As the title states, I was flagging a wonderful question probing how to improve a risotto recipe (more arrowroot anyone?) and thought I'd take a step to assist the moderators by indicating which site it probably belonged to, however only meta.chemistry.se showed up among the choices. Is this a flaw or by design?


Ok, so I see I am (obviously) not the first to stumble on this very, very weird problem. Sure, I understand that first time this happens, you look around, maybe come here, search meta or post a duplicate post and get an answer, and learn how to respond next time you encounter a blatant off-topic (but good) question.

This is then by design, because you haven't bothered to update the options for migration, or otherwise have no power over the way off-topic flagging is handled.

To quote Laura, in a comment to an earlier duplicate question:

We don't currently set up migration paths until after a site leaves the beta phase. The notion is that while in beta, a site's on- and off-topic lists will likely be in flux a bit.

That was in 2014! Chemistry.SE is not beta anymore!

The lack of a streamlined response path wastes everyone's time, including yours who addresses this question probably a few times each year. Why is this so hard to fix?!


Rummaging around some more I came upon this answer to a duplicate of this question:

An important problem with including these migration paths into the UI would be the unnecessary flags generated by the less experienced users.

For example, moderators will get flags to migrate "significant figures" questions to Math.SE. Only those users who've read our meta posts would know that sig fig questions are on topic for Chem.SE. But many haven't read the meta, and they'll happily raise that flag.

The above is probably the only honest answer to that question, and even then, it suggests that identifying off topic questions is some sort of science rather than politics.

Now I don't doubt that some skills associated with navigating the site and taking appropriate actions take time to learn, but I suspect this problem - like the infamous homework policy is the equivalent of dust swept under the rug, or perhaps, as I mentioned, politics.

The above are minor, if not trivial problems, but I'd like to see anyone nominating him/herself as a future moderator address these.

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    $\begingroup$ You're supposed to raise a custom flag for migration. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 8:38
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    $\begingroup$ because the original problem has not been solved!!! It's not a problem and second of all it's not a government the moderators aren't providing you any services in Exchange of taxes, be civil. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ No, but the moderators are elected, and I pay my taxes by serving the community. Anyway, just pulling your chains a little. In all seriousness I found picking an appropriate flag surprisingly complicated. And the answer below still doesn't tell me what exactly to do. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ sigh.......... $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ @AvnishKabaj Seriously, this is a very minor critique, but it speaks volumes about some somewhat byzantine features of the site. Like the obsession with tags, which should be much easier to select. Yes, a feature request for the SO site, which is likely to be rejected, but since you are looking for a new moderator, I thought I'd air a few possible issues to consider. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ I read through your edited post just now, fair points raised for your initially you were just enquiring about migration which was an exact duplicate of abcd's post. Prior to the first edit there was no indication whatsoever that you wanted migration as a close reason. If you do so (you do) I would recommend making a feature request post explaining why is it needed, beneficial for the community and back it up with asked questions that you think are suitable for migration but weren't migrated. As for your second question, no one is stopping you from taking initiative from touching $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ it. I intended to do so after my finals and everything get over by may. I was rather hoping that discussions pertaining to the homework policy would begin from there. Just a fair warning, nearly everyone is discontent with the policy and were so when it was framed but it's still there for the lack of any other better alternatives. A post along the lines of homework policy sux will not initiate any meaningful discussion or conclude with a proper resolution. Your post will have to identify what's wrong with it and provide a new framework for users to build upon. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ github.com/GaurangTandon/ReworkingClosurePoliciesChemSE This should at least get you started. Gaurang was pumped as well didn't pan out.chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/55978?m=45112753#45112753 more HW policy discussions. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @AvnishKabaj Thanks for your response, I'll take a look at this. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


Even though this question is answered in the multiple duplicates, I would like to make it abundantly clear: there won't be any migration paths set up. We will do them manually; quoting myself:

Please vote to close on question you think do not belong to our site with a custom reason explaining your reasoning. Once a question is closed, flag it for moderation ("... in need of moderator intervention"). The moderator team usually investigates whether the question is on topic on the target site, to avoid that a migration is rejected. In most cases, we do not migrate open questions (It has to be decidedly off-topic first).

It is neither worth the effort for the team to implement migration paths, nor worth the risk that this feature will be overused. I (personally) am happy to follow up on any migration requests, to make sure they are on topic on the target site. We will not migrate questions that might put a strain on a different community.

Some numbers:

  • there are (much) less than 150 migrated away from this site since the very beginning (that was in 2012)
  • of the last 50 migrations (from April 2016 on), 11 went to our meta site
  • Migrations performed since December 2017 (excluding meta): 8, from these:
    • successful: 5
    • rejected: 2
    • closed as duplicate: 1

So let me summarise with a quote from my fellow moderator orthocresol:

Of the few questions which could be migrated, there are even fewer which are of decent quality. After all, the guideline is don't migrate crap.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer but could you please provided a detailed step by step protocol describing which, among the choices presented when flagging a post, should be picked to indicate that something is regarded as off topic (but worthy of migration, even if this will never happen)? Because the obvious trail leads basically to a dead end (meta) and then one is left to wonder, why is that disjointed choice left there at all. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 11:16
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    $\begingroup$ @NightWriter the problem with migration paths is even people with the ability to close tend to misuse them (they're a special case and require familiarity with the policies of two sites instead of one). The one for meta exists because they're less likely to migrate a question to meta erroneously. You should "flag for moderator attention", and explain why it should be migrated if you're certain it should be (I, usually, am not). Alternatively, post a meta question on the target site or ping one of their mods in chat and ask them if they want the question. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ @NightWriter The duplicate linked question contain all the information on this topic. For convenience, I have edited the paragraph detailing how to deal with them into this answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ Ok thanks @Martin-マーチン , "flag for moderation" seemed ambiguous but now I see that "... in need of moderator intervention" is that choice. In the spirit of shoot first, ask questions later, I suppose there is a guide detailing the choices available when flagging... $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン Not to prolong the discussion since you answered my question, but I think those statistics are of questionable value given how convoluted flagging is (the problem is circular: the number of migration requests is tiny because it is very complicated to make a migration request, which again brings to mind the analogy of regressive bureaucratic policies). This is not the first time I've had this issue, which is why I posted a question. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ @NightWriter I don’t consider it complicated in any way to mod-flag something and type in one line that says “should be migrated to XYZ”. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol Not to you, but it is if you don't know to do this beforehand, again you are thinking circularly (post facto, in fact). I understand that the whole upvote/downvote system is supposed to represent some democratic way of assessing value, but 3 upvotes is ... hmmm, a small ensemble. I suggest you open up to suggestions from someone who has a different opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ @NightWriter, just because I don't agree doesn't mean I'm not listening or not being open. I've read everything you've written here, and with all due respect, I disagree with nearly all of it. I agree that there could be more (easily accessible) guidance as to which flag to use when, but currently I really don't have the time to write it up. It is, hopefully, easy enough to ask somebody what to do in cases where you don't know what to do. There is chat for that, or mod flags, or meta, or even just drop a comment on the post itself and somebody will tell you what to do. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, I will acknowledge that there is a certain sense of "we're the best and you're wrong because you suggested something different" floating around on SE. I dislike that very much and it is one of the reasons why I stay away from meta.SE. However, and this is my genuine opinion - I believe that our status quo is the best way to deal with it. Many people have either figured out on their own, or found out from somebody else, that migration requests should be done via mod flags. I haven't heard anybody else complain that it is too complicated. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @orthocresol It's ok. The point I tried to make is that someone new here might not know to drop a note to a moderator etc etc- there is always a bit of a learning curve. The instructions are somewhere, perhaps I should have looked around more carefully. I thought I'd bring attention to an issue that seemed recurrent and unsolved, even comical. Much ado about nothing, but then smoothing the rough edges makes a good site even better. This website is not very complicated but the flagging procedure has that one "dead" end that should perhaps be removed or clarified. Like the homework tag bit :) $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ @NightWriter If a user doesn't yet have the knowledge of how to cast a flag (indicating they are very, very new on SE), they really have no business at all suggesting a migration. Being experienced enough to migrate means that you have a highly trained eye both on our site and on another one. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 22:00
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    $\begingroup$ @NightWriter, the homework tag is an entirely different matter altogether and I genuinely don't want to go into it now, but I will summarise my opinion on it as such: it is the least bad option that we have in the short term. The complete removal of the homework tag is a long-term goal; a lot of effort has been poured into it for quite a while now. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 22:00

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