I posted a question here yesterday and after 6 hours I had less than 10 views. So I crossposted to the Ask Ubuntu SE since it is a bit more active of a site. The question is by no means Ubuntu specific and I genuinely think the answer would be of value to this site. But in order to achieve an answer, I spread my net a little bit wider.

After I crossposted, I edited my post to include some new information and to mention the crosspost. I did this as I have been told before on other sites on the SE network that crossposting is fine so long as you observe proper etiquette and mention the crosspost.

I then received a comment from a user telling me, I'm paraphrasing here, that they had information that might solve my problem but that they would not give it to me because I crossposted. Shortly thereafter, the post was closed as off-topic by a diamond mod.

I have a couple of problems with this.

First, it is not off-topic here. If anything it is off-topic at Ask Ubuntu because it is not Ubuntu specific. I simply went there because it is a bigger site than the Unix SE so there would be more traffic and more chances at a possible answer.

Second, the user's statement that they could help but wouldn't due to a breach of etiquette seems to be contrary to the Stack Exchange's mission statement which is:

...the ultimate intent of collectively increasing the sum total of good programming knowledge in the world

Anytime I've crossposted and got an answer, I've gone back and answered my own unanswered questions so that I can help increase the sum total of good knowledge in the world. None of my previous crossposted questions on any other site have ever been closed.

Third, the close reason included states that, "Cross-posting is strongly discouraged." Discouraged, yes. But outright banned, no. For every post calling for an outright ban on crossposting (1, 2), there is another (1, 2) suggesting that limited use, as long as it is openly declared, is fine. And as long as you go back and spread the knowledge, it is a net positive. This is in contrast to having the knowledge but refusing to share it do to a perceived breach of etiquette which I see as a net negative for this site in particular and the network at large.

In reference to some of the statements in the above linked meta posts, I had honestly not even considered migrating the question. Because, as I've mentioned, it is more of a general Unix question than an Ubuntu specific question. Some of the links in my question reference Fedora, SUSE, and others. So I really feel that it belongs here. But if the knowledge is not available here, getting it elsewhere and bringing it back is of value to the site.

I think what irks me most is that, had I not mentioned that I had crossposted, the user might have shared his knowledge, fixed my problem, and added to the volume of good posts on this site. But I had been told in the past that crossposting is okay if proper etiquette is observed and the crosspost is declared. I did so and ended up getting my question closed.

So my question is this: Specific to Unix SE, is crossposting outright banned here? If so, I simply won't mention it again. Or do others think as I do and that obtaining good answers elsewhere (when they cannot be obtained here in a reasonable amount of time) and bringing them back here increases the value of the site so long as it is done in an open and transparent way?

  • I'd just like to address your point about the user who refused to help you. You're quite right, that does seem petty and pointless and against the spirit of the site. However, I think the comment was along the lines of "this will be closed since it's crossposted and that's a shame 'cause I could have helped". Yes, actually helping instead of leaving such a comment would have been more useful but I don't think they were saying that they won't help as a form of punishment because you cross-posted. – terdon Jun 23 '16 at 15:36
  • @terdon The user is a high rep user here and also a member of AU. I explained to them that they could answer here before it got closed (I would have copied that answer over to AU if the user had not done so themselves, though it now seems more appropriate to delete the duplicate). Or that they could go over to AU and answer there and I linked the question (again, as I've been instructed to do). Instead they cast the fist close vote. While it may not have been meant that way, it sure seems like punishment. – embedded.kyle Jun 23 '16 at 15:54
  • Yes, I understand. I'd have been pissed off in your place as well. I know the user in question though and they are generally quite helpful which is why I'm leaning more towards a communications breakdown. – terdon Jun 23 '16 at 15:55
  • (Answering here so we don't spam poor Michael with our exchange). Since I'm the one who closed it, leaving me a coment (with @terdon) on your post here once you've edited the AU one should be enough. If not, just answer me here. – terdon Jun 23 '16 at 16:14
  • @terdon I've edited my AU question so that it follows only the Ubuntu guide step-by-step. I've edited my question here to address a comment asked here and deleted my comments mentioning the crosspost. Are they sufficiently different now? If not what else should I do? Also, thank you for pinging the user for me. – embedded.kyle Jun 23 '16 at 18:08
  • That should be fine, thanks. I reopened the question here. – terdon Jun 23 '16 at 19:11
  • @terdon Thanks for that. And thank you for taking the time to more fully explain this community's rules and values. – embedded.kyle Jun 23 '16 at 19:38

I don't know where this focus on admitting it came from, but it seems irrelevant to me if you divulged the crosspost, that's not the reason we avoid them. If you post on one site, aren't getting any answers, and want to move to another site, we can move it for you. Duplicating the post and trying to keep it in sync is unnecessary work for you, and since almost everyone else who does this ends up not keeping the posts in sync, we just don't allow it.

There's little reason to have the information duplicated; future users don't benefit by googling a question and finding the answer on AU followed by the exact same answer on UL. We're part of the same network, just capture the information somewhere so people can find it. We generally link to the still-open version so people who stumble across our version can find the other one, so nobody misses out on a solution. There's no benefit to separate threads; it's like keeping two copies of a file around instead of symlinking one to the other

  • The focus on admitting it comes from being explicitly told on SO that that is what I'm supposed to do and from finding multiple meta posts supporting that argument. The value (to the site) to having it on multiple sites is that when the site suggests duplicates from a title, it does not search across the network, only within that specific site. If I had thought to have it migrated, then the link would exist and it would show up in the duplicate search. But as I said, I did not think to do so since it is really not an Ubuntu specific question. The value (to me) is more eyes on my question. – embedded.kyle Jun 23 '16 at 15:12
  • 1
    @embedded.kyle I meant I don't know where those people got it; admitting it seems thoroughly unimportant, I don't know how it became the central issue when it comes to cross-posting. The value to you the asker is obvious, but it makes things worse for the answerers who browse both sites and have to see the question twice, and the future searchers who have to come across the question twice. It's thoroughly frustrating to check the first Google result, see that it doesn't help, move on to the second result, and find that it's a duplicate of the first result – Michael Mrozek Jun 23 '16 at 15:20
  • @embedded.kyle You have to decide if the question was on-topic on AU or not, you seem to keep flipping. If it is, we would happily migrate it. If it's not, it shouldn't be there. There is no middle ground that needs you to repost it – Michael Mrozek Jun 23 '16 at 15:21
  • @embedded.kyle this site (U&L) feels particularly strongly against cross-posting. And yes, there are threads on the main meta suggesting that you divulge, but the closest to an "official" stance is that if you post on another site, you should tweak it to that site's audience. Personally, I find this whole thing kind of silly and would prefer to see a method of sharing questions between sites but, sadly, none exists and current opinion is dead set against crossposts. Since your AU question had attracted some attention, I closed this one. – terdon Jun 23 '16 at 15:29
  • I can understand that what I've said can be construed as flipping. But I feel that this question in fully on-topic for both sites. The question and answer are not specific to any one distro and so is on topic here. At the same time it is occurring on an Ubuntu system and general Unix questions that occur on Ubuntu are on topic over there as well. I went to AU because I was getting no help here and they have more traffic. Not because the topic was a better fit there. In doing so I was told here, "I can help you, but I won't." What would you do in this case? – embedded.kyle Jun 23 '16 at 15:40
  • @terdon That's fine. I understand that each site has its own values and I want to respect that which I why I'm asking for clarification here. I'm just still miffed at the user that told me that they could help me but they wouldn't because I crossposted. Only they wouldn't have know that I crossposted had I not mentioned it. And I only mentioned it because I was told elsewhere on SE to do so. If it is taboo on this site, I won't do it again. – embedded.kyle Jun 23 '16 at 15:45
  • @embedded.kyle As far as I can tell, you're going out of your way to be a model citizen here (and thank you for that, by the way). Yes, U&L is particularly against cross-posting. More so than any other SE site I am familiar with. And yes, the user's comment was very miff inducing. However, as I said in my comment above, I do think they meant "I would help you but I can't" rather than "I can help but I won't". I would suggest you edit the AU post so it's more specific to Ubuntu and then I can reopen the one here as well. – terdon Jun 23 '16 at 15:51
  • @terdon You're welcome. If I were to edit the AU question to remove the links to other guides and to follow the Ubuntu specific guide, would that be grounds to reopen the question in hope that it might lure back the aforementioned user and possibly get an answer? – embedded.kyle Jun 23 '16 at 16:00
  • @embedded.kyle ideally, it would take a bit more than just removing the links but yes, that's the idea. Try and tweak one of the two questions to better fit their site's audience. Once I can claim they're different enough not to be cross-posts, I will happily reopen the closed one. – terdon Jun 23 '16 at 16:02
  • @terdon Understood. My question includes command outputs from many guides. I will tailor the AU question to specifically follow the Ubuntu guide after lunch to make it more relevant to that distro. – embedded.kyle Jun 23 '16 at 16:06

I didn't see the comment you're talking about, but your attack on its author is out of line. Anybody is free not to answer a question.

Multi-posting is forbidden between Stack Exchange sites by default, by near-consensus on the main meta. A few Stack Exchange sites do allow it, check their metas for policies. Unix & Linux does not allow multi-posting and even has an explicit close reason for that. The fact that this close reason is misclassified under “off-topic” is due to a limitation in the Stack Exchange engine.

The posts you're citing as saying that multi-posting is “fine” actually apply to multi-posting between Stack Exchange and a non-SE site, and they don't say that it's fine, they say that it's discouraged but that if you do it anyway you must be explicit.

“I didn't get enough attention” is not a valid reason to repost. Reposting the same content again to get more attention is a form of spam, and on Stack Exchange, like pretty much anywhere on the internet, we don't like spam.

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