Is there a reason for the limitation of 5 tags?

I find folksonomy incredibly useful and often times I caught myself retagging someone's post where I don't want to remove one of their five, but merely to add a 6th.

Is there a reason for this limitation? Apologies if this question exists somewhere already.

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Related: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/21344/… –  Ether Jan 6 '10 at 23:18
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A surprising number of people have absolutely no clue what makes for good tagging. You'll see questions "tagged" with every single keyword used in the post, or the raw title, or the entire question... That's probably not the reason for the limit, but it does help. –  Shog9 Jan 7 '10 at 0:15
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and what have we learned about any process involving people that has no limits..? codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001228.html –  Jeff Atwood Jan 7 '10 at 0:31
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One problem with max 5 tags is subtagging. If the consensus on sub tagging is to accept it, then 5 might not be enough, unless we create general guidelines on sub-tagging. –  Ciro Santilli Aug 21 '13 at 6:59
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The truth is, no matter how many tags were allowed, there are outlier questions that the author thinks needs just one more tag.

The consensus is that if you need more than five tags, you should probably look at simplifying the question. Your question may simply be too big and encompass too many areas of interest.

But, more likely, if you consistently need more than five tags, you are probably adding superfluous tags that aren't really needed. Five is a good limit because it encourages you to pare down the tags to just the essentials. Tagging is supposed to help categorize your question into its major areas of interest. It's not meant to try and sum up your question into every conceivable interest.

If you don't agree, I would suggest that you link to a few sample questions that need more tags. You'll either prove the convention wrong or the users here will come up with some recommendations.

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I agree with the sentiment, but is this view backed up with any hard evidence .. why not four for example, does six degrade search performance - if so what evidence is there ? –  NimChimpsky Jan 2 '13 at 12:40
    
Following the request to link to a few sample questions, I would pose stackoverflow.com/questions/19735621/… as an example of a question that really needs an additional tag or two (KnockoutJS and asp.net-spa), and could actually probably do well with about 5 more tags (including asp.net, jquery-ui and more), and I can't really see which tags would be appropriate to remove. Perhaps the question is overly broad, but I don't know how to narrow it down with the knowledge I have. –  BlueMonkMN Nov 1 '13 at 22:10
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If there wasn't a limit, then you would end up having questions with tens of applicable tags, which would help no-one - forcing a tag limit ensures that some thought goes into what tags are most applicable to a question.

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Some people already seem to want to make every noun in their questions into a tag. Don't encourage them.

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Agreed. I think the point is to force you to think about your tags for a moment. –  Joel Coehoorn Jan 7 '10 at 3:02
    
I feel nouns in title and tags are somewhat redundant. If we expect people not to tag every noun on the title we need to create general human enforced rules on which nouns should be tags or not, ex: white list for languages, libraries, OSs, programs, etc., but I'm afraid the list would be long. Tags also have the advantage of having an associated description. –  Ciro Santilli Aug 21 '13 at 6:54
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