This question was just asked this morning on Workplace.SE, and was accepted fairly well. As you can see, it was subsequently migrated to Programmers.SE.

My question is, is this really a suitable question for that site? After reading this post from Robert Harvey, I'd think not. Sure, it could qualify under freelancing and business concerns, but so would a lot of other soft questions that were closed when P.SE started to move their site in a different direction.

And a friendly plea—if this question doesn't belong on P.SE, please don't swarm it with downvotes; OP originally asked it in good faith on Workplace.SE, where I would say it's definitely on topic. The subsequent migration was beyond her control.

  • I'm a bit torn on whether this would be better asked on ProgSE meta or here, but either one is likely better than MSO. I went with Workplace Meta, since the migration action was taken here.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 3, 2013 at 20:48
  • 1
    @Anna - fine by me, just please make sure Yannis sees this - I know he's put a lot of effort into cleaning up P.SE. Apr 3, 2013 at 20:49
  • 3
    I pinged him. I'm interested in his take on this as well. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 3, 2013 at 20:55
  • for the record, this has been discussed at WP chat and at Programmers chat
    – gnat
    Apr 3, 2013 at 21:25
  • @AnnaLear Maybe I should've consulted him first, but it seemed trivial enough to just migrate it over.
    – yoozer8
    Apr 4, 2013 at 0:00
  • @Jim I personally don't disagree with the migration.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 4, 2013 at 0:12
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    I must say I'm a little disappointed that we migrated this question. It's one of the better well-written and objective questions I've seen in a long time, where it involved trouble with a colleague. Most of them lately have been so overly-dramatic that it's hard to take the op seriously.
    – jmort253
    Apr 4, 2013 at 1:15
  • I think the question could have fit in either site. I think it's worth noting that that the question is up to 5 answers now and along with quite a few up votes. The programming aspects provide for more concrete solutions to the question.
    – user1209
    Apr 4, 2013 at 11:52

4 Answers 4


This is a curious migration indeed!

I'll start by saying that the migration is now settled. The question was well received on Programmers and even if it's not 100% suitable for the site, there's absolutely no reason to play migration ping pong with it. Even if the Workplace crowd decides that you (we?) want the question back, it's not going to happen, mostly because it wouldn't be a very nice way to treat a new user (especially one that has asked a valid and interesting question).

That said, it's a question that kind of fits both sites and that creates a very tricky situation. On first read, it seems like a perfectly valid Workplace question, it's a dispute between two colleagues that can be successfully approached (and hopefully solved) as a "people problem". The two answers the question got before it was migrated and a couple that appeared after the migration focus on the social aspects, and that's perfectly fine (although it's a strong hint that the migration shouldn't have happened).

On second read though, I also saw a valid Programmers question in there, one that's about a horribly broken development process. The OP may be approaching this as a "people problem", but that doesn't necessarily mean her approach will lead to a satisfactory solution or that she's right about the root cause of the problem. I went ahead and posted an answer that focuses on the faults of the OP's development process instead of the social aspects, mostly to see if the Programmers community agrees with me that the problem is (also) a software development one (and of course because I'm a rep whore).

Seconds after posting the answer, I realized how much of a mess this really is. We now have a valid question where the two top answers offer approaches stemming from completely different fields of expertise. Although unavoidable for this question and perhaps even desirable, it's not something I like in general and it kinda takes me back to the good old days of Programmers. Nothing inherently wrong with answers that focus on social aspects, or a bit of a variety of approaches in answers, but Programmers is (now) supposed to be a site where you come to find peer reviewed answers on software development problems, and nothing more.

That's not really the case here, most answers are outside of what is commonly thought of as a software developer's expertise. Yes, programmers may have opinions on everything (we truly do), but Stack Exchange sites are not really a venue for opinion sharing. People come here to read answers that have been thoroughly vetted by subject matter experts and I don't see how that's possible for most of the answers in the question in question. I'm a prolific voter on Programmers and I have absolutely no idea how to vote on most of the answers. That's a problem, if I feel confident enough to post an answer, I should also feel confident enough to evaluate the other answers.

The better approach here, imho, would have been to split this into two questions, one on either site. Cross posting is generally a bad idea and I wouldn't suggest it for questions that aren't truly suitable for both sites, but this one is. A comment would have been enough to kick start the process, something like:

Hey Jesslyn and welcome to The Workplace! Your question is quite interesting and on topic for the site, however I think that some of the more technical aspects of it would be better addressed on our sister site Programmers Stack Exchange that's more focused on software development problems. We can automatically move the question there if you want, or you could even ask a new question there focused on the code review issues (but please try to tailor it to the site, don't just copy paste it).

Regardless of cross posting, the original question should have stayed here. jmort253 already quoted shog9, so I'm left with only one option, to quote myself:

Programmers and Stack Overflow overlap in expertise, it's not uncommon for questions to fit both sites. It's not always clear if a question is more conceptual (Programmers) than technical (Stack Overflow) and there are questions that sit right on the fence. When questions overlap significantly we tend to let them stay at the site they were originally asked, it's a simple enough solution.

I don't think we need to change the FAQ of either site, and since you're asking this in the interest of keeping Programmers as clean as possible I'd like to encourage you to examine whether a question is a good question before examining whether it fits our FAQ. Only after you decide it's a good question you should start wondering whether it's more suitable for us or Stack Overflow (or any other site). If you can't decide, chances are that it's one of those that fit either site, in which case it's in our interest to keep it here, Stack Overflow gets 5.8K questions per day, we get 35.

I have no idea of knowing if the close voters thought the question was at all suitable for The Workplace at the time they casted their close votes, but if they did then their first instinct should have been to keep it here. Even if the question was more suitable for Programmers than The Workplace, it still should have been left where it was originally asked. A migration vote is also an off topic vote, if the question isn't completely off topic for the site, there's absolutely no reason to migrate it. Instead talk to the OP, explain how they could update their question to be more suitable for The Workplace. Don't just send it away if there's a chance it could work here.

What strikes me as very odd is that at least one of the close voters, Chad, went out of his way to find a better home for the question (asking in both chat rooms), but never really engaged the OP in comments, except for posting a comment that isn't particularly useful:

This question is really off topic for the Workplace. It really belongs on programmers

Some good information in there if you're a veteran, but not really if you are a brand new user. The comment doesn't explain why this is off topic, why it belongs on Programmers and what is Programmers (the OP didn't have a Programmers account at the time). So, while I certainly don't want this to be misunderstood as scolding (Chad did more than most would), I'd strongly advise against such comments. If you don't have the time or the energy to post a comment that's actually helpful to the OP, then just don't post a comment at all. Explaining your close votes is great, but you kinda have to actually explain them. Bare and dry statements don't really explain much, especially to someone that's brand new. And of course if you happen upon a comment that doesn't really explain much, feel free to post your own comment and elaborate. Yes, it adds a bit of noise, but who cares, all comments will go away eventually (right? right!).

The end.

  • 1
    TL;DR. </jk> +1 for rep whore comment (and some solid thoughts in there).
    – user1209
    Apr 4, 2013 at 11:49
  • @GlenH7 I won't pretend I don't enjoy the 150 rep I've got from that answer (so far). ;)
    – yannis
    Apr 4, 2013 at 11:58
  • Yannis, I think we've all got your number... ;-)
    – user1209
    Apr 4, 2013 at 14:08
  • Well said Yannis - so, SO glad to hear OP was well received on your site. Apr 4, 2013 at 15:11
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    Could we possibly create a duplicate question back here on WP, and make it community wiki? I feel that not having it here is a disservice to our users, and others who might look here for a similar problem (of course keep the 'official' version on P.se). Lets face it, the example given is specific to programmers, but the situation itself it not.
    – acolyte
    Apr 4, 2013 at 16:05
  • @acolyte It's possible, but I don't think it's a really good idea. I'm not a fan of artificial questions and if someone is actually facing a similar problem and can't find an answer on the Workplace, they always have the option of asking a new question. I wouldn't really call not having a version of the question here a "disservice to our users", that's too dramatic for my taste. The question got good answers, and that's the more important thing at the end of the day.
    – yannis
    Apr 4, 2013 at 16:14
  • @Yannis True enough. I was simply tying to make it easier to find said good answers on both applicable sites.
    – acolyte
    Apr 4, 2013 at 16:33
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    @acolyte Lots of similar situations have arisen in the past between Programmers and Stack Overflow (that overlap way more than Programmers and The Workplace), and I feel very confident when saying that good questions will be re-asked eventually on both sites. If you think about it a key characteristic of a good question is that it's applicable to a wider audience, i.e. it's a common enough problem. A Workplace version of the question will appear at some point, don't worry about it.
    – yannis
    Apr 4, 2013 at 16:42
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    My problem with the question was that it could have easily be generalized to fit the workplace. The problem is the solution at the workplace to the general problem would not fit the actual problem that Yannis quickly diagnosed. It was a good question, I really did not want to encourage changing the question when I thought it might fit and find the right answer on programmers. Apr 4, 2013 at 18:42

I'm not sure I would have migrated this question, unless it actually received all 5 close votes.

While Jim, and others, bring up a great point that we have a site for Programmers, we shouldn't be so quick to kick out great content that fits our site, just because it happens to also fit another site's topic. A healthy Stack Exchange site sometimes has topic borders that are a bit blurry; some overlap is to be expected.

In the blog post, Respect the community – your own, and others’, Shog9 makes a great point about treating a Stack Exchange site as it's own standalone entity when judging whether or not a question is on topic. Before we determine if a question is on-topic on another site, we should first determine if it's off-topic on ours:

As members of a community, your first loyalty should be to that community. When evaluating a question, you shouldn’t be looking to push it off on some other site; instead, ask if it could be appropriate and on-topic for you, the experts who the author decided to ask. Be a bit jealous of your site – don’t blithely turn askers away simply because their question could be asked somewhere else. Don’t hit them over the head with your scope, help them tailor their question to fit into it – and if that means your site’s scope overlaps a bit with another site’s, so be it.

Imagine the asker of that question is a magazine editor instead, and let's say her problem is that a colleague occasionally makes changes to copy she already edited. We know that with grammar, like programming, there's more than one "correct" way to do something. So let's assume the colleague isn't really correcting any mistakes but is just changing something to promote his own personal style.

I'm not 100% sure we'd try to migrate this question as quickly. It wouldn't be on topic on English Language and Usage because it's about solving a workplace problem, and it wouldn't be on-topic on Programmers since it has a grammar component to it. Yet, ironically, it would likely fit really well on our site and generate good content for future visitors.

In short, I encourage our community to be jealous of our awesome site. Let's not migrate something away just because it has a programming aspect to it. Don't vote to close something just because it also happens to be on-topic on another site. If the question is about workplace issues, let's make the Programmers SE folks beg for these great questions! :)

  • Be a bit jealous of your site – don’t blithely turn askers away ... help them tailor their question to fit into it - First it was not blithely turned away. But imagine this was a drivers SE and there was a Truckers SE. A question was asked how do I parrallel park my truck. And we said hey that is a good question but lets edit it and make it how do we parallel park. It is the same question but it is not going to help the OP because the problem of parallel parking a car is very different than a big rig. Lets ask the generalized verison of that question and compare the answers it gets. Apr 10, 2013 at 12:53
  • I also disagree with the general premise of treating a Stack Exchange site as it's own standalone entity - We are a network of sites and not leveraging each other where appropriate is crazy. While I agree we should not just push any question to somewhere else, when it is fully on topic as asked elsewhere they should be migrated even if the question kinda fits here or could fit in with a little editing. Apr 10, 2013 at 12:57

This site is about dealing with the workplace and situations in the workplace. That question could have easily been generalized and made applicable to the general workplace. However being a programmer I recognized the same issue that Yannis did, that the problem was not so much the people, as the process. There are tools and methodologies that exist for programmers that would not translate well to everyone else.

So to me the choice was change the question entirely to, what I believe, would be a really great generalized question for the workplace, that addresses what the OP asked: "How do I deal with a coworker how is interfering with my work?" Or have the question migrated to a community that can address the real problem that the OP was having in her profession, on a site filled with people who also quickly saw what the problem was.

Summary: It was not so much the question did not belong here, so much as the OP was able to get answers that were more likely to help her than would have come from here, because it was a programmers problem more than a people problem.

NOTE: I did not suggest changes because it was a good question as it was, just asked in the wrong place. I still think the generalized question would be a great fit here and I may consider asking it if no one else does.

  • 1
    I agree. I guess it's easy to forget that Workplace.SE is about the generalized workplace. It's easy to just assume that W.SE is a workplace-related extension of Stack Overflow. Apr 4, 2013 at 19:15
  • @AdamRackis and Chad: This is a problem, the Workplace needs more diverse content. Right now it's easy to just assume that it's a workplace-related extension of SO because, frankly, it is. The majority of the site's content is related to the IT / soft. dev. industry and we really need to work towards changing that. Also: "Much like The Workplace, we'd really like to see more content that isn't software development related." (just saying...)
    – yannis
    Apr 5, 2013 at 10:53
  • @Yannis - I agree with that too. Which is why for that question on the workplace it would really need to be generalised. I am not a big fan of keeping off topic content around just to pad our stats. I am also not a big fan of making bad questions barely passing so that they can open. I feel the signal(good high quality questions) to noise(bad or barely passing questions) ratio is far too low. Apr 5, 2013 at 12:53
  • @Chad This was a very specific and tricky situation though, as the question came to Programmers with two off topic answers, and the end result is a bit of a mess. Had I caught this one early I wouldn't have sanctioned the migration just because of the existing answers alone, even though the question is on topic on Programmers.
    – yannis
    Apr 5, 2013 at 13:01
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    @yannis - I caught the question before the answers. For some reason you mods do not feel the need to be at us users beck and call 24/7 - I expect you to work to rectify that :p Apr 5, 2013 at 13:15
  • I also voted to close and like Chad, I simply felt that the OP would get a more useful answer at the other site. And I didn't suggest changes because I too felt it was a perfectly good question in the wrong place.
    – HLGEM
    Apr 5, 2013 at 13:50
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    @HLGEM And I don't disagree with either of you that the question is on topic on ProgSE (notice that I start my answer by saying I'm not giving it back). That's not the point, my main concern here is that it was also a good question for The Workplace, and your first instinct should have been to keep it here and try to make it as great a Workplace question as it could be. Does it also fit Programmers? Great, start a discussion with the OP and suggest that they should also post a (tailored version) on Programmers. Cross posting is bad, except when the question is great. And this one was.
    – yannis
    Apr 5, 2013 at 13:58
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    @HLGEM That said, it was a tricky situation and I don't think anyone (really) blames the close voters (and if someone does, who cares). I hope this discussion will inspire us all to be a bit more jealous of our sites. Programmers is a mature site and its thriving, The Workplace has a long way to go until it graduates. Although I'm obviously more interested and invested on Programmers' success, I'd go as far as say that you should never again migrate good questions to us if there's a chance you could make them work here.
    – yannis
    Apr 5, 2013 at 14:03
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    @Yannis, I honestly did not think it was a good fit for this site. I think it is the kind of question that will turn off non-programers from coming here. They will see if at Workplace for programmers not Workplace. And the specialized aspects of how programmer work is changed is differnt from how work in handled in most other fields. It is ordinary for code to be changed by others where it is not at all ordinary in most other fields for work to be changed and thus the answer for her is differnt than the answer for an accountant and not useful to non-programmers.
    – HLGEM
    Apr 5, 2013 at 14:23
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    The whole point of these sites is to form a community around specific topics. There’s nothing more toxic to a community, in my experience, than not being able to set boundaries around it. To define what it is, and is not. If you allow discussing everything, you have allowed discussing nothing. There is no (good) community that can form around “let’s just talk about everything and tag it”. source Apr 5, 2013 at 14:30
  • count me in with Chad and @HLGEM - I was late to vote migration, but I would vote like they did. And above comment explains why - the topic was so much more specific to Programmers than Workplace that it would be better to migrate
    – gnat
    Apr 5, 2013 at 17:42

I migrated it. It had two off-topic close votes and a flag to migrate to Programmers.

Yes, it had upvotes and two answers here. Yes, it would be an appropriate question here. But considering it was about something specifically related to programmers, I felt that the community at Programmers would be better to answer it.

It turns out the accepted (and most upvoted) answer is one that was migrated with it. The second most upvoted answer is one that was posted on Programmers.

While it may have been appropriate here, it was attracting close votes and migration flags. It seems to have found a home on Programmers (votes, accept, not closed), so I'm fine leaving it where it is. If the mirgation gets rejected, I'll happily reopen it here.

  • It seems that 80% of questions here attract at least one close vote. I don't think that means we should be migrating questions, I believe it means we should be helping users adjust their questions to match the site (assuming they don't), or at least comment on the question before clicking the "close" button.
    – jmac
    Apr 4, 2013 at 4:44
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    @jmac That's both unfair and inaccurate (80%? Really?). All close voters on this particular question went out of their way to find a better home for the question. Why would anyone waste time "adjusting the question to match the site" when they honestly believe there's a better site for it? It's a lot better to send it to the site where it'll get better answers than trying to edit it to a different question...
    – yannis
    Apr 4, 2013 at 5:14
  • Yannis, please take a look at recent questions. Last I checked, there is over a 34% close rate for visible questions asked recently -- and those require 5 votes a piece! I also check the review queue and there are many close flags there too. 80% may be too high (I do not have the tools to check), but over 50% is a given.
    – jmac
    Apr 4, 2013 at 5:31
  • FYI, in the "weekly" questions link I gave, 22 out of 37 questions (60%) are closed or have close votes currently.
    – jmac
    Apr 4, 2013 at 5:36
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    @Jim Although I disagree with the migration (but not with the fact that the question also fits ProgSE), sometimes it's just too damn hard to decide where a question belongs (and the community isn't always right). The Workplace is still a beta site and when it's not (abundantly) clear if a (good) question belongs to the site you should take it as an excellent opportunity for a Meta discussion. I can understand how seeing close votes and flags amassing can feel a bit pressuring for a mod, but... you know you can always override them, right? ;)
    – yannis
    Apr 4, 2013 at 9:31
  • @jmac Now that I had a chance to go over your Meta q, I must say I don't disagree with the closures. As for the perhaps high percentage: It's just a number, and by itself it doesn't mean anything. Programmers had a close ratio of about 40% for well over a year (spiking to as high as 60% at times), and it's thriving. If you find questions that you feel were incorrectly closed, work towards getting them re-opened. You mention the close queue, did you know that it only takes a (significant) edit for a closed question to automatically enter the re-open queue? It really is as simple as that.
    – yannis
    Apr 4, 2013 at 9:36
  • @Yannis I'm relatively new to this SE thing, and I won't pretend to know everything. If you check the Area 51 Stats for TW you will see that the only issue is the lack of questions. Closing a good portion (30%+) isn't helping. I don't disagree with most of the closes, I disagree with the knee-jerk close votes without attempts at improvement, which in this case caused a good question to be migrated away. This just compounds the issue, which is why I brought it up.
    – jmac
    Apr 4, 2013 at 10:27
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    @jmac You can safely ignore the Area51 stats, they are useless. I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, I'm just suggesting a different approach. If you see closed questions that can be re-opened, work towards getting them re-opened. If you see closed questions where the closure hasn't been sufficiently explained, go ahead and post a comment yourself. Get into chat, talk to other regulars, work together to improve and re-open questions. Fixating on a number, any number, is pointless. Leading by example is not.
    – yannis
    Apr 4, 2013 at 10:35
  • @Yannis my concern isn't about whether the question is open or closed, it is about building a community that is helpful. Most of us are not ideal users when we ask our first question (hint hint). If that question was closed with no comment, would you have come back? (Yes, I know you answered a closed question before ever asking one, but...)
    – jmac
    Apr 4, 2013 at 13:11

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