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In CL 167747, we implemented support for the @patch version query in go get for #26812, and made -u=patch imply @patch for positional arguments that do not specify any other version.
In retrospect, that behavior seems too subtle: it changes the meaning of one argument based on another, and the other argument might not even be explicit on the command line (for example, it could be set via GOFLAGS). We should reconsider that decision.
Perhaps when -u=patch is set we should require an explicit @version suffix for all arguments, so that it is clear whether the user means “upgrade the argument and patch its dependencies” or “patch the argument and its dependencies”.