In SharePoint Overflow 1.0, there was some encouragement to tag questions with a version, e.g. or .

This can be great to help answer a question, or for people that only know certain product versions. However it also brings these problems:

  • questions with just the version tag and no others
  • duplicate questions targeted for different versions
  • a tag that shouldn't be there because the question applies to every version
  • a lot of time for the community to check every question and add the tags

Are these tags actually helpful or should they be discouraged - and if so, when?

(Further reading: similar question on Meta WordPress Stack Exchange.)

Related: What SharePoint SKUs are on-topic here and how should we tag them?

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5 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I think we should keep these tags for major SharePoint versions. They provide helpful contextual information when they are present. Additionally I don't think the presence of the tag completely invalidates the answer for future or past versions.

We should put some guidelines around the use of these tags:

  • Add a version specific tag only when the question is version specific.
  • Use the major SharePoint version tag
  • Do NOT allow duplicate questions for different versions (version specific information can be added to the existing question).
  • Allow the use of only the version tag but suggest adding more.

*The tags for major versions should help mitigate the issue wordpress is having with all the minor versions. Major version tags are present in the AskUbuntu site and I think they are useful.

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Thanks for your post. I've rewritten mine to clarify what I think is so wrong with version tagging and would be interested in what you and others think. In response to your post, I think "Allow the use of only the version tag" let's people get away without tagging properly and is going to make it harder to find content. Although I have seen that sometimes there doesn't seem to be a tag that fits a question - that's another topic for meta. –  Alex Angas Apr 10 '11 at 8:29
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@alex his last point "add version as needed, not required" is critical and should be at the top of this post in a <h2>. Where I see this go septic is when users start thinking EVERY SINGLE QUESTION has to have a version tag; that's very, very bad. –  Jeff Atwood May 22 '11 at 3:55
    
I find that, when I post Sharepoint questions, no matter what is the topic (even if I think it doesn't or shouldn't matter), some user comes and demands to know the version anyway. –  BGM Nov 23 '12 at 16:14
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I do think that we need version tags.

  • There are different problems on the different version platforms
  • One problem may appear or be solved differently in the different veresions
  • When the next version hits the street it will be easy to separate for instance questions about the 2010 sandbox SA and the vNext sandbox SA
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(Rewritten - see the edit history for my original post.)

As we know, tags are used in the system to help categorise content by topic. People click on them to find more information about the same topic. So consider the user experience of someone that clicks or searches on the sharepoint-2007 tag, perhaps in conjunction with another tag like development.

  1. They find questions specifically about SharePoint 2007. Good user experience.

  2. They never find questions tagged sharepoint-2003, even though some functionality from that version works exactly the same in SP 2007. The OP using the SP 2003 tag had that version installed at the time so tagged their question with it, but have never used SP 2007 so don't know that their question applies in exactly the same way. Bad user experience.

  3. They never find questions tagged sharepoint-2010, even though some functionality from that version also works exactly the same in SP 2007. Again, the OP using this tag had their issue with the later version so tagged their question with it, without knowing the previous version behaved in the same way. Bad user experience.

This shows to me that version tagging doesn't help people find the information they want. In fact, it makes it harder. I have other issues with it as well such as duplicating the same content in multiple posts, causing problems with maintaining high quality.

It seems to me if we keep the version tags that the only way to make them work is have the community maintain them carefully. This means that every question needs to be checked on whether the version tag has been applied correctly. This is a massive workload (I've tried to do it since the site began and put 90% of my moderator time into it) that I think could be better put elsewhere.

My thoughts on a solution are to only allow one question without duplication for different versions - a "one stop" location for information about that topic. Answers to that question can cover the differing versions if necessary. In the rare case where a feature only existed for one version, the question title or content can always include the version if really required.

(Note: OP == "Original Poster". In the example, "original question asker".)

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Would the version be put in the title of the question? I have seen a few ambiguous questions on SO with sharepoint as the tag, and the first comment always has to be 2007 or 2010? –  djeeg Apr 9 '11 at 7:11
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@djeeg: So that's partly my point - do we really want one question for 2007 and a separate question for 2010? Or just a single question that contains answers for both? –  Alex Angas Apr 9 '11 at 7:27
    
Those are some good points about finding content, but is that an issue with the tags or an issue with search? For example, I can see how the version specific tag might help when using google. Regarding tagging every question, this is why I thought we should put guidelines in. We can't possibly expect moderators to tag every question but that is OK. Personally, I feel like tags are supposed to be a quick and easy categorization structure. –  Kit Menke Apr 10 '11 at 13:01
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I'd give that an "absolutely" answer. There are so many things that are significantly important about the versions when someone asks a question that we need these tags. I reply to questions on many of the forums besides here and one of the first questions I usually end up asking is "What version of SharePoint?"

It's not good enough in many cases to say "2007" or "2010", either. There are different SKUS that matter: WSS 3.0, MOSS, SharePoint 2010 Server, etc. Often SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010 is adequate, though. Simple saying "2007" to me means the year 2007 (or two thousand and seven), which might be interesting, but serves to confuse. What's wrong with using what we all actually say: "SharePoint 2007"?

This seems to be another case where the SE folks are telling us from a library sciences perspective what the "right" answer is, but that answer is wrong. I've ranted enough on their practices already, so I'll leave it at that.

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I'm bucking the trend here and saying Version tagging is a bad idea. Encouraged when available but a few scenarios where a version tag is a bad idea:

1) Upgrades (that's at least 2 version tags, maybe 3 or even 4 depending on how far you're "bumping up" as a content db attach migrate could have you going 2003->2007->2010 as I've had to do)

2) It's possible to ask a version agnostic question concerning all SharePoint versions. For example questions on architecture or governance.

3) This requires updating (would somebody please add a tag for SharePoint 2012 now? Oh wait Microsoft just renamed it to SharePoint 2014....dooh!) I'm not saying any new versions of SharePoint are in the works (I wouldn't know), but given the way Microsoft likes to handle and rename their development projects this could get cumbersome as rumors of another SharePoint version start to trickle in...

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