With this SO blog post in mind, I tend to see a lot of questions which either specify a GUI or a CLI solution. I'm not sure if that's a good idea. I think both GUI and CLI answers should be given without the answerer having to apologise first ("I know you didn't ask for CLI, but this can help"), and the asker can accept whichever apporach (GUI/CLI) she prefers.

One example is this and that question, which should really be merged I think, and the question edited accordingly.

3 Answers 3


Good idea! I merged those. I agree completely, and in the future I think it's sufficient to flag these for mod attention with a brief explanation and URL of the target..


Oh, that's why that merge happened. This seems like a really bad idea to me. If you post a question that says "I need to know how to do this through a CLI", and then another user edited your post to say "CLI or GUI" and you got a bunch of GUI answers, wouldn't that annoy you? Answerers shouldn't be starting their answer with "I know you didn't ask for CLI", they shouldn't be posting that answer at all. These questions aren't duplicates, they have different answers -- the sets of answers don't even overlap, they're disjoint

  • I see your point, but the risk is worth it. The ideal answer will show both CLI and GUI ways (if applicable). On another note, I think Jeff should have left out "CLI or GUI" part out of the question, because it's redundant (it's already tagged so).
    – tshepang
    Jan 6, 2011 at 1:11

I am all for more generic questions (despite the fact that the questions I have asked are usually very specific) and found that recent blog post interesting.

However, I think it is important to figure out when two questions on what seem to be the same topic are really about a more general issue. Perhaps those of you with more experience on other SE sites can bring in some insight on how it works across platforms on SU or across programming languages on SO.

Personally, I feel that we should make an aggressive push to generalize distro-specific questions and simply mention portability issues within answers.

However, I think that command-line questions versus gui questions on the same topic are really different questions that attract different types of users and clearly different solutions. Combining them may make it hard for a clearly "best" answer to emerge and could slow the natural collaborate process that happens between answerers on many of the command line questions. Personally, this isn't a hill I think this worth fighting for, so if we decide to merge all of the GUI and command-line variants of similar questions, so be it. I'd much rather see all the "on Debian" or "on Ubuntu" questions generalized first though.

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