I frequently see questions on Stackoverflow.com that belong on Superuser or here on Meta. Prior to being moved or migrated, they are frequently down-voted.

  • Should they be down-voted for such a condition?
  • What if the question is legitimate and well-worded, just posted on the wrong site to begin with?
  • And finally, are the votes for the question reset to 0 when it is migrated?
  • Thanks Jon, I searched meta before posting but didn't see that one. Some good points were brought up. – JYelton Apr 8 '10 at 15:58
  • @Jon - related but not a duplicate (well apart from the last point). This question asks whether "we" should down-vote. The other assumes it happens and asks for the count to be reset. – ChrisF Apr 8 '10 at 16:13
  • @Chris: Yeah. I didn't vote to close (obviously), but the other question covers a lot of the same ground as this one. – Jon Seigel Apr 8 '10 at 16:14

I wouldn't have a problem with this if the vote count did reset. But it doesn't. It's kind of annoying when a perfectly decent question lands on the site with downvotes already attached. It is less likely to be viewed, and must overcome its negative score with upvotes just to get back to zero.

I personally wouldn't downvote these questions (pre-migration) to avoid this problem.

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    I agree with this, I tend to avoid questions with negative votes because I assume they are missing information or otherwise are a waste of time to read. – JYelton Apr 8 '10 at 16:53
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    I sometimes look for heavily downvoted questions, since it's easier than going out and looking for car crashes and similar disasters. – David Thornley Apr 8 '10 at 17:24
  • Well, there is that! They can be amusing. :) – JYelton Apr 8 '10 at 19:54
  • I selected this as the "answer" because of votes; thanks everyone. – JYelton Apr 8 '10 at 20:14
  • @David. I look for questions needing attention. I like voting, editing, and closing. Sadly, I don't like the answer and question part as much :( – Earlz Apr 8 '10 at 22:49

I'd say if it's a good question (well written/researched etc) and it's just in the wrong place, that it should not be downvoted.

Just inform the user of their mistake, explain the reasons, and migrate it.

No need to punish new users who just haven't figured out the system yet.


I think a small amount of downvoting is okay. It tells the asker that they've asked the question on the wrong site, something that should have been researched before posting. That, combined hopefully with a comment saying where the question should have been posted, is enough.

Most people are considerate enough to realize what's happened and not downvote further than -1 or -2, but I've seen some questions go really really far negative when it was completely unnecessary. Personally I don't see the point of downvoting because I'll just add a comment to get attention, but I don't have a problem with a couple downvotes either (if the question is that far off-topic, it's almost impossible to not attract a downvote or two).

Votes are currently not reset when questions are migrated, but it was proposed that the votes be reset on migration, which makes a lot of sense to me.

  • I agree, it isn't too hard to do a little more research. On the other hand, there are a few times that new users don't realize the scope of the overflow sites and post a good question in the wrong spot. Should their question begin its life with a negative vote? Just me probably overthinking things. :) – JYelton Apr 8 '10 at 15:42
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    And, downvoting is (potentially) better than close votes since it gives the OP time to actually "fix" their question before they can't do anything with it. – Michael Todd Apr 8 '10 at 15:43
  • @Michael: Downvoting is better than close votes if the question is a badly formed question that's appropriate. You can't fix a question on hardware RAID that's asked on Stack Overflow, except by substituting a completely different one. – David Thornley Apr 8 '10 at 17:26
  • @David Thornley Good distinction. I was referring to questions that belonged but were badly formed rather than those that belong elsewhere, but you make a good point. – Michael Todd Apr 8 '10 at 18:49

A lot of it depends on one's approach.

  • punish doing bad -- if this is your primary motivation, then it makes sense to downvote. Increase the pain for doing the wrong thing.

  • reward doing good -- If the emphasis is on reward, then it probably makes more sense to withhold reward. A close vote is probably enough to signal to the questioner he did the wrong thing.

Which approach is better? I don't know, watch Dr. Phil! Personally, I like SO when it errs a bit more on the "friendly" side. I participate in some Usenet newsgroups where the denizens provide some helpful information, but they sure are jerks about it sometime!

Specifically for questions that need to be moved: I recommend voting to close, along with leaving a comment recommending the questioner to move the question.

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    simply commenting "belongs on (whereever)" encourages users to crosspost. remember to inform new users that questions can be migrated if they are better suited to one of the other Trilogy sites. – quack quixote Apr 8 '10 at 17:30
  • yes, very true... I meant voting to close, and leaving a comment at the same time. – Mark Harrison Apr 9 '10 at 0:50

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