Before you close this question as a duplicate: I know that the common sense in the meta answers is "TeX questions on Stackoverflow are on-topic there and we separately answer questions, even if they are duplicates on SO".

The motivation for this post is the following: Lately there have been some question I know I found answers to in the past. I wanted to mark them as duplicate, but recognized that the answer is on SO. Well, I could have answered the question, but essentially it would have been a c&p of the SO answer. Posts like this one about tables and multiple columns f.i. have a pretty good answer.

StackOverflow even maintains a documentation about LaTeX (basic coverage in their documentation project), has about 5,600 questions about LaTeX and only their tag about LaTeX suggests using the TeX.SE site.

Question: Why should one reinvent the wheel and write answers that already have been given? Isn't there an option for marking it as duplicate of an SO question, if both sites deal with LaTeX?

  • 4
    That is the sad thing, duplicates are there and will be there forever. I sometimes could answer a question by citing the wikibook, which seems pointless. I don't think there is an easy solution for this.
    – Johannes_B
    Jun 11, 2017 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


By-design, the network treats each site as a separate entity, so there is no possibility of marking as a duplicate between different sites. As such, the only ways to answer such questions are to post an answer or to close and migrate.

The stated aim of the network is to develop repositories of knowledge on the range of topics covered. So if someone chooses to ask on TeX-sx, they are entitled to answer there, and on StackOverflow they are entitled to one there. We see the same idea where there are good resources outside of the network: an answer should be entirely contained within the site but can reference such a resource.

There have been some tensions concerning the existence of sites with overlapping scopes. In particular, there have been suggestions that as StackOverflow covers programming, there should be no other sites that have any programming content. The argument in favour of a dedicated TeX site is that the overlap is at best partial: a lot of our content would be off-topic on StackOverflow as it's not strictly 'programming', while TeX programming is sufficiently unusual that most general programmers would struggle to contribute.

Notably, migration of older questions between sites has been ruled out by the Powers. The logic here is that these older questions were on topic for their current site when posted, so have good reason to stay. Moreover, given differences in the approach on different sites, migrations tend to be more in need of editing than is the general position. Both of these factors mean that migrations are restricted to new(ish) questions, where 'active' engagement by the poster and others can be expected. So questions on StackOverflow about LaTeX will to stay there unless they are being asked now.

  • Why would the aim of any exercise be to prevent 'tidying up' 'potentially weak or duplicate content'? Do you really mean that the explicit purpose of prohibiting migration is that they want to retain weak and duplicate content? So strong, original content can go, but they want to keep the weak, duplicated stuff?
    – cfr
    Jun 12, 2017 at 1:53
  • @cfr Not exactly. The argument runs that where we have sites with overlapping scope, older questions that could be migrated are more likely that average to be in need of improvement. In particular, different sites have different conventions so one might expect most migrations to need 'work'. At the same time, at the time they were posted they were clearly regarded as on-topic for their 'current home' (otherwise they'd be closed OT). So the concern was that mass migrating older questions wouldn't (on average) be adding value to the 'target' site.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 12, 2017 at 6:26
  • @cfr So the Powers have restricted migrations: I forget the exact line but if a question is older than some time (a few months) it cannot be migrated.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 12, 2017 at 6:26
  • Thanks. That makes more sense. I just found the way you put it in the answer rather confusing.
    – cfr
    Jun 12, 2017 at 12:42

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