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First of all, I can totally understand how questions specifically looking for cross-platform apps is a useful thing. However in a few minutes browsing here I have already seen a number of cases that seem unreasonable.

A great example would be this question:

A desktop e-mail client for multiple accounts

Desktop OR Webapp? The body and comments go on to say that for desktop Windows OR Linux are fine. This is basically an overview question of every E-mail client in existence. This needs to be closed before the answers turn into [more of a] sludge-fest between every popular mail client.

An example of a question that is at least somewhat meaningful would be:

Is there a good email client that runs on both Windows and Linux?

That question has other problems but at least the need for the same client on two specific platforms is clear. A better example might be this one:

Password manager for Linux and Android

This doesn't require the same software on two platforms but it does require an inter operable solution where whatever is recommended for each platform can work together on the same data format.

My real question here is: What do we do when the criteria are tight enough to make o good question but multi-platform seems tacked on? Here is an edge case I would like to bring up and say we need to think carefully about how we handle this sort of thing.

Tool for extracting text from a scanned document saved as an image

In this case there seems to be something that meets all the specs, but there is an extra answer with a solution that only works for one of the requested platforms. If this is allowed we are going to flood our cross platform questions with answers that only support a subset of platforms. If we don't allow it, useful solutions for very specific problems that only fail the multi-platform requirement might be lost.

Should questions like this be edited to lighten up the cross platform from a requirement to a bonus, or should non-cross-platform solutions not be considered?

  • Hi. I'm responsible for the "email client on Windows/Linux". I didn't think that request was unreasonable; there are many apps available that run on both platforms. How did you interpret the request? As "the same identical executable? Or as "can be obtained in nominally equivalent versions"? I intended the latter. What do you think the other problems are? I sure didn't intend for this to be an "impossible/impractical" request; I'd be happy to hear suggestions for improvement, since I still haven't gotten a good answer. [that thread on impossible requests is also mine :-( ] – Ira Baxter Dec 7 '14 at 19:29
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This is a special case of Impossible/impractical requests.

If you think the multi-platform requirements are reasonable, then you should strive to answer with the next best thing. Typically, this would be a list of several applications, one for each of the main platforms expected by the question, paying attention to having similar interfaces, shareable data formats, or whatever else is relevant for the given use case.

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