Recently, we have seen a spate of cross-posted questions on ELL and EL&U (such as this one on EL&U).

I can understand the frustration of a new user looking for an immediate answer to their question, but as we all know it does not work that way here. Posting on either site requires a certain patience, yet many newbies seem to have to have such an urgent problem which, if not answered in the first hour, well... they go off looking for alternatives. And sometimes that comes back to the english.SE in 2 or 3 hours.

We are possibly a little unique on SE: we have a split personality. Usually, most new users come here first, and are only directed to ELL when it is obvious that their issue is too basic for EL&U.

On the other hand, sometimes new users post on ELL first, and when they do not get an immediate response they start banging away at the keyboard in desperation, looking for an answer. For most internet surfers, that's the way things usually work and they end up here on the main.

There are some opinions on the topic of cross-posting, most notably from Jeff Atwood

Allowing cross-posting is a slippery slope.

If you might have slightly better odds of getting an answer by posting it on two sites, well, by gum, why not maximize your odds by posting it on twenty sites!

There are some questions which fall into grey areas between sites, and I think it's OK to ask and delete, then re-ask if you feel you have asked on the wrong site.

But as a general rule, do not cross-post questions, please. Pick a site and go with it.

On this site, cross-posting is more than discouraged: it seems to be a reason for closing. [Sorry cannot post a screen shot of the close reasons as they get deleted on close]

After a number of exchanges of comments on the topic (Jason Bassford, Janus Bahs Jacquet,and others) I found this to be more pertinent from Mary-Lou A:

@Cascabel the thing is, the same question could be posted if the OP hasn't received any answers on the older post but they shouldn't hide this information AND they should wait at least two days before cross posting.

Some users are active on both sites; and they seem to be most aware of the situation.

My question is:

If a question is cross-posted on the same day on both sites, Which gets closed first? The first with no answers, the one most apt for the site...and who makes that judgement? Not everyone participates on both sites, so it seems that on EL&U we are closing based on the cross-post in ELL... but is that the best approach?

[BTW] Most users are probably not aware of it, but ELL users CANNOT vote to migrate to EL&U.

  • 3
    I have seen some truly insightful and intelligent questions on ELL which I think we would be proud to entertain on EL&U: but for some reason they are over there and never migrated. I think we should be open-minded on this. Jun 1, 2019 at 21:46
  • My impression is that desperate users often post such poor questions that the best thing is to briefly answer in a comment (to be helpful) and then VTC. Thus we are helpful to those who need help, but get rid of the clutter.
    – ab2
    Jun 2, 2019 at 0:41

2 Answers 2


It isn't very important which is closed first. It's more important that each question and answer community moderate according to its own scope as to what's on topic there and so forth.

Jeff Atwood's slippery slope argument isn't very persuasive. "Why not maximize your odds by posting it on twenty sites?" Indeed.

IRL do we never solicit opinions from more than one point of view? Should technology not extend that reach as well as the opportunity of a community of interested human beings to voluntarily curate, moderate and ― most importantly ― respond.

Many newbies seem to have to have such an urgent problem

It would be great to worry less about a poster's motivation and focus on whether posts are good, on-topic questions to which good answers can be made.

  • Thanks for the question. The differences include the composition of the target audiences as well as the applicable moderation guidelines. Whether it's a good idea or not should be a matter of community moderation, not the order in which an effort is undertaken to close either question. @JJJ Jun 6, 2019 at 17:47
  • We can't tell what an asker did or didn't consider before posting apart from what they tell us. As stated in my answer, I don't see why a poster's presumed sense of urgency is relevant. Let the questions speak for themselves. Answer, ignore and moderate accordingly. Jun 6, 2019 at 17:55
  • My sense has been that it can be the case in practice, but that's subjective and you have also participated here more than I have @JJJ. I'm not a fan of the prior research stance personally. Alice: "What time is it?" Bob: "What prior research have you done?" :-) Jun 6, 2019 at 18:13

I suggest flagging it for moderator attention and letting them sort it out. Normal users do not have the tools necessary to ensure that the closure sticks on a website even after it is decided which website should host the question, but moderators do, such as locking, question deletion that sticks and possibly even suspension for users who are especially uncooperative. They should also be intimately familiar with the scope of their own website, and consult with moderators of the other website to determine which website is best. Once they decide, they can immediately reopen one question and delete the other.

Otherwise, cross-posting questions is bad for more or less the same reason duplicates are usually bad, so I do think one of the questions should be closed. The one that remains open should be the one that is better suited to the website it was posted at.

If that determination is too hard to make, then I suggest closing it here as soon as possible for at least a couple of reasons. One is that it is the preference already expressed in our research standard, and we can consider it as if the questioner had already considered that their question suits E.L.L.:

Please include the research you’ve done, or consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic.

As for the other, we do not have a split personality. It is more like we have a sibling. Indeed, people often call E.L.L. our sister site. The point here is that E.L.L. is fully autonomous, and even if we would like them to close first, we can not force them to do so, even if we remind them that our patron/father Stack Exchange forbade his daughters from engaging in polygamous relationships. Adherence to the rules is each website's own responsibility to take.

If the question ends up closed on both websites for this reason, then it really is not too big of a loss. Closure exists in part so that we have the time to address any problems a question may have, so it gives us time to consider which website would be better at addressing the question before it is reopened.

In summary:

  1. Always flag it for moderator attention.
  2. Consider which website the question is better on yourself.
  3. If it is too close of a call to make, then vote to close it here.

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