Should "feature tags" (is there a better name?) like OS (, , , …), license (), and costs () only be used if they are required features?

Or may they also be used for optional features?

Example 1

The question Desktop Publisher (Alternatives to InDesign) is tagged with and (which would be valid combination, as Open-Source software must not be available for free). But in the question it says:

Cost/Licence: Must be free, Ideally would be Open Source

So here is required, while is optional.

(Same case with the question Free alternatives to Matlab that run on Linux?.)

Example 2

The question Free reference management software with full-text support is tagged with and . But in the question it says:

Target environment: Windows desktop or web

So here not both must be true (web-apps running on a Windows server; or being available cross-platform), but only 1 of 2 is required.

Example 3

The question Music manager for a mass storage based music player is tagged with and . But in the question it says:

I'm running Windows 7 and 8 mainly, so I would prefer windows, but I would accept a Linux based solution if nothing else is as good.

Here the software doesn’t have to be cross-platform, it’s either Linux or Windows (or both).


3 Answers 3


Tags are not really for features. Features are usually too precise for a tag.

Tags on this site should be mainly about application domains or domains of expertise. For example, , , , …

Tags like are still being debated, and definitely shouldn't be applied if the characteristic is optional — you shouldn't find non-free answers when you browse the tag!

  • "Feature" is not the correct term, but as I explained in my question, I don’t know a better one. You used "characteristic", would this do? But more important than its name: Which are those tags (besides free)? Do you agree with the listing in the question: OS, license, cost? Some else? You mentioned windows as "application domain" -- I’m not sure I understand it: Would you say windows may also be used if the software is not required to run under Windows but the OP would prefer it?
    – unor
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 21:53
  • (Making you aware that) I added two examples to the question.
    – unor
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 0:14

In my opinion, they should only be used for required features.

So in the example question, the tag should be removed. The OP only requires that the software must be available for free, so users might answer with proprietary and with open-source software anyway. That the OP prefers open-source software can of course still be mentioned in the question text.

Otherwise, filtering by tag would lose much of its potential. When I filter for , I expect that all answers recommend open-source software, nothing else.

EDIT (new examples added to question):

For example 2 and example 3 it would mean that both of the OS/platform tags should be removed. So the OS requirements are only mentioned in the question/title, but not in the tags anymore.

When I’m filtering by , I expect that all answers recommend software that runs on Linux.

Only use an OS tag if the recommended software MUST run on this platform.

  • I think you are right. I will remove the Open-source tag. Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 2:04
  • The implementation of this opinion requires that all operating systems tags be removed when the poster specifies that the software can run on one of multiple different operating systems (but does not need to run on all of them). For example, sometimes posters say that the software can run on Windows or Linux, and therefore they add a tag for both operating systems. Those tags will all need to removed if this opinion becomes policy. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 3:56

I think the tags should be used to requirements.

As you pointed out in the first example:

Cost/Licence: Must be free, Ideally would be Open Source

the tag usage would be and the would be removed, because it's optional.

On the second and third examples:

the tags , and would be removed. Because the requirement is not based on the system itself (but the software must run in a determinate system).

There should be created a tag with a name like for the second example that shows that the OP wants a specific platform.

The tag doesn't fit any of the examples above. But it should be used when needed.

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