Stack Overflow users have been using the "off topic - belongs on SoftwareEngineering.SE" close reason as an alternative to all the other close reasons. It'd be helpful if people actually read the FAQ and the six guidelines for subjective questions before voting to migrate questions like:

Absent a reversal of the Stack Overflow community from viewing SoftwareEngineering.SE as the Stack Overflow cesspool, can the "off topic - belongs on SoftwareEngineering.SE" close reason be removed in favor of manual migration by moderators who can actually spend the 10 seconds to determine if the question should be closed outright first?

To say that SoftwareEngineering.SE is such a nebulous place and nobody knows what its scope is as the reason why crappy questions keep getting migrated there is to miss the point. Good questions are good questions on all of the sites, and questions that are too vague, that are too argumentative, too localized, and too broad are universal close reasons. There is no special dispensation for SoftwareEngineering.SE to have bad questions, even if you personally think the questions on there suck.

Even the six subjective guidelines for subjective questions are universal guidelines: they affect all sites. So even if you had no idea what the consequences of using the "off topic - belongs on SoftwareEngineering.SE" close reason were, there are still all of the other close reasons for which bad questions, like the ones above, can be closed.

  • 25
    programmers.SE, the new Super User. – kennytm Dec 28 '10 at 15:09
  • 67
    You forgot to add Get off my Lawn to your post. – George Stocker Dec 28 '10 at 15:13
  • 66
    "in favor of manual migration by moderators who can actually spend the 10 seconds to determine if the question should be closed outright first" -- I think you're making the assumption that Stack Overflow moderators know what kind of questions Programmers wants to have. I, for one, am thoroughly confused despite having read the FAQ. Up until about last week, I was sort of under the impression that Programmers was supposed to be the toilet bowl. (The migration option didn't exist then, fortunately.) – mmyers Dec 28 '10 at 15:29
  • 6
    please, consider creating a new area51 "cimitery of the unwanted questions" proposal where questions like those will eventually die with dignity. – systempuntoout Dec 28 '10 at 15:32
  • 9
    @systempuntoout: this option already exists, it called DELETE. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 15:49
  • 30
    @George back in my day, we answered questions uphill both ways in the snow with wolves chasing after us. And we liked it. You Stack Overflow whippersnappers these days have it too soft. – user149432 Dec 28 '10 at 15:55
  • 2
    @bigown nope, DELETE is like a giant laser beam that crushes the poor question forever without any remaining trace. – systempuntoout Dec 28 '10 at 16:03
  • 5
    @systempuntoout: Exactly. We are ecologically correct, we exterminate trash without a trace. Who wants keep trash, should do on your home unless it could be a problem for neighbors. A community place is the wrong way to keep trash. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 16:11
  • 4
    @systempuntoout Ironically, there is no migration path from Programmers.SE to Stack Overflow. It's a one-way landfill. And re-migrated questions are grounds for automatic deletion per Jeff Atwood. – user149432 Dec 28 '10 at 16:22
  • 14
    "It'd be helpful if people actually read the FAQ and the guidelines for six subjective questions before voting to migrate questions like:" Did I miss something? When Programmers was first proposed, it was proposed as a site to put subjective questions on that didn't fit on StackOverflow. – Powerlord Dec 28 '10 at 16:58
  • 3
    @systempuntoout: I looking for a solution for SE sites not for PSE. Playing ping-pong is not the solution. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 17:03
  • 7
    @Mark Trapp: After reading that and "Introducing programmers.stackexchange.com" I can only conclude that, since it's original proposal, the entire focus of Programmers has changed. So, why wasn't the proposal deleted and restarted? Wait, I should file a brand new question on Meta for that. – Powerlord Dec 28 '10 at 20:50
  • 5
    GET OUT OF MY YARD! – Jon Seigel Dec 29 '10 at 22:36
  • 20
    Shhhh, stop telling people about the FAQ! It's supposed to be a secret. – Tim Post Dec 30 '10 at 12:41
  • 9
    @RegDwight I nominate Quora. – user149432 Jan 7 '11 at 0:34

12 Answers 12


Questions like the various strains of "How much should I be making?" are off topic on any Stack Exchange site, because they are too localized anywhere. It will be out of date within a year. Please kill such questions; don't give them to someone else to kill them for you.

Also, don't use a new feature just beacuse it is there. (Hint, the new migration path) Our site would welcome constructive questions that get asked on SO because the user did not know about P.SE. However, we do close off-topic questions quite aggresively, so migrating bad questions will not keep them open much longer anyway. Please do us all a favor and don't pass the buck, just because you can with the new path.

As a P.SE user, I don't like seeing our site getting dumped useless questions. I hope the migrators will try to have the same respect for P.SE's scope -and any other new site that may come along in the future - as they do for SOs.


I'll say it again: lead by example. When the migrated questions fit with questions already open/popular on the site, you just sound hypocritical criticizing SO users for not reading the FAQ - your own users aren't doing so either!

Something else to keep in mind... A question can be on-topic and still be a lousy question. Maybe you can fix that with editing (as tvanfosson suggests), or maybe you just have to close it and move on, but at least the author knows where to ask the next one. The alternative - expecting SO users to both judge what's on-topic for your site and filter out the on-topic trash - means an extra bit of frustration for users who take the time to improve their initial offerings only to find them still closed on the site where they asked them... and then faced with an entirely different set of suggestions for improvement on P.SE. That just makes more work for everyone.

Regarding your edit: if we could agree on which questions were "universally bad", then two of your examples wouldn't have had their long and storied careers on SO. I'm getting a little bit irritated hearing you preach about how easy it is to get folks to understand and agree on what's "universally bad", especially when some of the questions you're dismissing predate your involvement with both sites. If it was that easy, we'd have dealt with them years ago, and P.SE wouldn't even exist.


  • Bad questions should be closed, not migrated. But,
  • Bad questions will be migrated anyway, because "bad" is subjective / some folks disagree with the criteria / destination site is already full of bad / etc.
  • The solution is defense in depth: bad questions that slip through the cracks on SO and get migrated can still be closed and/or deleted on the destination site.
  • 5
    Thanks for bringing those questions to our attention. I've dealt with some and am considering the rest. – ChrisF Dec 28 '10 at 18:40
  • 4
    @ChrisF: a final suggestion for dealing with "toilet bowl" questions for now then: when you find yourself closing an OT question on P.SE, scan through the "related" sidebar and take care of similarly-OT exiting questions. – Shog9 Dec 28 '10 at 19:00
  • 2
    Good point - it's easy to forget that the "related" algorithm is quite useful. – ChrisF Dec 28 '10 at 19:12
  • 2
    None of these questions should be closed as off-topic, except for Code Golf which is being discussed yet. SO users doesn't know what is Too localized? Anyway if the user doesn't know what is off-topic on any other site he can't vote to migrate to its. If he unknown the 6 guidelines, he can't judge properly. Only duplicated question has an excuse to SO users. But some of these duplicated questions examples could be closed by another reason too. What we're requesting here is the good sense. If someone haven't enough information to make a decision, let to others decide. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 19:14
  • 4
    @bigown: again, I have a hard time taking such preaching seriously when your own choir ignores you. Apart from that, please remember that the users and moderators doing this are donating their time in an effort to improve the site and help other users - they get neither rep nor respect for it, and insulting them won't help your cause. – Shog9 Dec 28 '10 at 19:19
  • 2
    @Shog9: What are you saying? Where are you seeing insult? – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 19:24
  • 2
    @Shog9 I would presume, as a person who's been in the Stack Overflow system for so long, that you'd know how toxic "well, if someone else did it, I should do it too" is. It's actually rather shocking that you'd take such an attitude towards the network of sites from which you've derived so much value. – user149432 Dec 28 '10 at 19:47
  • 1
    @Shog9 Even granting the scope of Programmers.SE is mystical and inscrutable (despite the times it's been explained to you), Stack Overflow members such as yourself are smart enough to know when a question is too localized, too broad, too vague, or too argumentative to have any redeeming value on any of the Stack Exchange sites regardless of what questions have slipped through the cracks. – user149432 Dec 28 '10 at 19:48
  • 2
    @Mark: I didn't migrate any of those questions, and as I've stated before, my opinion doesn't matter. Either you make it clear to the folks who don't follow every bit of Meta minutia, or you deal with the consequences... – Shog9 Dec 28 '10 at 21:37
  • 1
    @bigown: I have difficulty parsing your grammar at times - were you stating that the decision to migrate should be obvious (it obviously is not), or merely that SO users who are not also informed P.SE users shouldn't be migrating? – Shog9 Dec 28 '10 at 21:39
  • 1
    @Shog9: Sorry, as you already know English is not my language and I have difficult to write fast and try to follow a good grammar. It's totally my fault. What I stated it's that the power comes with responsibility. If someone wish migrate a question, it's ok since he get informed about how to do it. Most of these questions should be deleted in any SE site. Hypothetically if the SO members decide to migrate questions without get informed and spend some seconds to evaluate the question the only solution that I could manage it would be to close and delete all questions from SO landed on PSE. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 23:47
  • 5
    @bigown: ok, I can dig that. I'll note that two of those questions were hugely popular on SO prior to migration, standing open prior to migration - hardly "trash", but also strictly off-topic. They may or may not be on-topic for P.SE, but certainly follow the "programmer-focused" guideline that seems to be the rule for most P.SE questions (6 guidelines not withstanding). I feel like a broken record saying this, but... The original charter for P.SE was easy to understand, while the current guidelines are (again, obviously, given the questions asked and migrated) not. That's a problem. – Shog9 Dec 28 '10 at 23:54
  • 7
    Totally agree with you here Shog ... – waffles Dec 29 '10 at 0:18
  • 1
    @Shog9: That's the exact same problem Super User had earlier. SU people - is this still a problem? – David Thornley Dec 29 '10 at 21:20
  • 2
    @Shog9: In our case one problem is not related with other. The only problem discussed here is the migration. Our internal problems are discusses there. – Maniero Dec 30 '10 at 14:12

Get over it. Nearly all of these questions are better suited to finding a life on programmers.se than on SO. Just because they fail to flourish there doesn't mean that it was wrong to migrate them. I'd suggest that rather than close the questions, you might want to take time to edit them to improve them. Given that they've been migrated, you may want to take a little more freedom to put them into a shape that makes them a better question for that forum.

For what it's worth, removing "favorite" and concentrating on enumerating the features that lead to the selection of a code review tool would be a very good subjective question. Career discussions, I think, are (or should be) a valid subject on programmers.se. Reframing the "single discovery" question to elicit more in depth answers would turn it into a very useful resource -- though the question is old enough that it might not help. Code Golf, like it or not, is explicitly mentioned in the FAQ, and I think "how do I write code that doesn't suck" while overly broad has some subquestions and could be edited into a shape that would make it very useful for new programmers finding it through Google.

  • 4
    Thank you for mentioning editing. I think that often we don't even think about it, because our questions are very subjective. "Code golf" is in the FAQ, but I don't think it should be, personally, and not too many of those have really come up so far. My problem in this migration issue is the questions that have no home - particularly localized questions that will be out of date within months or a year. These should be killed without remorse. – Ghost User Dec 28 '10 at 15:34
  • 5
    "I'd suggest that rather than close the questions, you might want to take time to edit them to improve them. Given that they've been migrated, you may want to take a little more freedom to put them into a shape that makes them a better question for that forum." Exactly my point. Rather than use "well we have the other other place, Programmers.SE, let's not deal with it on the good site" as the universal excuse to not deal with questions you don't like on Stack Overflow, use every other option available to you, including editing or closing for the dozen other more applicable reasons. – user149432 Dec 28 '10 at 15:54
  • 3
    @tvanfosson: feel free to put in practice what you suggests. If you edit every question migrated to PSE to meet site guidelines, we will accept and keep them open. But if SO users don't want to make their homework, dumping trash on PSE is not the solution. See also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73375/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73373/… – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 15:58
  • 3
    @bigown - I don't have editing rights on PSE. Even with that at least 4 out of the 7 were ok IMO to migrate without changes but could be improved to satisfy the PSE purists. I leave it to the PSE purists to satisfy themselves. I suggest editing as a less harsh reaction, but you'll feel free to do as you wish in any event. – tvanfosson Dec 28 '10 at 16:07
  • 10
    You're ignoring that "how do I wrote code that doesn't suck" has been duplicated about a thousand times in various incarnations on that site. And career questions like that are simply off-topic/too localized regardless of how you edit them. You of all people should know that editing terrible questions is a strain on the resources of any community; if the question genuinely sucks then it should be closed, not migrated. It's especially bad to be migrating low-quality questions at a time like this when P.SE is struggling to raise the bar or at least keep it where it is. – Aarobot Dec 28 '10 at 16:07
  • 2
    @Aarobot - I don't think so. I look at it as two separate problems. First, classification. All of the questions mentioned are more in line with PSE than SO. As a primary user of SO, not PSE, I look at whether the question is better suited to another site. Second, question quality. My general reaction, even on SO, is to look to see if the question can be improved if need be before I close it. There are very few questions, IMO, that can't be salvaged in some form. And, yes, I have done a fair amount of editing to clarify and improve questions as evidenced by my gold Copy Editor badge. – tvanfosson Dec 28 '10 at 16:18
  • 5
    @tvanfosson: You can edit before the migration. In fact my suggestion implies that way. It's ease to suggest work to others do. Of course what I suggests to you were ironically. It's impossible to save most these questions (not just these 7). You're proposing dump your trash on other site, so I propose you keep your trash and handling with. See more on meta.stackexchange.com/questions/71731/… – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 16:18
  • 1
    @bigown - I suggest that perhaps you are taking this a little too seriously. It's only a web site; I don't care enough about SO or PSE to feel like I have to "dump" anything. – tvanfosson Dec 28 '10 at 16:20
  • 2
    I'm afraid I don't follow your logic. Questions aren't "more in line with P.SE than SO" if they are off-topic on both sites. They're equally out-of-line with both sites. – Aarobot Dec 28 '10 at 16:22
  • 9
    Did you actually just tell a moderator that he's taking the question quality there "too seriously"? Wow. – Aarobot Dec 28 '10 at 16:23
  • 3
    @tvanfosson: Yes, I'm not playing here. Thanks to clarify your perspective to not taking this issue in a serious way. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 16:26
  • 2
    @Aarobot - I think that at least 4 of the 7 are on topic, though perphaps not "good". FWIW, I didn't vote migrate any of them. The point is that I could easily see any of them being actually asked on PSE, even given the FAQ. The fact that PSE users consider them "bad" questions isn't a reason to migrate them there and to have SO user decide a priori for PSE users what is/isn't a good question seems odd. SO users should only be concerned about classification, not quality (assuming that it is readable and understandable, i.e., it doesn't hit another close reason on SO). – tvanfosson Dec 28 '10 at 16:26
  • 6
    @bigown - we went through this on SO; people raged over closing questions, what questions to ask, blah, blah, blah. I suggest that the TCP robustness principle is a better guide: be liberal in what you accept, conservative in what you do: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robustness_principle. That's all I mean by taking it too seriously. You seem to think I'm personally out to ruin your site -- get over it. I don't care that much. – tvanfosson Dec 28 '10 at 16:33
  • 5
    Yes, tv, SO users should be concerned about classification, and that means actually knowing what the classifications are. Several people apparently seem to be confused about that. – Aarobot Dec 28 '10 at 16:37
  • 5
    I support the idea of editing questions into shape, but we're coming up against reality here -- editing a new question is useful whereas editing a two-year-old question with 20 answers is not. At best such a question would be edited into a form that doesn't match existing answers. Editing is definitely an important tool, but it's not an answer to all of the issues raised with this migration wave. – Adam Lear Dec 30 '10 at 13:10

Just a datapoint: it's not only SO, and it's not only Programmers SE.

Example: this question by this user. Here it is in its entirety:

Search data in iphone?

i have search the data the result is 838 record is found, my data is in 800th record.In each time i navigate the data and then i seen my data.So what is the best method having the iphone to see my 800th record?Please help me.

It started off at SO, where it was migrated to SU. SU migrated it to Apple SE. I closed it as NARQ: "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here."

I'm guessing (based on it having started on SO, his other questions, and the mention of his data) that it's a programming question—but migrating it certainly didn't make it any easier to tell what was going on. The mods at SO and SU should have noticed prior to migrating it that the destination site wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of it either.

But most importantly: my understanding is that—after two migrations—the user who asked it won't be able to find out where it went or why.

Why was it migrated even once?

  • 5
    pretty ridiculous that it wasn't commented and closed until the OP could make it readable in the first place. – Robert S Ciaccio Dec 29 '10 at 1:52
  • 5
    I completely agree @Dori that migration of crappy questions should be stopped. SU get's this crap from SO, but now SU is starting to do it to other sites, which is a worrying trend! – Ivo Flipse Dec 29 '10 at 13:44

Is there a good reason for not requiring moderators from the destination site to 'accept' migrated questions from another site? This shouldn't replace the need of source site moderators to carefully consider whether the question is being sent to the right place.

I don't know if the volume of migrated questions would overwhelm destination site moderators. I doubt that the time it would take to accept/decline the question is more than the hassle of closing unwanted questions.

  • 2
    There have been varying requests that suggest some measure of experience with the target site before being allowed migration - here's one example which suggests that a user must have a minimum reputation on the target site before being allowed to migrate. – Grace Note Dec 28 '10 at 15:49
  • 1
    This would be a good question (feature request) here, if it's not asked before. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 15:52
  • @bigown I just added as a feature request – robert_x44 Dec 28 '10 at 16:12

The reasoning that SO users should be more diligent in applying the rules of P.SE prior to considering migration is somewhat contrary to the Law of Demeter, which seems to me to be just as applicable here as it is for OOP design.

Firstly, there are nearly 4,000 users on SO capable of closing/migrating questions, and there are probably a significant number of them that don't routinely follow Meta discussions, blog posts, etc. where the intricacies of the P.SE rules are laid out. Many might only give the P.SE FAQ a cursory glance to get the general gist of what the site is about. It may therefore be unrealistic to expect more diligence from these SO users regarding making judgments about questions prior to migration.

This is further complicated by the fact that the content on P.SE is quite broadly defined, and there is the additional caveat of "The 6 laws", for which there could be a great deal of debate/disagreement over how many a given question satisfies. When you add in the fact that the P.SE community itself doesn't often follow their own rules, sometimes blatantly reproducing some of the more controversial purely-for-fun SO questions, it becomes even more unlikely that SO (and specifically non-P.SE) users can best gauge what is most appropriate for P.SE.

Tying this back to my initial mention of the Law of Demeter, each community should be primarily concerned with judging what is on- or off-topic for its own community, with only a general concern about what is appropriate for another. In other words, SO users are best at judging SO-appropriate content, while P.SE users are best at judging P.SE-appropriate content. Expecting SO users to do both is unreasonable given the nature of P.SE.

I think that for quite a few of the examples you give it is reasonable for an SO user to believe they may have a place on P.SE, and passing the baton to them to make the final expert judgment seems very reasonable. Every community has to perform its own quality control, and SO has such a large volume of cruft to sift through that it seems a small thing to ask that P.SE makes the final call on a few of the subjective edge cases.

  • 7
    tvanfosson and Shog9 provided the same exact argument: that the purpose of Programmers.SE is inscrutable, so it's totally okay that people completely ignore any sense of personal responsibility when opting to migrate questions to Programmers.SE. But the argument is a straw man: even if you completely ignore the question of scope, the vast majority of questions being migrated to Programmers.SE are universally bad questions. Too localized, too broad, too vague, and too argumentative questions affect all sites, not just Programmers.SE. – user149432 Dec 29 '10 at 13:11
  • 3
    Even the six subjective guidelines are a universal policy, not just for Programmers.SE. A person opting to avail themselves of the close option presumably is aware of what those things mean for any site. Instead, people are using the migrate to Programmers.SE option as a means to say "eh, I don't want this on the good site, but I don't want to figure out why I don't like the question." So saying it's all the fault of Programmers.SE for being so nebulous is exactly the point I'm making: that you're using it as a toilet bowl instead of actually thinking about why a question should be closed. – user149432 Dec 29 '10 at 13:14
  • 4
    @Mark The problem is that as far as people were first told about Programmers, and by judging what content does exist there, these "universally bad questions" seem appropriate for there. This is what both Shog9 and bemace were both referring to - your site has the image of accepting those questions! It's not so much that you're nebulous, it's that intentional or not, your site illustrates that you do want those questions. Us on Meta will understand that you don't, but you still need to do your part on Programmers and discourage the trash that is currently encouraging these migrations. – Grace Note Dec 29 '10 at 13:41
  • 3
    @Mark I think part of the problem here is that you are taking a very strict view on what is appropriate for P.SE, even stricter it seems than the larger P.SE community. You should probably try to get your own house in order first, because as Shog9 and others have pointed out it is easy to see why some would think that many of the questions you listed would be allowed, since so many others like them have been. Of the examples you listed, I agree about the programmer's wages and the code golf (which was recently disallowed). All the rest seem like probable fits for P.SE, given some editing. – gnostradamus Dec 29 '10 at 15:41
  • 3
    @gnostradamus even if every single question on Programmers.SE was the product of a cat sleeping on a keyboard, it still doesn't give one license to ignore the rules set out for all sites. You don't need to have seen anything on Programmers.SE to know when a question is bad. The close reasons literally spell it out for you. Getting to 3,000 rep requires at least basic literacy. – user149432 Dec 29 '10 at 16:00
  • 2
    @Mark: You seem to be stuck on this idea that things are very clearly either "bad" or "not-bad", and you're ignoring the fact that there is still a large gray area even when you take the "6 subjective rules" into account. The argument I'm trying to make is that a number of your examples aren't what some would consider patently egregious and clear-cut cases of "bad". Some may think they satisfy enough of the subjective requirements, and for cases that fall in a quality gray area I think it is reasonable to migrate based on topic, and let the destination site judge or refine the quality. – gnostradamus Dec 29 '10 at 16:11
  • 3
    So, should we apply the LoD? OK: Each unit should only talk to its friends; don't talk to strangers. Translating to our situation: Don't migrate questions to PSE. Ok, I see, you are saying that 4000 SO members is not able to choose what belongs to PSE properly. The solution is not delegate the problem to PSE (talk to strangers), the solution is raise the migration path feature to 30k. Oh, this is not able to solve the problem, so just mods could use migration path. It's not solve either? Drop migration path due to incapacity of SO members use it. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 16:47
  • 2
    Ignoring FAQ and go deep on the content to eval what is ok on PSE is not a valid argument. It's absolutely incoherent say the SO members can't get informed about what is ok on PSE and arguing that the PSE's content inform SO members wrongly. In fact the majority of problems are not about off-topic questions. You are saying that SO members can't eval what are too localized, NARQ, too argumentative, just fun and they ignoring the universal 6 guidelines of a constructive question. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 16:48
  • 2
    If we are following LoD this discussion wouldn't exists but it's real so: Doesn't PSE a clean site? What about SO? some questions have dozens of exactly duplicated, most of them open. So has thousands of visible questions that is absolutely trash open. Nor members or mods handled with. The most visible case is the Hidden Features questions. One language deserves to be open, other languages not. So has lots and lots and lots of bad questions, not off-topic questions open. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 16:48
  • 2
    In fact PSE was create due to incapacity of SO managing their bad questions. PSE shouldn't be created but it was and now we working to create a good community. Probably we are failing in a minor scale as SO failing but we have scale to fix it. No one is doing the proper cleanup before migrate to PSE. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73375/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73373/… – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 16:49
  • 1
    If SO was applied correctly guidelines to eval questions and the 6 guidelines was created to guide subjective questions, PSE would be unnecessary. SO has great (and bad) subjective questions open for years now and probably it will keep some of them: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/71731/…. Great subjective questions must be migrated to PSE, bad questions (subjective, objective, etc) must be deleted. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 16:51
  • 1
    We can work together but we need rules. See carefully the LoD. It's ease to blame PSE and ignore the hard work that SO should do before the migration. Tools don't solve bad organized organizations. PSE is not the cure to SO ills. Eventual wrong migration is acceptable. The real question here is: Should we have migration path or not (and who should use it)? Power without responsibility is totally unacceptable. Pass the problem to another site is not a solution like SO currently do with SU for example. This causes more problem to whole community. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 16:58
  • 5
    @bigown: writing six consecutive comments is a great way to kill a discussion... There's nothing wrong with replying in an answer if you really have that much to say. That said, I'm not really seeing anything new in your rambling - you think some migrations have been bad, and therefore the capability should be removed or altered in such a way as to prevent it from happening again. IMHO, you're asking for special tools to solve a general problem: users ask bad questions. They ask them on SO, they ask them on SU, they ask them on P.SE... Migration is a red herring. – Shog9 Dec 29 '10 at 17:59
  • 2
    Who asking for special tools? My grammar could be bad but I never said that. Actually it's the opposite. Can you discuss the general bigger problem, it's ok on another thread, here you are discussing migration. I'm eager to see what proposals to solve the general problem you could provide for us. Now, here, I'm interested on the actual migration problem. And finally, it's unfair on a discussion (maybe it could be a feature request to change meta sites) to one members write a big text as an answer and other members have the right to write just some lines in one comment. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 19:03
  • 2
    @Shog9: No, PSE is not special. Is the currently visible problem. My comments stated about it and we have an answer here stated that too. Thanks for tip about the comments on meta. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 20:02

I realize that I'm coming into this discussion late but wanted to point out that on PSE we are closing slightly more than half of all questions migrated from SO. That doesn't seem like a good ratio and probably points to the fact that the current system (or lack of system) isn't really working.

Is this discussion going to net out anywhere?

  • 1
    It's a horrible ratio if there are 500 questions migrated to P.SE every day - you guys just can't be expected to handle that kind of load. It's really not so bad if there are... 2/day. It's also worse if you're closing them because they're off-topic (SO users don't understand what's on-topic for P.SE) than if you're closing them because they're just lousy questions (SO users are notoriously disgustingly helpful to new users). Finally, if they're mod-migrated, then the suggestions here are irrelevant anyway. – Shog9 Jan 6 '11 at 19:57
  • @Shog9 - Fortunately its' not up to 500 day yet. I would say the bulk are closed for either off-topic or not constructive. – Walter Jan 6 '11 at 20:13
  • @Shog9 - my very brief and unscientific sampling show that most are community-migrated, not mod-migrated. – Walter Jan 6 '11 at 20:16
  • 1
    @Shog9: If SO users would only migrate subjective questions to P:SE, we'd be getting off to a good start. – David Thornley Jan 6 '11 at 21:57
  • @David: as a 10K+ SO user, you owe it to yourself to scan through the recently-closed question list - non-subjective migrations are at best a tiny subset of those migrated, which in turn are a fraction of those closed as OT. I think SO users are learning... – Shog9 Jan 6 '11 at 22:11
  • @Shog9: Unfortunately, the "recently closed" list is broken down by larger categories, so it's impossible to find migrations other than question by question. The "close votes" lists do list migrations, and there are questions going to P.SE that should just be closed. I cast some appropriate votes and left a few comments. – David Thornley Jan 7 '11 at 15:07
  • @David: yes, it's tedious to analyze... That's why I keep pushing the P.SE mods for numbers from their end. But going through the recent-closed list does help to make it clear just how many questions are closed without migrating - remember, one or two votes to migrate don't necessarily matter if the majority votes otherwise. – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 15:52

To be fair, when I submitted the idea to Area 51, it was meant to hold all the subjective questions that weren't suitable to Stack Overflow. It has undergone significant change since then, and so confusion is natural.

Keep working on rejecting bad questions, and keep working on helping Stack Overflow moderators choose correctly. It's a new site, and it'll take several months for it to figure out what it's going to be and what it isn't - just the same way Stack Overflow had to figure itself out.

Don't get too impatient, and please don't lay this at the feet of the moderators - the community will eventually 'get it'.

  • can the "off topic - belongs on Programmers.SE" close reason be removed in favor of manual migration by moderators who can actually spend the 10 seconds to determine if the question should be closed outright first?

No. Fully 1/3 of the questions that I just sampled (that were reasonable questions that do follow the FAQ) come from Stack Overflow. There are a lot of questions that are submitted to Stack Overflow which aren't appropriate for Stack Overflow, but are appropriate for Programmers.SE.

It's a natural migration path, no more or less useful than the migration paths to Server Fault, Super User, etc.

Forcing the moderators to manage this workload is not reasonable due to the amount of work that would entail.

  • So even if you had no idea what the consequences of using the "off topic - belongs on Programmers.SE" close reason were, there are still all of the other close reasons for which bad questions, like the ones above, can be closed.

Unfortunately people don't like to close questions, so on top of the misunderstanding about what Programmers.SE is meant to be, some people will attempt to migrate it anyway, hoping that it might find a home there.

Sometimes they are right.

Now, I don't have access to the stats on Programmers.SE, but I'd appreciate it if you would give us the scope of the problem:

  • How many bad questions are migrated per day?
  • How much of the total number of questions submitted consist of badly migrated questions (i.e., total volume vs. badly migrated)?
  • How many good questions are migrated per day?
  • How do those compare to bad vs. good questions submitted directly to the site?
  • Are the moderators on Programmers.SE having difficulty keeping up with the inflow of bad questions?

If the above problem is truly causing Programmers.SE to fail or presenting a severe load on moderating, then perhaps we should look into resolving the problem.

But your arguments lack compelling evidence that something needs to be done. Yes, it's annoying, and yes, it's going to take time for the moderators on Stack Overflow to understand the difference, but that doesn't mean the migration path should be turned off, restricted to moderators only, or some other drastic measure until we understand the magnitude of the problem.


Something just occurred to me... Are these the only questions you could find a problem with?

I just did a quick scan of questions closed on SO in the last 24 hours. Out of ~90 questions, only 4 were sent to P.SE. Out of those four, one is currently closed, and one is locked. I'm starting to wonder if this is all just a tempest in a teapot...

There are at least 2 users with access to the 10K/moderator tools on both SO and P.SE, so perhaps one of them can shed some light on the scale of the problem. I'm not sure it's worth getting too worked up about a tiny handful of debatable migrations.

  • 4
    Yes, this discussion had effect. Last 24 hours was better for migration to PSE. Not perfect, but better. This is a great question to make SO users get informed. It doesn't solve the problem but it's helping. Despite the critics some SO members can do their best to whole community and they prefer do it in silence. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 21:14
  • 1
    @bigown: still don't have any real numbers. I made this CW so someone with access to the tools on P.SE could post them... HINT, HINT... – Shog9 Dec 30 '10 at 16:18

Out of the 5 voters closing a question, how many have to choose "belongs on programmers SE" for it to get migrated there? It might be worthwhile to require a programmers moderator to approve it if the vote isn't high enough.

Another idea might be to require a certain reputation on the other site in order to vote to migrate it there.

  • 1
    Per the FAQ, the option that received the most votes becomes the close reason. If there is a tie, the earliest registered close reason wins out. So the minimum to migrate to Programmers.SE is one vote if 5 people disagree with each other, but 3 to outright win. There has been talk of trying to push for a feature that would allow destination moderators to "accept" questions migrated there, but it's generally rejected. – user149432 Feb 28 '11 at 22:38

I feel like the crux of the problem is that to myself and many other users (based on other discussions on meta), everything on Programmers looks like garbage.

Seriously. I'm truly, sincerely baffled why people who find Stack Overflow valuable would want to throw out its defining characteristics, but that's exactly what happened. And the examples you gave don't strike me as any worse than anything else I've seen on Programmers.

I'm not saying this to be a jerk, but those of us who don't find anything on Programmers to be worthwhile are fundamentally incapable of determining which questions belong there and which don't. You're asking us to make a distinction which for us does not exist. Despite the FAQ and the other discussions on meta, I cannot comprehend why some questions are considered good on Programmers and some are not.

  • 3
    If you don't know whether a question will be acceptable elsewhere then simply close as "off topic" without migrating. That applies to Super User, Server Fault or Webmasters as well. – ChrisF Dec 29 '10 at 13:26
  • 2
    It doesn't help that the charter for Programmers.SE was changed midstream. However, may I suggest that those of us who don't find anything on programmers.SE to be worthwhile simply lack imagination? – user102937 Dec 29 '10 at 15:36
  • I suppose that is the right approach. Those of us who just don't care about Programmers can err on the side of closing rather than migrating. But I still find it ridiculous for people to demand a toilet bowl and then get outraged about the deposits. – Brad Mace Jan 8 '11 at 19:53

Sort of update for readers who may wonder why this question was suddenly reopened. This was apparently triggered by recent comment at MSO:

your "lead by example" hand-waving looks really funny now @Shog9 when it turned that real solution is at the side of Stack Overflow (update migration path - see dupe target of the question you referred). While we're at it, got any advice on how to update FAQ to prevent questions from folks banned and warned at SO?

The matter of fact is, no amount of FAQ'ing, no matter how many upvotes go to this misleading advice, can help against such an enormous pressure as migrations aided by Stack Overflow UI. Issue was resolved only by removing Programmers from migration targets.

  • In that sense one can argue that duplicate closure of this question was right, as the issue raised was really resolved at the dupe target, not by wishy-washy advice given here.

Note that same later happened to Server Fault. No matter how they polished their site documentation, no matter how they tried, the only thing that helped them get rid of the flood of inappropriate questions was removal of the site from migration targets:

The % of rejected migrations has been getting steadily higher for quite a while now. Coupled with the small number of migrations that actually result in good (defined as up-voted) answers, keeping this path seems increasingly pointless. ServerFault has been removed as a default migration target on Stack Overflow...

  • 1
    Wouldn't this be better as a comment? – Nathan Tuggy Mar 1 '16 at 16:41
  • 1
    @NathanTuggy this is an answer – gnat Mar 1 '16 at 16:57
  • 1
    Are we abusing our delete votes on Meta? "delete votes hanging around on controversial answers are somewhat counter-productive, even if they don't actually result in the post being deleted..." – gnat Mar 1 '16 at 16:59
  • @gnat Ironically, the question linked has been deleted. – Pac0 May 23 '18 at 15:41