With some frequency, we get questions that are purely about programming (such as "What's wrong with my loop?" or "How do I read from a file?") and thus rightly voted on to close as off-topic -- but often with the reason

"General computer science questions are off-topic here, but can be asked on Computer Science Stack Exchange."

This is of course not correct, since computer science is no more about programming than computational science is.

Hence my question: Do we want to (and can we) have a custom off-topic reason that points users to StackOverflow? (either instead of or in addition to the CompSci one -- we had a few questions where this was the correct reason, but more for which SO would have been correct).

(Note: I'm not asking about migration paths; most of these questions would not have been welcome on SO in their current form.)


2 Answers 2


If it's possible, it would be a good idea. Stack Overflow is the best place for those questions, although those sorts of questions would get savaged there...

  • $\begingroup$ That's true (and we might want to rethink our stance on software questions to help them, but that's a different discussion). I'm primarily concerned with the specific scenario that a programming question is (rightly) closed as off-topic with a pointer to compsci, the OP reposts there, gets again (rightly) closed as off-topic, and then complains that he was told by us to do that... $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2016 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ @ChristianClason: Has that happened before? $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ I've pinged the Stack Exchange staff; will try to follow up on this issue here when they respond. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ I've added another custom reason pointing people to Stack Overflow; I need @Paul to approve it. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 1:26
  • $\begingroup$ @ GeoffOxberry: Not to my knowledge; I'd just like to avoid this if possible. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ I recommend putting a bit of guidance in the close reason. I've just asked about this on meta.SO. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles: If I just copy Yannis' answer from your linked post, would that close reason be amenable to you? Assuming I have enough characters, I can add a link to this page also, but if not, then I'm fine with omitting the link to this post. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @GeoffOxberry It's better than the one we currently have on Computer Science, at least, but I'm giving it a few days before we (probably) change the one on CS. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles This might also be a good opportunity to make a similar change to the close reason for Computer Science. As a moderator there, do you have anything you'd like to see changed or added? $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 7:45
  • $\begingroup$ @ChristianClason I have no idea how many people get referred to cs.se from scicomp.se. How often do you use this reason, and what do questions typically look like? (I don't have enough reputation to access the stats in /tools here.) There may be a problem with people reading “General computer … LINK” rather than “… computer science … LINK”, cs.se gets quite a few questions from people who think that “my windows is broken” is computer science, but I doubt that many were referred by scicomp.se. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles There were 8 questions over the last 90 days (which is as far as I have access to stats); the text people see is the one quoted in my answer (with "computer science", albeit maybe not prominently enough -- perhaps it might suffice to not have "General" in bold, but only "computer science"?) $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ From a scicomp perspective, I think “general computer science” makes sense — questions that are in the intersection of computational science and computer science shouldn't be closed here. I think unbolding “General” and linking “computer science” to the Wikipedia article would be improvements, but there's too little data for me to conclude whether it would be significant enough to warrant a change. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2016 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ @GeoffOxberry (and @Paul) Any news on that? I just saw another programming question with two off-topic votes for being about "Computer Science"... $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2016 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ @ChristianClason I submitted the new Computer Science change reason on Oct 19. I need another mod to approve it. (@Paul?) $\endgroup$ Oct 31, 2016 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ @GeoffOxberry Sorry to pester you, I know you did everything you could, but are you sure the @ Paul notifications are working? Or should I add a moderator flag to alert him? (Another programming question was just closed for being about "Computer Science".) $\endgroup$ Nov 7, 2016 at 8:25

The general answer to this question is that we don't implement migration paths for sites that haven't graduated. (The site's own meta is an exception.)

When we do add paths, we try to do so in a need-based way. So, if Site A is migrating a lot of content to Site B, it's a good candidate for a path; if it only ever sent a single post to Site C, that might be a better case for custom mod flags (mods can migrate anywhere).

A little more specifically to here, I checked the stats, and there hasn't been a single successful migration away from SciComp in the past 90 days. (There were two that were rejected.) So for now, just keep raising mod flags in the rare instances when migration seems appropriate, and let your friendly neighborhood diamond holders sort it out.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the comment, but I was not talking about migration paths (I thought I made this clear enough, but apparently not) -- I know and agree with the policy you cite. It's purely about giving the correct reason when closing a question as off-topic. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2016 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ D'oh! I guess I over-focused on the bold text, and couldn't think of another meaning for "custom off-topic reason." I follow now, and I see this has already been resolved, too. (Which, of course, it already was, but since I misunderstood the question I wasn't looking in the right place when I checked.) $\endgroup$
    – Pops
    Nov 23, 2016 at 15:34

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