More than most other sites, the majority of our questions require a specific piece of information:

  • What RDBMS and what version is the asker using?

If it's possible, would it be a benefit to add this to our "Ask" page similar to the high quality mockup below as an extra reminder for the details we need to answer a question?

Yes, I am a professional web designer guy!

I think this would reduce answering time on questions and reduce frustration for a lot of our most prolific answerers. Almost every answer is both RDBMS and version dependent, and I think we should make that clear to our visitors.

4 Answers 4


Similar ideas have been popping up on meta.SO.

I am all for it.

My favorite would be to enforce the declaration of a basic (DBMS) tag. We'd need some sort of tag to go with that, but with simpler wording - many people won't understand "db-agnostic", especially if English is not their first language. Maybe .

Also something like to enable questions for DBMS' that have no accepted base tag yet. We'd also need a way to classify "base" tags in the tagging system. would be a prime target for later tag edits.

We could have a similar system like with the major tags on the meta sites where you can't commit without at least one of those.

In addition suggest to also declare a specific version with a reminder like the mock-up in the question.

  • 3
    My vote goes to "Mandatory RDBMS, optional version, optional edition". As for "agnostic", I have encountered a few native-English speakers who queried the use of that word in IT as they had only ever come across it in reference to religion. Perhaps use the term "any" or "generic"? Mar 25, 2013 at 2:16

I'll chime in here, seeing as I started the original discussion on chat.

I think that the message is a good idea, but enforcing a base RDBMS tag (Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase, DB2. MySQL, Postgres etc) OR "RDBMS agnostic" might be a better way to go. Often the OP will post a question that will have a wildly different answer depending on which RDBMS they're using (think things like performance, security, none-functional aspects of administration, etc) and they may not revisit the site for a kin period of time before checking back. Dead time if we don't know which RDBMS.

(Apologies for this being a brain dump - on my iPhone at the moment)

  • 1
    What kind of DBA omits this detail from a question, even without a reminder or an enforcement? Mar 21, 2013 at 20:31
  • 8
    @WalterMitty it's mostly non-DBAs asking questions here that cause this issue. We get a lot of involuntary-DBA types, and the scope of the site is not limited to DBA questions: data modelling, NoSQL, advanced querying are all on-topic.
    – JNK
    Mar 21, 2013 at 20:59
  • 2
    @WalterMitty Also there are many people who think sql identifies their platform enough - some think that could only possibly mean MySQL, others only SQL Server. Still more think those two are the same and tag as both, but that's a different issue. As JNK says, these are not necessarily DBAs that are leaving this vital detail out of their posts...
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Apr 23, 2013 at 16:27

I think a reminder is the way to go, given the proliferation of and tags that you would have to curate if you wanted to enforce it.

Also, it's not necessarily appropriate to enforce this on some questions on (for example data modelling). Even though the OP may have a specific platform in mind, this type of question may well be applicable across different platforms and forcing it to be tagged with a specific platform may cause it to be overlooked by people to whom it is relevant.

  • 1
    Good points. Just to be clear (I'll update the Q as well) I'm only advocating for a nag message, NOT a requirement that a specific subset of tags always be included.
    – JNK
    Mar 21, 2013 at 15:35
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    Sometimes even just knowing that it is Oracle is half the battle, so the base tag could be required, then they could add a version-specific tag if necessary. I prompt for those when it's relevant anyway. Sometimes edition is also important, like limitations in Express and features only available in Enterprise. But like version, not always.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Mar 21, 2013 at 15:38
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    And your last point is what an agnostic tag would be for.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Mar 21, 2013 at 15:39
  • I answered such an "agnostic" question less than an hour ago. Even if it wasn't explicitly tagged as such. Apr 3, 2013 at 11:49

So this is going to be a site for those people who operate, as Fabian Pascal calls it, "in cookbook mode".

How do I do this in (my product here). And don't bother me with theoretical standards, because I've got practical things to do.

If that's what you want, fair enough. I wish you the best of luck.

  • 7
    Not at all. Please note that my original post specifies that this is OPTIONAL, but we just strongly encourage them to mention it. 9/10 of the time a question and answer will be bound to a specific implementation - that's just the nature of the beast. Design and agnostic questions are still welcome and encouraged but they are rarer.
    – JNK
    Apr 3, 2013 at 12:07
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    I can't think of anyone who'd discourage db-agnostic questions. Those are very welcome, you got that wrong. The problem lies with incorrect, missing or misleading declaration of questions, which is just wasting everybody's time. Apr 23, 2013 at 19:12
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    Just look at where the upvotes are going. "I'm advocating to nag the people who don't declare a specific DBMS". "I'm all for mandatory DBMS". And look at where the downvotes are going. Merely for expressing the opinion that if that's what you want, I simply have no business here (which is, whether you like it or not, just simply and plainly a true fact). Pascal is right. The world is in a very very sorry state if this is the reaction you get for honestly speaking one's mind. Apr 23, 2013 at 22:57
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    Rather than clarify your position in comments, consider editing your answer - not everyone reads comments. Adopting a slightly less confrontational style there might help too. Just some friendly advice.
    – Paul White Mod
    May 30, 2015 at 21:33

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