A couple of years ago this meta talked about taking question from EL&U:

Preparing for ELU to start migrating questions to ELL

There has been more than one occasion at EL&U where their community has wanted to be able to send questions here. The topic has been revisited recently, as ELL came out of beta:

Should we have a migration path to ELL?

The consensus seems to be that EL&U wants to send questions to ELL.

What does ELL want?

We are currently discussing guidelines for migrating questions from EL&U to ELL here and we'd like you all to be involved.

But before we can open the migration option, we need to know that ELL is willing to let EL&U users with 3K+ rep send question here.

  • 8
    Yes, please! Not everyone wants migrations, but I'd be happy to see more. Worst case, we find out the path doesn't work well and do something about it. Best case, we get more ELL questions on ELL :-) I think it's worth trying.
    – user230
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 15:22
  • 2
    I think there are some questions that should be migrated, but some of the questions that have been migrated in the past were really low quality and ended up getting closed shortly after migration. If there is a migration path, it would be nice if there was some explanation that if it's likely to not be on-topic at the site you're migrating it to, it should be closed and not migrated. I'll do a search to see if I can find specific examples instead of having a vague memory of multiple low quality questions coming from EL&U.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 18:12
  • 2
    Looks like the path is open. i.sstatic.net/uIGNV.png
    – jimsug
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 11:32

4 Answers 4


Another thing that is also a consideration is whether the EL&U community wants certain questions migrated away. The question Why do people say "explain to me", not "explain me"? is on-topic at ELL, but apparently it is also an interesting question for some folks on EL&U. It might be a good idea to have a thread on one of our meta sites where we could discuss the migration path and come to some sort of consensus on what makes a good migration candidate. I think the EL&U site is probably the better place, because I don't think ELL has migrated a single question to EL&U.

I don't think any of us would object to taking questions that are looking for less "linguistic" answers off of EL&U's hands, so long as we aren't just taking them to close them. Here's some examples of good and bad questions migrated from EL&U.


"Day before yesterday" - How to say for Week, Month, and Year Why does this documentation use "or" instead of "="?
"She hopes to earn her living as a ___ in an office"
How many flies does it take to screw in a light bulb?


Enter text or Enter the text (deleted - quoted here for those that can't see deleted questions)

Is it correct to write "Enter text" or "Enter the text" as a placeholder?
Also, should all the words begin with a capital letter?

When to use " had" in sentence? (closed for lack of context)

All these have been deleted as part of rejected migration clean-up:

Present and Present Perfect (closed for being too broad)
Which of these statements is correct? (closed for lack of context)
Uncountable noun examples (closed as answerable by a dictionary)

My opinion is that if the question is obviously off-topic, please close it and recommend that they visit us and post their question here. If it is in a bit of a gray area where it might or might not be off-topic here, and the author has shown some effort in composing the question, migrate it and we will help them get it on-topic.

Helping folks edit their questions to bring them on-topic requires quite a bit of effort from our community, so if you look at the question and see that there isn't a clear path forward to making it decent quality, please don't migrate it.

Just as a reminder, here is what is on and off topic at ELL:


  • Word choice, usage, and meaning
  • Grammar
  • Dialect differences
  • Spelling and punctuation
  • Pronunciation and accents
  • Other practical problems you encounter or face while learning English

Not explicitly off-topic, but probably better asked on a different site:


  • Proofreading (for example, "Are there any mistakes?" or "Is this correct?"), unless a source of concern is clearly specified
  • Questions that can be answered by a quick dictionary lookup (these are off topic on ELL, and there are many free dictionaries available online. If you are asking about the meaning of a word or phrase, you should look up those words in a dictionary first. If you are still confused, be sure to summarize what you found when you did your initial research, and summarize that information in the question.)
  • "How can I improve my English?" or "What's a good tool for...?" (these are not constructive, because what works well for one learner may not work so well for another)
  • Translation and non-English languages
  • Naming, including naming programming variables/classes
  • Criticism, discussion, and analysis of English literature (you may ask about the meaning of a sentence or passage you find in literature, but be sure you provide sufficient context and cite the source where this material was found)
  • Requests for resources (we have a Resources List on Meta which you might find useful)
  • Re edit: I'm pretty sure ELL has migrated at least a few questions, and I would check whether there have been any in the last 90 days, but ... no 10k for me. :( Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 21:11

I would prefer that ELU questions from new users be migrated, even if those questions don't meet normal quality standards. I think it's important for newcomers to the Stack Exchange to start asking questions in the right place.

If an ELU question seems to show that the O.P. is an English learner, and the user's rep is 1, then, by all means, migrate it here. We can point the user toward helpful meta posts that will help this user improve future questions. It might be more work for our community, but chances are that's the same work we would have done had the O.P. found the "correct" exchange in the first place.

ELU questions from more established users who ought to know better should be closed on ELU and not migrated here. But I'm much in favor of a less stringent policy for brand-new users.

  • 7
    I strongly disagree with this. Bad questions should not be migrated. It specifically goes against the CM guidance on migrations and would likely make ELL feel like ELU's trash can. Bad questions are bad questions. Period.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 14:08
  • 1
    While I do agree that new users should be given extra leeway, if the question is really low quality pointing them to ELL and the help section or chat here would be better than migrating a question that will be received negatively.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 16:03
  • 1
    @Cat - This may be murkier than it seems. A bad question on ELU might be acceptable on ELL (like this one, e.g.). Also, I think for new users who don't know ELL exists, and only ask on ELU because they see the word "English" in the name, it would be better to get them plugged into the right exchange first, and then coach them on how to write a good question. Far from feeling like their ELU's trash can, I'd feel like we are fulfilling our purpose: helping the learner. Still, I respect your opinion, even if we don't see eye-to-eye.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 16:04
  • @ColleenV - I agree with you, pointing them to ELL would be better than migrating. However, I visit ELU every now and again, and I see many questions – many good enough to be migrated – and no one on ELU even mentions ELL. I'm hoping a migration path helps with that some, and if we get a few bad questions in the process, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 16:07
  • 5
    Why migrate though? How is it better to throw it here and have it closed and bounced back to ELU than to simply post a link on ELU to ELL and tell them that their questions would be better suited to this site? Their first interaction with us should not be to have their question tossed over here and then bounced back! That's a disservice to them and risks making them feel like they're not welcome anywhere!
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 16:07
  • @Cat - In my mind, we wouldn't reject the question, we'd edit it and spruce it up, as what happened here. Interesting that that question already has three upvotes now.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 16:09
  • It's impossible to edit questions that are unclear what they're asking... or questions that are asking for simple definitions... "not rejecting" requires a mod. Normal users can only close vote, we can't prevent it from being bounced back.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 16:11
  • @Cat - if the example was extreme enough, I'd probably side with you.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 17:02
  • 2
    We can't force community members to make the same effort for new users that many of us do. It is likely that many low quality questions will get down-voted/closed before we get to them. I think that asking folks to repost their question, then letting us do our normal process for bringing them on-topic is much better. The only advantage of migrating is that the asker doesn't have to make an additional effort - I contend that most low quality questions are also low effort questions, so there's no advantage to migrating them, but there is a downside to them getting bounced around.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 17:18
  • And just as an illustration here's a question from a new user that needed more context, the author provided it, and it was still closed after the edit, and is still languishing in the queue with a single re-open vote: ell.stackexchange.com/q/68594/9161 I think that if a new user makes a good effort to bring their question on-topic, we should reopen it, but not everyone sees it the same way. Now take that experience, and make it even worse by bouncing the question back to EL&U. That's why I think we should be careful with migrating new users' questions.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 19:56
  • @ColleenV - In cases like that one, whoever does the edit can flag the question after the edit is complete. Simply click the option that says "In need of moderator intervention", and then say something like, "Now that this question has been edited, it might be time to reopen it."
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 20:34
  • The author did the edit before it was closed and it was closed any way. So I think it would be bounced back at the time it was closed, wouldn't it? Or maybe I don't really understand how it works. There are ways to get it re-opened, but everything seems more complicated if it is a migrated question instead of a question posted directly to ELL. What we don't want to do is make a new user deal with the confusion just because they made an assumption that EL&U was the right place to ask questions about English.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 20:37
  • 2
    @J.R. I think this is the one topic on which we've consistently disagreed ;) I understand the intent behind your approach, but I don't think that, in practice, migrating crappy questions here is best for the site as a whole. Does it help that specific user (in finding the right place to ask, even if this question is bad)? Maybe; I'd argue for not as often as we'd hope, but for argument's sake we can say "Yes". What it doesn't do is improve the site as a whole, and as members of the SE network, that is our defined goal: to create a database of high quality questions and answers for
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 4:53
  • whoever comes across the site in the future, not to help the specific person who asked the question. Now of course we also want to help the person who asked the question! That's probably more of the motivation behind the people actually posting answers. But the fact remains that our core goal is to create a site of high quality questions and answers, and inviting bad questions to come over here, whatever the intent or circumstances, doesn't further that goal.
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 4:54
  • 1
    @anongoodnurse - It's not the best question I've ever seen, but it's not the worst, either. As for the migration, let me reiterate my stance: I'm in favor of relaxing the "don't migrate crap" rule of thumb if the question is from a new user who is asking at the wrong exchange because they appear to be a learner who is not aware of ELL. That user, a web developer from San Francisco, is not new to the Stack Exchange. It looks more like a beginner's question than a learner's question. I probably would have voted to keep that at ELU, but I don't think the migration is a travesty.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 8:59

I agree with the spirit of J.R.'s answer, but no, I don't think we should open a free-for-all migration path from ELU to ELL. I absolutely agree with ColleenV's first sentence:

I don't think any of us would object to taking questions that are looking for less "linguistic" answers off of EL&U's hands, so long as we aren't just taking them to close them.

Absolutely correct... But I only want them coming from ELU moderators, and the reason why can be most easily summed up with the words "SO -> Programmers migrations". We know what's on topic on ELL. ELU mods work with us to know what's on topic. Most of our users who are involved in meta know what's on topic.

ELU users don't necessarily know what is or isn't on topic here, and even if the meta-interacting section of the ELU population did, that doesn't mean that everyone with 3k rep is qualified to determine what should and shouldn't be migrated here. As I said on the meta post regarding this topic on ELU:

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 really believe it's that simple. If it a'int broke, don't fix it. When the mod teams become overwhelmed with the daily number of accurate migration flags, we'll talk. Until then... This will cause more problems than it will solve, I think.

  • 1
    Just to clarify my position, there are two worries here. One is a large number of ELL questions that get posted at ELU. (That problem has existed for years, and it was the impetus for creating ELL in the first place. Now ELL is here, but the ELL questions keep showing up at ELU anyway.) The other factor is the fear of getting too many "crap" questions once the migration pipe has opened. We can err on the side of caution either way, but I'd rather facilitate migration than make it harder to migrate out of fear we'll get a few bad questions – especially when the OPs are brand new.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 13:23
  • So is there any way to give ELU feedback about the migrations other than to close them. I'm seeing a lot of very low quality questions migrated here instead of closed on ELU as they should be.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 16:44
  • @ColleenV Meta post on ELU, which I can direct the attention of the ELU moderators to. Flag for moderator attention if you know it doesn't belong and don't think you'll get enough votes to close. Posting here asking others to help close them is an option, but I have the feeling that most people who read meta consistently are already taking that route. I'm definitely with you on keeping high question quality, especially from migrations. If you'd like to write up a kind post on ELU meta requesting this, I'd be happy to pass it along to their moderation team. (If not, just let me know)
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 22:36
  • Thanks - I just wondered if there was an easy way to close the loop and let them know what kinds of questions were well-received and which ones weren't so their community could get a sense of what's appropriate. Maybe I'll start a list like the one in my answer for more recent migrations. I'm not so concerned that questions aren't getting closed appropriately; I'm just not sure the folks that voted to migrate them are made aware whether or not the questions were well-received, so they get no feedback that they can use to adjust their judgement.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 22:51
  • I just realized that I've lost the ability to use the moderator tools now that we're officially graduated. Someone else will have to collect up the good, the bad, and the ugly from the migrated questions if we want to provide some feedback to the folks at EL&U.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 17:17
  • @ColleenV Oh no! I'm sorry to hear that :( We've had these migration discussions quite a few times; unfortunately I'm not sure that the majority of the migration flaggers would be aware of it. I'll ping the ELU mods and ask them to use a higher threshold when filtering migration flags :)
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 17:24

One problem I've noticed in a fair number of migrations is the asker doesn't provide enough context for us to really answer their question... so it gets closed with a link to Details Please, which is normally fine, but because it's a migration it locks it and we have to flag a mod down to fix that. It's a big mess.

So migrations must be made with an eye toward "is this actually a complete enough question to be useful?" Otherwise they're just going to put askers off and make more work for everyone.

  • Rejecting a migration unlocks the question on the donor site.
    – jimsug
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 11:19
  • 1
    @jimsug: Yes, but it's still off-topic there, and can't be fixed to their standards, which is why they kicked it over in the first place. Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 17:01

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