As we can see for example here, a considerable part of the non-professional, or non-sysadmins are coming here only because they don't know, where is the exact place of their questions. They don't have any negative intentions, only don't know the system enough well.

At my very beginning SE experiences I also thought many times that serverfault is only a redesigned clone or stackoverflow, for example. The sites look very similarly.

My suggestion were to improve mechanisms to help them to find their way to the correct site.

I also suggest to vote for migrate them. If 4 from 5 VtC voters are vote equally, the migrations would be executed, without a moderator must take the weight of its responsibility.

Extension #1: Closing this question instead of migrating it was also clearly unexplainable.

  • 3
    Actually migration happens if only 3 of 5 vote to migrate. (I think Stack Overflow requires 4 of 5.) Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 4:43
  • @MichaelHampton Ok. It could mean, if 3 persons would exist in similar situations, they could migrate questions independent from you (-> you shouldn't take responsibility for that by the mods of the target site)?
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 19:13

4 Answers 4


We have been through this dozens and dozens of times. The topicality of this site is brutally clear. Let's take a look.

If you're not signed in and go to the front page you see this:

Front Page Graphic

OK, fair enough.

Still, some people may miss that. I understand how that could happen. Next, they click "Ask a Question". What are they presented with there?

(I'll split this one up)

AQ Number 1

Great - they read again that this is for professionals and that if they're not in that category, they'll have better luck at SU.

What's next?

AQ Number 2

OK, this is some advice many people would do well to take.


AQ Number 3

Ooh, this is a doozy. Lots of great information here on how a potential question asker can ask a good question.

And finally, a little causal contract with the asker:

AW Number 4

So by the time they ask a question, they've agreed that they have read and will consider the all of the above information when formulating a question.

AND THEN THEY CONTINUE TO ASK HOW TO SAVE A FILE IN THEIR @%(@(%!$ TEXT EDITOR! (linked to a screenshot of the now-deleted question you linked to above)

That person? Their question should not get migrated. No way.

On the other hand, if an end user comes here and asks a well-formulated question, yah, it should absolutely be migrated.

I honestly don't know how we can "help amateurs get their way to SU / Unix SE" more than we already are. If they make it as far as asking an OT question here, they have already shown that they couldn't care less about the community they're asking in, the people that will be answering the question, nor the greater SE goal of building a large, well-organized database of excellent questions and excellent answers.

My suggestion were to improve mechanisms to help them to find their way to the correct site.

What would those suggestions be?

  • 1) Not okay, most people is coming here by google, and practically never by the frontpage. 2) If you are on a site first time, to ask a question, and this site tries to convince you to use another site, then you probably won't do it. Why? It is a cost-offer thing. You aren't even sure if SF deserved your attention to give a question to it, then another site referenced by SF surely won't deserve. Yes, this OP in the example question weren't a really pleasant figure, but I think, the system handled his problem very, very badly. His question should have been migrated to superuser on the spot.
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:38
  • @peterh OK, so they come via Google. They miss the first SF Banner I posted. They still have to read and agree that they'll take into consideration the tips on the "Ask a Question" page.
    – EEAA
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:42
  • It is about the "please read the small character paragraphs" thing. It can be a strong argument to convince a lawyer, but now it is about to win the subjective decision of a visitor. The SE network now LOST this subjective decision.
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:44
  • 4
    @peterh You forget about this: DON'T MIGRATE CRAP.
    – EEAA
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:45
  • It wasn't crap. It was unclear and offtopic here, but not crap. I even edited it to make its chance better for a migration to SU.
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:47
  • 1
    @peterh You edited it by removing "Cheers" and changing "Putty" to "putty". Putty should have been left capitalized. I'm not sure you were making a significant change in its chances for migration. :)
    – EEAA
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:49
  • Sorry, this is what I could do. :-) Unfortunately, I don't have further access to this question and haven't a backup from that, but I think it would be a good (but not representative) experiment to ask this on SU anonymously. Could you copy-paste the text of the last version of this question here (or into a chat)?
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:52
  • 2
    I'd also add that there's a simple one line rule about migrations. Don't migrate crap. Migration should be for the rare excellent yet off topic content Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:57
  • 1
    If you aren't logged in, that banner appears on every page, not just the home page. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 4:41
  • 6
    And, when an SU moderator thinks it should not be migrated there, that's good enough for me. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 4:42
  • 3
    @peterh: I felt it was worth re-iterating, and clarifying what you should migrate. Especially since as a 20K rep user before I became a mod, with the ability to VTC/VTM. I also tend to just VTC programming questions on SU rather than moving it over to SO. As a mod, I'd have kicked it back to SF where it would have met an ignominious demise. Not all content is worth saving. IMO this would be downvoted in SU since it shows a lack of research effort. The "save" option shouldn't be onerous to find, even with hardcore text editors. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 5:05
  • 5
    The newbie isn't in good standing. A newbie in good standing would read the carefully crafted (and in my opinion excessively handholdy) introduction to the site, spend a couple of minutes looking at good posts, and spend the time to write an excellent, well written question. He would then be heaped with praise and upvotes (and maybe beer). With newbies unwilling or unable to read the fine introduction, the right course of action is to close the question, and optionally let him know why. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 5:24
  • 3
    Are you sure you're reading the same thing I wrote? The site tour, and say the front page is hardly hundreds of posts. Its almost like you want to encourage people not to take the slighest effort, and encourage help vampirism. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 5:51
  • 4
    @peterh a newbie who skips through all that information, asks a useless question without enough information to answer, and then proceeds to call you a "complete and utter cunt" for not answering his question doesn't deserve help, he deserves to be set on fire. In the more broadly applicable case, if they don't read all the help they already get before asking their question, they don't deserve any consideration after - they're being inconsiderate jerks, wasting everybody's time with their garbage. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 9:01
  • 5
    I don't want "many" users, I only want users capable of contributing useful content. People who can't do that but want to benefit from my technical expertise anyway can pay me for the privilege. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 20:19

The Don't migrate crap rule is covered extensively in the comments on EEAA's answer, but I thought it should be explained more clearly:

"Don't migrate crap" is excellent summary of the attitude towards migration across all SE sites and it's a very useful single rule, but it's not the only rule.

Look at Gilles's comment on Jeff's official answer; there's another rule there: don't bother migrating if there are already a ton of dups on the target site.

As I mention in this answer, in all the discussion on meta.SE about migrations, there's another rule: the default action should be to close questions in place (not migrate them), only questions that are clearly good and on-topic should be migrated.

We had extensive discussions here when we got SE staff to remove SF as a target for SO migrations and another rule came up: If you're not active on the target site, you probably aren't qualified to judge if something is good and on-topic, so it's reasonable to simply close it in place.

Another thing that came out of our discussions here about being a migration target is that unless the person asking is active on the target site, it's usually better not to migrate - the OP rarely follows a migrated question.

So that's 5 rules w/out looking very hard:

  1. Don't migrate crap
  2. Don't migrate if there are multiple dups on the target site
  3. Only questions that are clearly good and on-topic should be migrated
  4. If you aren't active on the target site, you can't really judge if something is good and on-topic
  5. If the person asking isn't active on the target site, it's not worth migrating since the question will likely be abandoned

As I said, "Don't migrate crap" is the overal attitude towards migration, but these other rules make it clear why there's no need to make migration easier: it's far more common for a migration to be inappropriate, so it should be avoided as much as possible.

  • I am sorry, but these ridiculous "arguments" I could have found everywhere. I've talked about the real reasons.
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 4:06
  • 5
    @peterh How exactly do you differentiate between these "ridiculous" arguments and the "real" reasons? From what I can see, the "real" reasons are some nebulous thoughts that you have ginned up by yourself, that have no relation to what the community here actually wants and what SE has expressly stated in regards to migration.
    – EEAA
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 17:34

As taken from the the most upvoted answer here.

If the treatment has not been unfair, telling them to take it somewhere else on the network only moves crap around for other sites to deal with. Only if we're dealing with an edge case which is off-topic on the current site, but good and on-topic on an other, should you advise them to take it somewhere else. And if you do, always make sure you know that it's good for the other site, and advise them to read through the help center to establish that for themselves.

And the most upvoted comment.

What's unfair about downvoting someone for not doing any research, which is explicitly mentioned on the downvote arrow? Your premise is flawed. Another flawed premise is that we should cater to everybody and that a SE goal is to be "friendly" - it's not, SE sites are expected to be useful, and possibly non-offensive, but "friendly" is not an objectively measurable thing. I'd say the commenters told OP that the question is crap in a friendly way, what more do you want?

Which seems to fit here perfectly.
The user asked how to save a text file in linux, without stating what editor he used. And then proceeded to loose his temper within minutes of getting a response.

Personally I would have linked him to the first google hit, flagged to close as low quality and never looked back. And while this question has been linked I think the comment on it Rule 2: don't migrate endless trails of duplicates might be a better fit here. As you can see from the first google hit, it's not exactly hard to come by information.

On a personal level though, this looks like a person who's just following a guide to do something that he has no idea how to do, got stuck and frustrated and is now reaching at straws.
While I feel sorry for him, I wouldn't in any way consider him in good standing.

  • 1
    If you'll notice, that was a substantially duplicate discussion that was cross-posted by the same asker.
    – Hyppy
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 18:32
  • @Hyppy which is partly the reason I brought it up. Would have done so in comments but lacked space :)
    – Reaces
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 18:37

You know, sure, everyone's a newbie or a beginner at some point. Absolutely.

On the other hand, demanding to know your place of employment so he can boycott it and using profanity against you makes me not want to help him. And he swore at you, not me. The fact that you apparently want to help him... well, wow, man, you're really nice. ;)

I'm all for helping newbies and all--even if it's just helping them find the right site--but wow. Just wow.

  • He did it, because I didn't give him help! I had helped him on the spot if I could have been migrate his question to SU or to unix SE! I don't have a problem with an elitist site, but I have a problem with a site with braindamaged, irrational limitations (f.e. the near taboo of the migrations - probably nobody knows its real reason, on my opinion, here we could see only low-level rationalizations for that and not the real reason, which probably doesn't exist). But thank you anyways your very humanic reaction :-)
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 18:30
  • You're welcome. :) I still don't think swearing at someone like that is an appropriate reaction, though. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 18:33
  • What could I do? It is a very inhuman system. Nice talk is useless, harder sentences are also useless, it doesn't matter anything.
    – peterh
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 19:09

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