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It seems that @Izzy (and me too, to a lesser extent) spends a lot of time commenting on new questions, asking what o/s the requested s/w should support and whether it should be gratis or if the user has a budget in mind.

Can - and should - we modify the JavaScript behind the submit button to force a dialog requiring that these things be specified?

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    That this is possible we see here at Meta, where on every new question one gets the hint "must include at least one of (bug feature-request discussion support)" – which on the main site could probably be turned into "one of (list-os-relevant-tags-here)", with "os relevant" including things like "web-app" and "cross-platform". Question then would remain: what to chose if neither matches – for which case, if we wish so, a new tag could be created.
    – Izzy Mod
    Feb 16 '15 at 10:39
  • Actually, I would see o/s as as a series of check-boxes, in case someone wants Mac & Linux, but doesn't care about Windows. Selecting "other" could pop up .. what? For price, two radio buttons? One for gratis & one for Budget, with an input text for the dollar value ? Feb 16 '15 at 11:08
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    I don't think we can handle budget this way – except for maybe a hint to "use gratis if paying is not an option for you, otherwise please specify your budget with your question". If one is "willing to pay" it doesn't mean he's not excepting "gratis" solutions :)
    – Izzy Mod
    Feb 16 '15 at 12:07
  • Well, we an discuss it further. Maybe keep Gratis & change the other to "Max Budget (includes gratis)"? Feb 16 '15 at 12:31
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    I don't have the rep to edit your question line, but its sure hard to read.
    – Ira Baxter
    Apr 17 '15 at 6:46
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Support for required tags exists in the engine (on meta sites, all questions must have one of the tags , , or . However no main site currently has such a restriction.

I don't see how we could force a platform tag on this site. Not all questions are about a specific operating system. Library requests are often OS-agnostic and instead require a programming language, and it's impossible to list all possible programming languages. Questions asking for a plug-in are often OS-agnostic and instead require a tag for the application.

As for gratis or not, we have no tag for “I'm prepared to pay”, and the tag isn't applied systematically, so that just wouldn't work.

We can show people a screen telling them what kind of information they should include and explaining how to tag their question properly. There's something like that on Stack Overflow. Experience shows that people click “ok” and don't read — the people who do read this kind of message are the people who'll spend some effort tagging their question properly in the first place.

So no, there is no effective technical solution.

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  • Of course, we can have "other" options for o/s. I wasn't thinking of programming language, since most requests are for tools. Sure, we can't make it perfect - but maybe we could make it better? Feb 16 '15 at 12:33
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    I agree with Gilles here: that would get too complex without generating the desired effect. I, too, forgot about the library and plug-in part here. I'd have liked the idea had it been feasible – but it rather turns out it isn't.
    – Izzy Mod
    Feb 16 '15 at 12:37
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    Ok, then, we can leave it (and you can I can go right on asking them which O/S and how much ;-) Feb 16 '15 at 13:55
  • When one clicks on "ask question", you get a blank question box. Why is blank? Why not prefill the box with (10? lines of) text that shapes the question to be written? OP can always delete that text. What will matter is that they saw it, and will either use it directly, or having had it put directly into their brain space, might actually address the issue.
    – Ira Baxter
    May 10 '15 at 7:25
  • @IraBaxter Low-reputation users on SO get some additional advice (in the form of a click through, not a prefilled box). Statistics of question quality vs users who spend time on this advice don't show a correlation. I don't understand how prefilling the box would work: how do you know what the user is about to ask? May 10 '15 at 12:04
  • @Gilles: suggested text: "Dear Questioner:try to address the following. Background: the task I am trying to accomplish is the following... Need: To do that, I need software that does the following things well... <bulleted list> I've tried software package X and it failed the requirements by not doing Y well. The context for the software is <star> free, cheap or paid <star> Operating System: Window, Linux, other"
    – Ira Baxter
    May 10 '15 at 13:26

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