This question was closed as off topic, but was not migrated. I (incorrectly) decided to vote to close and migrate to Stack Overflow, but the question was not migrated for quality reasons.

I understand Jeff saying "don't migrate crap", but can someone actually give guidelines on when questions that could otherwise be migrated should simply be closed? This seems to be a point that close-voters tend to miss.


Per this question, there are other reasons why questions should not be migrated. For example, a question should not be migrated to a beta site unless the site has established itself. Can you list any other reasons for not migrating questions, in addition to low question quality? (This might be useful for users who flag to migrate.)

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    To expand on what I wrote in the comments to the question: It seems to be missing the point completely: It explains about an unnamed code conversion tool, and contains a lot of unrelated code (the modified conversion result?), when it (AFAICT) should just have been asking about the C# equivalent of scanf("%19s", …). It shows no actually relevant research. The user is registered on SO and the existing posts there indicate a likely question ban (which would prevent migration anyway, but a good indicator of the user's contributions' usual quality from the target site POV).
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Apr 24, 2013 at 15:16
  • Regarding your edit: Beta sites aren't migration paths anyway, so you'd need to flag for it. Similarly, questions older than 60 days cannot be migrated by anyone. Also, it's not just about the quality, but also whether it's on topic and otherwise suitable on the target site.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Apr 24, 2013 at 15:31
  • Oh, and to extend on what @Daniel said, questions should not be migrated to Beta sites at all. Those sites should "grow organically", to put it with the words of the team.
    – slhck
    Apr 24, 2013 at 22:09

2 Answers 2


Any set of guidelines is going to be inherently subjective, but here are mine:

  • Look at the OP's rep / other questions on the site that you are thinking of migrating it to. If they have a lot of closed/downvoted questions, it is probably a good bet that this one is going to be closed, too, even if you aren't very familiar with the subject matter or the other site. Additionally, they may be question banned.

  • Before you migrate anything, no matter how good or bad, see if you can edit the question to improve it. If you can make the question more generally useful to a wider audience without writing an entirely different question, and clean up things like grammar, formatting, etc. to the point where it's not crap, migrating it MAY be okay.

  • Obtain any clarification needed from the OP in the comments on the current site and edit their answers into the OP, before migrating; this will ensure that the receiving site gets a nice, clean question with no loose ends.

  • If you have ANY doubt about whether your edited question is topical or is crap or not, you can ask a moderator or experienced user of the prospective receiving site, usually in their chatroom. Do this BEFORE casting your vote.

  • Imagine the possible answers to the question. Now, ask yourself, how many individual people will this help, in principle? If it's "one....... MAYBE at some point two", it's probably not a good candidate to migrate. If people will be able to refer back to this question as a piece of knowledge, it is a good candidate to migrate.

  • Subjective questions, while sometimes appropriate when asked on the correct site, tend to be worse candidates for migration than questions with a definite answer.

  • Attempt to determine if the user is asking a question on the wrong site specifically because they have been question banned on another site where the question would be on-topic. If this is the case, you should consider this information in determining the likely quality of the question, or how it will be perceived by the receiving site's community.


This is what I usually do, other than relying on the wisdom of the commons (or the other VTCers.

  1. Do I actually know the topic enough to decide on the quality of the question

  2. Is this a great question which closing or deleting will be a tragedy. Failing which, is this a good enough question, on topic, which is worth migrating.

  3. If possible, I try to check with a mod on the other site. Its pretty easy for us and SF for example, with some overlap in users.

  4. If possible check for existing dupes.

  5. SO migrates crap anyway... so SERIOUSLY consider throwing it over the fence Vote appropriately. I tend to close rather than migrate in doubt, since I figure if it really SHOULD have been moved, ask a mod to move it. If its definitely a good migration candidate, then vote to close it

  • That first point is outstanding, and not something that I had originally thought of. Of course it is very difficult to judge the quality of a question if the subject matter is foreign. There will be different rules and standards for migrating to SF, SO, AU, WA, and so on. Unless you are an active contributor on the receiving site, you probably don't know what they consider acceptable, so it's better to ask someone else to look at it. Apr 24, 2013 at 15:12
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    Yup, in this case, since I don't know C/C# or what software he is using, I'd lean towards it not being a good fit for SO. When its in doubt and OT, I'd close, comment that its OT, and mention to the OP that flagging to migrate is an option.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Apr 24, 2013 at 15:15
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    @allquixotic The first point is also what's most broken about question migration and why Programmers and SF are no longer SO migration paths. Too much crap from people who have no idea about the target site.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Apr 24, 2013 at 15:19
  • Its not just about the subject content of the site though. Even within SU, if its something that just totally goes over my head, I'd ignore it, and refer it to people who I think might know what's going on. With a question like this, I wouldn't vote on it at all since I have no clue what he's talking about ;p
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Apr 25, 2013 at 7:28

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