Recently, this question was migrated from Stack Overflow to Programmers SE. What was the point of migrating it?

When you migrate a question, you should be doing so because you believe it will get better answers on the target site. Why are we shipping dead horses?

I propose a new feature:

Restrict the ability to migrate questions older than one year or with more than 15 answers to moderators and 20k users

This stops us from inadvertently causing disruptions on other sites, and provides another ability for 20k users.

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    Addendum, once someone hits 20k, the banner could say "Please read the FAQ for trusted users" (obviously containing a link) – Tim Post Apr 15 '11 at 18:45
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    But people love antiquing. Do you have mothballs? – random Apr 15 '11 at 19:06
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    My objection to migrating old answered question is that, as Tim points out in his comments on the answers, migrating isn't helping the question or the target site. – ChrisF Apr 15 '11 at 21:40
  • Closely related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/80272/… – user102937 Apr 16 '11 at 0:47
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    +1, good idea. I'm know to strongly oppose migration of old questions. Citing myself from that link: 1. As this is about ancient questions, the chances are high that in the meantime the question (or a very similar one) has been asked again on the destination site. Then the ancient question will only be seen as noise and will be closed as a duplicate (which helps noone). 2. Migrating old (answered) questions clutters the front page of the destination site and takes away attention from new (unanswered) questions. – Hendrik Vogt Apr 16 '11 at 7:39

The problem with not migrating is that users will see those old questions on SO and think they can ask similar questions on SO. I recently migrated a [new] question (well, voted to migrate) from SO to P.SE and the user who asked it seemed quite offended that his question was migrated while similar older questions were allowed.

If a question is clearly off-topic now on SiteA and clearly on-topic on SiteB, there may be good justification for moving the question from SiteA to SiteB.

Also, consider a user using SiteB's search box. Should they have to know that such questions used to be on on-topic on SiteA so they should search there too?

That said, I'm ambivalent about migrating old questions like that, and I wouldn't disagree with making such a migration path available only to 10k or 20k users.

Better yet, why not just require a moderator on the receiving site to OK the migration before it's allowed?

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    That's why we close and lock them on sight, when we see them. A 2+ year old question is never clearly on topic for any site. Will the author accept a new answer on the target site, or even be aware that it was migrated? Again, the purpose of migrating questions is to get them better answers. If it is off topic for SO, flag it as such. – Tim Post Apr 15 '11 at 19:19
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    I don't understand the relationship between age of a question and whether it's on-topic. If a question is on-topic for a site, why would it matter how long ago it was asked on another site? – Gabe Apr 15 '11 at 20:00
  • +1 I really like your solution to avoiding off-topic questions being relocated - that way it prevents a user it from one site to another just to "make it someone else's problem" – Wipqozn Apr 15 '11 at 20:12
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    @Gabe a question is like a garden. You have to attend to it.. pull the weeds, water it, etc. When a two plus year old question with 40+ answers is migrated, do you think the OP is going to gain any real benefit? Is the disruption to the target community worth it? I agree that we need to work out some way of making a 'historical' SO, but really, we just took a major crap on Programmers SE. – Tim Post Apr 15 '11 at 20:17
  • @Gabe, I'm also (at the time of this writing) about 6 votes away from being a 10k user there. These 'oldies but goodies' do create disruptions with few if any positive outcomes. – Tim Post Apr 15 '11 at 20:19
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    @Tim While I do agree that the OP will not get any real benefit from the migrated question, after two years and 44 replies, the OP won't get any benefit from maintaining it either. Most probably, the OP already benefited from it and it's now the rest of the community that can benefit from it, i.e., people that read the question and its answers for the first time. I see an old, answered question as an asset for the community rather than for the OP, and as such I consider that its place is where it's most on topic. – Aleadam Apr 15 '11 at 20:28
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    @Tim (continuation) regarding the disruption to the rest of the community (I guess you mean the rep recalculation), a possibility is to "fix" rep that's older than a year (to say a timeframe). Other than that, I don't see how a migration is disruptive. If it's too old to be on topic on the other site, then it should be never be migrated, but locked. Perhaps being more strict in what can be migrated is not a bad idea, but I would not limit then the discussion to the age of a question. To me, it's not only about the better answers, it's about the right readers also. – Aleadam Apr 15 '11 at 20:35
  • We're not just talking about the OP here, we're talking about what the community on the target site considers acceptable, and people offloading ancient problems that were described years ago. Just because you think it should fit on the target site doesn't mean it will. – Tim Post Apr 15 '11 at 20:44
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    @Tim indeed. And I commented on the same idea. What I don't see is why the discussion is about age and not about fitness. In this particular case, it's clear that the appearance of android changed the field quite a bit and made linux closer to many companies, but otherwise it is pretty clear to me that is a better fit in programmers.SE than SO. In fact, I guess new students could benefit from the discussion there. – Aleadam Apr 15 '11 at 21:12
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    @Aleadam - are you active on Programmers? Have you read the FAQ recently? Does the question really fit and does it fit well enough to warrant migration? Especially given it's 44 answers. – ChrisF Apr 15 '11 at 22:48
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    @ChrisF I do not advocate for this question in particular, although I will use the same FAQ you linked to me as an example of how interpretations can differ widely. Topics include "Freelancing and business concerns", not really far from the topic of the question, and that subjective questions are expected to have answers that "inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”,tend to have long, not short, answers,have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone,invite sharing experiences over opinions,insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references,are more than just mindless social fun". – Aleadam Apr 16 '11 at 4:25
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    @ChrisF (this comments are too long...) all of those requirements are met by that question. That said, it's not my business if that question is not welcome in programmers.SE for any reason. That's fine with me! But I do believe that the issue cannot be reduced to the age of a question and that different people will interpret the rules different. I included an alternative approach as an answer to try to address that issue in a more direct way. – Aleadam Apr 16 '11 at 4:29
  • +1 for the idea in the last paragraph and for posting good reasons in favour of migration of old question (I still think the reasons against weigh far heavier). – Hendrik Vogt Apr 16 '11 at 7:43

First of all, a bedrock rule:

Don't. Migrate. S**ty. Questions.

If the question is fundamentally bad, delete it! With extreme prejudice. I will fully support you in this.

However, if there is something of lasting value in the questions and answers, it probably should be migrated.

(I do not think this question was a bad one. I just want to go officially on record ... again .. that you should never, ever migrate crap questions from site to site. If the question is crap, throw it in the wastebin where it belongs.)

A couple reasons:

  • There can be significant residual reputation on this question (depending on when it was converted to community wiki) that should not apply on Stack Overflow. Migrating the question removes this reputation and transfers it to a more appropriate site.

  • There can be a lot of badges on the question that should not apply on Stack Overflow. Migrating the question removes these badges (indirectly; you won't earn the next badge of that type because you already have "extra"), and transfers them to a more appropriate site.

  • The presence of these questions serve as signposts to new users who will point to them and say "if they could ask that, we should be able to also!" Migrating the question removes this terrible justification for asking bad new questions.

edit: after thinking about this a bit more, I could support a higher bar for migration the older a question gets.

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  • Migrating old, historical questions to Programmers.SE is just disruptive. Don't know how else to say it. Migrating such questions, only to suffer deletion on the target site, amounts to content destruction. – user102937 Apr 16 '11 at 0:04
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    @robert it's not disruptive if it is done slowly over time, and only questions that have intrinsic, lasting value are migrated. – Jeff Atwood Apr 16 '11 at 0:06
  • At the very least, coordination needs to occur between the original site and the moderators on the target site. That didn't happen here, and now the question is closed on Programmers.SE. – user102937 Apr 16 '11 at 0:46
  • Closely related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/80272/… – user102937 Apr 16 '11 at 0:47
  • Just to clarify a point - reputation doesn't actually get moved, if I remember correctly - doesn't it simply get lost in space? – Nicole Apr 16 '11 at 0:48
  • So, we shouldn't migrate salty questions? ;) – gnostradamus Apr 16 '11 at 4:40
  • @Robert: That's why I suggested that a moderator on the receiving site should OK the migration. – Gabe Apr 16 '11 at 5:01
  • @Jeff - Raising the bar would help, a bit. The questions that tend to become problematic are the ones that moderators don't notice sneaking out the door. I think we do a half decent job on killing junk questions before they go somewhere else, mostly it's Stack Overflow's 'Greatest Hits' anthology that becomes problematic. – Tim Post Apr 16 '11 at 8:30
  • @Renesis It doesn't transfer existing reputation, but it does transfer all future reputation. – Grace Note Apr 18 '11 at 13:05

Another main reason to migrate a question is not just so it receives better answers, but so it is categorized on the site correctly - that said, it can cause disruptions if old and answered questions begin popping up in their proper place. I think the best solution would be that if an old (and answered) question is transferred, no notifications are given.

That way it will be categorized correctly, but won't cause any disruptions in the community.

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    Except in cases where the migrated question is actually off-topic on the target site. – Adam Lear Apr 15 '11 at 18:44
  • Fiddling with the front page algorithm seems kind of useless if the problem could be prevented (at least in most cases). – Tim Post Apr 15 '11 at 19:43
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    @Anna Lear, I'm sorry, but what? I think you misread my answer.. "Another main reason to migrate a question is not just so it receives better answers, but so it is categorized on the site correctly" If you moved the question to a site where it would be off-topic, it wouldn't be "categorized on the site correctly", as such your 'exception' is the entire basis of my answer... – Wipqozn Apr 15 '11 at 20:06
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    @Wip I don't think that's a reason to migrate. It's a side-effect. A lot of people migrate without understanding whether the question is on-topic or not on the target site. I think the primary migration motivator is not "it belongs over there" but rather "it doesn't belong over here". – Adam Lear Apr 15 '11 at 20:09
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    @Tim Post: Except I'm stating that the problem is not migrating the question, but the disruption it causes. If the goal of Stack Exchange is to create an archive of questions-and-answers, and make it the go to place to not only find answers but to ask questions, then questions should -all- be categorized correctly, how old they are should have no baring on where they belong. – Wipqozn Apr 15 '11 at 20:09
  • @Anna hmm ok, I see your point. In that case, I would fully support increasing the amount of points someone would need to migrate an old question - since the higher reputation somebody has, the less likely they are to make such a mistake. – Wipqozn Apr 15 '11 at 20:11
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    @Wipqozn - The point of migrating a question is to get it better answers in the shortest amount of time. I'll keep reiterating this until I see my fingernails on my keyboard as I type. Migrating a 2+ year old question, with 44 answers .. AHHHHGGGGHHH. Please don't do that, just flag it as historical and we'll give it a proper burial – Tim Post Apr 15 '11 at 20:30
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    @tim still needs to be buried in the correct cemetery with its on-topic neighbors, not in a distant, foreign, off-topic land. So even in this case -- migrate first, then close. If the question is s**t, then delete it, of course, and don't even have this conversation. – Jeff Atwood Apr 16 '11 at 0:10

The comments to Gabe answer were taking too much space, so I decided to add more in a new answer.
I won't repeat what I said in those comments (since I believe is in line with Gabe's answer), but propose a new alternative. If the issue is that many questions are being migrated and become an annoyance, rather than an asset, to the recipient community, then it should be them who decide what is welcome in the new site. Thus, an alternative approach to the problem would be:

The migrated questions need to be accepted by a mod or by five 10K users of the recipient site or they will become locked, either in the recipient or in the original site, at the discretion of the recipient mod or 10K users.

This would solve not only the issue of "too old" questions, but also the new ones that are mistargeted or are duplicates of existing questions in the new site.

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I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with migrating questions that old, it's just that it was done needlessly this time.

The users in this case just made a silly choice to migrate this question. Given that there was no activity on the question or answers in the past several months, I wonder what caused them all to spontaneously decide to close-vote this to the point of migration.

A better idea may be to just institute some sort of warning/confirmation for close-votes on questions that have had no activity in a certain length of time, or maybe only for migrate votes.

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    44 answers is not enough ? Seriously, what value could that question gain from appearing on the front page of a new site? – Tim Post Apr 15 '11 at 18:33
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    I agree in this case that it was stupid. But "question > X days old" is never ALWAYS a bad candidate for migration for any value of X. Some questions won't have received attention because they belonged elsewhere and age perfectly fine. – Daniel DiPaolo Apr 15 '11 at 18:34
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    @Tim Personally I think it's a question of where the post belongs; I don't factor in "appearing on the front page" when I close something, it's just organization. The only reason I don't move old posts is the community seems pretty against it – Michael Mrozek Apr 15 '11 at 18:34
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    @Michael The communities who are against it happen to be so because of it appearing on the front page (among otherwise mucking with voting distribution on the site), so by proxy you do factor it in ♪. Dan, I don't think this is saying that it's a bad candidate for migration, so much as that it is much less likely to need migration. Not unlike how there's only 5 destinations for voting in the first place. – Grace Note Apr 15 '11 at 18:41
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    @Grace It's silly how much we do to make the front page happy though. "Don't migrate old posts", "Don't retag things too fast", etc.. The front page should be filtering these things out if they're bad; we shouldn't be changing the way we manage the site to match the front page's design – Michael Mrozek Apr 15 '11 at 18:44
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    @mic sweeping it under the rug so it can happen without anyone noticing is far more dangerous. But mass retagging should be done by moderators using tag rename and tag merge tools anyway. – Jeff Atwood Apr 16 '11 at 3:50

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