We're likely to get a ton of questions and answers involving the cost of software. Should we establish some rules for how we show prices?

I see three possible issues that may need to be dealt with:

  1. Showing the actual price of the software.

    For example, should we prefer Software XYZ is sold by ABC corp for $499.98 over Software XYZ costs around $500?

  2. Showing currency.

    Would it work to require prices to be shown in the same currency as they are on the vendor's site? Also, should we prefer 500 USD over $500?

  3. Showing accurate prices.

    Can we require a link to a vendor website that shows the price?

  • 2
    I can tell you right away that #3 will be a problem, because I can almost guarantee that Stack Exchange doesn't want to give links to vendors.
    – user9
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 19:52
  • @LittleBobbyTables It's a major issue with the site in general because of spam but, if recommendations need to include the price then we're going to have some issues with confirming accuracy. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 19:56
  • 2
    Obviously we should just quote an approximate Bitcoin price. Or better, just quote it in Satoshi "It's about 75,000 Satoshi". /s
    – dotVezz
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 21:25
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    Since there many different countries that use the dollar (US, Canada, Australia), we should probably use the letters (USD, CAN). We could also put all the major currencies. For example, if the red sweater is 1 BTC (not a very realistic example) then we can say 1 BTC or 950 USD.
    – Rajiv
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 22:51

3 Answers 3


Accuracy in prices should not be an issue. Free vs $500 is an issue, but USD500 vs CAD500 doesn't matter. Prices should be given as an order of magnitude (because $5 vs $500 vs $50000 does matter).

License restrictions would be more important than price, for example per-person vs per-concurrent-user can be very important in an enterprise setting.

  • However the $ is not always, sure US, NZ, CA, AU are all with in a order of magnitude, but the Zimbabwean Dollar is worth 2 orders of magnitude less. Futher more, there are on occasion order of magnitude price differences in actual cost, particularly with things like video games. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 8:43
  • @Oxinabox If you write $ in an international setting, it's USD unless the context says otherwise. By the way, the Zimbabwean dollars have all been devalued into oblivion, Zimbabwe uses USD now. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 9:49
  • Gilles: That convention seems good, I suggest editting it into your answer Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 1:25

I feel like it's important to at least mention whether a piece of sofware is free or not. Including the price seems to make a lot of sense. When possible, I think it's best to provide a primary source to back up your stated price, even if that primary source is the vendor's store.

There are several reasons for why I feel a primary source is best - and almost all of them involve potential obsolescence:

  • If the price changes, the link to the vendor's site (or store) will likely be updated too.
  • If you link to a secondary source (Blog post, forum post), the link may die or the information may be incomplete.

As far as Currency (but not "USD vs $" syntax) is handled, I say that using USD as a standard is the best way to go, when the asker hasn't specifically mentioned the currency they use, or if the software is not sold on a market that accepts USD. This is because

  • The most common country for companies to distribute their software is likely the U.S.
  • A large portion of the site's userbase will be U.S.-based.
  • Users who are not U.S.-based will at least be able to get an idea of the cost of a product in their local currency because USD can easily be compared with most others (But this doesn't account for import taxes, etc)

The syntax argument ($ vs USD) is valid, but it's not realistic to expect everyone to actually type "USD" instead of "$". (Although still pertinent, considering - for example - Canada's Dollar is also represented with the $ symbol).

  • and for that matter Australia & NZ uses dollars to Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 22:46
  • -1, this is very US-centric. There are a lot of countries (even more than those listed) using a “dollar”. (I actually think the free vs. paid, libre vs. copyleft vs. restricted are more relevant.)
    – mirabilos
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 22:50
  • See also the related discussion meta.softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/17/…
    – unor
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 0:32
  • While committing to one currency makes prices better comparable (and I go with mirabilos and vouch for EUR, as that's a fixed currency used by more than one country :) it's not always feasible. What price to mention when I only have it in currency-A? Do I need to research? Or shall I convert (according to which course)? I think we should accept all major currencies.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 23:55

I think getting in the habit of listing prices of software is bad and should be discouraged. If for no other reason, the prices of software can change over time and providing prices in answers would make the time an answer is valid shorter.

Q: I am looking for software that is can do PDF Editing for less than $200
A: Software A is only $90!

This answer would be great until they change their pricing

A: Software A well below your price point is able to do all the things that Software B can do.

This answer would be valid for much longer.

  • 5
    If "price" were explicitly listed as an issue, this would be a strange line to draw. Features can change just as easily as price. Besides, we're not exactly drawing up purchasing contracts. The prices generally quoted are just for basic comparison (assuming the price is relevant at all). I wouldn't want to see literal bargain hunting or deal searches as a regular feature of this site, but if it's part of the criteria, I don't really see a need to explicitly forbid it. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 20:32
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    +1 this sounds more sensible. Also, prices often vary by country, reseller and even contracts. Someone may be able to get software X for 90% of the price but not allowed to even disclose this, too…
    – mirabilos
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 22:51

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