I know that this has been discussed before but, at the time, it was not possible since ELL was still in beta. Now that it has graduated and has had its first mod elections and everything, it might be time to reconsider the question.

If we do choose to have one, we should also set up some clear guidelines on what kind of questions we will be migrating. ELL is not and should not become the dumping ground of bad ELU questions. The golden rule will still apply: don't migrate crap.

However, we do receive a fair amount of perfectly good questions that are simply too basic for this site but would be perfect for ELL. Questions that are clear and well formulated but which, while obvious to any native speaker, are understandably confusing for someone learning the language. Such questions really belong on ELL.

So, should we have a migration path opened to ELL? I believe this would make a lot of sense and is the single most useful migration path we could have here.

  • It might help if there were a sample slate of ELU questions that have not been migrated to ELL but which would be more reasonable there.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 18:31
  • 3
    If migration is going to take place, we have to make sure ELU'ers know ELL isn't their trash can/litter bin/whatever. As an ELL'er, I agree with TChrist's answer; I feel tempted to fear there are going to be more false migrations . . .
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 18:44
  • 1
    @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M yes, that is indeed something to watch out for. I also agree with tchrist in that it's, at the very least, worth a try. Let's give it a month or two and then, if ELL feel it's not working out, we should turn it off. In any case, this is something that ELL should agree with, it obviously affects you more than us. If you don't want this, we will other try and impose it.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 21:22
  • @tchrist - One more related link, from the ELL side: when to ask on ELL vs ELU.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 16:54
  • Instead of this, every question should automatically start with two lack-of-research close votes and be put in the close vote review queue. Or actually just make it be automatically closed and put it in the reopen queue! :) Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 13:21
  • 1
    @curiousdannii huh? The suggestion is only to help questions find the right home, not to close them.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 13:23
  • @terdon But the problem is that 95% of the questions asked on this site don't belong on any site in the network. Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 13:23
  • 2
    @curiousdannii that's neither here nor there. This is about opening a migration path to a specific site. It is not a discussion on the general quality of the questions asked.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 13:25
  • 1
    Should we migrate this question to meta.ELL? Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 19:40
  • @Mari-LouA precisely. Migration paths can only be opened between graduated sites. Since ELL has now graduated, it was time to revisit the question. The previous discussions were moot since, at the time, migration was not an option. Now it is, so I felt we should discuss it.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 11:22
  • As far as I can see, I can vote to close a question as being for ELL already.
    – apaderno
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 17:18
  • << The golden rule will still apply: don't migrate crap. However, we do receive a fair [number] of perfectly good questions that are simply too basic for this site but would be perfect for ELL. Questions that are clear and well formulated but which, while obvious to any native speaker, are understandably confusing for someone learning the language. Such questions really belong on ELL. >> I agree with the bolded opinion, but have been informed by a seasoned user that the 'too basic' requirement is not the correct yardstick; 'especially of value to a second-language learner' is required. (?) Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 10:44

9 Answers 9


As of 22 September 2015, we do have this capability, courtesy of The Powers Who Do That Sort Of Thing.

As WendiKidd has implied in her answer, there are risks and potential difficulties. Use with care!

I'm sure there will be statistics gathered and pored over to see how many questions migrated from here are closed on ELL. Learners' questions should be migrated; but a poor question is a poor question. Try and edit it into shape first. There may be some more concrete guidelines forthcoming, depending on how things go.

It doesn't matter if there is already a duplicate on ELL, because there will be an additional pointer to it with the migration, and there may even be the stub left on ELU to help, too.

Sample Migration dialog

[Image via jimsug]

  • 1
    The path leading to that radio button is horribly complex and counter-intuitive. I only learned from this topic that there existed this sequence for flagging a question for migration. I'd never have thought I had to choose "close a question" to reach that button. Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 15:45

Yes, we should. (Vote for this answer if you think we should open a migration path to ELL.)

  • This is absolutely correct. The next answer below, at great length, points out that the only case in which one should not migrate, is if the material "is crap". In the situation at hand, there is no crap. It's the absolutely perfect example, in the overall network, of where questions are being asked that are perfectly good, but very simply on the wrong site. Glancing at the site at this moment, every single one of the "should be in ELL questions" (example) are perfectly good, and, should be on ELL.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 12:50
  • 2
    @JoeB - To paraphrase Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus: yes, Joe, there IS "crap" on the Stack Exchange. Questions that are as likely to be closed there as they would here (due to insufficient context and research, e.g.) shouldn't be migrated until they've been improved. My Exhibit A would be this question, asked less than one hour ago, put on hold a mere 8 minutes later: I am looking for another word or way to say "an amazing fact". Thank you very much! That question is not "simply on the wrong site," and it should not be migrated.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 14:58
  • Hi JR, I appreciate your point. For example, on the physics site, they observably often get crap questions about "junk physics" ("i've invented an antigravity machine!" type of thing). However, observably here on ELU we get great question - which should go to ELL. As I write the first 3 questions are all in that category! I gave an example of one in the above comment, well, examples are rife. Are you really sure you're not seeing "a few" shitty questions? (Such as the one you give as an example.)
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 15:21
  • @Joe - I didn't say whether there were a lot of crappy questions, or only a few. I merely reacted to your allegation that "there is no crap." I think we're probably in strong agreement that a lot of ELU questions get summarily downvoted and closed, when migrating to ELL would be a better solution. Being active on both sites, I can tell you that there are some questions I would downvote on ELU but upvote on ELL, the criteria being: Is this a question that is useful to the community's intended primary audience?
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 16:44
  • JR ... fair enough, there's some crap :) Quite right. Who knows the best solution. Maybe they should sort of be migrated to a kind of pending area. Mind you: isn't the solution here that crap questions should be closed more aggressively...??
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 17:12
  • 1
    It's a rare month to see a question on this site that isn't crap... Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 13:04

TLDR: I don’t have a lot of confidence that this will work out, but unless we make the attempt we won’t have the data to support that hunch. Plus until we do so, people will keep asking for it. But before we can, we would have to have some other stuff in place first.

Don’t Migrate Crap

Here are ELL migration stats:

ELL migration stats

That tell us that right now, almost one in every six questions currently migrated to ELL from ELU by moderators is being rejected.

For comparison, here are ELU migration stats:

ELU migration stats

Again, those are all moderator migrations because no one has a default off-topic migration path to ELU right now.

Perhaps for comparison, here are SO migration stats, where there are OT migrations available to regular close-voters:

SO Migrations

The ones that are user-migrated are these:

SO CV migration possibilities

There have historically been others, but they were removed because people were migrating too much crap.

Which is what I worry will happen with us.

The Historical Record

I once took a broad look at the ELU questions that had received comments to the effect that the post would do better on ELL.

My conclusion at that time was that if all those had turned into migrations, there would have been an overwhelmingly high rejection rate: not just a simple majority but maybe 80 or 90 percent.

It’s true that these were just comments not actual migration votes by 3k users with the close-vote privilege, so we don’t know what the votes might have been. And migration does require a super-majority of at least four out of five votes.

A lot of questions closed for General Reference or Proofreading on ELU that people say should be on ELL should not be, because they would just get closed for Dictionary or Proofreading there, too. That shows that people forget not to migrate crap, and are just looking for a dumping ground. That is a real problem.

We get plenty of migration rejections even now with only migrator-migrations. It could only get worse.

Due Diligence and Paired Reputation Requirements (not happening)

My gut feeling is that having CV privileges on ELU may not be a good enough qualification for making someone good at judging whether a question is a good fit for ELL.

What might work, but which is too hard because there is no code to support it right now, is for there to be a reputation requirement for both source and target site for migrations. However, the question asking for that, Require minimum reputation on the target site for migration, has been on MSE.

So unless and until this feature were reconsidered, it wouldn’t be possible to have a double reputation requirement. However, if it were, I wouldn’t mind starting with a requirement of Trusted User on both sites, and then consider halving it if that works out ok.

Yes, I know that’s very high. But I am afraid that at this point I quite honestly don’t have enough confidence that ELU-to-ELL migrations will be done well enough not to provoke bad feelings and high rejection rates.

What We Could Try Now

Based on the other ELU meta posts I linked to as Related in my comment on Rob’s question, I predict that the Community will come down firmly in favor of there being such a path.

If this is what the Community truly wants, or perhaps the Communities, then we could try it for a while.

If it works, it works.

And it doesn’t, then we’d have concrete data to that effect.

Even though this is my hunch, we don’t actually have that data yet, and can’t get it in any other way. It would cause no great lasting harm to give it a go for some initial trial period, whatever is long enough to acquire that data.

It’s going to take a lot user education first for there to be any hope of it working out well. We have over 400 users with vote-to-close privileges on ELU.

Just FAQ It

Therefore if we were to try this, we should absolutely have a FAQ here on Meta with concrete guidelines about just what should and should not be migrated to ELL, along with plenty of examples.

  • 3
    Just curious - you seem to be implying that 15% of the requested migrations being rejected is an unacceptably high number. Yet looking at the SO stats, I see percentages all over the map, including several higher than 15%. If lower than 15% is the benchmark, are you saying that many of SO's auto-migrations should be disabled too? (For what it's worth, 85% success seems pretty good to me.)
    – Lynn
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 0:39
  • @Lynn I agree with what you’ve said. To me 15% is ok, but it does mean that the Community disagrees with the migration one time in six. I worry that that might get worse is all. Only one way to find out, though.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 0:41
  • 1
    Fair enough. I also agree with your general point. We could all debate it till the cows come home (and pretty much have for, what?, two years?) but what harm is there in just trying it and seeing how it goes? If it's 85% being rejected? Obviously a bad idea :)
    – Lynn
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 0:46

As a regular user of ELL I would request that migrations to ELL continue to be handled by the moderators of ELU.

SE is, in general, very reluctant to create migration paths because they tend to be abused.

When should we consider adding a default migration path?

Almost never.

Truth is, migrations are not often particularly necessary. It's usually just as easy for the asker to re-post his question on a new site as it is for 5 close-voters or a moderator to migrate. There are better tools available for those rare occasions when a new site is actually carve off of an existing one, and that's primarily what the current system was designed to handle anyway!

Until then, I'd want to see a veritable deluge of good but blatantly off-topic questions on a site before I'd consider adding a migration path. [emphasis added]

The reality is, even with only ELU moderators migrating questions, the quality of the questions being migrated is occasionally extremely poor... meaning that the question is not a "good question" by the standards of any SE site, regardless of it being on-topic or not.

I did bring this up in the ELU chat recently and it seems that the quality of migrated questions has improved to some degree since then, which I sincerely appreciate. I don't feel there's enough quality content to warrant opening the possible floodgates between the two sites (and, yes, this means I also think ELL should not have a migration path to ELU).

In fact, the golden rule of migration is "don't migrate crap".

When a question is migrated (and deleted on the original site) and then the target site rejects the migration by putting the question "on hold", the question enters a limbo state where it can never be recovered.

This is a disservice to the person who asks the question because they have no way to improve their question.

Shog9 put it really nicely in a chat between M&TV and Sci-Fi about migrations:

As a general rule, if the form of the question wouldn't be acceptable on your site (regardless of topic), then dropping it onto someone else's (where the author may not even have an account) is rude: it's probably not gonna get better. When in doubt, drop in a link to movies.stackexchange.com/tour and suggest that the asker read it and re-post.

Always acceptable to NOT migrate. If you're gonna migrate or ask someone else to do so, try to make sure the asker looks good when his question appears on the new site. Failing to do this creates a bad experience for everyone involved.

ELU should close vote poor quality questions and encourage the asker to re-ask the question on ELL rather than migrating it.

  • 2
    I strongly agree with your closing statement, but I have reservations about your opening remark. I see a lot of "ELL questions" showing up on ELU – particularly from brand-new users who probably don't realize both sites exist. Moderators can't monitor ELU 24/7, so a lot of these questions end up getting answered instead of migrated. I agree that ELL shouldn't get every shoddy question that comes along, but I think there ought to be a way to expedite the migration of questions that are much more aptly suited for ELL.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 14:48
  • @J.R. Of course they can't be on the site all the time... but there's no urgency in dealing with migrations within minutes of them being posted on the wrong site... If it sits for a few hours, it sits for a few hours... if the OP doesn't want to wait, then they can post it on ELL themselves. I don't see the issue. I feel that waiting a few hours to migrate is far better than having a bunch of trash migrated to ELL.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 22:40
  • 1
    I'd agree, except in my experience, it seems like once a question gets an answer or two, it seems far less likely to get migrated. So, a potential problem with waiting for a moderator is that we might have fewer ELL questions getting migrated. I think this is something that the rank-and-file of ELU can handle.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 8:26

Maybe. I think many questions asked here should be asked there instead. However, the user base here doesn't fully overlap with the user base there and it can be difficult to judge if a question should be migrated. In my ideal world, users with high-rep accounts on both sites would be the ones who perform the migration.

  • That might indeed make sense but that option is not available at the moment. All we can do is open a migration path which will allow regular users with close-vote privileges to vote to migrate. Just like regular close-voting, if 4 people agree, the question will be closed here and migrated to ELL.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 13:45
  • ELL could also have a ping-pong migration path back to ELU.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 14:05
  • 1
    @tchrist It could. But that makes work for them, which is what I'd rather avoid. Though manual curating of the migration is really the only surefire way to prevent spamming ELL. Whether the curating is on our side or theirs, I guess, is not important. Someone still has to do it. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 14:14
  • 6
    Perhaps the description for the close-reason should include this warning: please only migrate to ELL if you know ELL well and are sure it would fit there. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 16:42

As a moderator on ELL, I'm going to try and explain why I think this is a Well Intentioned but Very Bad Idea.

I get that the request for an ELU->ELL migration path has come up in the past, an gotten support on your end, I'm not sure it's the best for our (or either) community. Our users have already pretty summarily rejected the reverse ELL->ELU path. Personally I think the same logic applies to paths in both directions... And I am pretty much positive that we would have a repeat of SO->Programmers if an ELU->ELL path opened up.

Do the mods have time to handle questions ELU mods migrate to ELL, and ELL->ELU migrations? Absolutely. Do we have time to reject all the questions that shouldn't be migrated that people will then migrate, and have our users waste time answering them? No. Another litmus test: I'd love to ask the ELU mods how many flags they get for migration to ELL that are not valid flags. And that's knowing it'll have to be mod-approved...

So, while I understand the spirit behind the request, I think it would just end up with frustration on all sides and more work for both mod teams. The questions you want to have migrated to ELL are already being migrated by the mod team. The ones you don't, still won't. I don't think the need is there, I think it would be abused, and I don't believe our community would go for it. But you're welcome to open a meta post over on ELL and ask.


I'm one of the more active users in moderation over on ELL, so you can imagine I viewed this proposal with a certain degree of concern, and in fact I voiced caution on ELL's matching meta post.

But, so far, things are going well. It's been about three weeks, and in that time, the 10k (2k) stats that I've been keeping an eye on show that migrations in a rolling 90-day window have gone up steadily from about 90 to about 130, while rejection rate has gone down steadily from 12+% to 7%. That's quite good! (A little surprising, really; that random 3k voters here are that much better than diamonds at not migrating garbage is quite counterintuitive.)

Keep up the good work, stay selective, and know that you have our thanks for doing a much better job than we feared, and perhaps even a better job than we hoped.

Since this was originally posted, the situation has not stayed so rosy; at present (Jan 2016), the rejection rate is 13%, and most of that is in the last month or so. Could use some more caution, it seems.

  • The rejection rate specifically refers to questions that have migrated from EL&U, am I correct?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:08
  • @Mari-LouA: Yes. There are rejection rates listed for each site individually (in both directions). ELU's would be here for you, and ELL's is here. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:10
  • And what would be the most common reason for rejection? Do users on ELL attempt to edit these questions before rejecting them? I sympathise but if the reason for rejection is due to lack of research, as I suspect it might be, then we, EL&U and ELL, have to universally agree to either edit (include the research) or close each and every question that fails this requisite.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:23
  • @Mari-LouA: Many are rejected because of lack of details (not lack of research, as such); many more are rejected as proofreading. Some are rejected as general reference, and I suppose some are probably closed due to lack of research, although I don't think that's a particularly great reason most of the time. Most of the questions are unlocked after closing, but there's very little activity on them. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:25
  • Generally speaking, on ELL I feel there is little activity on any question, the view counts are very low. EL&U is following the same trend, but I see questions from here on the Hot Network circuit much more frequently, it's practically a daily recurrence, which help raise the stats. EDIT: I see :) My mistake. EDIT 2. Maybe you could include the migration stats link in your answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:33
  • @Mari-LouA: Sorry, I meant activity as in "attempt to salvage the question once unlocked", rather than views. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 6:34
  • I suspect that a contributory factor is that there are more users with the close/migrate privilege on ELU than there are on ELL. That means that the ELL "closure community" is more cohesive than ELU's. It's probably also the case that ELL gets fewer questions (because ELU is first in the list, and our URL is "english") which means that the crap:good ratio is healthier and crap stands out more and is more easily closed. What we want is for people who are learning English to ask their question on ELL in the first place. Perhaps ELU should simply close and delete poor questions.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 7:51
  • @AndrewLeach: Yeah, that would be handy, I suspect. There's a certain reflex building up, "Oh, this is a basic question from a learner, migrate it!" that's not really paying attention to whether it's a good basic question. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 7:56
  • So we come back to the recurring conclusion that "english.SE" should point to ELL in order that non-learner questions can be migrated away.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 8:05

There's already a migration path: The road to ELL is paved with good intentions.

  • 3
    Correction: there is now a migration path to ELL. (Trust me, it wasn't there before.)
    – Marthaª
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 2:00

No, we shouldn't. (Vote for this answer if you think we should not open a migration path to ELL.)

  • 2
    By having the two options as explicit answers, everyone is allowed two votes (for one, against the other). Some people won't vote twice, which could skew the results. Is it not better to have only one option which people can vote up or down as appropriate?
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 13:30
  • 3
    @Andrew: I thought about that after the fact. Then I decided to leave it be, because it would be interesting to see how people do behave in this situation.
    – Robusto
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 13:32
  • I like this- a single answer would mask the degree of passion in the community- 102 for vs 100 against would look the same as 5 for and 3 against... Since it seems something of a pivotal question it helps to see the reach vs the antipathy...
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 15:19
  • 2
    @MarvMills You can see the number of up- and downvotes by clicking on the number between the up and down arrows (at least once you have more than a certain amount of rep—not sure if that limitation holds on Meta, to be honest), so the numbers are only hidden at first blush. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 15:31
  • 2
    Also, I’m not sure what the fact that this answer has two downvotes means. Are there two people who downvoted this because they want a migration path, or two people who downvoted because they don’t want a migration path? Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 15:33
  • @JanusBahsJacquet ah right, I did not know that, I clearly have not attained those lofty heights anywhere on SE :)
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 15:33
  • @MarvMills You have, actually. You only need 1,000 rep points to see vote counts. :-) Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 15:36
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Wow! I did not know that! Thanks for letting me know- I had no idea that feature existed!
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 15:37
  • 5
    @JanusBahsJacquet I downvoted this because I want a migration path. Can't speak as to the other downvoter's motives.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 16:01
  • 1
    @MarvMills there's also a nice little user-script that lets you see them on all sites: "View Vote totals" without 1000 rep
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 16:02
  • 3
    I'm with @terdon on this. There are probably only a couple of hundred 3K+ ELU users, and almost all of them are likely to have "trustworthy" judgement in such matters (unlike the thousands of "drive-by" questioners, who may not know about ELL, or fail to use it appropriately for some other reason). Sometimes you just gotta trust the voters. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 19:45
  • @fumblefingers 307 to be precise, but close enough.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 21:33
  • 2
    @terdon: It's at least possible 57 or more of those are no longer "active". So for the relevant user base "a couple" might be the most accurate value to the nearest hundred, even to pedants. I of course was using it in the looser sense defined by XKCD as 2 (but sometimes up to 5 :) Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 11:56
  • 1
    @@curiousdannii: There are some very high-rep users with about 20% of their answers on closed questions, including Barrie England, tchrist, John Lawler, for example. As it happens, my own rate is only 9%, but I'm in no doubt that all those I've mentioned are far more valuable to the site than I am. On the other hand, so is Robusto, and his "off-topic answering" rate is actually lower than mine. The figures are "interesting", but I'm not sure they significantly reflect in/out of step with (or valuable to) the "community" at large. Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 14:54
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers I think the community is really too big and disjointed to come to a consensus that its unhelpful to answer blatantly off-topic questions, but I live in hope than one day they will. Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 2:25

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