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It was announced on meta.MO that preparations are taking place for the migration of MO to the SE network. In particular this means that we will be able to migrate questions over there, and will receive their "lesser" questions (which are often closed as too localized there).

Most threads discussing research level questions on MSE are from two years ago when the site was conceived, but so much has changed and I feel that we need to bang on this issue again.

I think that need to ask ourselves, should we be concerned with the site, or with the question? If a question has a much better chance to be answered on MO, I suppose we should migrate it. On the other hand, we may want to attract experts by showing that we have interesting questions here as well.

Under what circumstances (except request by OP) should a question be migrated to MathOverflow?

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    $\begingroup$ Questions that haven't received a good answer in a few days are also often good candidates for migration between overlapping sites. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Aug 12 '12 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ I'd say by OP request only. $\endgroup$ – user31373 Aug 12 '12 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf It's somehow different with MO. There is a decent chance that a migrated question will be closed, and this is OP's risk to take. $\endgroup$ – user31373 Aug 12 '12 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Lenoid: I think that the communities can decide on a "two pong limit" where the question can be migrated back and will not be re-migrated. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 12 '12 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how SE admin tools work.. Is the migration decision completely one way? I mean, does the MO mods get to accept/reject migrated questions into their site at all?! To prevent a possible closure of migrated question, could we possibly ask that MO mods accept/reject the migration. So we decide on the migration as usual (by flagging, and mods actions), but the migration gets into a pending state awaiting MO mods acceptance. If they reject it, then it stay in MSE. If they accept it, then there's a good chance that it fits there. $\endgroup$ – user2468 Aug 12 '12 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ It seems pointless to discuss this without any material evidence. Why don't we wait after a few migrations? $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Aug 12 '12 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Francois: When theoretical CS, or computational sci., were opened there was a discussion after a few moves and then several concurrent threads pointing out that people are not following the convention from previous threads. Since I know that this might be a serious (in my opinion, it may be a very serious issue) issue later on, I figured bringing this up before the actual heat is a good idea. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 12 '12 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Re-migration is usually not done, creating a chain of migrations leads to all kinds of annoying stuff. But if the question is closed on the target site, the migration is undone. This still doesn't reopen the question on the source site (the assumption is that migrated questions are off-topic on the source site). $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Aug 12 '12 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ I was waiting for that downvote. I think it is important to disagree with the idea of having a discussion. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 13 '12 at 7:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Leonid: I believe, based on my experience, that MO users will be much less likely to close a question if they know it sat around on MSE for a couple days and did not receive any good answers. Thus, I think the risk of closure is much less than you (and others here) assume, as long as every question migration is accompanied by a comment stating how long it remained on MSE before being migrated. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Charles: If we are able to migrate then there are timestamps on the posts and it is immediate to see how long the question waited on MSE. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 13 '12 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ To present a possible "reverse case" regarding "people in site W don't hang around in site Z": I have accounts on both MO and math.SE, though I tend to hang around the latter more than the former. SFAICT, questions on special-functions (my personal topic of interest) don't get touched much in MO, even though they are ostensibly of the type of questions that are supposed to be on MO. By way of contrast, me, Sasha, sos440, Raymond, and maybe a few other people who deal with things like this, hang around here a lot more than on MO. $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Aug 14 '12 at 4:06
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    $\begingroup$ For whatever my opinion counts for: I'd rather that migrations to MO be only done at either a user's behest, or through the usual voting procedure (i.e., have normal users choose (ostensibly, those voters are knowledgeable enough to see what should be here, and what should be there), and mods can only migrate if (which I cannot emphasize enough) they are the fifth vote to migrate, or because OP has asked them to migrate their question). $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Aug 14 '12 at 4:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf I read the quoted sentence as your opinion - which seems consistent with the answer you posted. If that is not the case then perhaps you should edit the question accordingly, and perhaps your downvotes will disappear. I think such meta questions work better if one poses them neutrally, reserving opinions for answers. But that still doesn't explain why you think that the downvotes are against discussion. Why post such extreme speculation? Do you think such speculations are constructive? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 14 '12 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ It seems that the closure of a reasonable question as being too narrow is relevant to this discussion. There is a meta thread on this question. $\endgroup$ – Joseph O'Rourke Aug 18 '12 at 19:32

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I think that a sizable supply of interesting unanswered questions is a feature, not a bug. They are the only thing that the site has to offer to the visitors who are not trying to get homework done (their own or others'). Remove such questions, and what you have left is a homework hotline of progressively diminishing interest, activity, and quality.

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    $\begingroup$ I wish I could upvote this more than once. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, for MSE to prosper we need to continually attract new expertise. Migrating (so closing) difficult questions works against attracting such expertise to MSE. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 13 '12 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill, so, m.se is a pyramid scheme? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 13 '12 at 23:08
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As far as I'm aware, the set of things that are on-topic at MO is a proper subset of the set of things that are on topic here.

For this reason I think questions should not be migrated to MO at all -- a question that MO would accept is one we should not reject in the first place. An exception to this can be made if the asker changes his mind and explicitly requests to have his question appear on MO instead. But we should never do that spontaneously.

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    $\begingroup$ Henning, to drive a point from JDH's answer: Suppose a transient user comes and asks a very interesting questions that not a single user on MSE knows how to answer. On MO, on the other hand, there are three or four users who could answer it - all expressing dislike of MSE. Should we migrate this or should I copy the question verbatim to MO, wait for an answer, and post as a CW answer to the original question? The latter makes no sense considering the software. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 13 '12 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: Sure, if you think preserving the opportunity for this site's users to answer an on-topic question that someone posted on this site makes no sense, and also think it makes no sense whether potential new users who consider using MSE will find that the most interesting unanswered questions have already been closed, then you're right. I dispute those assumptions. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ Asaf's comment (and several others on this thread) seems to have a misperception about why MO users might not also use MSE. Rarely is it because people dislike MSE. I like MSE, I'm glad it exists, and I put considerable effort into getting the site off the ground. But nonetheless, I have a limited amount of time, and as a result I do not check MSE often enough, and so I'd rarely see questions here. I check MO more often. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 13 '12 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ Suppose that questions could be extended to MO, as a new software feature; say, there was one copy of the question on each website, and answers and edits on each website were echoed on the other, but voting and comments (and reputation) were kept completely separate. It seems to me that such a feature would answer most of the objections raised, and might also prove useful in other instances (surely MO/MSE are not the only two communities with overlapping domains). Would you support such a "feature request"? $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ @CharlesStaats: Yes, I would support such a feature with warmth and fervor; it could mitigate many of the fragmentation problems that arise when SE sites (inevitably) have overlapping topics -- such as also between math and CS. (See also, incidentally, this answer from another thread). Not sure that comments would need to be separate, but that's an implementation detail, I think. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: The point is not which text is shown when the question is deported but whether it should be deported at all. The statement of what is on-topic at MSE is that we welcome mathematical questions at all levels, and we should keep welcoming mathematical questions at all level no matter which other sites exist in SE. There is no such thing as a question "more on-topic" on MO, because every mathematical question is fully on topic here. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ If an OP wants to ask the question on MO, then he shall be free to do that. But it is nobody else's business to tell an OP that the question he chose to ask here is one that the members of the site he chose to ask it on must not be allowed to answer. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: Migration of a question does forcefully prevent people from answering it. That is one of the major technical effects of a migration -- that the software will afterwards reject attempts to answer the question on the site it was posted to originally. This should only happen to questions that we explicitly want MSE to contain no answers to. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ I was referring to your comment below another answer. I don't think people are suggesting migration even in the case the OP objects to it (I agree with you if that is the case). It seems to me that you interpreting posting a question here as an objection to migrating the question whereas often it is simply because of lack of OP's knowledge that it is more likely to get answered on another site. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 13 '12 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: See, for example, JDH's answer. He wants questions to be migrated to MO if he would like to answer them at a MO level -- even (explicitly!) when "the answer is not an answer that the OP appreciates, although the MO community would appreciate it." $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 23:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: Again, if the OP wants a MO answer, and considers himself qualified to post on MO, then I have nothing against him going there to ask. But I don't consider that a valid reason to permanently block the possibility of getting an answer here. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 23:39
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with JDH's sentence also in the same context I explained above. People are free to post new more advanced questions on MO based on those posted here. SE has a feature that one can post an answer at same time as posing the question and it seems to me that is a more reasonable way when one wants to state a nice point. So I disagree with migrating an on-topic question when it is not for the benefit of the OP. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 13 '12 at 23:49
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    $\begingroup$ The representation of my position by comments in this thread is not accurate. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 14 '12 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, this was a reply to another user who claimed that it would make no sense (in boldface) for a person who answered a question to ever want that question migrated to MO. I explained that this situtation could easily arise, for a user who felt that their answer would also be appreciated by the MO community or (let me add) who would want to see other answers by MO users. In addition, my comment replied to an assertion that answers are given primarily for the OP's benefit, which I rebutted that by pointing out that if this were so, we would email our answers instead of posting them. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 14 '12 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ Meanwhile, I am embarrassed that it seems that I've involved myself in a dramatic spectacle here on meta, of the sort that I have long opposed and which I believe is harmful to the site. Therefore, I apologize. I shall refrain from further involvement. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 14 '12 at 23:35
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Disclaimer: I am a MathOverflow moderator. I haven't had time to carefully read through all the opinions in this lengthy debate, but I thought it would be useful to add my perspective.

First, and I don't think anyone is denying this, there are valid reasons to migrate some questions from MSE to MO. Whether and when to do this is the question, and this is mostly an internal MSE matter. Whatever the MSE community is comfortable with will probably be fine on our side. We will gladly welcome on-topic questions from MSE (and elsewhere) and we will not be upset if you decide to keep some or even all interesting questions here rather than forwarding them to MO.

One thing that strikes me as undervalued in this discussion is the perspective of the original poster. The differences between MO and MSE are much more than just the "level" of questions. As I recently mentioned on CSTheory, the answers that one would get for the same question are generally very different between MO and MSE. I tend to trust the users to choose the site they are most comfortable with. It's perfectly reasonable for a user to post a very specialized question on MSE rather than on MO because they want an MSE answer and/or they don't think an MO answer would be as useful to them. In making that choice, they accept that there may be fewer users on MSE with the required expertise to answer their question and similar consequences. That's the user's choice and it's perfectly fine. It is also perfectly admissible to ask a more elementary question on MO rather than MSE for the same reason though the MO community admittedly has a much lower tolerance for this (which I personally think is a problem on MO).

To summarize, I think that there are valid reasons to migrate questions from MSE to MO, though I don't think there should be a sharp dividing line between the two sites. I also think migration criteria should be rather conservative and respectful of the original poster's intent. Finally, I am against having some questions coexisting on MO and MSE since that would effectively prevent users from making the type of choices I described above.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see how questions coexisting on MO and MSE prevents choice. The user can choose which site they are most interested in reading whether there is coexistence or not. Also what if the user's choice is to have a question coexisting. $\endgroup$ – vtt Aug 14 '12 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand your final sentence about being against "questions coexisting on MO and MSE". How does that prevent said choices? Does that imply that you disagree with cross-posting - as proposed in my answer? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 14 '12 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ I hereby deny that there are valid reasons to migrate any question from MSE to MO! If you want to provide an answer to something at MO, you're welcome to replicate the question over there (since questions are CC licenced) and then answer it. But you have absolutely no right to demand that the rest of us should therefore be barred from answering the question. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 22:23
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    $\begingroup$ Barred?! Seriously? I thought it was made clear, there is no firing squad at the front page of MO. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 14 '12 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: You sound like a broken record now. Yes, migrating questions will mean that MSE users are not able to answer them. Some MSE users will be able to write an answer at MO instead, but the answer they might have wanted to write might not be acceptable at MO, even assuming that those users would otherwise be able to write other answers in a style that is acceptable for MO. And the answers would still be absent from MSE, and MSE would still be telling new askers and answerers that those questions and answers are not welcome at MSE. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ vtt and Bill: That last sentence wasn't very clear. I think the "coexistence" proposal blurs the wrong line. I'm all for blurring the scope "line" between the two sites, but I really don't think we should blur the identity of the two sites in any way. I don't think coexisting is a decision, it's an indecision. Such users just need to learn more about the options and make a decision, or flip a coin if the the options are equal. Lemon and cream are both great with tea, but not together! $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Aug 14 '12 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm: My first reaction to your comment was: lol, that guy is funny! Now I see that you didn't read beyond the second sentence I wrote... In case you haven't noticed that your extremist position doesn't hold water, consider the fact that your position assumes that your right to answer a question supersedes the poster's right to ask the question they want to! $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Aug 14 '12 at 23:06
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    $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG: Surely you're joking, Mr. Dorais! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 14 '12 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais: You're making no sense at all. First you claim that there are nobody taking the postition that I have been extremely vocal about for more than a day now -- one that, I might add, currently has 22 net upvotes. Then you write some complete non-sequitur about "supersedes the poster's right to ask the question they want to" -- what on earth is that about? The poster can do whatever he damn pleases for my sake -- it is other people who should not be empowered to decide that the the poster must not be allowed to read answers from MSE users. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm: Here is a step-by-step process to enlightenment, after which you will have no further responses from me. 1) Read what I wrote. 2) Read it again. 3) Realize that I'm not claiming anything you claim I am. 4) Realize that my main point actually leans in your general direction rather than the other. 5) Take your extremist position and pour some cold water over it... $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Aug 14 '12 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais: You wrote: "First, and I don't think anyone is denying this, there are valid reasons to migrate some questions from MSE to MO." I am denying that, loudly and obnoxiously, and have been for some time now. You're welcome to personally think such reasons exist, but don't claim that there are nobody who think otherwise. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque: I just read your answer more carefully. It sounds like we're saying a lot of the same things. Your answer is more about migration policy and mine is more about migration philosophy, but that just reflects our interests. Your proposal sounds fine. The actual policy details don't matter much to from the MO perspective, so long as our basic philosophies are in the same general direction there shouldn't be any serious issues. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Aug 15 '12 at 0:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning, do you not agree that if John Doe posts a question to m.se and then, sometime later, and without any outside prompting, Doe expresses a desire to see the question migrated to MO - do you not agree that that would be a valid reason to migrate a question from m.se to MO? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 15 '12 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Gerry: The valid reason in that case would be that if Doe really doesn't want his question to be answerable on MSE, he already has the power to delete it completely. In that case migration is the lesser of two evils. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 15 '12 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: Unregistered users cannot delete their own questions; if there was an upvoted answer then the user cannot delete it either. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 15 '12 at 15:53
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What I am suggesting is basically an elaboration of Asaf's answer, designed to clarify a few things--especially about when questions should not be migrated, except--possibly--at the explicit request of the OP.

  1. A question that is receiving good answers on MSE should not be migrated. In particular, questions should not be migrated because the MO crowd wants the question or because someone believes his/her answer would fit better on MO. [The appropriate response to the latter two situations would be--if you feel strongly about it--to re-ask the question on MO yourself, explaining that it was a question that received good answers on MSE, but that would receive a different kind of good answer on MO.]

  2. A question that has not been around long enough for the MSE crowd to attempt good answers should not be migrated. I'm thinking the "minimum wait" should be at least a day, and possibly as much as a week.

  3. A question that is not likely to receive better answers on MO should not be migrated.

Taking the complement of these, we have the following suggestion, which is essentially equivalent to Asaf's proposal:

A question should be migrated if it has been around for a while (a day to a week), has not received any good answers, and is likely to receive better answers on MO.

I would also note that a question on MO is much less likely to be closed if it was first asked on MSE and did not receive any good answers for a while. Thus, in my view, questions migrated according to this policy would have very low risk of being closed on MO.

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    $\begingroup$ Facts: (a) A question that is about something on-topic for MSE should not be closed as off-topic. (b) A question that is migrated to MO will be closed as off-topic. (c) No question that is off-topic on MSE is on-topic on MO. Exercise: Apply appropriate syllogisms to these facts. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with (a), in the specific case of migration to MO. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ It is unfortunate that migration forces closure. Assuming that cannot be altered, a better solution is for the OP to repost with pointers in both directions. $\endgroup$ – Joseph O'Rourke Aug 13 '12 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Charles: Since you disagree with (a), can I infer that you do think that being "interesting to research mathematicians" makes a question off-topic for MSE? $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: You can infer that I think "closed as off-topic" should be taken in context, and not always interpreted literally. The inference you attempted to draw would imply disagreement with (c); I do not disagree with (c). $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning, of course the choice of site is not a binary matter of on-topic/off-topic, but rather a more nuanced question of degree. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 13 '12 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ Henning, I was objecting to your deduction that if a question is migrated, then it counts as off-topic on the original site. The content of the sites overlap, and a question can be on-topic for both sites, even if it is better-placed at one of them. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 13 '12 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ @JDH: The software feature known as "migrating" a question consists of (i) closing the question as off-topic on one site, (ii) re-posting on another site a verbatim copy of the question plus copies of already-present answers, if any, and (iii) making the closed question redirect to copy at the other site. These three parts come as a package deal. If you have something in mind that doesn't involve part (i), then it's not the thing this meta question is about, as far as I understand it. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: Our judgement of what counts as on-topic or off-topic is more nuanced than the technical software detail you are mentioning. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 13 '12 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @JDH: That doesn't change what the software actually does. You can judge the question to be on-topic as much as you want; the software (having been instructed to treat it as off-topic) still won't let you answer it. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ That logic would prevent us from migrating a question even when the OP and everyone agrees to it, if we felt that the question should be considered on-topic on either site. Also, your comments suggest that you would somehow lose the ability to view and answer the question after a migrating, whereas of course you could still do both these things. The software works by still showing the question, and clicking on it brings you directly to the target forum. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 13 '12 at 19:46
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with this. I would suggest adding "and the OP does not object to the migration". We may not need consent from the OP but I think the OP should be informed beforehand and the migration should happen only if the OP does not object to it. If the OP objects the question should not be migrated. Obviously this is only about questions which are on-topic on both sites but it might be good to make that explicit in the policy. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 14 '12 at 9:51
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    $\begingroup$ A question which is on-topic on MSE can be migrated to MO only if: 1. the migration is requested by the OP and the question is on-topic on MO, or 2. it has been around for a while (at least a week), has not received any good answers, and is likely to receive better answers on MO. The OP is informed about the possibility of migration to MO and has not objected to it. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 14 '12 at 9:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: So if the OP has lost interest in the question that is sufficient reason to forbid MSE users from answering it? I completely disagree about that. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning, I don't see that as forbidding anyone from answering, current users will have enough time to answer, and anyone can repost a version of the question if they want to post a particular point as an answer. The options are not dramatic as I see them, it is mostly a matter of what is more convenient for various parties in my view. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 14 '12 at 23:06
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The status-quo - cross-posting - may be the most reasonable compromise. Indeed, it can actually be viewed positively, since cross-posting promotes cross-pollination between MSE and MO. It helps attract further expertise to MSE, and helps expose students to research-level viewpoints on MO. It permits experts to compose both multi-level expository masterpieces on MSE, and more concise research-level answers on MO, with links between the two.

For an example of the multi-level expositions that I have in mind, see William Waterhouse's beautiful article on the "Purkiss Principle", Do Symmetric Problems Have Symmetric Solutions? This won a prestigious Lester R. Ford award for expository excellence. Note how carefully crafted the exposition is - with the level of exposition gradually increasing throughout the article. At the start it is accessible to a calculus student. At the end, it culminates with a generalization requiring knowledge of abstract algebra and analysis (group theory and differentiable manifolds). But it is composed in a way that readers without that knowledge should still be able to gain a view of these beautiful results beyond their knowledge horizon - intuition which may prove crucial motivation for further studies.

One of the most valuable roles of online math forums is that they provide meeting places where mathematicians are at ease speaking less-formally - filling in the gaps left in more formal communications in books and papers. MO serves this role primarily at research-level, not at the lower-levels welcomed on MSE. For example, while the final part of Waterhouse's Monthly exposition might be on-topic for MO, the introductory lower-levels would probably be off-topic on MO. Thus if we migrated a higher-level question on this topic to MO, it would be closed on MSE, which would prohibit pedagogically valuable multi-level expositions like Waterhouse's.

Cross-posting (vs. migration), has the benefit of leaving the question open on MSE, leaving open the opportunity to post such beautiful multi-level expositions on MSE - where they are welcomed. (Here, by "cross-posting", I mean only the simplest form - i.e. that the question stays open on MSE. In particular, I don't mean it to imply anything about whether or not (some) answers or comments should be duplicated across sites. That can be addressed in a separate question).

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    $\begingroup$ I think it is usually the other way around. One can speak more informally in an advanced setting, since everyone knows how to formalize the arguments anyways. Beginners get confused when one ignores some formal details. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Aug 13 '12 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael I am contrasting formal exposition in textbooks, papers, etc. vs. less formal expositions in lectures, forums, informal conversations, etc. The point is that mathematicians are often more comfortable sharing intuitive pedagogical remarks in less formal settings like MSE (as opposed to a textbook). This may be the only place that some members have easy access to such informal pedagogical remarks - esp. those outside of academia (which are surely in much higher proportion here than on MO). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 13 '12 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, I misunderstood your argument as MO not being open to informal arguments, which it certainly is. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Aug 13 '12 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael My point seems to still be misunderstand. MSE, being general-level, welcomes a much broader class of expositions than does MO, esp. lower-level material that would be off-topic at MO (e.g. said multi-level exposition by Waterhouse). Many mathematicians would probably not feel comfortable writing expositions at lower levels on MO. But they probably would not hesitate to do so on MSE. If we migrate such questions to MO then they will be closed on MSE, which prevents such multi-level expositions from being posted on MSE - where they are welcomed (and encouraged). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 13 '12 at 23:56
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think that "formality" is a good description of the distinction between MO and MSE. In fact I think that informal comments like "with a bit of work, one can show that..." are much more at home on MO than on MSE. In my mind, the distinction is more a matter of determining which concepts need explanation, and which can be assumed. Giving a detailed explanation of something the reader understands can come across as long-winded and condescending, while throwing around concepts the reader does not understand comes across as incomprehensible and possibly condescending. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 14 '12 at 0:26
  • $\begingroup$ Given the number of edits to your comment "My point seems to still be misunderstood," I may well have been responding to an earlier version. This version seems more reasonable than the one I remember. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 14 '12 at 0:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Charles It took me a bit to realize which points were not clear. Thanks much for your help identifying such. I have edited my answer to try to remove these ambiguities. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 14 '12 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Charles Rereading, I see that the ambiguity was different than I first surmised. In version 1, when I emphasized that general level math forums provide excellent venues for informal discussions (vs. formal books, papers) this was not meant to imply that non-general-level forums (e.g. MO) do not. My point was to contrast the level of (informal) discussions that are on-topic in each forum. Alas, that paragraph was too concise. Please ignore my prior comment about "formal" being overloaded, since that was not the source of the confusion. Hopefully version 2 of my answer is a bit clearer. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 15 '12 at 0:51
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's funny how we're saying exactly the same thing from opposite sides of the coin. Just a few days ago, I was explaining on CSTheory that I would sometimes rather ask a more elementary question there since a concise research-level answer suits my needs better than an "expository masterpiece", which is of course much better in other contexts. meta.cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/1572/… The bottom line, of course, is that MO and MSE can, should, and will prosper even with considerable overlap in scope. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Aug 15 '12 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ You mean multi-posting (having independent but identical or mostly identical questions asked on both sites), not cross-posting (having the same question appear on both sites). I don't think cross-posting is even supported. $\endgroup$ – celtschk Aug 21 '12 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @celtschk I don't think that there is any standardized terminology for the wide spectrum of possibilities. Yes, currently there is no support from the SE platform, so whatever we do we have to do on our own. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 21 '12 at 14:41
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Just trying to give an alternative answer to that of Henning:

We should recommend a migration if the question is in a rather narrow field and there are only a few not-very-active experts on MSE, while on MO there is a better chance for an answer.

We should, however, wait a day or two before migrating in case someone does answer on MSE.

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    $\begingroup$ That sounds like a good way to ensure that we'll never get any people who can answer those questions to use MSE, because when they visit, they will find that all of the questions they care about have been shooed away. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ If we cleanse away all of the questions they could have answered then for sure they won't start using this site. How is that a good thing? $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ The way SE migration works, migrated questions are considered off-topic on the originating site. This makes forced migration less of "you might find help over there" and more of "stop bothering us". $\endgroup$ – user31373 Aug 13 '12 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ @CharlesStaats: If you go that way, does it really matter whether MSE exists at all? People can always go elsewhere! (And they will, if we institute a policy of telling people who ask something that could conceivably be answered elsewhere that they should not have asked it here). Certainly I'm not going to stick around if we end up with a consensus that there's such a thing as a question that is not ignorant enough to ask here! $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @CharlesStaats: MO is another site for mathematical quesions, one that -- in opposition to MSE -- doesn't consider me qualified to participate there. That makes them rivals in my book, and in case of a conflict such as this I am entirely on MSE's side -- as everyone purporting to contribute to MSE community policy ought to be. I will object most forcefully to any plan that implies that there are questions that are so interesting that I should not be allowed to try answering them. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: First of all, virtually no one seems to advocate migrating a question before the MSE community has had at least a day or two to attempt an answer. Secondly, as I understand matters, nothing prevents you from following the question to MO and answering it there, if you do have a good answer. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: You clearly understand things wrong. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 13 '12 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: It means no such thing. The subject material for mathoverflow is, more or less, "things that are interesting to research mathematicians." If you can give answers and/or ask questions that research mathematicians find interesting, you are quite welcome on MO. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: Again, it means no such thing--you are not at all forbidden from MO. Judging someone by their lack of credentials goes very strongly against our standards as a community. If we have violated these standards in your case, then I am sorry we have wronged you so. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm: I have the impression that your views on MO kept you from gathering the relevant information. MO is not closed to people whithout a PhD in mathemtics. I for one am a grad student in economics. In certain areas of mathematics, I do have graduate level knowledge and there is no problem asking answering questions in these areas on MO. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Aug 13 '12 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm: you are confusing two different criteria. "Interesting to research mathematicians" is the criterion for what should be allowed on MO. "Not answered well for a day on MSE and would probably receive a better answer on MO" is the criterion for what should be migrated to MO. The question of what is "allowed" on MO came up because you seem to feel that your answers would not be allowed. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: Much like those experts on MO which refuse to join MSE due to its tiresome traffic, you seem to insist that MO is a snobbish and elitist club that no one without a PhD (or a grad student) in mathematics is allowed to enter into that. You are very wrong about that, and there are several users on MO which are neither mathematicians nor have a PhD in mathematics. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 13 '12 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: I don't think there are many people advocating for the automatic migration of all "interesting" mathematical questions to MO, and here I agree with you. But I sense some animosity directed towards MO that I do not feel is justified. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 13 '12 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: While Bill Dubuque's point may be stated a bit more strongly than is true, I think it is valid. If a question is on MO, an answerer typically will assume more knowledge on the part of the OP, and adjust their pedagogy accordingly--especially as regards the virtue of "conciseness" in mathematical writing. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Charles Most general level math forums consist of a diverse mixture of both types of users, including some who wear both hats at different times. Perhaps the easiest way to accommodate these diverse viewpoints is simply to permit (managed) cross-posting. Currently it is such a small number of posts that this should not be problematic. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 13 '12 at 17:54
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This is an important issue to get right.

The two math sites are clearly different and are aimed quite deliberately at different but overlapping populations of users, questions and answers. The same question, were it to be posted on both sites, would receive very different kinds of answers and levels of attention at the two sites. It seems to me that we should develop a guiding policy for migration to help each question find the home that is most suitable for it.

As an active user of both sites, I have often found questions on math.SE that would in my opinion receive much better attention at MO (and conversely, of course, but that is not the issue I am discussing). Interesting but technical questions are often found here at math.SE that end up with comparatively low views and slip unanswered off the main page, whereas on MO these questions may find vigorous interest and activity. Even when a question is answered here, it might have gotten more illuminating or otherwise interesting answers on MO. Although it is obvious that the math.SE user base includes numerous mathematical experts in diverse mathematical topics, nevertheless the user populations do differ in aggregate and the questions I have in mind have not found the same success here (in terms of views, attentions, answers and votes) that I expect they would find on MO. This is a pity.

(Some examples, found very quickly, might include: Forcing questions, Generic reals in forcing iterations, Preorder of forcing notions, a question on $\Delta$-system, Comparing countable models of ZFC; surely others can find many more examples. I believe that each of these questions should be migrated.)

Thus, I think we should develop a guiding policy for thinking about which questions belong on which site.

To help with this, let me begin by disagreeing with Henning's assertion that migration should occur only at the request of the OP. It is important for us to retain community control over this issue, and the OP's opinion is often not the most relevant. Some users do not realize that their question is much harder than they expected, or out of modesty or anxiety or what have you, may post their questions here on math.SE, but they really should be on MO.

At the very least, we should amend Henning's suggestion to also give credence to the users who answered the question, since these users also have an interest in placing their work where it can be appreciated best.

But even more, I would say generally that we should give credence to the community views about where such a question may belong. We should encourage people to make comments suggesting a migration where it is suitable, and simply allow the voting mechanism for migration to occur as a natural process on the site.

The policy I propose is in a sense already the default policy of the site, since it is the policy that is actually implemented in the software, which allows users to vote to migrate questions. Henning's policy, in contrast, would seem to require either a software change (which seems unlikely) or else acrimonious exchanges when people vote to migrate without an OP, or with an absent OP.

Surely the boundary between the sites will evolve organically, and our ability to migrate questions will allow us to refine it. I propose that we think initially of the dividing line as something like the dividing line between undergraduate mathematics and graduate mathematics, which I take to be similar to the line between mathematics-as-interesting-subject and mathematics-as-profession.

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    $\begingroup$ It is perfectly reasonable for MSE responders to suggest that a question might have a better chance of being answered, or might get a more complete answer, on MO, but I firmly believe that the OP is the only one who should be able to make that decision. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Aug 13 '12 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree. I have answered numerous questions here at math.SE that I would rather be at MO. It is just that I found the question while here and answered it here, because it was here. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 13 '12 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ Why would you rather that they be on MO, as long as they get decent answers? Frankly, that makes no sense to me. I don’t think that questions should be edited except to make them more readable. I don’t think that re-tagging a question is usefully analogous to migrating it. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Aug 13 '12 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ Like many users, I write my answers for the whole community, not just the OP, and so I would rather that those answers be on MO so that the MO people can see my answer. For many of the questions I have in mind, the answer is not an answer that the OP appreciates, although the MO community would appreciate it. If only the OP mattered, we could just email our answers directly to the OP, rather than posting them at all. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 13 '12 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, well: I belong to the school that weights the OP’s needs ahead of those of the community, though I try to serve both. That is perhaps one reason that I like MSE and have relatively little interest in MO, save as a very occasional resource when I stumble across something interesting. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Aug 13 '12 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ @JDH: No, they most certainly should not. The user benefits from the answers here, and so do many of the rest of us. In such cases perhaps you should consider re-asking such questions yourself on MO. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Aug 13 '12 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ @JDH There is one point I want to adress: You consider the cutoff level for MSE/MO to be undergrad/grad. My impression was that when you advocated for this view on MO meta, many opposed it. I think someone posting first year graduate analysis level questions on MO will not enjoy the experience. Set theory and logic may be different in that these areas are not yet part of standard graduate math education. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Aug 13 '12 at 15:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: That’s easy: never, save with the consent of the OP. Simple, and very easy to implement. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Aug 13 '12 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ @JDH: Some of your comments above appear to be advocating the ghettoisation of math.SE: Anything that an MO user (of sufficiently high status, I'm sure) finds interesting should be migrated over there, even if the answers provided by the kind folks at MO won't help the OP. I fail to see how this could be seen as to the benefit of the community. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 13 '12 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Arthur, that's not how I view it. It would be only math.SE users who vote to migrate the questions, and these questions would be visible (for a time) on both sites, and the community (both communities) would benefit from the interesting answers that they would gain. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 13 '12 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ @JDH, in comments above you seem to be asserting that if you find a question that you would like to answer at an MO level which you know the OP would not appreciate, then your wishes and convenience should lead to the question being force-migrated, thus preventing the OP from ever getting any answers at the level of detail he wants. How on earth can you morally justify that? $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ "For many of the questions I have in mind, the answer is not an answer that the OP appreciates, although the MO community would appreciate it." I am inclined to agree with Arthur and Henning that migrating a question under these circumstances is questionable. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Jay, None of the sample questions proposed for migration are like that situation, and I doubt that the situation you describe will be anything but rare. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 13 '12 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ However, while the $\Delta$-system lemma question is certainly not likely to be asked by a high school student or beginning undergraduate, it is very clearly more appropriate for MSE than for MO, and there are quite a few people here who could have answered it easily and would have done so had you not happened to post a decent answer almost immediately. $\endgroup$ – Brian M. Scott Aug 14 '12 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Who is arguing that "no question is suitable for MO if it was posted here"? $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 11:27
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I mostly agree that it'd be unusual for MSE questions to be migrated to MO.

Let me give one example of a question that I think should have been migrated. This question only received an answer because there was a post at meta.mathoverflow.net asking people to have a look at it. Migrating is a better way of achieving the same goal that cross-posting did.

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    $\begingroup$ Why do you think migrating is better than cross-posting? Migrating prevents later-joined MSE members from answering the question here. We have many members who are not MO members, and they should have the right to answer it on MSE. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 13 '12 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ I think that I would be more inclined to post questions, on both MSE and MO, if it were easier and more common to migrate between them: When I had a "borderline question," I could post to one or the other and trust that the community would correct if I misjudged the level. As it is, I sometimes don't post anywhere because it is too much effort to determine which site is more appropriate. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ We're talking about something that may happen one in a thousand questions. I really don't think the harm to future users of MSE who might not get to think about this one question is comparable to the benefit to the OP of getting an answer in a timely fashion. Cross-posting is annoying because you don't have the relevant info in one single place. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 13 '12 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Charles MSE's charter is to welcome mathematical questions at all levels. You need not worry about whether your MSE question is too high-level (or too low-level, or too applied, or too foundational, or too computational, etc). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 13 '12 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Noah The same argument works the other way too. If such questions occur so infrequently, then how can cross-posting be so "annoying"? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 13 '12 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ I'm perfectly happy to admit that this is not particularly important and none of the options are all that bad. Nonetheless, it seems to me that migration is more convenient than cross-posting. But it's something that reasonable people could disagree on. $\endgroup$ – Noah Snyder Aug 13 '12 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ Noah, the same thing happened with Yemon's other question math.stackexchange.com/questions/132775/… which I mentioned on MO Meta, George Lowther noticed, then answered here. See my April 22 post at tea.mathoverflow.net/discussion/1348/… where, on April 23, George said he was lurking and so on. $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Aug 13 '12 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ To be fair, I was on the verge of re-asking the question over on MO when Noah (via Will J) found and answered it. $\endgroup$ – user16299 Aug 13 '12 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @YemonChoi You're a stud. $\endgroup$ – Will Jagy Aug 13 '12 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Noah: In the case of crossposts, you have the answers from the two communities visible on two different websites. That's a bit of an annoyance to cross-reference between, but ultimately doable. If instead you migrate, you have the answers from one community on their website and the answers from the other community stuck inside their heads or on the personal hard drives, because the migration prevents them from posting answers. I don't see how having more answers at MSE can possibly be more annoying than not having them at all! $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: Too often, I find myself with a question that I doubt will be well-received on MO; but I also know that I am more likely to get good answers on MO. (The answers on MSE tend to be less concise and less likely to arrive at interesting subtleties.) $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 13 '12 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ Another case study could be the following question by Malik Younsi: math.stackexchange.com/questions/167498 It received many upvotes on MSE and after five days he posted a question on MO Meta asking if it was appropriate for MO. This got the question some more attention, and people told him to re-post it on MO, but only after the bounty he just posted had expired. Finally, almost two weeks after the original posting, did the question get re-posted on MO where it got a complete answer. mathoverflow.net/questions/102685 $\endgroup$ – Dan Petersen Aug 14 '12 at 8:34
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Here is a suggestion based on Charles' answer:

A question which is on-topic on MSE and MO can be migrated to MO only if:

  1. the migration is requested by the OP, or
  2. a. it has been around for a while (at least a week),
    b. has not received any satisfying answers,
    c. is likely to receive better answers on MO,
    d. the OP is informed about the possibility of migration to MO, and
    e. the OP has not objected to the migration (in a reasonable time).

It seems to me there are a number of points mentioned in the discussion where different people assign different weights to them:

  1. what is the best interest of the user who posted the question?
  2. what is the best interest of the users who have answered the question?
  3. what is the best interest of MSE community?
  4. what is the best interest of MO community?

4 is not important here, 2 is relevant but less important than 1 and 3:

Since this is a discussion on MSE I think item 4 should not be a main criteria. Item 2 is relevant but still less important than item 1 and 3 in my view since it is always possible to repost a more advanced version of the question on MO if one sees a need to do so and can link in both directions between questions. The only objection I see for this is that it might be less convenient for a user to repost the question and then answer it on MO, but the inconvenience can be reduced if this becomes common and acceptable on MO to post a question and an answer to it at the same time. And SE encourages those question, to the extent that now the ask page has a small checkbox which allows a user to post a question and an answer at the same time. In any case the inconvenience wouldn't justify migrating an on-topic question when it is not beneficial for neither the OP nor MSE community.

Item 3 is important, but secondary to 1:

The questions and answers on the site are not solely for the benefit of the OP. There are overall goals (like making the internet a better place, or increasing the mathematical knowledge, or making MSE an enjoyable place for users, etc). However normally (IMHO) the goal of OP in asking a question is receiving a satisfying answer and that should be the main criteria in deciding whether to migrate a question or not. Our goal should be helping the user to get a satisfying answer. If asking questions doesn't lead to a beneficial outcome for the OP, it will reduce the likelihood of the user asking another question and if there isn't a question there won't be any discussion about it.

It is understandable that some users may prefer to participate on MSE and would not like to participate on another site. And the point that having unanswered questions can be helpful for attracting new experts is valid. However these are not the main goals of people when they ask questions. They want answers. If you look at the unanswered questions page there aren't that many questions with high votes that are left unanswered and often they have been reposted on MO (or other sites) and have got answered there, so they are not really unanswered. So in practice this doesn't seem to be a serious issue. Moreover an upvoted migrated question is not going to be deleted, it will remain on MSE and can still attract new experts. The hypothetical feature situations are not very helping in making decisions about policies. Yes, it is possible that a new user will come some day and answer an unanswered question, but how often does that happen? I mean how many of questions got answered by a new user after remaining unanswered for 1 year? My guess is that not that many. So I think if a question is not answered in a month it is unlikely to get answered here (it would be good to know the actual statistics). And in the worst case, if an MSE user still wants to add something after migration on MSE they can repost a more advanced version of the question and answer it (in a similar way that an MO user can repost as described above).

Will migration make the site less interesting?

I also don't think migrations will make the site uninteresting. The unanswered questions are not the only interesting part of the site. At least for me reading answers here is more enjoyable than reading unanswered questions. And the interesting questions will keep flowing and getting answered. And there will always be some interesting questions that are unanswered if the period between asking and migration is long enough. How long? Long enough to make sure that a typical MSE user has enough time to read and answer the question. I don't think there is any hurry for migration so a week (or maybe two) should be reasonable IMHO.

Migration may increase the number of interesting questions!

Finally, I think the possibility of migration for unanswered question from MSE to MO can in fact increase the number of interesting questions on MSE in place of reducing them. If I know that my question can be migrated to MO if it remains unanswered it makes me more likely to ask the question on MSE, particularly when I have doubts about its suitability on MO. I can ask it here, if it gets answered then I am happy. And if it doesn't get answered in a reasonable time it can be migrated to MO and it would be much less likely to be closed as off-topic on MO since there is actual evidence that it is not an easy question. (I already do this between CS.SE and cstheory.)

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    $\begingroup$ As for (1), if the OP wants to ask his question on MO, and MO wants to allow him to do that, they should provide him with a way to ask the question there that does not involve removing it from MSE. It is not the task of MSE to be an antechamber for MO where questions can be posted while MO contemplates whether they want them or not. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ As for (2), it is the best interest of the users who answered the question on MSE that their answer is not removed from MSE and their rep earned by them is not taken away from the. It is the best interest of users who might later want to answer the question on MSE that they be allowed to do so. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: Your proposal are about "questions that have not received any satisfying answers within some time". Who is to decide what is satisfying? And what if the question doesn't receive any satisfying answers on MO within that period of time? Will we get the question back, then, or does MO get to hoard all of the really good questions? Hypothetical future users who are not MSE users at the moment are my concern. If they take a look here and find that the most interesting questions cannot be answered here, do you think they are going to become MSE users (is they qualify for MO)? $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 11:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: I don't see how what you present as mitigations to (3) address the problem at all. None of these efforts are going to change the fact that the questions are then not answerable on MSE anymore. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: You don't think it will have a significant effect on a potential answerer that he gets told "to answer this question you need to create an account on MO" or "you can answer this question with an MSE account". Which of those two messages do you think is likely to make the potential answerer becoming an MSE user? Not to mention: which of those two messages to you think would make a potential answerer who is not a research mathematician comfortable with answering the question at all? $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 14 '12 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: I don't understand your view that the questions that would get transferred are inherently somewhat more interesting. Most questions n MO are quite boring to most research mathematicians. These are questions for a very specialized, small audience, much smaller than "all research mathematicians". There are actually lots of complaints on MO meta about this trend. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Aug 14 '12 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh This does not solve the problem raised in my answer. By migrating, the question would be closed on MSE, so we would completely lose the capability to post such highly pedagogically valuable multi-level answers. This is too high a cost to pay. Moreover, it could lead to a sharp divide in level between MO and MSE, which would probably cause many experts to leave. Again, far too high a price to pay. For forums with overlapping scope, cross-posting is the only reasonable solution. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Aug 14 '12 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: People make judgements all the time about what will be interesting to other people whose interests diverge from their own--for instance, when selecting gifts. I think this is the spirit in which the MO FAQ are written. Certainly, a research mathematician will not feel free to post anything at all on MO if he finds it interesting; he will try to predict whether it will be interesting to other research mathematicians. Making such predictions is harder for someone who is not a research mathematician, but not impossible. $\endgroup$ – Charles Staats Aug 14 '12 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: I still find the animosity you direct towards MO quite perplexing. Do you have the same feelings towards cstheory.SE? academia.SE? libraries.SE? Should math.SE stop migrating any questions to these other exclusionary and elitist sites? (Okay, migration to libraries.SE is a bit of a stretch, but cstheory.SE clearly overlaps.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 14 '12 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: From the MO faq: "There are several broad categories of questions that should not be asked on MathOverflow. ... If your question is closed, please don't take this to mean that you are not welcome on the site, or think that this will be held against you in the future. A lot of active users have had questions closed at one point or another." (emphasis mine) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 14 '12 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ Henning, aren't your loud comments throughout this discussion a bit overblown? I urge you simply to create an MO account and start participating there, if those are the kinds of questions and answers that interest you (your objection about being constitutionally unable to do so notwithstanding). In addition, your repeated claim that math.SE welcomes questions at all levels is not really true (despite the FAQ), since the highly technical questions in question typically receive low views, low votes and few answers here. Clearly, they are not really appreciated here. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 14 '12 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Brian, if you went to a party where most people ignored you and few spoke to you, but next door was another party full of people wanting to interact with you, then I would say you were not really appreciated at the first party in comparison with the second. $\endgroup$ – JDH Aug 14 '12 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know if this is the place to say it, but here goes: MO is not a monolithic organization. There is a great diversity of opinion there on how wide a variety of questions and answers should be welcomed. There are questions that get closed, and re-opened, and closed again, as one group or another gets the upper hand. So if anyone here has ever been made to feel unwelcome at MO, it's possible that you just ran into the hothead faction on a bad day. Please don't judge the whole of MO by the actions of an unrepresentative few. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 15 '12 at 5:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning: I actually don't see much difference between MO restricting its domain of discourse to mathematical questions of a more advanced nature, and math.SE restricting its domain of discourse to real mathematics, as opposed to numerology, accountancy, or even philosophy of mathematics. In order to achieve some sort of coherency every SE site defines itself based on the types of questions they deem "acceptable". Further, I urge you to look at this recent MO question, posed by a self-described neophyte, and see if it might be up your alley. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 15 '12 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ @HenningMakholm: But seriously, why are you mad? Professional mathematicians generally don't like looking at easy highschool/undergrad homework that just clutters things up. I don't see why you think that it's snobbish for a mathematician to find some questions beneath him? MO is not an exclusive gated community. It's more like the pro-circuit in tennis, where a certain level of play is expected for participation. I feel like you're purposely being dense here. $\endgroup$ – Harry Gindi Aug 17 '12 at 20:46
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My first instinct was that there will be some advanced questions that are better at MO.

However after reading Henning Makholm's vocal opposition to this idea, I think that questions should only be migrated to MO if the OP agrees to it.

If it is suggested to an OP that their question might get more answers (or get answered at all) at MO, but the OP does not consent then the question should stay put. However if this happens then I think any other interested party should feel free to cross-post the question themselves if the OP is not interested in cross-posting.

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It has been suggested here a few times that posts could be in some way double-posted in both communities. Another place where this has come up with overlapping sites is Christianity vs Biblical Hermeneutics. There, the consensus of the moderators of both sites is that it is perfectly acceptable to ask the same question in both places, but it should not be word-for-word identical. When the question is reposted on the second site, it should be rewritten for the target audience.

There has even been at least one case of a question which was asked on Site A, migrated to Site B, and then asked again (in different, more appropriate, form) on Site A.

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    $\begingroup$ I do not think questions should be asked in math.SE and MO simultaneously. It fractures the audience and encourages duplication of effort. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Mar 12 '13 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Carl I agree. But it is fine to ask a question that has been answered on on Mo on a level too high on MSE. $\endgroup$ – Michael Greinecker Mar 12 '13 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed.......... $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Mar 12 '13 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ I would also add that if one asks the question first on one site and then later on the other (for whatever reason), there should be no reason to change the wording unless this is to reflect new understanding on the askers part or similar. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 12 '13 at 13:00
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Separated out into a separate answer to mitigate confusion about the meaning of votes:

We also should never even tell anyone in comments that they should have been asking their question on another site, if the question they actually asked is on-topic here.

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    $\begingroup$ While I cannot say I agree with the other answer, I can surely say that I strongly disagree with this answer. Are we not telling people about MO today? Why should we stop doing that just because MO joins the SE network? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 12 '12 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ I think we should stop telling people to go away independently of whether MO joinse SE or not. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 12 '12 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ Henning, I think that when people ask questions in a particularly narrow field of interest in which there more experts on MO than the occasional expert passing through MSE - then we surely need to recommend another site. Much like when someone asks me a question about C*-algebra I don't insist on trying to answer, I direct him to the next office where someone that can actually answer him sits. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 12 '12 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see a conflict here. Henning doesn't want to tell people what they should do. Asaf wants to tell people what they can do. These can co-exist peacefully - telling someone a question might get better answers at MO is not the same as telling someone the question ought to have been sent to MO instead of to m.se. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 12 '12 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: I don't think that distinction can be reliably communicated to new users. "Sorry -- I will delete my question at once!" appears to be a not uncommon response from new users to even the most tentative suggestions that another SE site "might be better" for their question. One can hardly fault the new user for that misunderstanding. Thus, I think such suggestions should not be made, unless accompanied with extremely explicit assurances that the question is on-topic here too. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Aug 13 '12 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ "You should also post this on MO." That seems to convey the right message. Even friendlier tones are possible: "That's an interesting question, one that the researchers on MO might also find interesting. You should cross-post this to MO to see if anyone there can answer." Many users have cross-posted before. The talent level on both sites is very high, but there are specialists that only visit one site. (I'm shocked by the big names I see here, but really shocked by the MO population!) Anyway, it seems wrong to not direct the user to the valuable resource that is MO, when appropriate. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Denoncourt Aug 14 '12 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ Also, I don't think such a suggestion is going to be made by a non-MO user. So, it seems likely that the suggestion, when it is made, will tend to be appropriate. Users occasionally getting the wrong impression and deleting a question is not as great a risk as users remaining unaware of a potentially valuable resource. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Denoncourt Aug 14 '12 at 16:08

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