I asked a question here, where the OS is not important to me. OS is not a hindrance for me personally. I could go with any of them, but I would prefer if I could use it on Windows, Linux, and OSX. The best software in my experience is cross platform since it is a fit for anyone. Or in my case I can use it on any of my computers and recommend it to any of my friends.

If I specify an OS I will only get answers that tell me about software for that Platform.

While I said a cross platform option is optimal I did not want to rule out Linux only, OSX only, or Windows Only software.

So here is the verbiage I came up with: I want desktop software for something specific, OS doesn't matter, but cross platform is preferred.

Does this make the question too general? What guidelines should we follow for these sort of questions, should we demand that they specify OS or specify Cross Platform explicitly? Is there a good tag for these questions?

  • What if you don't specify an OS, and someone goes and suggests a Palm OS program?
    – dotVezz
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:23
  • @dotVezz I would have specified desktop software as noted above. This basically narrows it down to Unix and Windows. This would be relevant if I asked for mobile apps without specifying OS.
    – Enjabain
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


Yes - it's important to mention the OS or platform that you need to run the software on. If the choice of OS is not important, then it would be best to mention that.

If you need software to run on a specific OS:

  • Include a tag for that OS.
  • Mention the OS dependency in your question.

If you need software that's cross-platform:

  • Include a cross-platform tag.
  • Specify OS's in question body.

If you don't care about platform or OS:

  • Don't include any OS tags.
  • Mention that you don't care about platform or OS in your question.
  • Specify why you don't care about the OS.
  • 3
    And if you don't care about the OS, specify why.
    – juergen d
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:03
  • @juergen Good point, I've added that as a new bullet point.
    – dotVezz
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:05
  • 1
    Include the cross-platform tag and specify your preferences in the body.
    – mirabilos
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:50
  • @mirabilos indeed, that makes more sense. I've updated the post.
    – dotVezz
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:51
  • @mirabilos cross-platform implies I only want cross-platform answers. If I have to specify why every time I ask a question it will be a lot of extraneous info. Its like explaining why I want OSX specific software every time.
    – Enjabain
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:19
  • @Enjabain yes, that's the idea. If you don't want cross-platform, then you don't need to use that tag. Mirabilos was referring to a separate part of my answer (specific to cross-platform requirements)
    – dotVezz
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:20

No, I think not specifying an OS should be considered to be implicitly requesting recommendations for any platform. It's certainly helpful to add details if they're relevant, and as recommended by the other answer to this meta question, but why complicate things? The question can always be edited if the OP does care and simply forgot to include pertinent info.

  • 1
    I agree about the extraneous info. The previous answer is asking me to add a whole section about why OS doesn't matter to me. I simply don't want to severely limit the answers to my question. I also don't want to explain this every time I ask a question. Hence a relevant tag would be useful. cross-platform implies that I am only interested in cross platform answers.
    – Enjabain
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:02
  • 1
    @Enjabain It doesn't have to be a whole paragraph. “Any OS will do, I can do this in a VM” would be a perfectly reasonable statement. Just say what you want explicitly, because otherwise someone ends up proposing a Linux application only to be told “this sucks, it doesn't work under Windows”. Feb 5, 2014 at 17:16
  • @Gilles I dont know anything about VMs so the why might be a bit more complicated.
    – Enjabain
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:46
  • 1
    @Gilles – using my psychic powers, I foresee that the actual future users of the site will end up doing as you describe. Why commit to a convention that won't be uniformly adopted? Feb 5, 2014 at 18:01
  • 1
    @KennyEvitt Going with my SU experience, I predict that a lot of actual future users will end up saying nothing about OSes when they mean “Windows, what do you mean there's something other than Windows?”. We shouldn't adopt a default convention that's different from what will be the default in practice. Being explicit (and asking, if the asker wasn't explicit) ensures that we won't run into conflicts. Feb 5, 2014 at 18:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .