Why not suggest a different SE site for the question or migrating the question, rather than simply closing it as off topic?

WordPress is so widely used and people more novice than myself may not see/know of any difference between their WordPress website and ALL websites.

My points, novices may not realize their question is not specifically related to WordPress if WordPress is the only thing they have ever known.

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Why not suggest a different SE site for the question or migrating the question, rather than simply closing it as off topic?

If the question is of a high-enough quality (i.e. if it were on-topic we would answer it here) then we'll usually migrate it. Most of the time, a moderator will also leave a note explaining that the question was off topic and is being migrated.

If the question is of low-quality, unanswerable, or would require significant rewriting to be answered, we'll close it rather than shluff off the responsibility of cleaning it up to another site. If it's an obvious new user - low reputation but still a coherent question - we'll likely leave a note explaining what is wrong.

The original poster can still see and edit a closed question. If they edit it and clean it up to where it meets the first category of questions (high quality) but is still off topic, then we can go in and migrate it.

WordPress is so widely used and people more novice than myself may not see/know of any difference between their WordPress website and ALL websites.

This is the point of leaving comments on questions both before and after they're closed. Remember, Closed != Deleted. The questions are still there and can be commented on by the OP and other users. The OP can still edit their question to clean things up.

My points, novices may not realize their question is not specifically related to WordPress if WordPress is the only thing they have ever known.

Yes, you've stated this a few times ... but considering the mechanics of this site lend well to explaining the difference and educating new users, I fail to see your point.

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There are many SE site and they tend to have nuances about their scope. Just as we get question that mention WordPress but are not in our scope it's poor form to migrate questions away just because they seem to be a fit somewhere else.

Migration is for great questions that happened to be posted on wrong site of the network, there is no point to throwing mediocre (and worse) questions around.

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So, how about suggesting the user post on a different SE site? I guess it is just hard for me to call a question a "bad question", especially when WPSE comes up at/towards the top for every type of "WordPress Help" search. –  Travis Pflanz Apr 23 '12 at 16:28
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Actually, we already do suggest appropriate SE network sites for various questions:

Note that we do not handle questions:

  • not specific to WordPress (even if they happen in its context):

    • blogging and managing sites in general - try Pro Webmasters
    • generic PHP/MySQL/CSS/JavaScript/jQuery/TinyMCE issues and development - try StackOverflow
    • generic server configuration and administration - try ServerFault

The problem is that users don't bother to read our FAQ before posting questions.

Edit

I believe this issue is indicative of a larger problem, involving "drive by" question askers, who neither take the time to understand how WPSE (or any other SE network site) works, nor follows up on their question, to interact and to accept answers. Too many people treat WPSE the same as, e.g. the official WPORG forums - but WPSE is not designed or intended to operate like a support forum.

All that, to say this: I always post a comment when I close-vote a question, to indicate my reasoning. The reason that I don't post a suggested alternative site is that, all too often, the OP, who doesn't understand how SE network sites work to begin with, rather than waiting for the question to be migrated, will simply go post a duplicate question on the suggested site - thereby creating a logistical problem for both our mods and the other site's mods.

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I understand that most of the moderators are tech people. I would wager that a majority of the people who visit WPSE are not. As I mentioned above, a lot of novices probably do not understand that there is a difference between WordPress and other non-WordPress website related issues. I mean, WordPress IS built on the premise that ANYONE can use it, so a novice may not know there are other things than WordPress that control how their website works. –  Travis Pflanz Apr 23 '12 at 16:41
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FWIW, I wish that the SE UI had a "suggest an alternate site" field when casting close votes. As it is, that migration consideration is left solely to the mods. Also, see updated answer; I've expounded a bit, to explain why I don't leave comments suggesting an alternative SE network site. –  Chip Bennett Apr 23 '12 at 16:52
    
Migrating to different niche sites is a tricky process. Moderators will usually drop in a private mod-only chat room and ask permission from the other site before migrating. Questions we feel would be on-topic somewhere else are sometimes rejected by moderators of the other site. –  EAMann Apr 23 '12 at 16:56
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