I've got a couple of feature requests:

  • When entering a question, search for similar questions or similar tags on SE sister sites.
  • Allow a community upvote and downvote of the a moderator's question flags.

I'm frequently surprised about what questions fail meet the about guidelines for any given SE site and get a moderator smackdown. For example, it seems that "domain registration" questions are off-topic on ServerFault (even though the about page says "networking" Q's are OK, and there's of "domain registration" Q's under that tag). :-(

The topic separation through SE seems to harm the UX has much as it helps, especially as many of the SE sites have clearly overlapping topic areas such as this (is it right for "server fault" or "web masters").

It would be nice if the sister sites were searched for similar questions and tags before posting so that a better forum can be found. Also, it would be nice if the community, as well as the moderators were able to exert some say on whether questions are right for a particular forum (allow us to +1/-1 the off-topic flagging).

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This belongs on meta.stackoverflow.com ... and probably won't receive a warm reception there, FYI. –  HopelessN00b Apr 2 '13 at 21:35
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No moderator smacked down your question. –  Michael Hampton Apr 2 '13 at 21:36
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I don't really understand why you're upset. You received no downvotes and were linked to a great answer for your question. –  Tanner Apr 2 '13 at 21:47
    
@HopelessN00b I think my question was a reasonable one for at least one SE site, and I agree to the people who kindly replied, that the question was a duplicate. Without visiting 4 separate SE sites, I couldn't have found it. –  user14645 Apr 2 '13 at 21:48
    
@r.tanner.f I'm not upset. I think the answers were helpful and great, but the SE UX could have lead to a happier place for sure. I read the about page for Server Fault - it says its "for professional system and network administrators". I also found lots of questions tagged "domain-registration", and no obvious answer to my question. So it seemed a good place to post it. So, I'm a little surprised when its flagged as off-topic. (Actually, thinking about it, I still don't understand why its off-topic.) –  user14645 Apr 2 '13 at 21:54
    
My point is: i) there's no place to grumble (at the question) about whether its off-topic or not, ii) I don't think I could have reasonably found the right non-off-topic forum without doing a fair bit of work, iii) the forum's about page led me to believe this was the right place. I'm bringing it up because I've run into this several times despite making a best honest effort to ask sensible questions in the right places. I think its solvable in the website's design. –  user14645 Apr 2 '13 at 21:57
    
@Michael Hampton ... well ... they kinda did? Didn't they? The moderators said it was off-topic and zapped it. –  user14645 Apr 2 '13 at 22:02
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No they didn't. Again, no moderators touched your question, though one did comment on it. You can recognize a moderator by the diamond symbol next to their name. –  Michael Hampton Apr 2 '13 at 22:04
    
Well maybe. I don't mind the details of how the question got closed so much, but I think my use case is common (because of the clear overlap between the SE sites), and some features along the lines of the ones I added would help users and moderators (or whomever flags stuff as off-topic). –  user14645 Apr 2 '13 at 22:13
    
@Michael Hampton Thanks for answering my original question though. Was helpful. –  user14645 Apr 2 '13 at 22:13
    
@user14645 I don't (totally) disagree with you... this is a side effect of SE fragmentation, but that's just not gonna change, and isn't something the SE team has been particularly interested in addressing historically. And, again, network-wide meta topics belong on meta.stackoverflow.com, because that's where the people who can actually do anything about it are most active (by a massive margin). –  HopelessN00b Apr 2 '13 at 22:16
    
@HopelessN00b Hmmm... but if I read the site FAQ: "... Super User for general Networking,". So, SuperUser, StackOverflow, ServerFault? And it turned out that the right (existing) answer was on Webmasters. I take your point. Its a growing problem though. Isn't there a larger SE feature request tracking scheme? –  user14645 Apr 2 '13 at 22:23
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@user14645 The larger SE feature tracking scheme (so far as it exists) would be meta.stackoverflow.com, and unfortunately, as mentioned, they don't much care to do anything about this. I file it under the accept-those-things-you-cannot-change heading. –  HopelessN00b Apr 2 '13 at 22:43
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stackexchange.com/search searches all Stack Exchange sites. –  Zoredache Apr 4 '13 at 16:37

2 Answers 2

You've been around for a very long time, but it doesn't appear that you are very involved in the communities here, so before we get to your question, I'll first go over some basics, to make sure we're on the same page.

First, any user with more than 3000 reputation can vote to close a question. Five such votes are required from normal users, while an actual moderator can close or even delete a question without anyone else's concurrence.

Second, SF has been around for several years and its topic focus has evolved over time, typically narrowing. Most of the questions you saw, such as those tagged , date back to those olden times when SF accepted almost any question even if it wouldn't be on topic now. We try to close those as we find them, though there are many still out there, and only 24 close votes per person per day.

Third, whenever a normal user votes to close a question, it goes into a review queue where other users can agree or disagree with the close vote. If enough users disagree, the existing close votes will expire away and those users will be unable to vote to close the same question again. And if enough users agree, then the question is closed (or migrated).

On that note, closed questions can also get reopen votes, which go into a reopen review queue. Questions also go into this queue automatically if they're edited after being closed. So closing a question is not necessarily forever.


With that out of the way, now there's your specific question, and the general issues.

Your specific question regards an issue not often dealt with by system and network administrators. We buy the domain names our companies need, and that's usually that. If someone's squatting on them, we tell the lawyers and they handle it from there. This issue is much more commonly seen by a certain class of webmaster, and so Webmasters is a much better fit for the question.

The question then becomes, what to do with the question? We could answer it, migrate it, or close it. Answering it would just create a duplicate question and answer across multiple sites. While this is often useful, sometimes it's better not to have such duplication. Migrating it, in this case, would leave the migrated question closed as a duplicate on the destination site. Closing it outright, with a pointer to the question on the sister site, was what happened here. Since Webmasters is not on our list of migration targets, actually migrating it would have required a moderator to intervene.

If there had not been an existing question on Webmasters, I would have gone to the trouble of asking a moderator to migrate the question. But since there was an answer, migrating it would have just created extra work for the moderators and community of both sites, for no clear benefit to anyone.

The question could possibly have been answered here, as many of us do know the answer already, but as it might be judged to not be of significant interest to our community, it could then be closed as "too localized" (not necessarily by me, but by others). This also would not benefit you or anyone else.

So I think your question got the best of all the "bad" alternatives.


Now on to the general issues:

I believe your request for "community upvote and downvote of the a moderator's question flags" is already covered by the review queue, so I won't address it further.

Finally, it's my understanding that the Stack Exchange team hasn't been particularly interested in implementing any sort of cross-site search from within individual sites. This has been asked for many times, and rarely or never gets an official response. The only concession to cross-site search has been to implement it on stackexchange.com. (And from what I understand, it's terrible compared to, say, Google.) If you want to pursue this sort of feature, I suggest visiting mSO and perusing the existing questions.

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This is something that most new users should get linked to at some point. Most of it is stuff that you have to identify in passing as a newbie, even if you have a vague idea of what you're doing and how to find information on your own. –  Andrew B Apr 3 '13 at 19:58

I think you're (implicitly) asking three questions at once, so I'll address them individually.


The question in your title

Q: Is it possible to search sister SE sites before posting a question?
A: Yes, also Google

Honestly even if you were on the Webmasters site your question may not have pulled up the one we linked you to. The Stack Exchange site-search is pretty awful - you should always ask Google first (considering it is basically the sum of all human knowledge these days).

That said, even Google fails sometimes - there's nothing wrong with googling, not finding what you need, and asking anyway. The worst thing that can happen is your question gets closed as a duplicate (or "off-topic, go look here instead").

It would indeed be nice of asking a question on one SE site searched all related SE sites, but that idea has two major problems:

  1. What is a "related" site? (nobody is going to want to curate that manually), and
  2. Search is HARD

(If you want to raise that suggestion on mSO you can certainly do so, but it's probably already been suggested and shot down. mSO is also not the most hospitable part of the Stack Exchange network...)


The question of topic fragmentation being harmful

This has been brought up and debated to death many times. A lot of us feel topic fragmentation is a Bad Thing, myself included (if you think Webmasters has a lot of overlap with Server Fault consider that 100% of unix.se is covered by Server Fault and Super User, which both existed well prior to unix.SE).

Unfortunately the net consensus is that specialization trumps fragmentation.
Maybe one day we'll reverse that.


The feature request to allow the community, as well as the moderators were able to exert some say on whether questions are right for a particular forum

Is , (through the Reputation and Privileges system).

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