Stackoverflowoverflow - take all the worthwhile closed questions from Stack Overflow and give them a second life on a Stack Exchange site (still under construction).

My intention was to create a site where some closed questions were migrated from SO, and no other questions were accepted - they first had to run the gauntlet of SO. It would also exclude questions migrated to other sites, those deemed abusive, offensive, etc. Just those closed as subjective and argumentative, off topic, too local, and so forth. Or, in other words, questions worth discussing, but not on SO.

Now, while my original intention was to only take answers that were closed directly from SO, this does not have to be what the site ends up doing ultimately. This can be defined a little better once we get the support needed to consider moving forward. Perhaps the good closed questions help us define what the new site accepts, but people can submit questions directly.

Plans change

The recent, significant, change in Stack Exchange means that a stackoverflow-overflow site can't exist as I was envisioning.

In order for a Stack Exchange site to make the transition to Stack Exchange 2.0 it has to have a substantial volume of active users. Further there is no "site owner" to speak of - it's community owned and operated, so I can't artificially prevent people from posting their own questions.

I (luckily!) passed the first hurdle - my test site already exists so it'll stay open for 3 months. However there are a few more hurdles to jump.

For this site to exist I need the following

  1. A substantial number of users interested in this site, and committed to using it.
  2. Several users that are willing to be very active and close/delete questions that didn't come from SO (or aren't suitable for this "overflow" site), and to moderate (ie, it can't be a complete wild west)
  3. The site has to be up and working, with a substantial volume of usage and activity, by July 13th, when my current Stack Exchange subscription ends.

I have the majority of the coding ahead of me, and I don't want to spend the time trying to make it work if it's not going to be very useful to a lot of people. So I want to determine now what the interest is so I can move forward or drop it.

So - the ball is in your court.

Upvote this question if you want to see this site AND believe you would participate.

Downvote it if, for whatever reason, you would like this site to not exist.

Discuss it in the answers and comments.

Make yourself known if you might be able to commit to the activity level a moderator would require and are interested.

I'll accept discussion, comments, votes, etc through the end of the bounty at which point I'll commit to doing the work required, or let the idea slip into the great beyond.

  • 1
    To clarify - only newly closed questions would be migrated. They would migrate within minutes of being closed, and a comment on SO would be posted indicating that people can continue the conversation on SOO. There's not too much point in migrating old closed questions - only in continuing active questions that were closed.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 23:45
  • I'll agree on one condition: the name should be StackOverflowSquared. :P (nah, I already agreed)
    – MPelletier
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 0:08
  • "I (luckily!) passed the first hurdle" - Sorry to burst your bubble - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5396/…
    – ripper234
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 0:51
  • I'd be more then willing to help out in any capacity. Sounds like fun.
    – Josh K
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 1:06
  • @ripper234 - Fixed. Yeah, there's only 3 months left, which is what I'm expecting. I suspect we can make it work in that timeframe, though, if we get a reasonable crew to moderate and participate in it.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 1:11
  • 4
    Boat programming then?
    – random
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 1:16
  • 1
    Possible unintended consequence: close-empowered users on Stack Overflow become less (i.e. not in the slightest) reluctant to vote against a marginal question secure in the knowledge that it will have an afterlife. Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 3:17
  • This is an awesome idea! It is annoying when you have a question that you'd like to know the answer to, but you can't post it on StackOverflow as it will be closed
    – Casebash
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 10:47
  • 1
    awesome - the adjectival equivalent of the "fun" tag
    – nb69307
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 11:45
  • I'd be happy to run something like this on community tracker, have been meaning to write a poll widget for a while (which imho is critical for this to work) and an SE import module. Its a nasty hard problem to solve, but due to the bike shed effect, it could be a traffic monster
    – waffles
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 20:10
  • Forcing questions to run through StackOverflow would make people post questions that aren't suitable to SO there instead of going directly to SOO. Of course, if a question is suitable to SOO we shoudl migrate it there
    – Casebash
    Commented Apr 15, 2010 at 6:01
  • 1
    @Casebash - This appears to be the greatest problem we'd have to deal with. I have a few ideas on how to discourage or prevent that, but first we have to decide whether it's worth doing at all, then decide how to fix all the issues that are going to crop up.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 15, 2010 at 13:38
  • Changed the question a bit so people understand that the site doesn't have to consist solely of closed questions - we can define the properties once we know that there's enough interest. The essential idea is a site for question which aren't suitable for stackoverflow, but are still worth discussing and can be answered. Still avoiding the flame wars, etc.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 15, 2010 at 16:28
  • 2
    There is already a place for trolls, it's called usenet. Commented Apr 16, 2010 at 15:51
  • NOOOO! Quick! Gotta get that bounty! 1 hour to go! Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 22:43

13 Answers 13


Follow the mockup.

Give me 5 "exemplary" and 5 "off-topic" questions for this site.

  • 7
    This should be easy...
    – juan
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 23:48
  • 4
    @Downvoter: theoretically there would be no off-topic questions on this site, except may be How to parse HTML with regexes?
    – perbert
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 3:12
  • 2
    @json that's one of the 5 exemplary questions for such a site.
    – alex
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 10:18
  • Everything that's on-topic for SO is off-topic for SOO @json
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 20:54
  • 1
    @alex, @Ivo: I felt that How to parse HTML with regexes? was on topic in SO, only duped.
    – perbert
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 20:56

I believe this is a bad idea.

The only kind of question that is worth being transferred are questions that need discussion between users ("argumentative"). These questions, however, do not fit into the Q-A schema of SOFU as they require a usual forum. The StackOverflowOverflow site you're proposing does not offer that.

An electric screwdriver is a great tool, but it is still not the right tool to be used on nails.

  • 2
    "The only kind of question that is worth being transferred" I disagree. There are a lot of slightly off-topic questions which are closed because they don't quite fit, but are otherwise reasonable and answerable questions.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 12:32
  • I don't know about you, but I use an electric screwdriver to saw wood, and shovel snow off my driveway, among another giant list of things. Good tools should be used for everything.
    – Cruncher
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 20:01
  • @AdamDavis for example?
    – Cruncher
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 20:03

I agree with others that the idea of migrating off topic out of focus questions to another site is fairly risky.

In fact, the main reason lots of these questions tend to be closed is cause they do not fit into the Q&A structure properly

In particular a few changes I think are fairly important if going down this path would be:

  1. Allow for built-in poll support. "What is this richest functional programming language?" Allow users to add options to the poll and vote on it. Asker gets no / minimal rep. Best discussion gets a bit of rep. Poll results are available upfront.

  2. Build some niches ... Eg. a code golf category. Code golf is frowned upon on stack overflow.

  3. Allow for traditional discussion ala phpbb style "Has anybody ever used cobol?" and build an incentive system. I guess I would design it so people can discuss, once discussion gets out of control users get reputation for rolling up the info in the discussion into a "summary" thread. Or something along those lines.

Overall I think this is a fairly hard problem and that the SO platform does not really cater for these kind of interactions, by design.

I said earlier I would be happy to look at adjusting CT to work for this kind of interaction. As I need to support lots of this stuff anyway.

  • I love the post number on this answer.
    – perbert
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 20:36
  • SO has a reasonable poll technique using community wiki answers. Commented Apr 15, 2010 at 14:36
  • @David - For many polls (books, quotes, etc) there are tons of duplicate answers because you can't expect people to read 200, 300, or 600 answers before posting their own. SO doesn't scale well for large polls. Polls with a few options work pretty well, though.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 15, 2010 at 16:30

I think the idea has merit, and I'd offer to take some moderating duties in case you go through with it. However, there have to be rules what kind of questions are okay and which ones are off-topic even for Stack Overflow Overflow.

I went through a list of recently closed questions and tried to catagorize those that weren't dupes or migrated as to whether I think they would fit:



Don't know; these aren't really programming questions, but could have programming implications and/or answers:

Don't know; these were closed because the OP wasn't giving enough information to answer the question, although it might have been valid if they did:

  • The largest ratio problem for Ruby deserves to be closed - it is not interesting at all as arbitrarily high ratios can be generating (and infinite loops weren't excluded)
    – Casebash
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 10:52
  • BTW, you would still need rules to prevent excessive discussions on topics almost identical. Questions without enough information should not add it
    – Casebash
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 10:54

You say

To clarify - only newly closed questions would be migrated.

If they've been migrated, how are people going to be able to vote to re-open them on the original site?

Also, would you be able to post directly to this site? If so, then it would rapidly become unusable, as it would be a universal discussion site. If not, then it would make SO (and SF/SU) a conduit for totally off-topic spam.

  • 2
    They wouldn't be migrated in the way questions get migrated to Meta or SO; they'd just be posted as new questions on SOO. Hence the question would stay as it is on SO. You're right however that there needs to be an answer to the question "What happens if the original gets reopened?"
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 10:21
  • 1) They are not truly migrated, so they can be reopened on SO. What then happens on SOO is up for discussion, but that's something that can be determined once we figure out whether to move forward or not. 2) If I can, I'd prevent people from posting directly to the site. If not, then the moderators would need to delete any posts not coming from SO. Chances are good an admin-bot could delete posts that didn't come from SO.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 12:30
  • 3) We would have to limit the impact on SOFU by setting a bar for questions to be migrated. I have several ideas, but I'm sure that once we determine whether the site will fly or not, a lot of people much smarter than me will be able to help solve this problem - and it is a problem that needs careful consideration.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 12:45
  • @Pollyanna This would basically make SOFU a front-end filter for your site - no thanks.
    – nb69307
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 15:06
  • @Polly, you just need to set the rep level so high that no one can post a question. Commented Apr 20, 2010 at 17:41
  • @Lance - It's not adjustable on the stackexchange sites. If I went with a clone, then I could fiddle with it.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 20, 2010 at 20:16

I upvoted this a while ago, and still support it in theory, but just realized it's a flawed design. People will invariably end up wanting to get their questions on SOO, but they'll have to post to SO first. In the not-too-distant-future, SO users will have to suffer through more and more posts — potentially with tags like [please-close-intended-for-soo] — that not only don't belong on SO, but were never truly intended to be actively considered there. In short, this will significantly increase noise on SO.


But most questions on SO are closed because they're A) Not programming related, and not suitable for the rest of the trilogy (In which case there should be a SE site for them anyway), B)Duplicates (therefore not applicable here), or C)Rubbish, argumentative, or too open ended.

Of C, only really "too open ended" could reasonably be asked, and even then only up to a point. Basically, do you have any figures for how many questions you will actually be able to get, and have you considered that you're encouraging crap questions on SO so they can be migrated to SOO?

  • 1) When I looked at the "recently closed" questions list and hand migrated some, I found that about 1/3 to 1/2 of the closed questions (about 16-24 per day) were worth migrating. It's not a lot, but in many (most?) people were eager to continue the discussion even though it wasn't appropriate for the site. Many questions were right on the line of acceptable, and had a hard time finding 5 closers to vote on closing them - these are the ideal questions for such a site - just barely unacceptable for SO.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 12:37
  • 2) Yes, I worry that people may be more free with submitting their offtopic questions to SO with the intention of getting them on SOO. I believe it's something we can discourage by not accepting blatantly off topic questions - as Jeff's answer suggests we still need to define what's acceptable for SOO and what's not acceptable.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 12:40
  • @Pollyanna: Well, if you can get a good quantity of questions on a constant basis, without having entry requirements lax enough to let rubbish in, I'm all for the idea.
    – Phoshi
    Commented Apr 14, 2010 at 13:00

I would hope that you're going to exclude duplicate questions, since those are already migrated. Similarly, I would hope you'd exclude questions migrated to other Trilogy sites.

That leaves, largely, the questions that are too vague to answer, the ones peripherally related to programming, subjective questions (including flamebait), and the occasional spam.

There are some interesting questions in this group, but there's also a lot of bad ones, which were closed because they simply weren't useful to anybody.

I don't think a SE site devoted to SO rejects is going to serve a useful purpose. A SE site dedicated to some of the things that SO rejects could be useful, and I'd be interested in it, but I'd like to be able to directly post questions like "How does dying my gray hair affect my chances of getting hired?" on the SE site rather than messing up SO.


I do not have the time in my life to visit a site of this type. I don't believe I would benefit much from reading or answering closed questions. I must draw the line somewhere.

I believe that the trinity founders are creating a home for non-trinity questions.

If you don't heed this and still make the site, you absolutely must automate the moving of closed questions, and you must absolutely link the profiles.


I honestly doubt a site like this would generate enough traffic to be worth it


I recently started posting some stuff there and it's pretty fun when both Meta and SO are boring.

The way to make it big though: integrate it with SO. Like if you could get approved to have a comment bot or something that just adds a comment like

This post has been deemed unsuitable for StackOverflow. If you wish, you can continue this question at stackoverflowoverflow/....

This would make it to where it was much easier to opt-in to this service. That and making it so that the SO Closed bot brought over votes and comment votes as well. :P


What about questions closed in Stackoverflowoverflow?

They could get migrated to a Stackoverflowoverflowoverflow site, with the 3 sites together making a Stackoverflowoverflow-Stack.

Closing a question in that last site would cause a Stackoverflowoverflow-Stack stack overflow.

  • It's a stack. Eventually it all loops back around and a question closed on stackoverflowoverflowoverflowoverflowoverflowoverflowoverflowoverflowoverflowoverflowoverflow is most likely on topic for Stack Overflow.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 16, 2010 at 14:57

Great idea! I'm all for it. I registered on the site and asked a question. How many people are on it so far? Looks like about ten.

  • Wait, it's up? I went to stackoverflowoverflow.com and got a GoDaddy placeholder adverpage... what's the URL?
    – Pops
    Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 21:02
  • @Popular: It's stackoverflowoverflow.stackexchange.com Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 21:25
  • @George: It's time for me to get another coffee, is what it is. Thanks.
    – Pops
    Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 21:33
  • 2
    I'm registered and on the first page of users. I hereby demand my t-shirt and stickers.
    – Pops
    Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 21:39
  • Me too! I'm the user with the second-highest rep! Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 22:37
  • And 4 badges already! Commented Apr 22, 2010 at 22:40

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