EDIT: You are all quite right. This is not a good idea.

If I had a penny for every time I have left a comment on a question asking the OP to state which OS they are using I would be one rich geek. The answers to the vast majority of computer related questions depend on the operating system being used but many many users forget to give this information. Would it be feasible to make tagging with an OS compulsory? I was thinking of something like this:

  • Create a meta-group of OS tags and have a pop up or something informing users that one of them at least must be used.

  • For those few questions that are OS independent we could have a tag called, umm.. OS independent!.

  • The OS tags would be something like

    • Linux
    • OSX
    • Unix
    • FreeBSD
    • Windows
    • etc
  • Perhaps a different tag for different versions of the OS as well, at least for Windows where the version can be very important for the answer.

  • 1
    Two big issues: cross-platform software and the fact that Super User also deals with hardware. I just don't see a reason to force people to tag their questions with one, especially if they had to use "OS Independent"... Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 1:02
  • @Breakthrough yes, hardware is a very good point. Perhaps one of the "OS" tags could be "hardware". The behavior of cross-platform software though often depends on the OS they are being run on. Questions about them would often benefit by specifying the OS.
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 1:20
  • 3
    @terdon The hardware tag was removed two years ago.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 6:17

4 Answers 4


No, this is not a good idea.

Lots of things are within the scope of this site, but aren't operating system-dependent. For example: all the hardware questions, router setup (many concepts aren't firmware dependent; port forwarding is essentially the same on every router, even though the mechanics of configuring may be a bit different).

Tagging these questions with the operating system would make them less useful, because it would encourage people to say the exact steps to follow, rather than say what you'd actually be doing. Continuing with port forwarding: which is more useful? "Set up port forwarding", or "Click this button, then that button, type foo, save settings"? The former option doesn't make the user look up the exact make of their router, and gives them a guide for how to solve these problems in the future. If they want to know exactly how to set up port forwarding, they can ask a new question, but there's no reason to bring that into play when they want to just set up a game server.

Also, remember something: The OP often doesn't know the cause of their issue; that's why they have an issue. They might not know if something is OS-dependent or not. If they tag incorrectly, it either restricts the possible audience (someone who knows how to solve the problem might think it depends on an OS they don't know), or winds up in front of people who have no idea how to handle it (even though the question says it is OS-independent, it isn't).

Lastly, the OS-independent tag wouldn't be useful on its own; it'd be more of a meta tag (what would a question look like if the only tag that applies is "OS independent"?). This is discouraged on Stack Exchange sites; tags should work even if there are no other tags on the question. In this case, it'd also take away one of the 5 tags for something completely useless - saying that operating system doesn't matter.


I'd hope not. Wierdly enough, overuse of a tag makes it useless. As I see it there's three classes of questions as far as OSes go.

Firstly, one involving how to solve a problem - often the solution is platform independant, or the question dosen't really involve digging into the OS. The other is hardware issues (which wouldn't involve the OS). The last is some quirk of the specific OS or release. Something like this benefits from an OS tag. A question like this would work on any OS the software in question would run in and wouldn't - the OS is irrelevant.

If the question is "how do I make OS Foo do Bar" or "how do I do Bar in OS Foo" the OS tag would be added organically by a savvy enough user. Otherwise its just noise IMO


I vote not for the following reasons:

  1. We need to cater to professionals, but we also have LOTS of n00basaurus's in here. Not enough people read the FAQ or About pages, so how can we expect them to follow convention for questions?
  2. Not everything is dealing with an OS, or would be OS Independent enough to have a tag.
  3. It would make regular users irritated if we ever forgot one
  • Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't "OS-independent" be a meta tag? Those are highly discouraged on the main site.
    – cpast
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 2:28

I cannot agree with this feature request.

There are many valid questions regarding computer hardware and software and home networking that are truly OS-independent. Imposing this restriction would be very harmful.

Let's say someone has a physical problem with a peripheral such as a keyboard. Do you think most questions of this kind would be specific to a particular operating system?

Besides, if you look at the existing tag, it conveys very little information about the nature of the question by itself. This tag shouldn't exist to begin with.

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