear, various custom close reasons currently put under Off-Topic, sometimes Too Broad or even Primarily Opinion-Based). A more pointless, dispiriting waste of people's time cannot be seen on Stack Exchange. Someone has to notice that the question got locked (it won't be bumped), and ♦ flag it. Then a ♦ mod has to unlock it. By this time the asker has probably noticed something is strange, dug around, and perhaps tried editing the original asked on the wrong site, which will merely uselessly send the post through the Reopen queue without any actual chance of being reopened. If they ever do get around to editing on the right site, it's probably been days, and the confusion and bad feeling from being given such a thorough runaround is difficult to overestimate.

Is there anything I've missed that gives rejections any faint vestige of value?

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I agree. I'm more familiar with this from the ELU side of things, since that's the site I'm more active on. When people vote to migrate a question, it seems pretty clear that they're trying to get rid of it. I don't see the value of returning it to the original site if it is closed on the target site.

I do think part of the problem comes from people voting to migrate questions that really shouldn't be migrated at all—for example, questions that are unclear. Unfortunately, some people have an attitude of "this question was obviously asked on ELU by mistake by a learner who should be using ELL, so it should be migrated to ELL regardless of its quality." But that's a separate problem, and one that isn't solved at all by the way migration rejections currently work.

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    The best solution is to merge ELU with ELL. Unless we do that, this problem will persist. Another solution is just block the migration from ELU to ELL completely. I will vote for it. – Rathony Oct 31 '16 at 11:17
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They are ignored on the original site, because no one notices them being unlocked.

If you have more than 10K reputation that enables you to use the moderator tool, you can notice which has been rejected as rejected questions will be marked either as [on hold] or [closed] in the migrated away or migrated rejected review. I don't check it very often, but I do check it sometimes to see what has been rejected.

This lock shuffling ... but get in the way of anyone doing anything useful with the question.

Well, I have not experienced any situation where this rejected question or lock shuffling got in the way of anything. I basically don't care about it and move on.

Including unlocking the question on the original site, which, to avoid cross-posting, should just stay in locked-stub purgatory until it is mercifully Roomba'd

Well, I don't see anything wrong with unlocking the question. If I find a rejected question downvotable or delete-votable, I will surely vote. My vote will help clean up the site. If it's locked, I can't vote at all. Also, if I see a point that can be improved, I will leave a comment. What's wrong with unlocking the question?

Sites can already handle closed bad questions; they don't need any extra locking to make things more complicated.

What makes you think extra locking makes things more complicated? Locking means you can't post anything, even a comment, to the question and you can't vote. You don't need to do that once the question is rejected and locked.

A more pointless, dispiriting waste of people's time cannot be seen on Stack Exchange. Someone has to notice that the question got locked (it won't be bumped), and ♦ flag it. Then a ♦ mod has to unlock it.

You need to pay extra attention when you vote to close a migrated question because it will be very difficult to salvage it after it is closed and rejected. If you think it is waste of time, let other users know that a migrated question should be handled with more care and attention when voting to close it.

I understand what you are trying to say here, but I don't see anything wrong with the migration and rejection procedures.

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    "You need to pay extra attention when you vote to close a migrated question because it will be very difficult to salvage it after it is closed and rejected. [...] I don't see anything wrong with the migration and rejection procedures." Don't you think you're kind of contradicting yourself there? – Ilmari Karonen Oct 30 '16 at 21:04
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    A couple of notes: I open a daily search for rejected migrations to flag (on ELL, the site I care most about), but it's usually at least 24 hours before they're unlocked. Some of these questions should not have been closed, or could be reopened with suitable edits, none of which is possible when locked, but naturally this only "gets in the way" of someone who wants the question to be open. Questions need to be locked on all but one site to avoid cross-posting issues. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 30 '16 at 22:03
  • @IlmariKaronen In what way am I contradicting myself? Can you be more specific? – Rathony Oct 31 '16 at 11:11
  • @NathanTuggy You can forget about closed posts after migration. Why do you care so much about it? Based on my experience, if a question is migrated from ELU to ELL and it is closed on ELL, it proves the question is just crap and useless. If you care about ELL, try to prevent it from being Trolland. – Rathony Oct 31 '16 at 11:14
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    @Rathony: If closers "need to pay extra attention" when closing migrated posts to avoid getting them into a nearly unsalvageable state (and to somehow know that they need to be cautious, despite the close dialog giving no warning about it), that would seem to indicate that there is something wrong with the procedure. At the very least, it violates the "principle of least surprise" by having the software occasionally perform an unexpected and hard-to-reverse action (reject a migration) when the user(s) just tried to do something ordinary and reversible (close a question until it is improved). – Ilmari Karonen Oct 31 '16 at 11:34
  • @IlmariKaronen Well, I wrote that sentence based on the closing pattern and behavior on ELL. When a question migrated from ELU is closed on ELL, it means the question is just not salvageable. ELL is the most lenient site on SE in terms of closing a question. If such a site closes a question, what does it mean? That's the how system works, ain't it? Why do you blame the system? – Rathony Oct 31 '16 at 11:40
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    @Rathony: That's not what the close reasons Unclear and Details Please mean. I see no reason to stop caring about posts that needed to be closed, that can only be asked on ELL, but that could be reopened if edited properly. And there are lots of those. – Nathan Tuggy Oct 31 '16 at 20:31
  • A migrated question that shows the typical double standards on ELL. ell.stackexchange.com/questions/108819/what-does-bore-mean. Why should this question be closed on ELL while other more crappy questions are not closed including the apostrophe question about which you raised an issue on ELL Meta. Don't you feel there is something terribly wrong with ELL? I don't think ELL is a Stack Exchange community. – Rathony Nov 8 '16 at 18:51

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