I dealt with two questions today that seemed on the more elementary side in terms of mathematical content. Geoff Robinson posted some interesting answers, more so than my attempts. Coincidentally, each question received four fairly cogent and in some cases nicely varied and detailed answers.

One of them was migrated to math.SE (https://mathoverflow.net/questions/172983/represent-an-integer-as-a-sum-of-n-non-consecutive-squares) , the other ( Maximum value of the binomial coefficient as a polynomial) not. Why?

In addition to what seems to me to be an inconsistency in policy (I can imagine both migrated or both staying, but not just one of them), I wonder how they participate in accounting. I have no math.SE account formally; is there some entity that tabulates my efforts and will reveal them if and when I do create an account? Are MathOverflow stats affected in any way by future activity on the question? If I don't ever create a math.SE account, will there be ways to search the Math.SE forum for traces of my activity in the future? Basically, how does migration affect the activity and statistics recording for an account that participated pre-migration?

A pointer to the relevant SE documentation would be appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ What makes you think this is an inconsistency in policy, rather than a non-uniformity in practice? For that matter, the closing of questions is shaped by guidelines, but decided by users. $\endgroup$
    – S. Carnahan Mod
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ It could very well be a matter of non-uniform practice. My experience with migration is close to nil: my belief was that there were guidelines that were clear to follow, and that things were migrated accordingly. Put it down to my naivete and faith in the system. If the answer is "We haven't gotten to it yet.", I would understand. I could stand more information about the consequences of migration. No offense meant regarding policy, it's just that poor practice did not occur to me as I was writing this question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 6:17
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    $\begingroup$ I still don't see why you insist on using judgmental language like "poor practice" here. Five people voted to close and migrate one poorly worded and vague question, and a different, well-written question did not attract 5 votes to close. Even without those distinctions, I don't think the walls separating questions that should be closed, migrated, or kept open can be made ultra-precise. $\endgroup$
    – S. Carnahan Mod
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ In general questions that are answered well should not be migrated (this is general network policy and since migration is inter-network it applies to "us" even if we assume that in general it does not). I would thus say that the one migration is at odds with guidelines. (Depending on timeline it still could happen easily though; this is not meant as an accussation. Also the guidelines might not be that clear or well-known.) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 10:15
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    $\begingroup$ Having cast the first vote to migrate the sum of squares question, I should probably clarify that I hesitated a lot whether to vote to close it as unclear instead (on account of issues with “non-consecutive”/“not necessarily consecutive”, “unique”, and what is $n$), and at that point, there were not yet any answers. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ @S. Carnahan. I am feeling judgmental, and it seems my choice of words reflect that. From my perspective, I see two questions that deserve equal treatment, and they are not getting it. Stefan Kohl makes a good distinction, but to me that seems more a reason for closing, editing and reopening than for migration. It is my intent to understand more than to challenge; Emil's comment comes closest to answering my intent. If you need to understand my motivation for choice of words, take it as a belief of unequal treatment. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:33

2 Answers 2


I have no math.SE account formally; is there some entity that tabulates my efforts and will reveal them if and when I do create an account?

Yes. If you create an account latter that content will be linked to the account. (Obviously you need the same identifying data.)

Are MathOverflow stats affected in any way by future activity on the question?

No. In fact, since the MO part will deleted in 30 days, even activity prior to migration will in the end have had significantly reduced effect on the stats on the source site. (It is somehow the other way round, you get the points for the votes on source tranferred to target, if you have an account there or decide to create on in the future.)

If I don't ever create a math.SE account, will there be ways to search the Math.SE forum for traces of my activity in the future?

Yes, but not easily (by design). The situation is comparable to searching for activity of a deleted user.

Basically, how does migration affect the activity and statistics recording for an account that participated pre-migration?

Upon migrartion answers are deleted on the source site; and what still remains on the site after migration (the so-called migration-stub) is deleted within 30 days. The consequences are the same as for usual deletion (in particular points are gone).

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for covering the technical aspect. Is this spelled out on meta.stackexchange or in help documents somewhere? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yes I am in the process of writing another answer, where you will find a link. Just a minute. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ For completeness here is a link (essentially the same as in the other answer) to a source for the above meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10249/… $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:21

I add a second answer since I did not discuss policy in my first answer; mainly as I was a bit rushed and had not really looked into the current situation, but also since it was discussed somewhat recently in a different guise, but it is true this is a recent-ish feature so there might be some need for information and discussion.

In brief:

Questions that are answered (well) already should in general not be migrated.

Here, are two complementary reasons for this. The latter is a direct consequence of old MO policy and the former is just SE guidelines (which we should respect at least in this case as this action does not only affect MO, but another site in the network, and to say MO has its own rules thus does not seem a good position).

  1. The SE faq have some information regarding migration; I would like to emphasize one point from there: What is migration and how does it work?

    Avoid migrating answered questions. The point of migration is to send the question to an on-topic place when it can get answered. If the OP already has an answer, then we've already defeated the purpose of migration and the destination site won't have anything to do with the question. Avoid migrating these questions unless they are of extremely good quality and risk deletion on the current site.

    Also the other points given there are good to consider, please, see the end for my take.

  2. Migration has immediate deletion of the answers as effect, and eventually the full post is deleted. It is standing MO policy (and moderators intervene in cases of deviation brought to their attention) that questions with somewhat well-received and solid answer should not be deleted.

    This was discussed at length and with great passion at various occasions. (Practical considerations in the way put forward in Stefan Kohl's answer played no role whatsoever since at that time the effort to delete a question with or without answers was identically, and it is not that different now either, as soon as one falls outside auto-deletion.) Personally, I sometimes wished that this policy was less strict and allowed for more deletions. But, the policy is at it is. To vote to migrate with the aim of answers getting deleted is acting directly against a longstanding policy.

    Indeed, it seems even problematic to vote to migrate answered questions for any reasons as this deletion would be always a (possibly unwanted) consequence. But to give it as reason for migration is counter this site's policy on deleting answers (or rather on not deleting answers).

    It should also be recalled that in these discussions the possibility of hosting the deleted content elsewhere was discussed, and was not considered as sufficient to then allow deletion of the content on MO.

As alluded to in my comment and confirmed in this case it can happen that the status "answered well" arises only after votes were cast, and one can imagine some other exceptional circumstances, but as a general rule one should not migrated answered question.

On the general matter of migration:

Three questions to decide if migration is appropriate

  1. Is the questions off-topic for MO?

  2. Is the question a good or solid on-topic question on the target site?

  3. Will OP benefit from answers they would get (in addition to existing ones) on the new site?

If the answer to the first two is not a clear "yes" do not migrate. And, if you do not assign a high probability of "yes" to the third one, rather do not migrate either.

In general migrate only in clear cases. There is a custom off-topic reason for closing as off-topic and mentioning math.SE while not migrating. This exists for a reason. When only in slight doubt about migration, do not migrate and use this instead. It is really not much work to re-ask elsewhere via copy paste without migration, while migration has various issues to it (on which I do not want to elaborate as the answer is already a bit long).

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you also for this. If nothing else (and even if the community disagrees with my perspective), I find in this support for my belief that a mistake was made in migrating just one of the questions, even if the mistake was unintentional. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ You are welcome. I consider the migration of the one question as not optimal for the reasons explained (independently of any comparison, but the situation would be worse if both had been migrated). Generally speaking, little is to be gained by such one by one comparisons. Moderation especially community moderation is not an exact science. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 19:26

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