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how do we handle overlap


When I use SO I will see a load of questions that would be better asked on a spin-off site. Eg SQL questions that would be way better answered on

But SQL is a programming language and so fits on SO as well.

It's a situation that would only ever be resolved if any question on any site could be referenced and shown on any other site "simultaneously".

So a simple suggestion would be to allow posts to be sent to a different site where they would appear as native questions. Anyone clicking then would be taken to the originating site (but it'd be cool if they could appear in-situ, embedded in the target site)

Why should this post be closed?

1 comment

This sounds vaguely similar to Reddit's crossposting but with combined response streams - is that what you have in mind? Sigma 19 days ago

4 answers


Migrating questions between sites never worked well in practice. We have a lot of experience about this from SE's various experiments: there was rarely ever a successfully migrated post but countless fiascos. The OP got confused, the users of the target site got annoyed, moderators got pointless busy-work and then got yelled at for doing it wrong.

The sober way to deal with such questions is to close them as off-topic, then give the OP a nudge towards the other site where the question might on-topic. Preferably towards the other site's "what's on-topic here" page, since the OP already failed to read that one for the current site.



There are two sides to this question

Questions that are on-topic on more than one site

There were three principle I followed on Stack Exchange for questions that would be at home on more than one site

  • They may be asked on either site.

    This does lead to duplicates on the network which is moderately annoying. I would generally leave a comment if I know of a cross-site duplicate.

  • Should not be asked "simultaneously" on more than one site.

    Where the time frame after which it is reasonable to re-ask on another site depends on the activity of the hosting site. A day or two for a moderate activity site like, longer on lower activity sites.

  • Let the user know if there is a more specialized site by leaving a comment on the lines of "This is on-topic here, but you might find a more concentrated audience on [specialists-site]".

Questions asked on the wrong site

In my opinion migration worked worse on Stack Overflow than in much of the rest of the network. Which is not to say that it ran really cleanly elsewhere, but for other sites it would be too strong to say it "never worked" or even "rarely worked". Partially a scale thing, I'm sure.

The single biggest problem I saw with user votes to migrate from physics was users not really understanding what was on-topic on the target site. At the moderator level we used to ping the mods on the other site in the Teacher's Lounge for a sanity check, but that doesn't scale. We need a mechanism to (attempt to) insure that anyone casting such a vote knows what they are doing and cares about getting it right.

Proposal: Voting to migrate has a rep/trust threshold on both the originating site and the target site.



There is a community aspect to this that can be lost if we just think of questions as being things that fit into buckets (sites). A user might choose to ask a question on the "general" site instead of the specialized one because the person is part of the community on the "general" site. It's pretty frustrating (speaking from experience) when your question that is on-topic here gets migrated away to someplace else where you're not. So even if there is a "better" place for a question based on site scopes, if it's on-topic where it was asked it should be left alone. It's fine to let the author know about the other site, particularly if it's a new user who isn't invested in either, but we should let the person with the question decide where to ask it (among on-topic options).

Yes, that means some SQL questions will be on the programming site and some will be on the databases site. We should look for ways to make cross-site related questions/tags visible on both ends. We might even think in terms of showing siteA:tagX questions on siteB where tagX is also interesting. This is an idea for future consideration, not a baked proposal.

If a question is on-topic on more than one site and is tuned for each site, I don't have a problem with it being asked on both sites. An author who does this should link the questions together so everybody who finds one part of it also finds a trail to the other parts.

For now I think of overlap and cross-site duplicates or partial duplicates as a human issue, not a technical one. Migration on SE never worked well from either the human or technical perspective; let's figure out how to do better.

1 comment

These cases need to be explicitly dealt with upon launching a new site, by explicitly naming overlap topics as either on-topic or off-topic, and name specific rules for such topics. So that overlapping scopes are reduced and clarified. I expect veteran users to already know from experience about most of such potentially overlapping topics. They just need to be brought up at the site meta early on. Lundin 11 days ago


I have to agree, migrating posts was a mess.

But a solution of closing and making the poster cut and paste his question on a different site is the exact same process, just more difficult.


On SE I once proposed something to help the OP re-ask the question without all the cut/paste -- basically, show the on-topic info, user says "yes ask there", and we open the "create post" interface on the other site with the existing content pre-populated. There are some complications that have to be dealt with, like the user not yet having an account on that site, but if we want to go down this path I would explore something like that. If we have migration, make it less confusing. Monica Cellio 19 days ago

The problem is that the poster is doing a copy/paste on the different site. Just the other day, I told someone that their question was about electronics, not programming, so it should be asked on the electronics site instead. I specifically told them that part of the question was a buying/tool recommendation which would be off-topic on either site, so they should leave that out or edit it into shape. After which they copy/paste the question as is on the other site anyway... Lundin 19 days ago

Closing and making the OP repost is a little tedius. That's good. There needs to be some cost to posting in the wrong place. And, the question shouldn't just be copied exactly to the new site. It should be looked over and edited for the different target audience. Most likely, something should be worded differently, domain-specific jargon adjusted, etc. If the OP goes away instead of doing this work, oh well. Those are not the kind of users that will be a positive contribution to the site. Olin Lathrop 18 days ago