I would like to see the "migrate" option disappear, for multiple reasons.

First, it seems presumptuous for those of us who don't participate on, say, math.stackexchange, to express opinions about what's appropriate there --- let alone to actually cause things to be posted there.

Second, it makes life just a little easier for those who posted inappropriately to MO in the first place, and therefore makes it just a little more likely that they'll do it again. It used to be that the cost of having your MSE-appropriate question closed on MO was that you'd have to go to MSE and type it in again. Now you can just wait for someone to migrate it for you, so there's that much more temptation to "take a shot" at MO and see what happens.

I of course have no actual data on whether the "migrate" option draws more marginal questions to MO, but it seems quite plausible that it does, and that the effect will grow over time.

Third, the "migrated" questions continue to appear on the MO questions list --- albeit marked "migrated" --- and I'm not sure whether they ever disappear. This makes them almost as distracting as if they'd never been migrated away in the first place.

These costs might be small, but I see no offsetting benefits so (unless there are benefits I'm not seeing) we'd be better off without this feature.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree. The number of inappropriate questions has gone up a lot since the change and we should take steps to reduce the number of such questions. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ One perhaps very minor benefit is that instead of having to write the comment "this question seems more appropriate for mathstackexchange" each time we close a question as being too elementary, we can simply choose the migration option. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ I think there is also less resistance to be expected, which should reduce noise. This is also a benefit. If somebody really wants to ask on MO, they will do so, as there is not much need for any typing. A copy-paste is done within seconds. (Also recall the numerous people tat cross-post right away.) Migration is good for those that happened to have ask on the wrong page out of ingnorance about its scope. If one tells them nicely/neutrally where to go and helps along this causes much less noise than stern closures. To this end migration is helpful. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ Many among us suggested all along to ask on math.SE in comments so we did always "express opinion" (re first) (which was likely to have some effect), so this is a non reason. By contrast somebody active on both sites said one should not migrate when in doubt as it could be bad for OP (just the other way round then said here). Migrate questions are autodelte (but it takes a while.) I highly doubt removing migration option will reduce OT questions. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ Migrated questions (we usually call them "migration stubs") are automatically deleted after 30 days. $\endgroup$
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ @AnnaLear : "Automatically deleted after 30 days" is of essentially no value to those of us who use view the newest questions on our start pages. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ @StevenLandsburg I'm not making an argument for or against it, just offering some information on how migrated questions work in response to "I'm not sure whether they ever disappear". $\endgroup$
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ While understanding your reasoning, I respectfully disagree with your conclusion. I tend to think that the sorts of people who actually care whether they are asking on the correct site will tend to be conservative about the sophistication level of their questions. In my own case, I have had questions that never got asked because they seemed too basic for MathOverflow, but I knew they were unlikely to receive a useful answer on math.SE. Having the migration path open makes it easier to ask these sorts of questions, since asking on the wrong site is easier to fix. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ That having been said, your contributions to MathOverflow are more valuable than mine. Correspondingly, what makes MathOverflow a better site for people like you is probably more important than what makes it a better site for people like me. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ @CharlesStaats : I must respectfully disagree with any suggestion that my contributions are clearly more valuable than yours; obviously you're the sort of person we want more of here. The question is what policy will strike the right balance between attracting more folks like you and repelling more folks who are out to refute Cantor or ask for homework help or pose little brain teasers. Thanks for offering your own experience as a data point. It's certainly legit evidence in favor of the migration option, but I remain skeptical on balance. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ I think that a significant reason for the increase in inappropriate questions is that our advice to new users is less clear and complete than it used to be on the old site. I think that we should try to fix that before messing with the migration settings. While there are some offenders who would doubtless ignore any kind of advice, I think we are seeing quite a few cases of honest misunderstanding that should be dealt with in a friendly way. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft: That is a good point. To expand on this, yes, the migrated question will not bumped and cannot be reopened, as migration locks the MO version of question, so it cannot even be changed (except a mod would do something). Also, while the question looks the same in the list of questions, clicking on it will lead to the migrated version (not the MO version). So that those wanting to perhaps still interact with the question will be directed to the right place. This avoids the work sometimes done manually before to provide links to reasked versions, often done by others than OP. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ @NeilStrickland: There is also the very simple fact that MO's existence is now more prominently advertised through the SE network. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkMeckes: This is no doubt true. A main problem I see (and this is related to what Neil Strickland said) is that the advertisement in the network is unclear (or even misleading) in my opinion; and this is "our" fault. If you look at the list of all sites at the bottom then the mouse-over description for the site is "mathematicians." Just this. Now, the question is how one interprets this. And, in the context of these mous-over descriptions this is unclear or even misleading. Many other site make explcit if this is a site restricted to professionals or also for amateurs. "We" don't. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft, on MO closed questions are often deleted in approx 48 hours. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


I am not sure if migration is the cause.

I think the main issue is that the scope of the site is not communicated to newcomers in a satisfying and understandable way (something like "The target community of MO is mathematicians and professional researchers in mathematics, i.e. people whose job is doing research in mathematics. If you are not a professional researcher in mathematics or in a related field your question is highly likely to be off-topic here, please consider posting it on MSE which has a broader scope." might help).

It seems to me the number of users who keep asking off-topic questions repeatedly is small. Therefore, I think most of those who ask off-topic questions do so because they haven't understood the scope of MO. (If we see some users frequently abuses the migration in the way you describe then we can close their questions without migrating them to MSE, and in more serious cases moderators can suspend them for repeatedly asking off-topic questions.)

  • $\begingroup$ I agrre. (I delete a comment as I got a meaning of something wrong, so my two points are now just one): The description got discussed shortly before moving here at tea.mathoverflow.net/discussion/1606/… Opinions where a bit mixed. (Note there are two subjects dicussed in the thread; the link is correct.) $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 22:42

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