I keep seeing inappropriate questions get migrated from Stack Overflow to Server Fault.

Such as this one:

How to set desktop background in ubuntu?

How to set desktop back ground for twin view moninters . I tried with set back ground that image been center of both monitor. i am looking that image should each monitor center

tagged: [ubuntu], [display]

(oops, looking again, this one actually wasn't migrated from so -> sf, but it is representative of at least a dozen I've seen make it to sf that were not at all appropriate for a server-oriented site .. so consider it an example. Here's one that got migrated and shouldn't have.)

I guess the thinking is "well, this isn't a programming question, let's get it out of here ASAP!".

No, it is not a programming question, but it is not a server question either! I get very frustrated with users who have 3k rep (necessary to cast close and migrate votes) who decide that these questions should be trash binned by any means necessary.

How can we prevent this in the future?

Remember that there will eventually be FOUR sites you can migrate questions to or from:

  • Stack Overflow (programming)
  • Server Fault (servers, sysadmin, IT pro)
  • Super User (general computer enthusiasts)
  • Meta Stack Overflow (discussion about the sites themselves)

I don't want this to become like a game of ping pong with site adherents tossing questions in whatever direction they feel like just to get them out of their little playground.

Ideas? Thoughts? How can we prevent inappropriate "trash binning" in the future?

  • 2
    Whoa, who downvoted this? It's a legitimate problem. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 11:17
  • 3
    The purpose of serverfault may not be clear to everyone.
    – jjnguy
    Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 12:17
  • 28
    So is SuperUser.com going to be my trash bin instead? Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 16:00
  • 4
    @Omar Yes, yes it will. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 16:25
  • 10
    How cool would it be to see a question get ping ponged SF->SO->SU->MSO->SF->SU->SF->SU->SF->MSO->Closed
    – Kredns
    Commented Jul 17, 2009 at 4:17
  • 3
    @Omar it certainly seems like a bit of a trash bin so far...
    – TM.
    Commented Jul 27, 2009 at 6:13
  • 3
    If it doesn't belong in any of the sites then it shouldn't have been asked in the first place.
    – mk12
    Commented Oct 6, 2009 at 2:40

6 Answers 6


Similar to how when you ask a question "possible dupes" are shown... a option like this might be helpful.

Question: How to set desktop background in ubuntu?


Tags: [ubuntu], [display]


... on submit... SO then checks the tags (or lack thereof) and if it doesn't see any programming-like tags. e.g. no LANGUAGE tags, nor SQL tags, nor MATH-FUNCTION tags... then

Offer up a page with....

Hmmm, it looks like this question might be better handled
on one of our other sites.

Is your question about:

General Computer Help Server Administration Computer Programming How this site works

whereby if the user chooses anything but the Programming button... the question is posted to the applicable site, and the user is informed, then given a link to view it on the sister site.


Here's an idea way out of left-field...why not make a trash-bin? Send all of the obscure questions there for scavengers to handle.

  • 26
    sewers.stackoverflow.com? It would have a brown and green color scheme to look like sewers? +1. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 11:33
  • 10
    The rep pirates, trawling the dirty waters, desperate for treasure...
    – Telemachus
    Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 11:36
  • 3
    That's pretty much what all the non-migration close options are. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 13:06
  • 1
    @Bill but that closes them.
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 15:59
  • @Jonathan: Closing is preparation for deletion. I know it's not as instantly gratifying as getting rid of it now, but it's the way the system is designed. (And if you see something that needs to be killed with fire, you can always flag it for moderator attention.) Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 21:53
  • 1
    +1 if you have meta.stackoverflow.com why not gehenna.stackoverflow.com
    – user132619
    Commented Aug 2, 2009 at 19:30

I think that getting Super User up and running ASAP will help, since that's obviously a SU question.

But maybe the move shouldn't be automatic? Maybe it should be a generic "not-programming-related" (on SO, and something else on the other sites) and the mods can decide if it should be closed, moved (and select the site it should be moved to), or deleted.

Another option is that if it's marked as belongs-on-X, then the mods on X have to accept it as belonging there. If it doesn't, they can decide to leave it where it is and close or delete it or forward it to another site.

  • 1
    please revisit, I hit submit too early before half the post was composed. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 11:12
  • I think I cleaned it up to address your other points. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 11:16
  • I like the suggestion of mods on Site B accepting the "trash" as "treasure." Completes the hand-shake.
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 11:19
  • True. It could even be a two way thing. The users just deem it inappropriate for the site they are on, the mods send it to what they think is the right site, and the right site accepts it. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 11:21
  • 2
    If you substitute "mods" => "users with enough rep", I think it sounds workable... kinda "questions in potentia" ;-p Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 12:03
  • I think the migration should be up to the asker. next time they log in they should get a message stating that a question they have asked is in holding for migration and asked if they want to migrate it. Alternatively a voting system where users can vote to move to site x, or vote to keep it here. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 16:04
  • 2
    @Omar If the asker asked it on the wrong site, how would they know where to move it to? Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 16:37

Perhaps if a question has been voted as 'not belonging on site X', then it shouldn't be able to be moved back there (except by a moderator perhaps?).

Hopefully that would mean that even if the first set of 3k+ rep users pushed it over inappropriately, the low-friction route for the second site's 3k+ rep users would be to close it rather than move it somewhere else.

This is otherwise a problem that people with high reputation are not necessarily also sensible people when it comes to this kind of problem - lots of sites have this kind of decision made only by moderators, but since this isn't the environment that this family of sites is trying to culture, either this or Thomas Owens' method is probably necessary.

  • I like that idea, if you want to keep the moderators out of it. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 11:34

Now that we have sites accounts being joined, could we have a minimum rep on the target site for a moderator to be able to move it there. This way the moderator will need a stake in the site that a question is being pushed to.

Perhaps this is getting to complicated… to simplify

  • To say a question isn’t suitable for site X should be normal 3K rep on site X
  • To say that a site is suitable for site Y may only require a 3K rep (or even slightly less) on site Y once it has been flagged as not suitable for site X

So it may be possible for someone who is a moderator on SF but not on SO to push a question there once it has been flagged as not suitable for SO. However it would not possible for a power crazy SU moderator to start stealing good questions from SO.

  • 1
    The problem with that is that there are a lot of devs who can (legitimately) identify a SF question, but have <200 rep on SF. And likewise in reverse. There are relatively few people with a big enough foot in both doors... or did I misunderstand? Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 12:01
  • 3
    You understood. Perhaps the threshold should be much lower on the target sight. What should be avoided is someone who has no interest at all in another site punting it there. Commented Jul 13, 2009 at 13:27

I think this needs to be repeated periodically. Or stickied, or something. Granted, it's over three years later, and some things do change with time, but ServerFault STILL isn't your trash bin, even if the migration queue makes it look that way.

Seriously, 4 out 5 SO users thought that this was a real question? And that it belonged on ServerFault? Mind boggling.

And, of course, this was probably a waste of effort, since the same people who didn't read this 3 years ago and are still migrating weapons-grade crap to ServerFault because $dumb_reason won't read it this time either.

  • Hey, you're not the only site to get inappropriate community migrations from other Stack Exchange sites.
    – ale
    Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 18:41
  • @AlEverett 31% rejection rate from SO to SF, and climbing fast (limited only by the number of close votes we get a day, it seems). There's a difference between getting some incorrect migrations and getting multiple migrations from the same community, on a daily basis that are incomprehensible. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 18:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .