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I recently encountered a question in the reopen review queue that had been closed as off-topic (“This question is not about computer hardware or software, within the scope defined in the help center.”), although I suspect the real reason for closure was that it was low quality.

It was in the reopen review queue because it had been edited after being closed, and it is now clearer than ever that it is about computer software.  It’s, arguably, still off-topic for SU, because it’s about programming (VBScript).  The edit had increased its quality, although not, in this particular case, to an acceptable level.

My question is, how should this general case be handled?  (I.e., a low-quality question that is off-topic for SU but belongs on SO or one of the other sister sites, is closed and then edited to an acceptable level of quality.)  It seems wrong to vote to reopen, knowing that it’s still off-topic, but there is no option for Reopen & Migrate (or at least none that I can see).

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    I have seen many questions closed as off topic on Askubuntu, I flagged few for migration, my flags were declined and the mods said that only the OP can ask for migration, so what I do now, is commenting on questions, trying to convince the OP to ask for migration – Lynob Jun 21 '14 at 22:56
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First of all the question as it originally stood was way below acceptable quality standards, it simply posted some random lines of code with no explanation at to what the intention was, what it actually achieved, or what was going wrong. You are right that it should have been closed, whether for low quality or being off-topic.

This is one of those murky areas where SU wades across the border to SO. In general we allow some light VBScript and VBA questions as they are often used by power users to automate Office and Windows tasks, though for the latter there are often better tools these days. As these are somewhat murky waters we often waive the off-topic nature of the question if it is obvious that the user has a specific problem and can be answered quickly and succinctly without needing multiple answers and chains of back-and-forth comments.

The question quality itself has been raised, but from the comments it is quite clear that is either beyond the tools they have available or their skill to use said tools properly.

There is too much evidence for this being a fundamental lack of understanding as to the limitations and language of the tools, that they do not know even how to see that there is a problem let alone diagnose it and that in all likelihood the script was copied from somewhere without knowledge of what it did or how it worked. The answer it received puts it quite plainly:

if you removed "on error resume next", you would have seen this error immediately

It is mostly off-topic here but it was (and still is) too low quality to migrate. SO expects more than pluck and determination, they expect a minimum level of knowledge about the tools they are using and what they need to achieve.

In this case though the user literally does not know that they do not know enough about the problem in order to solve it and that is not going to get them far on any Stack Exchange site.

While it is somewhat depressing the best thing we can do is suggest that what they really need is a book or a training course on programming, not someone to "fix their problem" for them.

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    As the guy who posted the answer - don't re-open it! The guy knows nothing about VBS or scripting in general. While I don't have a problem with this and am always happy to help, the lack of willing and the obvious wanting for a free rent-a-coder to do everything for him makes this too lower quality for any SE site – Fazer87 Jun 12 '14 at 12:11
  • Just to add to that: I was always under the impression that since items like .cmd, .bat, and .vbs type files do not compile code, but keep the code bare, that it was on topic for us. If that is wrong, let me know. – Canadian Luke Jun 12 '14 at 18:53
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    No, the lack of a compilation step does not make it on topic, because many languages work that way and are still professional computer languages. To my mind, writing programs is for Stack Overflow, and using them is for Super User. Example: writing a spreadsheet program and the code for drawing menus is Stack Overflow but writing a macro for Excel is Super User. A .vbs program is on topic at Stack Overflow, but only when the question is of interest to a professional programmer. A non-programmer using VBS to launch Excel might be on topic at Super User. – Kevin Panko Jun 14 '14 at 18:20
  • @CanadianLuke: Compilation isn't necessarily inherent to programming. Some languages are interpreted. More to the point, though, a good question about a programming language sticks to the abstractions of that language, so even with C++ it doesn't really matter that you're going to translate your program to machine code with the help of a compiler: you're asking about C++, not the compilation process. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 19 '14 at 9:13
  • @Fazer87: If you know that a question is very low-quality and will be closed, why are you encouraging its author (and others like him/her) to continue posting such questions, by answering it? – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 19 '14 at 9:14
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    @lightness I would have to say that initially the question was low quality but could maybe have been improved at the time when Fazer answered. It quickly became evident that it was unsalvagable in the comment replies that Fazer received as a result. I suspect Fazer did not initially know that it was low quality and unsalvagable, he acted in good faith. – Mokubai Jun 19 '14 at 11:23
  • @Mokubai: Oh I have no doubt that he acted in good faith; I'm only questioning his logic ;) – Lightness Races in Orbit Jun 19 '14 at 11:24
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    The logic is that this site is about learning. I was hoping that by providing a starting-point answer, then the asker would attempt to expand my script into something that would fit his requirements. Turns out I was wrong to hope for that - still, the script written will likely one day help someone so still worth it. – Fazer87 Jun 20 '14 at 7:46
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Speaking to the general case, where a posting is:

  • initially of low quality
  • on the wrong site
  • consequently closed
  • subsequently edited to acceptable quality

By the time this happens, the question will usually have accumulated several downvotes and quite a few comments, addressing the posting in its various stages. I think it would be unwise to take this complex object and migrate it to another site for others to unravel.

Instead, I believe it would be better to post a comment along these lines:

The question is now sufficiently clear to be useful. However, it doesn't belong here; this site is for questions about $TOPIC, while your question is about $SOMETHINGELSE. I recommend you repost the improved question on $SESITE.

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