Following a post about a garbage question that was migrated to Programmers, Jeff posted this answer about some basic migration protection that is in place (at least one matching tag). That is a really good start.

Michael Petrotta then pointed out that only three of the users involved may have actually voted to migrate.

So, I have a suggestion for another way to protect from bad migrations - don't use the same simple majority rule (>3) for choosing the final close reason if it is migration.

Migration is the only close reason that actually impacts another site as well. For this reason I don't think it makes sense to migrate questions that have up to two users disagreeing. Could we require migrations to reach 5 actual migration close votes?

Possibly related question that you might like more or less than this one:
Should off-topic migration close votes be differentiated from others?

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    Supermajority determines migration (4/5), simple majority at 5 votes closes as off topic. Or, perhaps, some similar calculation involving voter's reputation. – user1228 Apr 29 '11 at 16:35
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    I would like to say that I am extremely happy about any change that reduces the chance of finding myself an accessory to crimes like this. I felt pretty bad after seeing some of the comments on the post-migration question, despite not voting for it. :[ – McCannot Jul 7 '11 at 6:00
  • @camccann - OMG. – Nicole Jul 7 '11 at 6:02
  • Yes, @Renesis. My thoughts exactly. :[ – McCannot Jul 7 '11 at 6:06
  • @Jeff - just thought now would be a good time to point out that you only need to vote on 17 more questions for your Electorate badge. :) – Nicole Jul 7 '11 at 6:20

I have increased the threshold of matching migration votes required for a successful migration from three to four.

This means that 4/5 of the close votes must agree on the destination for the migration for it to occur. Otherwise the question is simply closed as "off topic" as before.

This is also specific to Stack Overflow only at the moment, since it is by far the largest producer of migrations -- and often many of the most problematic.

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    This is great news, and given the requirement that the destination match on all four, I think it will take care of a significant number of the problem questions. (Is it possible for a dev to look back and see statistics on how many it would have affected?) – Nicole Jul 7 '11 at 5:48
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    Hooray! Thank you! Having had my name attached to at least one terrible migration I didn't support, which I later saw complaints about on Meta, this makes me very happy. I didn't like being in the situation of either leaving a terrible question to fester on SO or contributing to dumping more garbage into Programmers. – McCannot Jul 7 '11 at 5:51
  • Can one add more migration votes after the close threshold is already reached? Or do we need a moderator for this? – Paŭlo Ebermann Jul 8 '11 at 1:31
  • @Paŭlo: No, if a post is closed, a moderator has to reopen it, then re-close to migrate. – Jon Seigel Jul 9 '11 at 16:43
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    Can this be added somewhere in the faq? – Foo Bah Sep 22 '11 at 3:52

The one issue I can see with this is when people might initially vote as off-topic, S&A, or NaRQ when it actually would belong on another site. These are people who may actually support migration, but it wasn't the thing that came to mind when they cast their first vote. We see this a lot with other close reasons - things marked as NaRQ that actually are just duplicates, S&As that are really just off-topic, vice versa of those as well. Sometimes it takes another person's perspective to realize the proper fate of a question, but this system nullifies that.

We can't change close votes, so there's no systematic way to know that the users who voted differently actually disagree with the other close reasons, or they just didn't realize that the other option existed and may be valid.

  • Right, and if there's a wrongful migration, it should be kicked up to the mods. They can clear the migration history and the take the appropriate action. – Ghost User Apr 29 '11 at 17:33
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    Is anyone with close rights really not aware that migration is an option? Generally I'd say that if people aren't 100% sure (that is can't work it out without prompting) then migration probably isn't right. – Jon Hopkins Jul 1 '11 at 16:17
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    Part of the design that would be necessary for this feature proposal would be keeping the question open until enough votes came in to accept a simple majority of one of the regular close reasons, or a supermajority of migration votes. So, I don't believe it nullifies anything. – Nicole Jul 1 '11 at 17:52

For what it's worth, as a Programmers mod, I don't think this is an issue with the migration mechanism.

It's hard to expect a site's community to be well-versed in the rules and customs of other sites. I think that what we're seeing is more plain ignorance than malice. We can deal with bad migrations at Programmers. If you see one, just flag it and we'll take care of it.

Some questions look like bad fits to start, but can be salvaged through editing. Some just need to be burned to the ground and we can do that, too.

In the end, most petitions on meta to be more careful with migrations and whatnot will not reach the people who need to see them most -- average 3k+ users. The mod teams on SO and Programmers usually coordinate migrations or we at least get a heads up on iffy questions that may be headed our way. But the mod teams can only do so much, so community-driven migrations are important and I don't think reducing a community's ability to perform that function is a good approach.

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    But does it reduce the community's ability to perform that function? Closes need 5 votes. But the migration action only needs 3 in agreement. If the migration is a good one, it doesn't seem onerous to require 5 to agree on it, just like a simple close. – Nicole Apr 29 '11 at 17:56
  • Also, as Jeff said it's not about the rules of the receiving site. It's crap, and it should just be closed (anywhere). – Nicole Apr 29 '11 at 17:57
  • @Renesis For some questions, that's true. They're crap. Those that aren't would be unfairly penalized by the increased requirement for a migration. If people don't know that a question is a bad fit for a site, they might not know if it's a good fit either. – Adam Lear Apr 29 '11 at 18:00
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    @Renesis: you're looking at a sample size of 1. In the last two days, >30 questions have been migrated - at least three decent questions for every one that ended up closed. A super-majority rule would make it harder to migrate anything, good or bad - if that's what you want, then you should probably just bite the bullet and petition the team to remove the P.SE migration path entirely. – Shog9 Apr 29 '11 at 18:02
  • @Shog9 See my comment above - does it really make it harder to migrate everything? Why? Did those good migrations have only 3 migrate votes, as well? I would assume good migrations are almost always getting 4 or 5 in agreement. – Nicole Apr 29 '11 at 18:03
  • @Renesis That may be true, but I wouldn't make that assumption. It's not guaranteed to be the case. – Adam Lear Apr 29 '11 at 18:06
  • @Shog9 also you are absolutely right about the sample size and I'm not saying ring the alarm bells, we have big problems here. But, I do look at problems and see if there are ways we can be proactive instead of waiting to be reactive. – Nicole Apr 29 '11 at 18:06
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    @Renesis: see Grace Note's answer. Anecdotally, I see a lot of disagreement among closers as to which reason is most appropriate - GN is most likely correct in suspecting that the first migration vote sets the tone for future voting. There's no easy way to know for sure which questions had which votes, since that's not tracked... But that also means there's no good reason to think this requirement would have a positive effect on quality. And it's good you're thinking about this, but keep in mind: this is a change that would affect migrations to all sites, not just Programmers. – Shog9 Apr 29 '11 at 18:12

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