So this is yet another discussion about the migration path to ELL. There needs to be some sort of community consensus on what should be migrated, what should be closed, and what should be answered on EL&U. Yes there are lots of discussions on Meta EL&U about this topic, but none of them seem to have borne fruit, so I'm bringing it up again with a more recent example of a strange migration choice.

The question Can you replace “anywhere” with “where”? was asked on March 8th and migrated 3 hours ago tagged only with "grammar" (gee thanks). I don't understand why it was migrated.

While I was tagging it more appropriately, I noticed it has a chain of 20 comments including one that asks one of the commenters to turn their comment into an answer. Obviously this question was of interest to the EL&U community. The question is not obviously from a non-native speaker, and even if it is, it's not a question only of interest to folks learning English as a foreign language as evidenced by the discussion it generated on EL&U. If no-one on EL&U feels like writing out an answer to a question that's been discussed extensively in comments, why is that an ELL problem?

I think that the EL&U community needs to get on the same page about what types of questions are appropriate to migrate to ELL. We aren't interested in turning your comments into complete answers for you. Just like you, we're not interested in questions that can be completely answered with a dictionary. Not every question about English is on-topic at ELL.

We're getting a
migrated. Don't send us questions that are really poor quality or obviously off-topic on ELL. That's just rude. We have plenty of questions to answer, so you aren't doing as any favors by sending us junk.

If you aren't clear about what sorts of questions ELL welcomes and what is off-topic, there's a summary on ELL Meta : https://ell.meta.stackexchange.com/a/2672/ I'll reproduce the off-topic part of that answer for easy reference (even though the particular migrated question I started my post with is not off-topic at ELL).


  • Etymology, evolution of the English language, or historical English - see english.stackexchange.com instead.
  • Writing advice - see writers.stackexchange.com instead.
  • Questions that can be answered by a quick dictionary lookup (these are off topic on ELL, and there are many free dictionaries available online)
  • Proofreading ("are there any mistakes?"), unless the source of concern is clearly specified
  • "How can I improve my English?" or "What's a good tool for...?" (these are not constructive anyway)
  • Translation and non-English languages
  • Criticism, discussion, and analysis of English literature
  • Requests for resources (we have a Resources List on Meta which you might find useful).
  • 1
    Is ELL complaining? Are a good % of the questions we end up migrating there either downvoted or closed or deleted? If not, I'd say all these discussions are moot. If, on the other hand, some people at ELL are upset, I think the best approach is for a meta discussion on their site about what they would and would not like to see us migrated, with actionable criteria and concrete examples. Seems to me the discussions on this Meta are misplaced: of course we know what we don't want here, but only they know what they do want there. I also don't want to spend energy on a non-problem.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 18:37
  • 4
    @DanBron Seriously, look at the questions I linked and tell me that those should have been migrated. We aren't the ones that are migrating questions. The people migrating the questions don't read ELL meta, and they are the ones that need to understand what is and is not appropriate to migrate. This discussion can only be of any use here, because it is the people voting to migrate that need to change their behavior. I suppose we could also just ask that the migration path be shut down, but I think that would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 18:42
  • @CollenV I was asking that Meta.ELL be used to come to consensus on the specific criteria they'd like for ELU to use when migrating questions, and then, when that debate is settled, to simply post a question here linking back to there, rather than hashing it out here. Of course, the obvious response is "the criteria are those set out in ELL's help center", which is perfectly valid, but sometimes practice diverges from theory. Despite having similar (but not identical) rules, 90%+ of the questions asked and upvoted on ELL would be shot down instantly here. [cont'd]
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:10
  • [cont'd] So just a blanket "don't migrate crap questions" is fine, as far as it goes, except by ELU's standards, particularly with respect to basic research, we'd never migrate anything. That said, I like the bullet points you've laid out here, and I certainly don't want to foster the perception that ELU is flooding ELL with garbage. What I would like to see, if SEDE can support it, is the proportion of questions migrated which are upvoted/answered vs those that are downvoted/closed/deleted, to see just much baby is in that bathwater.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:13
  • 3
    I don't mind cutting newer users a little bit of slack when it comes to migration, but there are times when both communities might be served a little better if a comment pointed the user in the direction of ELL without the question being migrated. A comment like this one might work: This is probably a better question for English Language Learners, but you'll probably want to add more details before you ask it there. As it stands right now, it's not really clear what your asking, and you should probably include what you've already looked for and found.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:18
  • 3
    I think you should find out if the same users are voting to migrate these questions on EL&U. Also remember that only three votes are necessary to migrate any question, two users could cast two closing votes for separate reasons, but three opt for the migration tool. This has personally happened to me, I voted to close a question but saw it had 3 votes for migration, I hoped the migration wouldn't take place but it did all the same. Secondly, just as many EL&Uers see a potentially interesting question in a rejected or downvoted, so too should ELLers.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:43
  • Finally, welcome to the world of LQQs that have been hounding this community for over two years.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:46
  • @J.R. That is my personal usual practice. Even if the question is 100% on topic for ELU, if I get the sense that the OP is a non-native speaker who hasn't gained fluency, I point out that ELL exists just so they're aware of it. It's perfectly possible a single individual can be served by both sites. I do migrate questions to ELL, but typically only the those questions which appear to me to be similar in thrust and quality to the level I see upvoted on ELL.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 20:12
  • 3
    @J.R. ELL is recommended in the "no research" close reason, so questioners should see it. In my experience many more questions get closed with that close reason than get migrated, but I don't have stats handy. Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 20:54
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Thanks for pointing out the duplicate; If y'all want to close this as a duplicate of that one, please do. Regardless, it's a problem and it has nothing to do with not being able to discern where the fine line is for a question suitable for migration. We're getting questions migrated that any somewhat experienced SE user should be able to tell are terrible. We can't tell who's doing it, so there's no way to give them any feedback so they can adjust their threshold for voting to migrate. We just have to get on the megaphone and hope they hear.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 23:54
  • @DanBron I linked ELL's meta discussion in my question. ELL is not all that confused about what kinds of questions we'd like to see migrated. We have a small gray area of questions that could be brought on-topic with extensive editing that some folks would rather see the author directed to ELL instead of the question being migrated, but those aren't the questions that are causing the problems.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 0:12
  • @ColleenV Somehow I missed that link! Not sure how, usually I read meta-posts (particularly by users I respect and believe have something useful to say) carefully. Anyway, consider my earlier comment withdrawn. Though, being an analytical nerd, I'd still be interested in the quantitative analysis.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 0:15
  • @DanBron Yeah, me too. I don't have access to the moderator tools since we've graduated and the rep thresholds have gone up, or I would have quantified the problem a bit more. Maybe I still can with data explorer. It's possible I'm perceiving the problem as bigger than it is because there are a few egregious examples and they might not represent a significant portion of the number of questions that have been migrated overall.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 0:43


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