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When should questions be moved to AskDifferent/AskUbuntu/…?

When Excel questions at Super User are clearly or related I then will flag them as belonging to Stack Overflow given that:

  1. & are clearly programming questions
  2. Stack Overflow has significantly greater traffic and greater expert participation than Super User in these tags

Likewise when a question at Stack Overflow is formula specific I (and many others) will flag it for closure on the basis that it should have been asked at Super User. Given the reputations for the Excel participants are much higher at Stack Overflow, then at least we can close questions that five of us consider to be invalid.

In recent times my last three flags of Stack Overflow questions being asked at SuperUser have been rejected. All but one of my initial six flags were approved.

For example:

Why the inconsistency?

As it stands I will stop flagging questions that I consider to have been posted to the wrong forum as it is unclear how the Mods will approach this.

CasperOne the comments in this SO thread that you posted to are very practical (pls ignore the specific discussion whether this question truly was VBA or not), and I think they should be followed.

This question is specifically about using Excel as an application, therefore it is off topic (it is on topic for superuser.com, however). If the question is about programming against Excel (using the automation API, VBA in Excel, etc.), then it is on topic. This is not the case here. If the solution does indeed require a VBA solution, then that would be pointed out in SuperUser, at which point the follow-up question can be asked here dealing specifically with a VBA-based solution

Some clarity please.

  • 4
    as a general rule, very old questions which are on-topic will not be migrated, unless the OP has requested. Second linked question is not even a programming question.
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 7:20
  • VBA is more scripting than actual programming, just like shell scripting, and stringing together a few lines of your favorite scripting language. These questions are all fine on SU, you can be a power user doing some scripting (and read code to understand how exactly a utility works), without making you a programmer.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 9:28
  • 1
    I see the difference as excel formulas, UDF, and VBA belong in SU, whereas using excel with VB Script, C++ and other languages belongs in SO. We have quite a few excel experts here at SU if you go through the excel question history, and I think they belong quite fine. I certainly wouldn't be of much use on SO, but I can help with most SU Excel questions.. Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 11:44
  • 1
    I quote what you quoted, with an emphasis: "it is on topic for superuser.com, however". Is there any reason to migrate it, then?
    – slhck
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 14:15
  • You fail to show how the question is off topic on SU, and in those situations, the users ultimately decide what site they want to post on. While VBA might be a very advanced feature of Excel, it's accessible to advanced users and part of using the program for them, just like shell scripting is a natural part of using a shell.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 14:15
  • With borderline cases, mistakes and/or inconsistency happen . Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 14:18
  • @slhck that question was actually on SO - CasperOne migrated it to SU.
    – brettdj
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 22:12
  • Ok I get the drift. Aside from Daniel's issue with defining the scope of programming the general response is that these questions should have stayed at SU. I'm fine with that .... although I will point out the inconsistency of migrating the first five of my first six flags to SO remains, as does the reverse migration (SO to SU). I perhaps should have worded this differently, as from my perspective this had ended up down the rabbit warren of two examples rather than the higher level issue I wanted to raise re the migrating of Excel questions being a Moderator lucky dip. Thx for your input.
    – brettdj
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


Excel is a tricky issue because it's on the border between "programming" and "computer applications," but in general it's best to cause the user (i.e. whoever's asking the question) the least hassle possible. If their question is on-topic for Super User and they asked it here, we shouldn't migrate it.

Keep in mind, nowhere does it say "questions on Super User must not have anything to do with writing code." Take a look at the FAQ:

Super User is for computer enthusiasts and power users. If you have a question about …

  • computer hardware
  • computer software
  • personal and home computer networking

and it is not about …

  • videogames or consoles -websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress -electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer
  • issues specific to corporate IT support and networks
  • a shopping or buying recommendation

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

Excel is computer software, and writing VBA is part of using Excel.

Saying "myself and others have higher rep on SO and know something about excel, so at least we can migrate things on our own there" is a fallacy. First of all, five users deciding to migrate something does not inherently mean you're right. We get a lot of really crappy migrations from SO. Secondly, a high reputation on Stack Overflow doesn't imply a nuanced understanding of Super User.

Questions involving a bit of command line scripting, some VBA, a bash script, AutoHotKey and things like that are pefectly valid on Super User. There's a big difference between "how can I accomplish x using C++" and "I need to sort these rows in Excel, how can I do that with VBA?"

All that above is just in general. Now, to address your specific questions:

  1. The first one was asked and answered half a year ago. Migrating it now is kind of pointless, and there's nothing about the question which makes it inherently off-topic for Super User.
  2. The second one isn't even on-topic for Stack Overflow! It's asking about whether OpenOffice is susceptible to VBA viruses. This is far more about the application than the programming aspect, and would not be appropriate on SO.
  • 1
    The first sentences of your post are reasonable enough. I do push back on "VBA is part of using Excel" though - firstly as the vast majority of Excel user don't touch VBA, secondly as VBA is as much as programming as C++. I'm sure you do get some crappy migrations from SO, if you can point out one that has come from the Excel experts then I'll cede your point, else I rest my case that the Excel VBA guys know their patch best. Lastly the 2nd specific question is very much about VBA, the user has a so called VBA Virus which may be fixable with expert input - rather than simply jumping to OO.
    – brettdj
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 8:19

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