I've written a JavaScript-related question, and I tagged it with , but it was (for my unfortunate surprise) marked as , which is its synonym master. And it wasn't just me who found that weird: user 200_success also demonstrated to be unsure on what portability tag meant in my question, and despite both might appear to be interchangeable, they actually aren't, as we can note in their tag wiki descriptions:


Portable code can be run with little to no modification in multiple environments. Portable applications can be run from, for example, a USB drive without modifying a computer's environment.


Cross-browser refers to the ability of a website, web application, HTML construct or client-side script to function in environments that provide its required features and to bow out or degrade gracefully when features are absent or lacking.

We can also note disambiguation evidences in Simon's comment and Joe's answer.

What do you think about desynonymizing them? How could we handle that change?

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    \$\begingroup\$ In my opinion, you present a weak case. You may have a point, or not, but your question doesn't provide any research done on the matter. It's a simple "I disagree with the status quo, can we change it?" without arguments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mast Mod
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 19:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can agree with this suggestion just by considering what I think that the words mean: Cross-browser means cross-browser compatibility, but portability mean portability across Operating Systems. While cross-browser might be considered the browsers' version of portability. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 19:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've unlinked the portabilitycross-browser synonym. My point about your question still remains, though: if your question doesn't have a particular cross-browser compatibility concern, then there's no need to apply a cross-browser tag. It would be just like any other question with browser-related code. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 6:41

1 Answer 1


If we look at Stack Overflow, to see the state of their tags.

  • Portability

    Portable code can be run with little to no modification in multiple environments. Portable applications can be run from e.g. a USB drive without modifying a computer's environment.

    24 followers, 1064 questions, 6 asked this month, 99 this year.

  • Cross-browser

    Cross-browser development refers to the practice of building web sites, web applications, libraries, or components so that they function across different web browsers and rendering engines.

    261 followers, 7227 questions, 9 asked this week, 57 this month.

  • Cross-platform

    An attribute conferred to computer software or computing methods and concepts that are implemented and inter-operate on multiple computer platforms.

    223 followers, 3735 questions, 9 asked this week, 46 this month.

Portability seems to be aimed at a different task to both cross-browser and cross-platform. It's meant for apps that need nothing installed on the users computer. One where you say 'download and run this.' Then you cut the folder onto a USB and it's now working exactly the same on your other computers.

You can have a portable app, that is not cross platform.
I.e a self contained C program that can only run on Windows.

You can also have a portable app, that is not cross browser.
I.e. a static website run from a USB, but only runs on one browser correctly.

I think that we should have all three of these tags. As currently we have an odd meaning of portable. And it's 'sub-tags' are more popular.

I looked at Stack Overflow as it has all three tags, and we don't even have a portability tag wiki.

And I looked at cross-platform due to Simon's comment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly! Good answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – falsarella
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 13:51

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