When a migrated question is rejected, the destination copy is locked to prevent two copies of the same question being in play at the same time. This is a good thing. Locking is a tool, and this is one possible reason to use it.

However, in many cases the question is deleted from the original site, and due to a design bug the destination copy is never unlocked. When this happens, the lock has only negative effects:

  1. The question cannot be deleted.
  2. The question cannot be edited, improved, and reopened.
  3. The question cannot be retagged and is often left .

Keeping a frozen copy of a bad question around doesn't make any sense. If it did, we'd lock all of the bad questions we close. Instead, we leave them unlocked so they can be deleted, etc.

Moderators should either unlock these questions so the community can deal with them, or they should delete them to remove them from the site entirely.

I flagged one such question, and I received the following response from a moderator:

The migration was rejected, so we don't want to keep an LQ question open on our site. I'm not sure how/why it was deleted on ELU, but it was originally their question so perhaps raise the issue there?

But of course, I never suggested the question should be open, and this has nothing to do with ELU—the question exists only on ELL, so it's entirely up to us what we want to do with it.

In short, it doesn't appear that the moderator understood why I was flagging or what I wanted to accomplish. I'm writing this meta post to fix that problem, to make my point of view clear.

This is particularly unfortunate in those cases where a migration is rejected with a reason like "Details, Please" which call for action on the part of the asker. For example, this question was closed with the following reason:

"This question should include more details than have been provided here. Please edit to add the research you have done in your efforts to answer the question, or provide more context. See: Details, Please." – WendiKidd

But of course, the asker wasn't able to do any such thing because their question was locked. We saw the same problem here, but in that case a moderator responded to my flag by unlocking the question. In the end, the asker never improved their question, and it remained closed, but I maintain that unlocking it was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, it's difficult for moderators to spot every time this happens, even if they want to unlock in cases like this. Ideally, the system would only lock rejected migrations if the question was still around on the original site. For that, see this feature request on Meta.SE.

The following locked questions now exist only on ELL:

  1. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/7379
  2. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/7889
  3. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/8716
  4. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/9424
  5. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/9425
  6. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/9473
  7. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/9473
  8. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/10213
  9. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/11706
  10. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/13509
  11. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/13875
  12. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/15720
  13. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/15806
  14. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/16227
  15. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/17102
  16. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/17423
  17. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/17807
  18. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/20043
  19. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/20120
  20. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/20851
  21. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/22497
  22. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/22878
  23. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/23209
  24. What does "race their flags on the boards" possibly mean?
  25. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/24404
  26. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/26230
  27. https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/26567

I'm fine with the questions being closed or deleted, but the locks serve no purpose.

  • Oh, my bad; I'm actually still not quite clear on this "locked" thing. I assumed that when I reject the migration, the question simply gets closed. And when I saw your flag, that's what I thought was happening; the question was closed and you wanted it reopened, and you'd just used the word "locked" instead. My point was that I didn't want the questions open on ELL, because they were LQ and didn't belong. So I misunderstood the problem. Of course, the way to avoid this problem entirely is for VLQ questions to not be migrated to ELL in the first place... I shall have to ponder this more.
    – WendiKidd
    Jun 22, 2014 at 19:12
  • Upon further reflection, I think I get it now. If we reject a migration, we need to either 1) Decide it has potential to be improved, and unlock & close it so that has the possibility of happening, or 2) Delete it, so it doesn't stick around. I can do that. :) So quite a few of your links will appear as deleted, soon.
    – WendiKidd
    Jun 22, 2014 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


First of all, thank you for taking the time to provide all those links. That was a lot of painstaking volunteer work for the sake of the betterment of the site.

Second, thanks for explaining the problem in a lucid way. I probably speak for all or most of the mod team when I say this was both enlightening and helpful.

Third, I've started unlocking these questions, working from the bottom up (since you seem to have sorted them chronologically, oldest to newest).

One more problem with this overall situation (this is more of a meta.SE issue, but I'll address it here anyway) – I don't see any way for a mod to easily notice these questions are locked.

I've taken a screen shot of some ELL questions (some locked, some not):

enter image description here

I don't know how I could distinguish between a locked and unlocked question just by looking at it. Is there an easy way to find all the locked questions, or for a mod to know that a question is locked without trying to edit it?

  • You probably found this out by now, but locked:1 in search should do the job. Sep 1, 2015 at 1:05

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