Should be used only for software, most likely s, which looks and behaves identically or similar on different desktop platforms, for example VLC, or for services accessible from different platforms in general. In particular, should this question has the tag: Time management / personal planning service?

It would be nice to have an explicit guildeline for this.

5 Answers 5


We can't seem to agree on what means.

Runs on at least two different operating systems” is not a useful meaning for a tag: I can't see a reason to subscribe to it (if I have an Windows Phone phone and an iPad phone, Windows RT/Android cross-platform apps?), to ignore it (the fact that an app happens to be cross-platform may be irrelevant sometimes, but it doesn't disqualify it for anything), or to search for it (if I want an app that works on Windows and OSX, what do I care that it's cross-platform because someone wanted it on Linux?).

“Runs on all platforms” could be a useful tag, but the problem with that meaning is that nobody cares that it really runs on all platforms. Really, does that mean it runs on my WRT router, on my Android car dash, on the mainframe where we do our payroll and on the PDP-11 in my attic?

“Runs on all major desktop platforms” and “runs on all major touch platforms” might be useful tags, but I'm not convinced.

Let's get rid of . If there's no platform requirement (“I have a Mac with a Windows VM and a Linux VM, and a webapp is also fine”), don't use a tag. If the requirement is for just two platforms, use two tags. With more platforms, either use a “runs on all major &lgt;TYPE> platforms” tag or no platform tag.

  • I agree,cross-platform] is not useful tag
    – danijelc
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 0:42
  • cross-platform is dead.
    – Flyk
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 9:51

Questions are limited to 5 tags. will be useful when the requirement is a tool that runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux, but there isn't enough room on the question for the three , , and tags.

But remember, when writing a question, include enough detail in the text that your question is answerable even if there weren't any tags at all on your question. Don't make people try to guess the requirements based on the tags.

  • Definitions/understandings might change when operating systems come and go. If you think it would be useful to have a tag for exactly these three OS, I think something explicit like linux-osx-windows would be better.
    – unor
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 10:44

Personally I think that the tag should only be used when the asker doesn't care what platform it goes on, desktop or mobile and the tag used when the asker only wants it for desktop OS's (regardless of mac, linux, windows etc).

It gets rather confusing when the question is tagged cross-platform and the asker only wants it for Windows and Linux.

  • When I see "cross-platform", I think "Windows and Linux".
    – leventov
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 12:54
  • 3
    When the user doesn’t care (i.e., any OS would be allowed), why add a tag at all?
    – unor
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 10:42

In my opinion, "cross-platform" means: The same tool must run natively on at least two different operating systems.

I think we should only add OS tags if the software MUST run on all (and maybe more) tagged operating systems.

I tried to come up with a rule when it would be okay to use the :

If the software MUST be available cross-platform, but you don’t require on which operating systems exactly, use (any additional operating system tag means that the software MUST run at least on this OS) (if you specify all OS’s it MUST run on, you should omit the tag)

I think the tag is not so useful.

Either add all required OS as tags, or don’t tag OS at all. In both cases, the question body should of course explain the exact requirements. Having a tag on a question doesn’t give very much information. You only know that the software MUST run on more than one operating system, but you don’t know on which ones. But if you would add these required OS as tags, there would be no longer a use for the tag, because several OS tags should mean that the software MUST run on all of these OS.


If the requirement is a software must run on at least one of A, B, D – but the OP doesn't care which: That's not cross-platform, but "any-platform" (don't make that a tag, please!).

If however one needs a software which is (natively) available on more than one platform (say A+B, and ideally also C), that's already cross-platform. It does not necessarily have to run on all possible platforms for that. See also Wikipedia on this:

computer software or computing methods and concepts that are implemented and inter-operate on multiple computer platforms.

How could be useful?

Say I want a software that ideally runs on platforms A, B, and C – but at least on "as many as possible of them". With no OS tags, and no cross-platform tag, I'll have fun looking first for A+B, then A+C, then B+C. Now there is also D, which doubles the effort... (e.g. Linux, Mac, OS/2, Windows). Add the mobile world, and wait until we have "a few more questions" on our site, and it stops being fun. I'd give up looking for existing answers after 5 min, and don't care whether I create a duplicate: I have my requirement, I searched before, so I'm not to blame – I'd go right ahead and post my question.

Would there be a "cross-platform" tag, I could simply use that for my search. Result-sets would drastically shrink down, and I'd feel motivated trying to look for my "majors": " A" (must support at least A and one other), and so on.

How could it be confusing?

If not clearly defined. It's neither "A or B", nor is it "everything which is in existence and no less". In simple terms: "software that works on more than one platform and/or operating system" (current excerpt), or alternatively "software that must work on more than one platform and/or operating system".

Should we keep it?

Definitely. And we should use it this way:

  • if it's a strong requirement the software must run on more than one OS: use it!
  • if it's a weak requirement (aka "nice-too-have"): don't use it, that belongs to the description
  • 1
    Your section on how cross-platform could be useful doesn't work. If you're looking for software for A, B and C, and only search in the cross-platform tag, you'll miss questions where someone only asked for an app for A but the app happens to also work on B and C, but you'll hit questions where someone asked for an app for C, D and E. You'll also have to search for questions without the tag, and you'll also find spurious results in the tag. Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 9:00
  • Granted. But at least I had something to start with which yields "good" results – where without that I had "nothing".
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 9:34

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