I get the feeling if someone says "I want a cross platform app that does X", my stock response is often going to be "webapp, dude". I also suspect many people may find that annoying, and only consider desktop software to be real software.

Should we encourage users to always state clearly if a webapp is ok, or whether they require something installable?

I strongly expect it'll be just about a standard comment on any unclear question...

6 Answers 6


Encourage? Absolutely. That can only lead to more clear, answerable questions.

Require? No. That would excessive, especially considering that some people really don't care.

It might be a good idea to create tags to clarify this, eg or , but as with all tags (excepting the meta-tags of course) they should remain optional.

  • Encourage, yes. Require, no. Well put. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 22:48
  • 2
    I've added a platform tag (cross-platform, osx, windows, linux, web, java – for now) to all existing questions where I could do that. As the eMail said, we're giving the tone. I think that yes, we should most definitely encourage them but not use absence as a sign to close the question, unless it's definitely not answerable without this being clarified and the asker doesn't clarify.
    – mirabilos
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 23:26

It has been my experience that the more experienced members of the site will always tend to indicate the type of software they're comfortable using (webapp etc) but that new users will always tend towards not having a clue what they want.

Therefore, it is my suggestion/guidance that this clarification is best left where all clarification goes, in the comments.

Invite people to ask questions, build a community that fosters helping them get good answers. Don't impose "thou shalt only ask questions of a given nature in a certain way, or risk my lightning and wrath".

Guide people.

That's what we're here for.


Keep in mind that these questions are designed to help the original author, and anyone else with the same question. As long as:

  • The software solves the problem presented within the stated constraints
  • Your experience with the software is explained (not 'hey this looks like it does that')
  • Any special requirements to use the software are listed as potential caveats (You'll need the Java browser plugin enabled if you want to use it)

.. then I think someone might just find and appreciate your answer. I don't think we should be getting that deep into what does or doesn't qualify as software when the difference in practice is marginal, we have more interesting challenges ahead of us.


I don't think so this should be a requirement.

Sometimes a web app is solves the question while a native app does not. Sometimes the user is looking for a native app but a web app is much more powerful and has all the requirements of what the user wants.


I don't see why native/webapp would matter in itself.

However offline can be important. If an application only works with an Internet connection, this is a stopper for some scenarios. This needs to be clearly indicated in requirements.

  • I think online/offline is not important in many non-mobile scenarios. The scope of the site is just so broad that what is more and what is less important really changes based on the question, environment, etc.
    – mirabilos
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 23:27

As already mentioned in some other answer if you need to work offline even the best webapp is complete nogo. If you a working on a PC without the rights to install any app but acces to internet then webapp is posibly the only solution and native is useles. So there are reasons to limit the question to one or an other thing, but making it a requrenment make not much sence. On a PC with both internet acces and rights necesary for instalation native or webapp can be a good solution. So defining if it should be native or webapp can be helpful, but not necesary.

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