It seems that someone believes that SuperUser has to have answers that solves all problems in all OS's. While I strongly believe that each answer is right on its own if it addresses the question issues and the plus value of being platform independent is nice as stated in Daniel's Beck answer, reality is not like that, there is no way that every problem can be solved in every OS the same way.

This metapost comes since it's not my first time where someone whines in comments that my answer (particularly to myself) aren't platform independent. While I would love someone comes with a method for any OS, as per the first paragraph isn't possible due significant differences between OS that makes inherently difficult to get such methods (in some cases, this is just impossible for some OS's).

The question that motivate me to make this post is this one which I on propose obscured some details with the alibi that more users could find it, and other users could answer them. According to this answer the asker has to play dumb as it doesn't know where the problem is, and since I'm aware that the method which I said in my question cited doesn't work in Linux/OSX, I left the question broad so people that might face the same issue (and I know will blame Firefox) could find it. Another example of this, but in this case the answers proposed works anywhere except Windows since there are just no tools (I'm aware of) to do what the question specifies in the way the question wants.

I've seen that SU answers any kind of general questions, preferring platform independent answers, but that doesn't mean that other approaches are wrong or out of scope just because they only works in 1, 2 or all OS's except one. If it's useful, and works for an specific case/OS, please don't start whining that is not platform independent and answer yourself with an answer that it is.

  • 2
    You mention you want platform independent answers and then you go and give an answer which isn't. I don't understand what's the point of this question
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Oct 15, 2013 at 19:39
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    ok, here you mention preferably platform independent, point which I missed. That said, I still don't get the point of the question. What are you trying to get at?
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Oct 15, 2013 at 19:45
  • Also here, you complain about one of the answers not being platform independent. Oct 15, 2013 at 19:53
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    @Sathya I've seen user commenting that answers are wrong just because they aren't platform independent which is ridiculous since each OS have their own ways to do stuff. I think the stuff about preferably got cleared, no?
    – Braiam
    Oct 15, 2013 at 19:53
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    @Braiam You are one of those users. Oct 15, 2013 at 19:54
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    @DarthAndroid: He probably did that because of this comment Oct 15, 2013 at 19:54
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    @DarthAndroid please, take into account that the very same user stated the same about being platform independent before, hence I commented the same. I believe that if you will say that something isn't platform independent you either should propose your own answer that it's or just don't comment.
    – Braiam
    Oct 15, 2013 at 19:55
  • Given that this is a self-answered question and you were supposedly only able to supply a solution for one platform (GNU/Linux as it seems), the question should just have been tagged with linux (which was just added in an edit). If you (or someone else) would have wanted to add other solutions later on, the platform-specific tag could have been removed. Oct 15, 2013 at 19:59
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    The issue here might be that as self-answerer, you have complete control over both what you're asking and answering. Asking for a general solution and then only providing a limited one might look weird to some. So if you only intend to answer for a subset of platforms (say, Unix), you could just tag as such.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Oct 15, 2013 at 20:00
  • @OliverSalzburg I can see that, but that only makes me ask the question why he thinks being passive-aggressive towards the people trying to help him is in any way beneficial for the site or him getting helpful answers. Oct 15, 2013 at 20:01
  • @DanielBeck no, I would love if someone could answer it with a method that could work in any platform, for that reason I obscured the question and didn't stated what was my platform, as OSX users might have the same problem (or maybe even windows users).
    – Braiam
    Oct 15, 2013 at 20:01
  • @OliverSalzburg please read my comment to Daniel Beck above.
    – Braiam
    Oct 15, 2013 at 20:03
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    FWIW the Firefox one is platform-specific (or at least doesn't apply to all of them). Alt-3 prints # on my Mac. And I can type ° just fine as Shift-Alt-8.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Oct 15, 2013 at 20:03
  • @DanielBeck because of that I didn't state what platform was mine in the question. Can you add that as answer an too.
    – Braiam
    Oct 15, 2013 at 20:04
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    Regarding the dhclient answer, maybe it would suffice to qualify it with "On Linux, …" to make it clear that you don't consider it a universal answer. Right now, the question doesn't say, and your own, accepted answer just assumes you're on Linux/Unix. This really is a bit confusing.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Oct 15, 2013 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


You have received 3 upvotes (4 now, if you include mine :) and 0 downvotes on that answer and also had another user defend it from the one who was objecting to your answer being only for *nix. I don't see what the problem is.

Remember that SU has 199k registered users. Of these, perhaps 5 (3 votes + 2 commenters assuming neither of the latter voted) have taken an interest in your question. Of these at least 3 have considered your answer good, one of them or perhaps another user defended the specific nature of your answer and one and relatively low rep user asked you to clarify that it is *nix specific.

I don't see how you can conclude that SU wants OS-independent answers. If anything, it looks to me like your answer was well received, exactly as it should have been.

In any case, it is a good idea to explicitly mention if an answer is platform-dependent. It avoids this kind of issue and is helpful for everyone. I understand why you left the question vague, that way it can be more useful if other users answer for different OSs, that's fine (not the case in your firefox question by the way since the issue itself is Linux specific). Answers are different though and it is a good idea to clarify that if they only work on a specific OS. Especially when that OS isn't Windows since many Windows users are not even aware of the existence of other operating systems.


Ok, by comments seems that I've cleared some ideas:

  • Any answer that solves OP question is correct on their own, being they platform independent or not.
  • While if OP ask a platform independent tool and such tool doesn't exist (or is just unknown) if another method is proposed and states in which platforms works is a good answer.
  • Questions that doesn't specify the OS, could accept any answer as long at it solves the question and specify the platform.

Have I got it right?

  • "Questions that doesn't specify the OS, could accept any answer as long at it solves the question and specify the platform." If the matter of the specific platform is important I'll usually ask for clarification on that point in a comment before trying to provide an answer. The answer to even a seemingly-simple question like "how do I list the files in one directory and all of its subdirectories?" has quite different answers on classic Mac OS, Windows, or Linux. Very few software-related questions (though some!) can be meaningfully answered in a truly platform-independent way.
    – user
    Oct 22, 2013 at 13:18

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