Question Migration

In SE, one of the things that can be done with a question that is off-topic is to migrate it to a different topic site. The idea is great, but:

  • There is (at least on the sites I’ve looked) no way to specify a particular site (other than the matching Meta site) except as plain text.
  • The process is a bit confusing. Only high-enough rep users can VTC with migrate as an option (which is OK) but the actual process gets mysteriously done at some point later by (I assume) moderators.

Assuming we have a similar process, which would not be MVP as it really only makes sense if you have a bunch of active topic sites:

  • Allow each site (moderators/high rep/etc.) determine which other sites are appropriate to allow for specific VTC migration. For example, for DIY it might be Woodworking and Electronics.
  • The FAQ or another openly available document should clearly explain how the process works.
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Maybe the privilege of migrating to another site should also depend on the reputation the user has on the target site. Users with high reputation on the target site are likely to know whether the question is appropriate for that site, while users with low reputation (or even with no participation at all) at the target site are more likely to misjudge whether the question is on-topic on the target.


The original site high rep users & moderators are not necessarily high rep, or even exist at all, on the migration site. For example, I am high rep on DIY, low rep on Electronics and not even a member (or maybe with minimum 101 Association Rep, not sure) on Woodworking. But I know enough about all 3 sites to VTC Migrate to Electronics or Woodworking.


  • high-rep ‘x’ users and/or moderator for “From”
  • high-rep (1 user, high-enough rep) or moderator to accept on “Destination”.

That way one site can’t force things on another out of a cascade of: 1 user who doesn’t know the other sites so well who VTC Migrate ‘x site’ followed by 3 other “yes, let’s do that” votes causing a migration that ends up bouncing back a day later.

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I wrote something on SE meta about this a while ago. The short form is that I’d rather kill migration in favor of helping the OP re-ask the question on a different site. The rationale is that you can almost never just pick up a question on one site and drop it on another anyway; you need to do some editing for the needs of the target site. And the UX is pretty confusing for users sometimes, particularly ones who don’t have accounts on the other site. So instead of mods or the community taking a question asked on Site A and moving it over to Site B without the OP’s involvement, I’d rather empower the OP to take control of the question. By all means, mark it as off-topic here if that’s true and provide feedback, maybe like duplicate suggestions where the OP can just click “yes I agree; make it so” and be underway, but I’m not convinced that third-party migrations are a benefit.


You have more experience with this than I do, especially as a moderator. But in at least some cases, there are good (or reasonably good for new user questions) that very clearly fit elsewhere. I’ve seen it repeatedly with DIY vs. Woodworking vs. Electronics and I am sure there are other examples on other sites. Often there is a significant rewrite needed, but not necessarily.

Maybe one possibility is to, similar to “duplicate” => “yes, I agree” to also have “migrate [specific site]” => “yes, I agree” and in the case of migration automatically:

  • Add the user to the site
  • Send the user to the site right away after “I agree”
  • Maybe: Send the user an email letting them know, or some other notification method, so that they have a bit of concrete information about the migration

I have never actually had one of my questions migrated, probably because I hardly ever ask any questions, so I am actually not sure how SE handles this. But my sense, based on the delays involved with migration and the way the migrated questions appear in the new community, is that very little is automatic and the user doesn’t always know what happened.


I think migrating on Stack Exchange is broken, this mechanism between Stack Overflow and Code Review is so bad that migration is banned, but there’s still a meta post about it and a bot that catches migration suggestions in comments.

If you’re thinking about copying the Stack Exchange mechanism then there are a few fundamental changes I’d suggest.

  • VTC should not involve the migration process. Once a post is closed then it can be migrated.

    “It’s a better fit on X site” is a notoriously bad reason to VTC. Most of the time people that say this with CR as a target are wrong and so a post is closed when it may not be off-topic on SO.

  • The question should be able to be closed on the target site without invalidating the migration.

    Most migrations aren’t perfect, they need a bit of work and then they’re a good post. But disallowing off-topic posts from being closed is janky.

  • The target site’s users should vote on the migration, not the source users.

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Migration from the technical angle is pretty straightforward, all the complications I’ve seen are social:

  • People not knowing the target site well enough
  • The source site not voting quick enough so that it accumulates several answers (which is the main reason to migrate, rather than just helping the OP reask the question)

A shared migration vote between users of both sites could be a good solution, especially if it had a 1 day temporary pause on answers. Maybe at least 5 votes needed, with at least 2 from each site?


I’ve always felt like closing as off-topic instead of voting to migrate was a weird way to go about moving the questions to where they should have been posted. So I’d like to propose the following workflow:

  1. Someone posts a question on the wrong site.
  2. Users click “wrong site” (somewhere near “close”, “flag” and other related action text-buttons) and select the correct site.
    • Any users should be able to vote to move to another site, but maybe different reputation thresholds should be indicated as such, like users with <300 rep (by SE, not SO standards) who are not very trusted with that, should only bear a recommending vote, and not count towards N votes required to move.
    • Questions should have unique Post IDs across all sites, so that the users can go to a [Topic dot SiteName dot com slash Post ID] link and it will lead them to the current url of where the post has been moved. This is for when people bookmark their posts’ original URLs and don’t find them at original location.

I think removing the mention of “closing” the question just because it was posted on the wrong site should help with the negative emotions which we’re all familiar with.

BTW I come from background of mostly using sites other than SO and while I get the SO’s attitude of trying to never migrate crap, I think this isn’t as big of a problem on all other smaller sites, and we can have a friendlier attitude towards this process, by changing the connotation from “closed because this is bad” to just moving it transparently to the poster, avoiding any emotional turmoil at all.


Additionally, maybe there’s merit in educating migration voters about which posts don’t belong on certain sites by regularly showing them feedback stats on what ended up happening to the posts they voted to migrate. This is a whole other topic, about reviews and educating reviewers, but I just thought I’d mention it here because I don’t have a concrete proposal on this matter yet.


I agree on the network-wide post ID (probably this should be the case for all posts, so direct links to pre-migration answers or comments also continue to work after question migrations).

On the reputation dependence: Maybe users would contribute a different number of “migration points” depending on their relevant reputation numbers (when going with a single-reputation number, it might simply be the number of digits in the reputation; maybe an extra bonus for high reputation on the target site), and instead of requiring a certain number of users, require a certain number of migration points.


This sounds like you’re looking for a location redirect-- why does the ID need to be unique in this case? If the system knows that a post has been moved, the redirect is issued for the new post’s site and new ID. It’s a little less work / information the system needs if the ID is unique, admittedly.

I agree with the goal of this; it would be great if we could get to a position where question improvements could be done neutrally. That being said, I hesitate to endorse a blanket move policy; while the subject matter might a topic area covered by another site; the question might not be a good fit for another site B if it was phrased with site A in mind. It also disincentivises actually reading up on site guidelines in the first place.

What I quite liked, mentioned elsewhere, was the concept of “migrate to sandbox” to improve questions. Perhaps the two could be linked- “migrate to site B’s sandbox”. That way the question can be checked over so that it is a good fit and as such is received better when it goes live.

Migration stats are available on SE with ‘access moderator tools’ priv (SO example). I agree it would be worthwhile to provide stats and feedback on how well questions are received; showing which questions were rejected, which did poorly, and which did well would be very helpful.

This is a great idea! People who are very familiar with site A and site B would be well-placed to facilitate migrations.

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It’s very convenient if you happen to remember the ID of the post you want to refer to or link to, and it never changes. You can write all sorts of urls to look up post edit history or raw markdown without needing to hunt down its current ID because it changed at some point. Also I have no idea how it affects SEO but something tells me having it static could be good.


I quite like the idea of “N points required” for many actions like closing, reopening, moving and the rest of the systems typically needing either 5/3 or 1 mod or 1 gold badge holder vote on SE. Users of different trust levels could have different points in each of these actions depending on their experience with each of these systems, not just a function of their total reputation.