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In 2014 I noticed a number of questions with version tags, but the question or answers are not version specific.

Having the version in the question body is certainly useful and appropriate for all questions, but I think also having it question titles and tags is another story, unless it truly is version specific.

This was mentioned in comments when version tags were discussed in 2010 at Formatting tags relating to version numbers? Consensus appeared to be that version tags should only be used if the question is version specific.

I wholeheartedly agree - to tag just because that's the version being used, even if it's a generic question, devalues the version tag when specifics are used to narrow search results (more on this below). In 2013 the subject was also discussed in terms of retagging and editing old posts when software went 'out of date' at Should tags be removed because they refer to old software? where again consensus appeared to be only if version specific. The subject was also touched on specific to ArcGIS at Tagging ArcGIS questions?

What I am asking about / proposing is not about going back and retagging lots of old answers. What I am interested in is recent questions and moving forward. We seem to have forgotten the original consensus, or at least not be implementing it. My first idea was this question, to bring it back to people's minds to be aware of as they edit and post.

Or perhaps the original consenus no longer holds. A point raised by @PolyGeo below is that use of version tags has shifted from earlier consensus (which seems to have held some sway into 2013 based on comments in the above cited questions). The 'newer' approach and use of a version tag is perfectly valid and reasonable – quickly narrowing down questions to consider based on what you have access to and getting an idea of user base.

But to my mind this is at odds with the earlier approach - if everything is tagged a version just because that's what asker is using, then the tag means nothing in terms of whether the question or issue actually has any relevance to version number. If I browse the 10.2 tag right now, most of what I see are questions that could be solved the exact same way in any version of ArcGIS, and so an tag means the same thing as the generic tag.

That also hinders searching in a couple of ways. A searcher may not even consider the result since they don’t have that version. Conversely, often only the version tag is applied and not the parent software, so general issue search results may not present a version result that has an applicable solution. And with a generic question, any of multiple results would suffice but a version tag could help narrow results, particularly if there is a difference that depends on version. As has already been pointed out, it may not be possible to know if a question is version specific without an answer.

One solution to the version tag only problem is present in other tagging systems, but I don't know that it is here: if a particular tag is added, its parent tag is also automatically added (ie, adding tag automatically adds tag). Note this is different than synonyms.

I also wonder if we should revise some of the tag wikis so that all version tags abstracts either say or at least start with something like for questions that apply *only* to this specific version of the software (for my use of version, something different for that PolyGeo mentions)? Currently they're varied in format and generic - 'a specific version' seems kind of obvious and doesn't imply any meaning or reason. Some seem to place what the software is into the abstracts rather than direction for use of the tag (granted, appropriateness of that varies by tag).

Can the two approaches to using tags co-exist, or do they contradict each other like I view it? Which way should we move forward, and how do we encourage that?

Examples - why should these questions (grabbed at random with a check running down the list) be tagged ? The question and answers appear to apply to any version of ArcGIS to me and the version is irrelevant. (Again, this is from the viewpoint version tags indicate a specific relevance as opposed to a more generic 'being used'.)

  1. How to auto increment a field in a feature class?
  2. How to generate StreetFrom and StreetTo data from street segments?
  3. Calculating percentiles of a raster (TRMM DATA)

If a function changes between versions, or a tool is new, sure. I usually see that noted in the answer like here. Further, with that question specifying version in body definitely needed. But the question itself, and the solutions not noted to require a different version, are not specific to 9.3.

On the other hand, with this question, if the Split tool has changed where it used to order in sequence and no longer does, the tag would certainly apply. Or 'why does my data frame change projection when I add a basemap' would need (at least) a 10.1 tag because it's a bug in that version.

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I agree with @PolyGeo's original and now deleted answer to this but just wanted to add a couple of points:

  • For many users it's difficult to actually know whether a question or problem is exclusive to a particular version but they usually know the version that they are using.

    Since it's better to err on the safe side and include rather than exclude information here, the better default is to include the version tag, for that and the other reasons already expressed.

  • It is possible use wildcards to search by tags. E.g. searching for [arcgis*] automatically expands to the search:

    [arcgis-desktop] or [arcgis-10.0] or [arcgis] or [arcgis-10.1] or [arcgis-server] or [arcgis-javascript-api] or [arcgis-9.3] or [arcgis-10.2] or [arcgis-engine] or [arcgis-flex-api] or [arcgis-online] or [arcgis-silverlight-api] or [arcgis-rest-api] or [arcgis-runtime] or [arcpy] or [arcgis-runtime-sdk-wpf] or [arcgis-android] or [arcgis-mobile] or [arcgis-platform] or [arcgis-flex-viewer]
    
  • I have seen conflicting guidance on other meta sites about this topic, but with the passage of time I think it has become clear that using version-specific tags has become the norm across SE, with the more technical sites such as ServerFault especially favoring them because in that realm, versions really do matter a lot -- as they do in ours, I would suggest.

    On the other hand, sometimes version numbers can be overkill, as was decided over on SuperUser regarding the Firefox version-specific tags.

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At the time this question was asked, nearly 6 years ago, I was an advocate for version tags. However, since that time I have come to view them as having little value.

I think that as long as any version(s) being asked about, and hopefully tested and reported on, is/are mentioned in the body of a question, then I think it/they are best left out of the tags.

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    Can you elaborate on why you have changed your mind? Is it related to any arguments presented either in the question or your former answer, or something else? – Chris W Feb 20 at 2:17
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    @ChrisW I think it was just seeing more and more versions of software coming through, and that the differences between versions were becoming less and less. My earlier view was formed around the times of ArcGIS Desktop 9.2/9.3/10.0/10.1/10.2 when to answer we often needed to know what dot release was being used. From 10.2 to 10.8 I've not much cared what someone was using because my answer would usually be the same. Without using version tags the discussion around what should be in that version tag (only version it applies to vs version being used) becomes moot. – PolyGeo Feb 20 at 3:26
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I fully agree with the arguments you make in the question, which I consider an answer in itself.

Version tags should only be used when answers to a question will only be useful to that specific version. Matt Wilkie makes a nice summary in his comment on Formatting tags relating to version numbers?

People should be encouraged to use version tags only if there really is something version specific about their question, and it's perfectly okay for someone other than the poster to change a tag if it really isn't version specific.

The alternative approach suggested by PolyGeo (now deleted) goes against the system design, let's see:

All the other SE communities I currently participate, follow the approach suggested by Jeff Attwood's (one of SE's founder) in What are the guidelines for using version-specific tags?, which is in line with arguments made in your question and in this answer:

In general, you should strongly avoid creating version tags.

I would only use version tags when the question content is irrevocably tied to a specific version of something and can never be relevant to earlier versions or later versions.

In other words, it is perfectly sufficient to tag your question when it contains c# code. You do not need to say that it is because it uses LINQ features. c# is c#!

The only questions that should use the tag, in my opinion, are those questions which are specifically asking for detail about features that were added in 4.0.

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