I initially thought that the software version number is an integral part of each software-related question, but I've started to backpedal after discovering how questions may quickly become outdated and mislead users. For instance in my most-viewed question the given 7-Zip version is 16.04 — there has been multiple revisions since this build and because the bug to my knowledge occurs in each of them I should technically keep adding the new versions to this and all similar Q/A of mine.

Should the version number be added to questions on Super User?

  • I would think about putting some language in your question with an edit indicating this that you mention with it affecting multiple versions and such so just in case you or someone else does not get a chance to update and confirm with a newer version that this bug may still exist and not be patched to serve as a sort of disclaimer so at least you indicate this in your question so others know while you wrote it when 16.04 was the latest, it may still exist with even newer versions unless you or someone can confirm otherwise when it's fixed. If I had a concern like yours, this would help some. – Pimp Juice IT Oct 12 at 21:08
  • Just indicate the version you are using at the time you submit the question or edit. You should not continually edit your question. Edits should be used to improve or provide relevant information as it comes available. Continuing to perform an edit every time a program is updated is excessive. Don’t do that. – Ramhound Oct 13 at 0:46
  • @Ramhound: I won't, I just speculated that this is the only way to keep the question completely factual. I haven't even added version numbers to that many questions of mine. – user598527 Oct 13 at 6:47

I personally didn't add version numbers unless I know a problem is version specific - simply cause its about the problem, and the version is incidental. It dosen't hurt to, but its unlikely to be critical in a question, unless its something that is fast moving. If you want to be pedantic without having to edit your post all the time, consider saying "I've encountered this problem version 3.14 and later".

In short, I wouldn't sweat it too much unless someone specifically asks.

People will find your question if there's a similar problem.

If a specific version fixes it - that belongs in an answer

  • You could also say something like 'I first encountered this in version x.y.z-1 but I've seen that it happens in other versions too' or even 'I first noticed this bug in version x.y.z-0 but it might occur in other versions as well.' Or even 'This bug is in version x.y.z-1 but it appears to be unsolved at this time.' There are countless ways of putting it, of course, but I agree with you: it's about the problem rather than the version (and someone looking for the answer will probably search for the bug rather than the version though some might add it - far less likely). – Pryftan Oct 14 at 12:55

I think responses here will somewhat depend on the topics we frequent. Some topics are much more version-dependent than others, which influences our thinking on the relevance of version information.

Even with versions that are similar, there can be differences in the UI, or configuration details, or replicating the problem. With applications like Excel, capabilities have been added in successive versions, which may drive the choice of solutions, so it's important to know which version the OP is using. In general, adding the specific version can't hurt unless it's a generic question known to be not version-specific.

We do often get questions that specify version information, and years later, a reader will ask whether the information is still relevant to their version. We also get questions that don't specify a version, and years later, a reader will ask whether the information is still relevant to their version. Specifying the version doesn't really make questions any less relevant. In fact, it's useful to have old questions revisited to see whether there are new solutions.

In cases where you come across an old question (including your own), that you know is still relevant to the current version, it can't hurt to add a comment to indicate that, or even edit the question to add a supplementary note saying that it is still applicable at version X. Similarly, if you know that it is no longer applicable to current versions, and that isn't already discussed, you can add a comment or edit.

People sometimes post an answer stating that the problem can be solved by installing the current version. If the question was version-agnostic, that's fine. But if the question was specific to an earlier version, that's more in the nature of comment fodder since it's not a solution for the earlier version.

The question is really more "where" to put version information, and sometimes "when", rather than "if". The tags and title serve to attract the people who think the question is relevant to them and/or can answer. Note that the tags should be, and generally are, at a granularity where they reflect substantive differences. For example, we don't have a tag for every version of Firefox, but we added the tag when the code base changed, and things before and after are very different. The body of the question needs to contain the details necessary to propose a solution.

Some reasonable guidance:

  • If you know the the problem is version-specific, use the version-specific tag (only; as in don't also include the version-agnostic tag), and think about whether it would be helpful to include the version in the title (but don't use a "title tag", like Windows 7: yakkity blah problem). In some cases, like Firefox Quantum, the tag covers a range of versions, so it doesn't hurt to also identify the specific version within the question.

    If you know the problem is specific to several versions but not others, use tags for the relevant versions (only). It can't hurt to also mention the specific version you're using within the question.

  • If the question is about a very old version that is no longer in mainstream use, especially if no longer actively supported (e.g., Windows XP), use the version-specific tag, and it doesn't hurt to mention it in the question, perhaps even include it in the title.

  • If you think the question might be version-related but aren't sure, use both the version-specific and version-agnostic tags. Include the version you're using within the question.

  • If you have no idea whether the problem is version specific, use the version-agnostic tag (only), and identify the version you're using within the question. Answerers will identify whether it is version-specific.

  • If you know that the question applies to all "recent" versions but not "archaic" versions (e.g., Windows since version 7), the archaic versions are like exceptions; people realize that they were different, they are no longer mainstream, and people won't assume that the problem or solution applies to them. Use the version-agnostic tag (only). If you're sure the specific version isn't relevant or the question is generic, no need to mention the specific version in the question.

    For an application like Excel, this would apply to a question about a specific fundamental function that has been present in all versions, or at least all versions likely to still be in common use.

My view is that in essence a problem is almost always version specific. The only case I might not include the version in my question is when I actually tried solving the same problem on a different version and failed. But even then I do it because the answer might be - or might have to be - version specific. In my experience often I end up asking the OP what version he uses either because the problem turned out to be version specific anyway or because I can write a better answer for a specific version.

I also think it's helpful for future readers to know the version the question/answer have applied to. For example: a lot of questions/answers within Firefox are outdated since they changed to Quantum (all the years before it worked). It would make it much easier to find/prioritise the right questions/answer if you are looking for solutions yourself if the version would have been mentioned.Preferably in the title or in the tags since this is shown in the search results.

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