I use different OS, namely Windows, Linux and Mac OS. Therefore, when I'm looking for an application, I'm interested in applications for Windows, Linux and Mac OS (with generally a preference for Windows as I use it most of the time). Do I have to ask one question per OS, or can I say that I would like the application to work on Windows I am still curious to know about applications for Linux and Mac OS? I'm asking because I did it in one of my questions and it got edited.

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    Note that you (probably) shouldn’t add OS tags for optional OS. Only add OS tags for OS that are required. So if you look for a solution thats works on any of the mentioned OS, don’t add any OS as tag.
    – unor
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 0:55

4 Answers 4


You can ask one question and include multiple OS options as possibilities.

The problem with this question is the way you originally worded it was a little ambiguous:

  • works on Windows and is free, but I am still curious to know about other OS and non-free applications.

This could be taken two different ways. It is clear now from your question here on meta and your comments that you intended to say that you are willing to use any OS to accomplish this task, but you prefer Windows. However, Caleb and others read your text and assumed that you meant that you needed a Windows solution. It is acceptable for you to edit your question and rephrase it to mean what you want, with the information you've got on your meta question here.

Whether or not that makes your question too broad is up for debate. Clearly Caleb seems to think that it would be too broad in that case, but I disagree. You've got a task that you need accomplished clearly defined, and you are open to possibilities from different OSes, with Windows as a preference. The two answers you've got give you two good options: One answer (mine) features a Windows solution, and another shows a solution that is potentially easier to use/more powerful (because of the Trim Whitespace function), but only runs on a non-preferred OS.

Perhaps there is a better solution that will still turn up, but the two answers you have now are both valid and distinct.

  • Those exactly highlights why this is a problem: "but the two answers you have now are both valid and distinct". The way you would have us redirect this question, a plurality of completely different answers might all be equally valid. The voting will stop reflecting a good recommended solution for a particular use-case and start reflecting everybody's favorite way to manage music on any platform. This question could be read two ways but one of those ways leads to a mess and one offers a way to keep it tidy.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 12:44
  • @Caleb, it really is okay to have more than one answer. I recommend one solution, and someone else recommends another. They are both valid. If you agree with one of them, vote it up. The OP will deside which works best for him and accept it. That's how Stack Exchange works. Two good answers is not a mess.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 13:51
  • @Caleb, I see your point about overly broad questions, but this is not one of them. The question doesn't ask for your favorite music manager; it outlines a very specific task that the OP wants to accomplish. If an answer comes along that doesn't address that task, it should be deleted.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 13:54

You can ask a single question about the software you seek if you have the same requirements for it.

Explain in your question what OS you prefer and what alternatives you accept.


It depends.

  • If you give us a user story that paints a specific problem and give enough criteria to reduce the field to a reasonable number of possible answers that can be judged according to their suitability for your purpose, then you can certainly leave off the OS as a requirement and just list what platforms you could make work.

  • In the other hand if you ask about something so generic that any one of dozens of applications on several platforms can handle the job and the rest of your question does not give enough criteria to reasonably judge between good solutions to your problem (as opposed to just voting on our personal favorite software) then narrowing this down to a single OS should be a requirement (and you might need to work on your user story and other criteria.

The real issue here is that curiosity doesn't make a good SE question. Your original question had two parts:

  1. How do I do X on Y?
  2. I'm curious how other people do this on whatever.

The first half you did alright, but by including the second half you opened the door for sorts of non answers that will clog the distract form the problem and its solutions. What got created is a cleverly disguised venue for the voting pattern that happens on Gorilla vs Shark questions.

For the question example you linked to, the OS needs to be required criteria. You can ask another question with another user story if you have a different need, but stripping off the requirement so that you can mix and match the solutions on your end will make too broad a question to be effectively answered in this format.

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    Thanks. What if I want to know for a different OS but the user story is the same? Also, in the question I had asked, wasn't the requirements restricted enough that I could leave the OS open? Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 23:33
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    @FranckDernoncourt No your original question was not specific enough to leave the OS open (or to leave GUI out of the requirements). There are dozens of possibilities an each platform that will do this job and hundreds if you leave off GUI. That is too broad a field because you don't give us anything else to make a recommendation of one option or another on. There is no solution to propose, only a grid to fill out of which software has a checkbox in one column of a feature matrix.
    – Caleb
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 23:39
  • Well yes, sometimes we just look for one specific feature. I don't see any issue with this. Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 23:50
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    @Caleb I've written a response as a new answer.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Feb 26, 2014 at 0:43

Sometimes this can cause doubts as in a question of mine. From one side I needed OS-specific features to be available to the application I was asking for, on the other side I am using multiple OS-es at the same time, and since my request was rather specific, I'd appreciate a solution on either OS.

As for that, I thought it would be best to personally constrain the possible responses per OS in a way that will make me benefit most (achieve most of my requirements). For instance, such constraint would be:

A linux-only version that does linux-only stuff
in combination with
A windows-only version that does windows-only stuff

The above option could ease the search as you'll hardly find the same software to do specific thing based on the OS. This does not mean there are good OS-tailored solutions that can work for you in a combination

Another constraint I added was:

A cross-platform solution that matches the requirements.

Still, it might be possible such a solution to exist with cross-platform compatibility in mind.

My idea was to reduce spammy or inapropriate responses, and partially working ones too. I hope I did the right thing, but it is the community who decides. So far my question is not being flagged or downvoted, so I assume I picked a correct approach.

Of course, this is only if you need very OS-specific stuff, so it is not needed to apply for all multi-OS questions.

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