The tag has a tagline:

The 'gratis' tag is to be used when you are looking for a recommendation for free (as in no-cost) software.

When should this tag (not) be used?

  1. When asking for free software?
  2. When putting it as a bonus objective / nice to have?
  3. When it is merely implicit that it would be preferred (e.g. "I'm a student who needs...")?
  4. When budget is not mentioned at all (but hey: everyone prefers free over a cost, yeah?)?
  5. When software is requested "no matter the cost"?

Okay, cases 1 and 5 are no-brainers. The others are less clear to me, though I'd be worried about having the tag on 50+% of the questions here if case 2, 3, and 4 would also warrant this tag.

Bottom line: when to use this tag, and who has a final call (community or OP)?


2 Answers 2


Seeing as it was my action/comment that brought this up (I assume) I figure I should state my position.

  1. Yes - if you need my logic on this I give up
  2. No - sure it would be nice but many of the answers will (most likely) not be free so that is kinda false advertising.
  3. Depends - Student != poor necessarily but often it does. If it is clearly implicit then Yes if not clear don't edit it in; ask for clarification. For the OP I would suggest they should include it to make it explicit if it is actually applicable.
  4. No - because otherwise it'll be tagged onto 95% of questions I would roughly estimate
  5. No - again self apparent (at least to me)
  • 1
    Heya, thanks for your answer. It was in fact the edit itself that triggerred my question: I wasn't sure whether to approve it or not. I was leaning towards not approving, as I would happily accept non-free suggestions if they have other strong points. In other words, I guess I agree with your answer :-)
    – Jeroen
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 20:02

I would suggest that it is only used in option #1. If you provide an allowance for ambiguity this kind of tag will likely get out of control. Which it seems to already be doing...

My gut reaction is to get rid of it altogether but lets be honest, for a lot of people free is a requirement, so lets leave the tag to be used with items on which free is truly a requirement and call it good.

  • +1, though I think that @NickWilde meant more or less the same, i.e. with option 3 it's either "clearly implicit" (non ambiguous) or it should first be disambiguated.
    – Jeroen
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 16:31

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