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Whether we should allow cross-posting has already been discussed roughly 4 years ago here. And in that post, I myself advocated that we should allow cross-posting because different sites have different communities and perspectives and there is to be gained in seeing answers to the same question from different perspectives.

I now find myself of a different mind. We've seen plenty of cross-posts over the years, mainly (but not only) between here and physics.SE. And I can't think of a single instance where the theoretical benefit I was talking about has actually materialised. To see some cases, you can look for example at https://quantumcomputing.stackexchange.com/search?q=%22Cross-posted+on%22. Although this mostly only filters questions which I myself marked as cross-posts (other people might have used a different terminology to mark them as such).

Furthermore, my point was also about allowing cross-posting provided the poster links the posts together, and tailors the question to each site. But the reality is that this just doesn't actually happen. Except possibly for negligibly many cases (and I can't think of a simple example right now), cross-posts are just new users copy-pasting the same question to increase the chance of getting an answer more quickly.

So while the disadvantages of cross-posting are clear and were already outlined in the previous post, I don't see any actual advantages in the way cross-posting is done in practice. I'm therefore making this post to fish for ideas and thoughts on this regard. Can you see a reason we should allow cross-posting? Do you know of examples where cross-posting was actually beneficial? Do you think we should outright close cross-posted questions to discourage the practice?

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  • $\begingroup$ To be fair, sometimes people improve their question when re-posting. (To also be fair, the better approach would be to edit the original question first.) $\endgroup$ Jan 31 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch do you have examples of that happening? It seems a pretty rare occurrence. I could only find quantumcomputing.stackexchange.com/q/34214 among the above list, where the two posts ended up diverging enough (in good part thanks to other people's edits) to arguably not be duplicates any more (at least on a cursory glance, I didn't read too much into them). I would think that in such cases one can close the question, and then reopen if the duplication is later fixed. $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Jan 31 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ No major change, but the reference to N&C helps to put things into context: quantumcomputing.stackexchange.com/questions/35581 . I'll see if I find others. I agree it does not happen too much, though. -- Note that a common cross-post pattern is that people post on PSE, and get told that QCSE might be/is better. I don't think that is a majority opinion on PSE, but it takes only one person to tell you, and only three on physics to close a question. $\endgroup$ Jan 31 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch I agree that it's common for people to do this kind of cross-posting b/c they're suggested to by others. But they typically don't mark them as such, and it's then up to others to mark them. And of course duplication of content isn't desirable. The actual solution would be to have the original question be migrated, rather than reasking it. We could start suggesting people to do that. As in, when we get the cross-post here, we could close and suggest to flag their post on PSE for migration instead. Unless of course sufficient changes were made to warrant existence of both posts $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Feb 1 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ there was some discussion on this topic in chat, starting from chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/65208677#65208677 $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Feb 26 at 18:08

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I think cross-posting should be limited but not per-se disallowed. I've cross-posted (at least) twice - the first time was blatant forum-shopping between here and TCS, which triggered the previous meta-question linked above. When I saw the meta-question I deleted it from TCS out of shame. The second cross-posting of mine is still open and is between here and MathOverflow - I did this only after a user with then more reputation than me suggested to (it has I guess a pretty click-baity title even for MathOverflow).

I agree that drive-by cross-postings done in rapid succession should probably be closed, with a gentle close comment to the OP asking to pick-a-lane. But if the cross-posting was done after consideration or after some feedback from others then maybe be more forgiving? For some good questions here, I've suggested that people might have better luck at another forum (Crypto.SE for example).

I've seen MathOverflow be welcoming to questions coming from Math.SE, especially if the MO question prefaces with something like "I've posted this on Math.SE about a week ago; it generated some upvotes and a couple of helpful comments but no formal answer there. Hence I'm asking here as well."

Of the 68 questions linked to above, how many are drive-by and how many are cross-posted after some time? Is Phys.SE the primary cross-point? Also, is the average question quality of cross-posted questions (as measured by net upvotes) greater than or less than the average for the site?

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  • $\begingroup$ if there is a valid reason to cross-post, that's fine. Even waiting a little bit before doing it and saying so explicitly on the second post, I can see that as fine. I didn't run the numbers, but anecdotally the vast majority of cross-posts I've seen are just the same identical question posted at the same time or in close succession on different sites without any marking at all. That's mostly the kind of situation that creates additional work to mark and creates duplication of effort if not marked $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Jan 31 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ in fairness, it is true that often people ask a question on physics.SE and are suggested to ask it here. In that case, I understand that closing it as soon as it gets here wouldn't be great, and somewhat unfair to the asker. In those cases, we could close and ask to close on the other site before reopening/reasking here. Admittedly, it's not a great solution, but still better than dealing with the plenty of blatant unmarked cross-posts we keep getting $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Jan 31 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ an option might be to set some rule such as: cross-posts are allowed, as long as (1) they are marked as such by the user, and (2) X many days have passed since the original post was asked. And of course, if the post is not an exact duplicate but is tailored towards this site, then that's fine as well. $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Jan 31 at 14:57
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I agree with Mark's answer: Let's not "disallow" it completely, but if "drive-by cross-postings in rapid succession" occur, then we can intervene.

On most science sites in this network, cross-posting has recently been handled in many cases by adding "Cross-posted on [...]" with a hyperlink to the question on the other site, and if the question is answered on one of the sites, the site where it is unanswered can close it there.

To address the ultimate question by glS:

"Do you think we should outright close cross-posted questions to discourage the practice?"

No.

"I don't see any actual advantages in the way cross-posting is done in practice."

An actual advantage is that the question is seen by more people, and therefore more likely to get answered. How does that help us (QCSE) if it gets answered elsewhere? It helps because we can close the question or post a community wiki answer with a link to the answer, and therefore the question is removed from our unanswered queue and our users can focus on other questions.

The disadvantage of making a rule that bans cross-posting, is that we will come across as an unfriendly place, especially when compared to all of the science Stack Exchagne sites that are so welcoming to cross-posting.

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    $\begingroup$ this "handling" requires manual work from other users catching and marking the cross-posts though. For example, I think you'll find a rather significant fraction of those, on this site, are done by me. If posts are not marked as cross-posted, they just lead to duplicating content. The advantage you're talking about is only for the lazy asker that for some reason needs an answer right now and cannot wait a few days before trying to ask it somewhere else; it's not an advantage for the site itself. $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Feb 2 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ That aside, which science SE sites are you saying are welcoming to cross-posting exactly? On Physics.SE there's no super official policy, but most posts I've found suggest it not being welcomed, modulo essentially the same exceptions I mentioned in this post (see eg physics.meta.stackexchange.com/a/10212/58382). I can't find a post expliciting the policy, but I assume cs.SE disallows cross-posts, given how vocal D.W. is about it. Math.SE seems to again have the same policy: allowed if not posted at the same time/tailored to the site (math.meta.stackexchange.com/a/16290/173147) $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Feb 2 at 23:28
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    $\begingroup$ another post outlining similar pov on math.SE. Again, same boat on cstheory. $\endgroup$
    – glS Mod
    Feb 2 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ Please do not call other people lazy, especially if it's just because they have asked the same question on more than one site. $\endgroup$ Feb 3 at 1:49

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