Recently, I have noticed several topics being moved from Stack Overflow to Super User that are off-topic.

According to the FAQ:

and it is not about

  • videogames or consoles
  • websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress
  • electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer

However, questions related to websites and services as well as mobile devices are occasionally being moved from Stack Overflow to Super User, only to be closed by moderators several minutes to several hours later.

One recent example of such a question being moved is this question. The question is off-topic because the question concerns changing the settings on a smart phone. Even if one were to argue that this falls under the "insofar as they interface with your computer" clause, the phone is interfacing with a web service, not software on the user's computer.

Is there anything that can be done about these off-topic questions being moved to Super User?

This Meta Stack Overflow question addresses a similar issue with high-reputation users failing to recognize off-topic posting. Could such an approach be taken to help stop Stack Overflow's moderators from moving off-topic questions?

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    On a related note - can those folks posting a comment belongs on SuperUser also tell the OP NOT to repost ? – Sathyajith Bhat May 28 '10 at 23:53
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    It happens.. They also dump questions related to a single computer on SF commonly as well. And I'm sure nobody has ever move a question to SO that didn't belong there... Nobody's perfect, deal with it as is appropriate and move on with life. – Chris S May 29 '10 at 0:23
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    @chris s: Your comment would make a perfectly appropriate answer. – Robert Cartaino May 29 '10 at 4:51
  • By the way: it's not (just) moderators who can move questions; anyone with 3,000 reputation can vote to do so. – Arjan May 29 '10 at 8:54
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    I just learned one can actually flag "belongs on" comments without a penalty for the commenter. :-) (@Essjaaay) – Arjan May 29 '10 at 9:26
  • @Ess: They just shouldn't use those comments. Vote to close and possibly flag for moderator attention, let answers and real comments continue "as normal" until it gets migrated. – Gnome May 29 '10 at 12:09
  • @Arjan Hm, thanks, just checked. Will start using them right away. But my point still remains that OP will be confused, and without mentioning there's no need for a repost, the OP might head off to SU and repost well before the post gets migrated. The question then becomes redundant, and also confusing as few folks will flag the migrated ones as dupe, while others will flag the reposted one as dupe :/ I generally flag the question which has the least answers. @The Cat The comments come from a community I'm not so active at. ( and I don't have enough rep to vote to close on those ) – Sathyajith Bhat May 29 '10 at 12:15
  • Yes, @Essjaaay, I totally agree with both your comments. Actually, maybe it's a pity that flagging comments does not affect the commenter... – Arjan May 29 '10 at 15:45
  • The comments are well-intended. Otherwise, the new person gets a rather rude surprise, and they're trying to soften the blow. They need to just clarify the 'no repost' aspect. – Rosinante May 29 '10 at 18:28
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    @Rosinante, I can hardly see anything friendly in comments like "belongs on ...". It would look nice reading "you'll have better responses on ..." But even then we agree such comments should always explain that the OP should not repost. When such note is not there, I'm now flagging it, and still adding another comment, explaining to the OP to not repost -- so a lazy "belongs on" comment forces others to step in, but the commenter might just not realize that as there's no (small) penalty. But well, that's covered at “Belongs on” comments. – Arjan May 30 '10 at 14:48
  • Yeesh, I've been doing this! Bad noob mod! – user1228 Jul 15 '10 at 20:59

I don't know why this question suddenly showed up on page 1 for me, but I'll attempt an answer.

There was a recent change in the way the "Close" menu was structured. Previously the "Belongs on" categories were at the top level, encouraging you to pick one, and SuperUser was the least specialized of them. Now the top level simply includes "Off Topic", and a submenu appears to select another site to redirect the question to. There's a default in the sub menu so you don't even have to select anything.

I'd be curious to see statistics on how many off-topic questions have been directed to SuperUser both before and after the change. My guess is that this has substantially reduced the problem.

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    It showed up on the front page because it was bumped by the Community user. You can read up more about it over here. – Grace Note Nov 29 '10 at 20:51
  • And thanks to the upvote that this answer has received it won't get bumped again. – ChrisF Nov 29 '10 at 21:27

Here's the description for superuser given when you're closing a question as off-topic:

Q&A for computer enthusiasts and power users

Here's the longer description of superuser from its faq:

If you have a question about …

* computer hardware
* computer software

and it is not about …

* videogames or consoles
* websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress
* electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones,

except insofar as they interface with your computer * a shopping or buying recommendation

Its easy for someone to get confused if their only exposure ever to super user is "Q&A for computer enthusiasts and power users." Computer entusiast === person who can fix anything whatsoever about computers right? Facebook, websites, and media players are all computer related, so why isn't the site for that?

The problem comes from 3K+ users on SO not knowing what's on or off-topic for superuser. I can see a few ways of helping to better educate them:

  • put some helpful info in privileges section for 3k users designed exact for this purpose.
  • link to a description of what belongs on superuser in the close as off-topic superuser migration choice so users easily make a more informed decision about whether to migrate or not.
  • require X rep on superuser before you can migrate questions there.

I think the first 2 would be fairly easy to implement and fair effective. The last would have a bigger impact but maybe be a little restrictive. The next question would probably be, "do we require rep on meta and SF before you can migrate questions there too?" It is possible to have a good understanding of a site without having rep there, so it might be frustrating to users who know what they're doing. You don't have to have answered a ton of questions on meta to know its for talking about stackoverflow and other stackexchange sites.

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  • Here's a link you can throw in there alongside your third bullet point. – Grace Note Nov 29 '10 at 21:42

I still vow for creating some kind of "off topic" / "everything else" kind of stack website... So I've just made a proposal on Area 51 with a different approach for this!

The idea is to be that dumping place for all other stack sites. It'd also be the first place for newbies to go. A place for questions that belong to two or more stack sites. And lastly a place for every other off topic message, as long as it's not purely spam. Just let the community filter out anything that's purely propaganda / money / malicious.

After all, if all we need is a community big enough to commit to it, I think we already have that (in 5 minutes I've found two proposals on Area 51 with many people who are willing to commit to it, and they were both closed rather fast before it could grow more due to lack of having some context)!

I hope that this idea at least can evolve into something, even if something else, probably another name than gate, but with the "same open for any question" main concept. :)

edit: I think quora and reddit are obvious proof that this could work, but, now I think about it, although I think StackExchange rocks, the community in here in general is against "opinion based" questions so yeah, this would probably never work out! :(

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    who would go on the site? Having little restrictions on the type of questions basically ends up meaning there will be very few people to answer them and virtually no experts whatsoever, defeating the entire purpose of Q&A. Look at yahoo answers, almost nothing is off-topic, but most of the answers are sub-par. I guarantee you ANY question would get a better answer on a more specific site. If the objective of a site is to provide good answers to questions, there must be a defined topic to keep expert users interested and coming back to the site. – Gordon Gustafson Nov 29 '10 at 21:23
  • @CrazyJuggler what's so wrong with having a yahoo answers with a super awesome interface? I think there's value on that alone. Area 51 is already charged with the task to create specific sites for that kind of experts, but voting isn't the only thing that motivate them. Wikipedia is made out of experts with no specific topic or voting. Bottom line, there's no substitute for just trying and experimenting. – cregox Nov 30 '10 at 19:25

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