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As a followup to

Version tags considered harmful

TL;DR -- my main point in that post:

The danger of version tags is that they become de-facto requirements -- crutches to avoid thinking about what tags are actually useful on a question. Left unchecked, version tags will poison your tagging system rendering it useless. Don't get me wrong: version tags can exist, but should only be used on posts that are truly specific to a particular version.

With that in mind, I think we have a compromise that is workable.

Instead of

Henceforth, version tags for the core product discussed on a site entirely dedicated to that product will be numbers only, such as

This solves a bunch of problems:

  • It reduces the redundant repetition of "Drupal" in tags on a website that is already entirely dedicated to Drupal.

  • It avoids "autocomplete syndrome" where new users type the first thing that comes to mind in the tags field, Drupal, and are forced into this rigid and dangerous "oh, I must specify a version" mindset from the get-go.

  • When users do begin typing a number in the tags field, they will get the version, which is probably what they wanted at that point so we are guessing their intentions better.

  • The number tags are clean and simple; when you see on a Drupal site, it is IMO quite obvious what that tag is for.

Bottom line, it allows the version tags to exist -- which as I have always said is fine -- while keeping their use under control, so they can be applied only to questions that are truly version specific as originally intended.

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    you had me worried for a few days, if my time spent on building this site would have been wasted. Great that you were able to find a compromise and help improve the site. Kudos! – googletorp May 26 '11 at 8:05
  • Is then not a problem if the "7" tag is used for the majority of the questions? – kiamlaluno May 26 '11 at 12:05
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    @kia it is not great, but apparently the Drupal community here feels it is necessary. I still think everyone should be vigilant that questions that do not need the [7] tag do not have it. – Jeff Atwood May 26 '11 at 22:12
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First, thank you for trying to find a compromise. :)

However, I'm not sure if this helps. We do not have to use version tags. I see how they are a mis-use of the tagging system and all the problems that come with it.

But we need a proper, standardized way of attaching the relevant version meta data to questions (and also answers). Because, if we don't have that, 50% (blind guess ;)) of the questions will not contain that information initially, which requires asking back, which costs time, slows the process down and, if the questioner does not come back to specify, the question will very likely not be answered, which will negatively affect our answered ratio, among other things.

Mark Trapp explained our "version thing" very well over here.

In short, we almost always need the version information because of:

  • The correct answer could, but must not depend on the version
  • The questioner most likely does not know if the answer will be specific to the version he uses or not. But in almost all cases, he is asking for a specific version (the one is is currently using).

Additionally, Even if the answer is for example correct for Drupal 6 and 7, there is no guarantee that it will still be correct for Drupal 8 or 9. I think not knowing for which version an answer is could easily cause more pain than having the same question for two or three different versions. Because most API's (and as explained before and by Mark Trapp, Drupal major versions are more than just an API, they are an ecosystem of "ways of doing things" and contributed modules) are changing and the questions and answers about them are therefore by definition not timeless and true for the remaining human history, as you put it.

You can easily see this problem on SO too, for example with a large amount of old iphone/objective-c questions. I'm currently doing my first large iPhone development project and have a lot of questions. SO is very helpful, because almost all my questions have already been asked by someone else. However, many answers are from 08/09/10 and are using now deprecated or removed API's. Some have the new version edited in, but for many others, that information might only be in a comment (if you're lucky), an answer with 0 upvotes far below or not mentioned at all.

And because in Drupal there are most of the time two more or less equally active versions, it gets even more complex than having an old and and a new version of doing something. And at the same time easier, because there is a limited number of major versions with api changes unlike the iphone SDK, which has 3.1, 4.2, 4.3 and what not.

That said, I'm not sure what would be the best way to deal with that. One idea I had was to add a list of checkboxes to questions and answers so that you can mark which version you are using/interested in (question) or for which version your question is verified to work (can be multiple versions and edited later on).

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    Keeping questions up to date is why even anonymous users can submit edits here, just like Wikipedia. Beyond that, it's no different than complaining that "user x didn't give us enough information to answer his iPhone question." No matter what UI you put in front of them, bad users will do bad and dumb things, like not give you critical information you need to answer their question. Fortunately, good users will. :) So the problem becomes, how do we get bad users to go away, and good users to stay? – Jeff Atwood May 25 '11 at 22:10
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    It doesn't matter if the first version doesn't get it right as long as we get it right eventually. Even given users not supplying useful information in the initial form of the question, once we find out what version the user is talking about, it can be tagged by a member of the community and be a benefit for everyone in the future (i.e. for future visitors who have version tags ignored/marked interesting, or being able to target questions wholesale for improvement when a version becomes obsolete). – user7 May 25 '11 at 22:23
  • Yes, but we know that we will need the version number almost always in advance. For an iphone question, you can assume he is using the most recent SDK. That is not true for Drupal as explained before. And explicitly asking the version in the UI would be an obvious reminder. I do not want to punish bad users or have them go away. I want them to become good users and contribute to this site. Drupal is well known for the great community and we try to be nice to new users :) – Berdir May 25 '11 at 22:31
  • @Berdir that's a problem solved by community interaction through comments and retagging. I ask a question with no version info. You comment: "Hey, what version are you using?" Me: "Oh, Drupal 6" You add the [6] tag to the question. Now all future visitors and potential answerers know it's a Drupal 6 question, & everyone's tag filters are updated. Like you said, a lot of times people don't even know their question is version specific, but knowledgeable users will know in a lot of cases (like, if you're talking about Field API or DBTNG, you're using 7.x) and tag the question appropriately. – user7 May 25 '11 at 22:38
  • If anything, we should consider adding something about the importance of knowing version numbers in the FAQ. – user7 May 25 '11 at 22:43
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    @Mark: Yes, but "version tags can exist, but should only be used on posts that are truly specific to a particular version.". If we now start adding those 6/7 tags to all questions, like we did with drupal-6/7, then they are again the two most used tags in two month, and we'll be at the exact same position as we're now and they will be removed again. But yes, we should really have a faq about the version number/tagging thing (once we agreed on the exact tagging policy/version handling). – Berdir May 25 '11 at 22:54
  • @Berdir I don't think anything has changed substantially with respect to how we should be tagging. There's going to be a small handful of questions that are version agnostic (I'm thinking things like deployment or contributing, but even certain implementation edge cases), but much of the implementation questions do have version-specific answers and would rightfully get a tag. Of course, if a knowledgeable member of the community points out the solution provided works for all current versions, that person can remove the version-specific tag. – user7 May 25 '11 at 23:01
  • That is to say, I believe this change was to make version tagging more of a deliberate, thoughtful process instead of tagging it with whatever [drupal-*] tag happened to come up when the user couldn't think of any tags to use (that is, a clueless user starts typing drupal and the tagging engine autocompletes it to drupal-6 or drupal-7 because that's the most-used tag) – user7 May 25 '11 at 23:03
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    If we can get away with that, that's fine with me :) As I understand Jeff Atwood right now, we will not, but I might be wrong. I guess the problem right now is that we can't get the original version tag back for the existing questions. I looks like someone renamed the "please-remove-this-tag" tag to 7, which means we have currently >1k questions with that tag, so 50% of them are now obviously tagged wrong :) We'll see if that can be untangled. – Berdir May 25 '11 at 23:07
  • @mark we could easily add a tip to indicate version in the "How to Ask" panel on the right hand side of the /questions/ask page. Of course the types of users who don't read will just not read this, either .. but it's better than nothing, I suppose. – Jeff Atwood May 26 '11 at 6:02
  • @Jeff I just had the same idea (adding some hints to the block). Something like "Remember to report the Drupal version and relevant modules you are using." – Berdir May 26 '11 at 8:08
  • @berdir open another meta topic about what the "How to Ask" panel should say.. you can see the current copy by visiting the ask question page – Jeff Atwood May 26 '11 at 8:10
  • Ok, did that: meta.drupal.stackexchange.com/questions/257/… – Berdir May 26 '11 at 8:33

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