For general reference, we are discussing a question that is off-topic on the site it was posted on.

Tim Post says here that a question should not be migrated to another site if it is too old and it duplicates existing content.

Drachenstern defends in chat (start here and read down) that a question should not be migrated to another site if it is old, has an accepted answer, and is highly upvoted.

Personally, I think that this simply leaves off-topic questions lying around open on the original site, which leads us to "Why was that question allowed and mine not?" on various meta sites. There is no good reason to keep an off-topic question lying around, simply because it is either a duplicate on the target, or popular on the original (after all, we did migrate many questions over to Programmers). Instead, the question should be, under Tim's criteria, migrated and closed as an exact duplicate (or closed as off-topic on the original site), and under Drachenstern's criteria, simply migrated.

Should action be taken by moderators when these off-topic questions are flagged, or should we permit them, and if so, under what justifciation?

  • 2
    Very related, as it gives some important reasons as to the dangers of migrating old questions - on migrating old questions to new SE sites. In special, pay attention to Hendrik's comment, which links to his comments here.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Feb 22, 2011 at 21:25
  • @Grace I'm not talking about questions that are a better fit on the target site. The question that sparked off all of this was not on-topic for SO at all, and if a new question, would have been migrated in minutes.
    – waiwai933
    Feb 22, 2011 at 21:28
  • @waiwai The matter of the dangers of migrating old questions is not restricted to whether questions are on-topic or off-topic on the origin site. In fact, I generally oppose the migration of material that is on-topic on the origin site, and that's stated rather explicitly in my answer there, too.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Feb 22, 2011 at 21:29
  • 1
    @Grace Right, but this question is about questions which are off-topic on the origin site. I'm afraid I don't see any other dangers... would you mind pointing them out?
    – waiwai933
    Feb 22, 2011 at 21:31
  • 1
    @waiwai Alright. How about the "overflowing of the target site with old, solved content that pushes away all of the new activity from users on that site"? Or "migration of highly voted and viewed questions, dwarfing the contributions of actual users of the target site"? Neither of these have to do with whether it was on or off topic on the original site.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Feb 22, 2011 at 21:32
  • @Grace As for the first issue, I'm talking about these questions as they are flagged, not that we should go witch-hunting and flood the target. As for the second, it may not be the best solution, but I see closing or migrating as a better solution than just leaving it open where it is off-topic.
    – waiwai933
    Feb 22, 2011 at 21:34
  • 1
    I'm not suggesting that we leave them open (after all, if it is off-topic then it should be closed regardless of migration). I'm just saying, there has been previous discussion on the subject of "migrating old questions", so people might be interested in knowing what has been earlier discussed. Age of post matters to some users when it comes to migration, and I think it's unwise to neglect that. Also, do take into account that it doesn't always take a witch hunt to overwhelm a new site.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Feb 22, 2011 at 21:36
  • @Grace Ok, great. I guess I was just misunderstanding you. And I agree, age does play a role, but I think it's being overemphasized. Dunno what can be done about the small site problem, though.
    – waiwai933
    Feb 22, 2011 at 23:58

3 Answers 3


I still believe questions that are old, have an accepted answer, and are highly upvoted, should stay where they are on SO, locked.

If people feel strongly about them being broken windows, I think we should consider putting a header on them, similar to this:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

More info: https://stackoverflow.com/faq

Edit: Any such notice should not be placed at the top of the post, as it fills up the summary excerpt.


  • I like the header @Robert, if you want Broken Windows, make it clear they are!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Feb 24, 2011 at 18:25
  • I think this is the only way to handle it where everyone gets what they want.
    – Tim Post
    Feb 24, 2011 at 18:26
  • 2
    I like this idea. I know some folks (including moderators) at Programmers and other sites have said they don't want our ancient questions. They'd prefer to ask them fresh and get answers from the community that's focused on their topic. I think this serves both purposes of preserving content and discouraging new off-topic questions. Mar 1, 2011 at 16:11
  • I stole the hell out of that, btw.
    – user1228
    Apr 20, 2011 at 19:11

I think these issues can be solved on a case-by-case basis. If a user brings up an old question in trying to defend their new question, they can either be informed that the old question predates current rules OR the old question can be migrated if needed. Periodic migrations would at least be easier to handle on small target sites than a single massive dump of older material.


Dear Stack Overflow moderators,

Before migrating an old question to another site, please consider how it would fit the target site.

This isn't just about topic and formulation. The voting patterns are different on other sites as well, so if a question or an answer has accumulated a lot of votes, it may be disproportionately rated on the target site. This is particularly bad if an answer has many undeserved upvotes: there just isn't the manpower to rate it better.

Case in point: Repeat a unix command every x seconds forever. was migrated from Stack Overflow. The top-rated answer is currently the 6th most upvoted answer on Unix & Linux. Fortunately, it's not really bad, but it's not the best answer either.

(Aside: why was this question migrated anyway? It's on-topic on SO!)


  • Posts that are on-topic on the source site should not be migrated.
  • Posts that have more votes than is customary on the target site should not be migrated.

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