A question was asked on Site A, where it collected answers before being migrated to Site B. On Site B it collected more answers and lived happily for a time. More than two years later, it was closed.

Because it had been migrated originally, the closure was treated as a rejected migration. This meant that answers that were migrated from Site A were locked and deleted on Site B's copy of the question, and the migrated question became eligible for automatic deletion as a rejected migration. If the closure happens soon after the migration, this is OK -- when a migration is rejected, the affected answers are undeleted on the originating site. Nothing is lost and no answers are duplicated.

However, if it's been more than 30 days since the question was migrated, this presents a problem. Migration stubs are deleted after 30 days, so there was no (undeleted) question on Site A to host those answers. The result is that they were deleted on both sites. Closing the question caused content to be lost.

Now you might argue that hey, it was closed, so how valuable could the question and its answers be (regardless of voting)? But we have logic that isn't "delete all the things", so regardless of how you feel about keeping closed questions, this behavior violated user expectations. When a non-migrated ("native") question is closed, nothing happens to its answers. This question had been on Site B long enough to be treated as a "native" question.

Also, site scopes and the definition of what constitutes a good, on-topic question do change over time. A question that was perfectly on-topic on the destination site at the time of migration may be considered off-topic later, and leaving those questions open presents the usual problem, but closing them doesn't necessarily mean that the migration shouldn't have taken place.

Migration is often confusing and counter-productive anyway, but so long as we're stuck with it, there should be a statute of limitations on migration rejections. If the receiving site doesn't close it within 30 days -- the time that, on the original site, we've decided it's not coming back -- then it should stop being treated as a migration. Site A is done with it; it should henceforth be treated the same way as if it had been asked on Site B in the first place. Specifically, if it's closed it's just...closed. Not sent back. Not left around with deleted/locked answers. Not annotated as a rejected migration. Just closed.

For reference: the case study that prompted this request.

Also, another example: before meta sites existed, it was common for people to post meta questions on Stack Overflow itself. Then, many of these were migrated to then-MSO (now MSE). Later on, many of these were closed as pertaining to only a specific site in the SE network, which has caused the old content to be deleted. Even though rejected migrations on meta sites do not cause answers to be deleted, the migrated question is still eligible for automatic deletion as a rejected migration, regardless of score. Here's an example (screenshot from before the migration history was cleared) that had +31 score at the time of deletion.

  • 3
    Guess I should have done something with this.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 18:21
  • 5
    Wow, 17 minutes from FR to status-review. Thanks team! Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 19:18
  • Pretty sure that was on their radar for a while, at least Robert's radar. :) Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 22:06
  • @MonicaCellio it was a rather substantive edit I just approved. I think it adds value, but feel free to roll it back if you don't like it.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 8:32
  • @Glorfindel thanks for your careful review. On balance that's a good edit; sure there are some things I would have done differently, but close enough. Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 1:28

3 Answers 3


As Robert suggests, the most expedient way of solving this is to ignore the migration in cases where the stub has already been deleted - this handles both the case where the migration is old (and the stub was automatically deleted) and the case where the stub was deleted manually (for whatever reason - only moderators can do this, so presumably they have a good reason to do so).

In either case, any answers that might've been migrated will no longer be visible on the originating site due to the question's deletion, so unlocking and undeleting them is pointless at best and subverts the intent of migration at worst.

This change is live as of yesterday.

  • I believe most manual migration stub deletions are from the era back before those were automatically deleted, so this makes sense. Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 20:43

That makes sense. Once a migration stub is removed, the question should be treated like any other post on the site. I dropped this into the feature-request queue as a Community Request.

  • 4
    Is that queue FIFO or LIFO? :) Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 22:01
  • @ShadowWizard Neither. The small number of requests the Community Team can push through are allocated on an as-time-allows basis. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 22:09
  • I see. So it will hopefully appear here soon-ish? :) Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 22:13
  • Not necessarily, @ShadowWizard: Robert added it to the pile for discussion by the Community Team; that post shows stuff that's cleared discussion by the Community Team. At a minimum, it'll be up for discussion for a month.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 7:16
  • @JNat oh, I see. Thanks, and happy discussion! :-) Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 11:52
  • @JNat Has discussion begun yet? Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 20:38
  • @gparyani No, at this point activity on Community Team initiatives has all but ceased (at least I'm told nobody is actively working on them). It is not yet clear when and if this activity will resume, or if the dev work Community Managers need will take a different form. Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 20:45
  • See this for more details, @gparyani.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 8:25
  • 1
    @ShadowWizard I'm afraid the "FR queue" is actually a hash table :) Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 2:41
  • @ɪʙᴜɢ nah. By now it is 100% gone. Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 7:01
  • 2
    @ShadowWizard, I think it's a FISH queue.
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 30, 2018 at 1:24

While this feature does not (yet) exist, there is a workaround, but it requires moderator intervention.

If a migrated question with good answers is likely to be closed due to a site scope change or pure oversight in the past, and you think the answers are useful to other users, you can flag for a mod to clear the question's migration history. This delinks it from the question on the origin site, and makes the question act just as if it was posted on the destination site in the first place. Then, once the question is closed, nothing will happen to the answers.

Of course, this is a bit of a crude solution, as it requires a moderator to intervene, requires the mod to know about this behavior of the system, and wipes out the public history of the fact it was migrated originally.

Another way to solve the issue is to automatically undelete migration stubs (if they were deleted as part of the RemoveMigrationStubs process) if a migration gets rejected. However, this isn't the best solution, since if the question is closed long after migration, it's usually for procedural reasons (such as the "other example" in your bottom paragraph) and the question's pretty much settled in to the new site.

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