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One of my questions—Topical tag cloud generator for researchers/academics—was migrated to a site I'm not a member of and have no intention of signing up for. Thus I can no longer interact with it. It was migrated with about 5 upvotes and an answer with 4 upvotes (that I never had the chance to upvote). I shall speak of it using the past tense, may it rest in peace.

Seemingly it was migrated after @EnergyNumbers put forward in a comment that it was a "boat programming" question. His comment got some upvotes and (I guess) close votes started to appear afterwards and it got migrated somehow (I don't know the process). Hence this seemed to be an important comment.

I did not know what "boat programming" meant before but based on the discussion here, @EnergyNumbers was putting forward that my question was analogous to asking "What is the best boat for an academic" ... the argument being that adding "for an academic" doesn't make a question about boats a relevant question. Now I had previously added discussion to my question specifying the reasons why a generic tag cloud generator would be insufficient, and why I was looking for something specific for academic papers. One could argue that it was still a boat programming question since one could argue why a programmer needs a certain type of boat ... it needs a good coffee machine for example.

The other part of the comment was that it was a "shopping question", which I understand is like asking (as an academic) for your favourite x from a set of well-known X or something. I would argue that my question was not asking for one's favourite anything from a set of well-known anythings. It was looking for software packages to extract and visualise topics from research papers. Others could argue it was a shopping question I guess because I was asking for things.

The last part of the comment was that it was relevant to another StackExchange site—Software Recommendations—where it eventually migrated.

Was it a "boat programming" question? ...

Was it a "shopping" question? ...

Was it ...


I went looking through the FAQ to see what I missed. I didn't really find anything. I mean I can see that one could make arguments that my question was doing X or wasn't doing Y in the FAQ but far from anything clear-cut and far from anything umpteen other questions (including highly voted questions) on the site do.


But okay, I tried to take as given the explicit/implicit premises applied to my question, akin to a perfect storm:

  1. boat programming: making a generic question and sticking "for academics" after it;
  2. shopping: "my favourite X is x', what's yours?";
  3. software request for which there is a dedicated SE site.

... and apply it to other questions on the site. Here's just some (not-so-)quick examples where I roughly tried to use my question as a yardstick (of course I'm biased, so make up your own minds):

  1. Software to use for creating posters for academic conferences? (28 upvotes, 11 answers.) [Boat programming. Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  2. Mapping connections between topics covered in academic papers - does such a tool exist? (3 upvotes, 1 answer) [Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  3. Tools for data organising and processing (5 upvotes, 2 answers) [Boat programming. Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  4. Saving handwritten notes for future reference (18 upvotes, 9 answers) [Boat programming. Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  5. Software to draw illustrative figures in tables (57 upvotes, 12 answers) [Boat programming. Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  6. Is there an open source tool for producing bibtex entries from paper PDFs? (6 upvotes, 1 answer) [Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  7. Searching for a quotation manager (10 upvotes, 3 answers) [Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  8. Issue tracking when writing a paper (19 upvotes, 3 answers) [Boat programming. Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  9. Note taking software: referencing text to searchable keywords (2 upvotes, 1 answer) [Boat programming. Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  10. Do you find a computer-assisted qualitative data analysis tool useful? (2 upvotes, 1 answer) [Boat programming. Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  11. Internet Git repository for collaboration on a paper (18 upvotes, 3 answers) [Boat programming. Shopping. Software recommendation.]

  12. ...

I am not arguing one way or the other that these questions are off-topic for this site. I'm trying to highlight that the reason(s) my question was commented on/voted to close/migrated apply to many other questions.

None of these questions have been migrated. None have close votes. None even have comments along the lines of the ones I got on my question.


Likewise there's the (software) tag itself (which I didn't see until later):

Queries related to various software used in academia. Questions shall not address highly technical aspects of the software but shall address features/issues highly relevant to academia.


In any case, aside from being confused, I feel like I have already spent too much time on this and other topics. I'm not going to be engaging on this question. But maybe it helps give examples of something or other. I dunno.

Having come to the end of this long meta-question whose effort–reward ratio is seemingly vanishingly small, irrespective of what you thought of the question itself, all I can put forward is the request to not view moderation tools as nails for which you have the hammer, and to moderate with clarity, consistency and common sense ... and reluctance.

Ciao!

  • Specifically regarding software questions, there has been this meta discussion which is relevant – ff524 May 16 '14 at 23:51
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    ...that I never had the chance to upvote Fear not, I hear your from beyond the Internet grave. – Piotr Migdal May 18 '14 at 13:28
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    I'm still confused about what you think the problem is. Your question was moved to a place where it'll likely get better answers. This is a problem because ...? – TRiG May 18 '14 at 17:19
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    @TRiG ... because unless badroit registers to the site in question (SR.SE) s/he won't be able to get notifications, up/down-vote answers, or give comments. – posdef May 19 '14 at 7:47
  • I think that the question is gone from software recs now... – apnorton Aug 18 '14 at 18:43
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It takes approximately 12 seconds (and exactly 4 mouse clicks) to log in to a new StackExchange site and create an account there.

Migration is harmless. StackExchange sites are extremely well integrated. User accounts on new sites do not cost anything. There is a unified system through which you will get notifications related to your questions on any of the sites.

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I would prefer to see a gray-area question be closed (and possibly migrated a little later) rather than migrated immediately.

Migration is qualitatively different from other kinds of closure. Assuming we don't have accounts on the target site,

Closed Questions

  • High-rep users can vote to reopen
  • Users can continue to discuss the closure in comments
  • OP can edit the question to make it a better fit

Migrated Questions

  • High-rep users on the original site cannot vote to reopen
  • Users on the original site cannot comment
  • OP cannot edit the question to make it a better fit for the original site

I still don't really understand why a tag-cloud generator for an academic is different from a tag-cloud generator for anyone else ("logic programming" in an academic paper seems the same to me as "Asian cuisine" in a cooking blog, for example).

But given that more than a few users who can vote to close saw this question and chose not to, I'd prefer not to migrate right away.

  • Migrated questions can be re-opened, as I just did. Anyone can flag it for a mod to look at it. I do hear your points, though. Honestly, I was taking care of the flags in between meetings at work, did this quickly, and didn't give it much of a second thought. Here's my second thought :) – eykanal May 18 '14 at 12:54
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    I second with closing rather than migrating. Of course unless the OP ask for migration OR (it is clearly off-topic beyond hope for reformulation AND at the same time it is clearly on-topic on the site we want to migrate it to). For this question, in the current form, I don't think SoftwareRecs.SE is an appropriate site. After some edits it may be a question to SR.SE, Stats.SE or, well, Academia.SE. – Piotr Migdal May 18 '14 at 13:19
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There are questions that clearly are out of scope and there are questions that are clearly in scope. I think the mods do a great job handling the questions that fall into the grey area. Yes you can find grey area questions that have not been closed. It is much harder to find the examples of the numerous "boat" questions that have been closed. This means what you see is a biased example.

Don't look at your question as being dead. If it gets a good answer there, great, problem solved. If it doesn't, we can migrate it back, or you can ask a follow up. The whole point of the SE network is to get the best possible answers as efficiently as possible.

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I was the mod who migrated that question. I didn't realize it would cause any issue, I apologize if it did. In that case, I migrated for two reasons:

  1. The question was off-topic here, as it was asking for a particular piece of technology. As stated by @ff524, the fact that it related to academia was entirely tangential and unrelated to the question. By the time I got to it there were already three other close votes on the question.
  2. There is an entire SE site dedicated to software recommendations, which (like all other SE sites) does not require any registration for the user to interact with the question.

Given the nature of the question and that site, my immediate assumption was that the user would appreciate that move, as it would lead to more answers. Seeing how many upvotes are on this meta question, it appears that more people feel that it is on-topic here than off-topic.

Given all that, the question has been re-opened for the time being.

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    If you want to reopen a question that's been migrated away, please contact the moderators on the target site. We don't want to have two copies of the question around (leading to people doing the work of answering twice), and that's what happened when you reopened the question here. I happened to wander by, and deleted the copy on Software Recommendations (which fortunately hadn't seen any significant activity in the meantime). You still need to clear the migration history on your end (from the mod menu). Undoing a migration is possible but is more involved than just unlocking and reopening. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' May 19 '14 at 13:46
  • @Gilles - Thanks. I think this one could have been opened on both sites, as it's relevant to both audiences, but I appreciate the technical difficulties. I'll clear the history here. – eykanal May 19 '14 at 15:41
  • @Gilles and eykanal, Tangential question: can one flag one's question and request that it be migrated? Can the question take its answers with it (if the moderators agreed that that would be a good idea)? – aparente001 Dec 27 '16 at 7:32
  • @aparente001 Yes, you can use a flag to request migration. It should be clear that the question is off-topic for the site. Migration copies the whole content: question, answers, comments, votes. Migration is only possible within 2 months after a question has been posted. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 27 '16 at 14:25

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