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Version specific tags are meant to questions which are... version specific, right? Then why are we mixing with the apt tag which alone is a very broad tag, or bash, with is, again, a very broad tag? Please, do not use them together ever! Is just madness and confirm what Jeff most feared behavior which was "the community starts to believe that every question, no matter what, has to have a version tag."

APT alone is an excellent tag, any and every question about apt is applicable to any version of Ubuntu, doesn't need anything ambiguous such as version tags. Remember, that our behavior is how we expect others to follow, don't try to start the madness.

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While you raise a good point that version tags are massively overused on AU, there's nothing wrong with combining them with other tags.

If a question is about APT and the exact Ubuntu version doesn't matter, use only .

If a question is about APT and is only applicable to Ubuntu 14.04, use both and .

Generally speaking, use a version tag if and only if the question is only applicable to that specific Ubuntu version. Most questions should not have a version tag.

When thinking about what tags to use on a question, complete the sentence “my question is about …”. For example, Can I enable bash-completion for the new apt command? is about completion for the command apt in bash, so it should be tagged . The tag doesn't belong since this question isn't specific to Ubuntu 14.04.

  • "Most questions should not have a version tag." yet 10% of our questions are using 12.04 tag. – Braiam Apr 10 '14 at 0:18
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    It really is specific to 14.04. The apt command doesn't exist in any other release and it's doubly relevant because the problem being asked about is due to 14.04's version of the bash-completion package. If that's not version specific, nothing is. – Oli Apr 10 '14 at 0:20
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    @Braiam I'm already the tag police for Unix & Linux. I don't have time to be the tag police for Ask Ubuntu as well. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 0:20
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    @Oli The apt command is highly likely to exist in future releases. The fact that this is the first release to have a feature doesn't mean that the question won't apply to future releases. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 0:21
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    @Gilles The problem (bash-completion not having an apt definition) doesn't exist in those releases because they don't exist yet... and bash-completion could have been improved in them when they do come to life. It's rather a semantic argument but until we know the state of future releases, it's version specific. – Oli Apr 10 '14 at 0:24
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    This sort of walks you into a "How do you know what's version specific until you've witnessed every release?" debate. If something is shown to not be version specific, by all means drop bombs on that question's version tag(s)... If you don't know, why remove the tag? If it's the only tag, add some more. – Oli Apr 10 '14 at 0:28
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    @Oli No, that way lies madness: when a new version comes out, you'll have to retag almost all the questions to remove the version tag. Don't use version tags if the question might possibly be version-specific, only if it is definitely version-specific. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 0:29
  • I wish I could upvote your last comment thousand of times. I've seen question relevant to several future versions of X, and netherless being tagged like that. BTW, I hope becoming the tag police for AU, if I finally iron out all the inconsistencies and aberrations can be found. – Braiam Apr 10 '14 at 0:35
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    @Gilles That sword cuts both ways. Unless you know what future releases are going to be, it's impossible to know if a problem is release-specific unless you already know it isn't. What you are arguing would mean version tags just can't exist. That does questions that are actually painfully specific a massive disservice. – Oli Apr 10 '14 at 0:38
  • @Oli If you don't know just don't do. With the way you say we should tag, OP will always be certain that his question will be only relevant to the version of Ubuntu he's asking about/tagging with, if he doesn't know, why in the world he should use the tag at all? I don't see one rational reason. – Braiam Apr 10 '14 at 1:47
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No, sorry, you're completely wrong here. Before I explain why, just for anybody else watching, this is about my question here and seems to have since dissolved into an argument about version tags... It must be a day that ends in Y.

I'm going to start with a quick summary of my arguments (past and present), then an explanation on how that applies to my question and then an round up of counters to arguments made against these.

  • Version tags —with Jeff's blessing— are there to highlight questions linked to specific versions.
  • I'm not arguing that every issue has to have a version tag and I'm certainly against things only having a version tag.
  • There is no limit on which tags you use together. If a question is about two things, tag it accordingly. That includes versions. This is just how folksonomy works.
  • Unless it already isn't, you can't know something isn't version specific until you've tried every version ever made (including future releases). Your subtractive approach helps nobody if that problem does later turn out to be a version specific issue.

So the question under scrutiny...

I had a problem with the 14.04 version of the bash-completion package. The apt command (new to 14.04) doesn't have a completion file in the right place so you can't use Tab to auto-complete things. I was wondering if there was a quick way to enable similar behaviour to apt-get and apt-cache.

The problem is caused by bash-completion being behind the curve. It's not a bug; they just haven't written the file yet (probably because the apt command is still maturing). Even the latest Debian version doesn't have an apt file yet. Trusty is in freeze so it's unlikely that a fix will be brought in. And given the way SRUs work, seems likely this will be a problem for Trusty users for some considerable time.

Again, this is specific to 14.04 because 14.04 is the only release that has this issue.

Might the issue exist in future releases? Who knows! More importantly, who cares? The question is and will always be an issue I had with 14.04. It might go onto apply for other things and if that's the case we can look at the tagging again.

Isn't that just a bug in bash-completion in a dev release?

As I highlighted above, it's a problem (with a workaround) that will outlive the development period of Trusty. Unless somebody wants to do some serious SRUing, this is an issue that will be around for five years.

How do you ever know something is version specific?

Do your best. If you suspect it to be version specific, add the tag. If you can show it's not, remove it. Don't shoot on sight.

This is contrary to the approach being suggested in and under Gilles' answer. I've boiled that down to a flow diagram so you can see what the argument there really is: "Never use version tags"

flow diagram

This was made with tongue firmly in cheek but I mean it. We have version tags. Let's use them when they apply and not worry too much if we're slightly over-inclusive with them. Put more emphasis on getting the other tags as good as possible.

If you're worried about tagging, focus on making sure something has all the tags that definitely do apply rather than quibbling over tags that might not apply.

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    A tag tells what the question is about. If a question is tagged 14.04, it means that the question is about Ubuntu 14.04. If the question is equally applicable to other versions, then the fact that the asker may be running Ubuntu 14.04 is incidental and the tag should not be used. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 0:00
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    @Braiam This answer wasn't really even about version tagging (it's about the dictate you're trying to set about using broad tags) but since you bring it up, I'm exasperated that you think a problem specific to 14.04's version of Apt/bash-completions doesn't deserve a version tag. Exasperated. Given the number of times you've been on the unpopular side of this debate, I'm increasingly worried you think you're doing something desirable when you automatically strip them off every question you see. I consider that outright vandalism. – Oli Apr 10 '14 at 0:00
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    @Oli True. I'm not sure if this is a language problem, but the statement “any and every question about apt is applicable to any version of Ubuntu” is absurd. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 0:10
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    @Braiam I have better things to do than looking them up, but sometimes there are bugs in APT that require special handling during a version upgrade, to ensure that apt is upgraded to a non-buggy version before running an apt-get dist-upgrade that would otherwise fail. A question about such cases would naturally be tagged apt 42.x. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 0:19
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    @Braiam My example is an example of a question that should stay. Don't take “bug reports are off-topic too far”: reporting bugs is off-topic, but working around bugs isn't. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 0:43
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    @Braiam, Oli Here you go. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 1:25
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    @Gilles You can port a version specific issue to another release?! Wow. Couldn't you do that with just about any issue? I've added a flow diagram that features that point. Try not to get too silly about this. – Oli Apr 10 '14 at 11:45
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    @Oli If the issue was version-specific, it would not apply to another version. This apt completion issue is not specific to an Ubuntu version — that's the point. The apt completion issue applies to any version up to and including 14.04, whenever a recent enough version of a particular piece of software is installed. Issues with manually-compiled software are on-topic here as long as you're running that software on an official Ubuntu release. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 11:53
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    @Gilles If you deliberately go out of your way to port issues around, sure, you're running in to a similar problem but in a very different context. Yours isn't version specific. Mine is. – Oli Apr 10 '14 at 12:06
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    @Oli I didn't go out of my way to port the issue around: I merely compiled a program on a supported Ubuntu release. I ran into exactly the same problem, and no relevant part of the context was different (which is why our questions were duplicate, and admitted identical answers). Since the Ubuntu version was not a relevant part of the context, it should not be used as a tag. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 10 '14 at 12:22
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    @Gilles You replaced the version somebody on 14.04 will be on by default with one of your own. That's the point of version tags - to get some sort of idea of the system. We can go round and round and round on this but that's not how things work here... And it almost sounds like you're asking me to create a bash-completion-2.1-4 tag. – Oli Apr 10 '14 at 12:45
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    @Braiam "that I'm in the unpopular side doesn't mean I'm wrong.": actually, it does. This is a democracy and the definition of "correct" here is "the opinion of the community". If the community is "wrong", that's too bad. You may think that your position is "correct" but as you can see, the community disagrees and therefore you are wrong by definition. Even if there were some objective criterion by which you would be considered "right" (and there isn't as far as I'm concerned) that is completely irrelevant. Being on the unpopular side of a community decision means you're wrong. Period. – terdon Apr 11 '14 at 14:10
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    @Braiam it is very relevant. My point is that as far as I, and apparently the rest of the community, are concerned, your way of using tags is wrong. Time has never proven you right in anyone's eyes but your own. What you describe is "tag misuse and abuse", not a way of avoiding it. Nevertheless, you insist and refuse to consider the possibility that it might be you who is mistaken and not everybody else. I know you mean well and that you want to make the site more efficient, I know that's your goal. I just think you are achieving the exact opposite with the way you tag. – terdon Apr 11 '14 at 14:21
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    @Braiam 1) Gilles is making a different point. Your post is describing an absolute and, frankly, absurd position: "never use version tags and apt". Gilles is saying that there are cases where both should be used. Your downvotes are mostly for that never. Of course version tags are abused on AU, everyone agrees with that, it's just your extreme position that we disagree with. 2) That said, I don't completely agree with Gilles either. That's allowed you know. – terdon Apr 11 '14 at 14:35
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    @Braiam I know. And I disagree with precisely the whole concept of a "war". I'm not saying they are being used correctly, I'm saying that the way you suggest is also not correct. Also, the "cult of Jeff" that we have on SE is a bit ridiculous. Yes the man started it and yes he tends to be right about how things should be done. However, "because Jeff said so" is not a good argument and never has been. Even less so now that he has stepped down from SE. So, 1) I am not convinced that you are expressing Jeff's opinion and 2) Even if you are, there is nothing that says that Jeff is always right. – terdon Apr 11 '14 at 15:26
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When Can I enable bash-completion for the new apt command? was first posted, 14.04 LTS was new and was the only Ubuntu release for which the issue applied. It seems to me that the question was, at that time, about as version-specific as questions can get.

Since then, 14.10 and 15.04 have been released, and they both suffer from the same problem. (I have verified this.) This is to say that they both ship with the apt utility but neither ships with bash-completion for it. There's no reason to think Oli's solution is any any way release-specific (just the problem, as it originally existed). Furthermore, I have tested his solution on 15.04 and it works.

So I've removed the tag, in accordance with Oli's advice about how to use version tags:

How do you ever know something is version specific?

Do your best. If you suspect it to be version specific, add the tag. If you can show it's not, remove it. Don't shoot on sight.

While I've expressed my views on the controversy in this post, this is primarily as a form of full disclosure. I didn't remove the tag to make a statement or advance any policy position. Instead:

  1. The tag was confusing for me when I found the question when searching for help with my 15.04 problem.
  2. I followed the link to this meta question and was reminded of its history (which I'd mostly forgotten about).
  3. I verified that both the question and answer now apply to multiple releases.
  4. So I removed the tag.

I would not ordinarily post a meta answer when retagging a question, obviously. In this case there's been spirited disagreement and I want to make clear that I am not trying to act in a way that's unaccountable to the community. If someone puts the tag back, I will not get an in edit war to remove it again. (I don't see any reason to put it back, though, from any of the perspectives that have been expressed here. So my guess is, that won't happen.)

I have anticipated two possible concerns:

  • Why not add tags instead? I don't think anyone wants questions that apply to three releases to have version tags, but even if we did generally do that, we couldn't here. A question can only have five tags; , , and remain important to the question; and thus it cannot reasonably be tagged with , , and too.
  • But, for the OP (Oli), wasn't it about 14.04? Originally, yes, but now it affects all recent releases and questions on Ask Ubuntu don't exist only (or even primarily) for their askers. The task of our site and community is to create a library of Ubuntu questions and answers, which can then be used by anyone. At this point in time, removing the tag doesn't harm the author, but it does help the community at large, now and in the future.

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