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Why is there a tag limit?

There should be 7 at least.

  • 22
    Yet you only used two... Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 11:52
  • 13
    Why not 11? Turn it up to Eleven!!!
    – STW
    Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 12:34
  • 2
    Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 14:00
  • 1
    Why you got to hate on only 5 tags? Were not all rich.
    – Troggy
    Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 14:49
  • 3
    I can see possibly upping it on Meta, but for the other sites, 5 seems plenty. Commented Aug 14, 2009 at 21:20
  • I think that he has a point but failed to motivate his opinion on this. I found out in several cases that more than 5 tags are required to define a question. Think that usually one tag is for the language, one for the OS. Having a limit is great but this should be more than 5, probably 7.
    – sorin
    Commented Jan 6, 2010 at 9:19
  • 7
    [If] [this] [is] [implemented], [it] [will] [become] [my] [hobby] [to] [ask] [questions] [with] [nothing] [in] [the] [body] [and] [the] [entire] [question] [spelled] [out] [in] [tags]. Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 20:21

6 Answers 6


Quick analysis of the public data dump to look at the usage of tags in existing questions reveals the following numbers for questions having N tags:

N  Questions
1  24926
2  58744
3  73071
4  51859
5  33955

Here's a graph:

alt text http://img229.imageshack.us/img229/6284/tagcounts.png

The graph looks similar to a normal distribution. It may have a long tail off to the right, suggesting larger numbers of tags might be utilized, but my opinion is that 5 is a sufficient maximum, since the most common number of tags used is 3.

  • 4
    Science! imgs.xkcd.com/store/imgs/stand_back_square_0.png
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 12:31
  • 9
    Ah, but is it 3 because we're limited to 5? Does the limit change the stats?
    – Jeff Yates
    Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 12:47
  • 2
    I would expect that if we really needed more tags, then the median would cluster around 4-5. Instead it clusters around 2-3. I don't see how a limit of 5 makes people more likely to choose 2 or 3 tags. Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 12:51
  • @Adam, because they want to leave room for future expansion.
    – devinb
    Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 12:52
  • @devinb - I suppose that's possible. The data is just data, it's open to interpretation. I still like mine, though. :) Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 12:57
  • I would like to point out that on Meta, you really have only 3 or 4 tags to use however you want. ( 3 if a moderator adds a [status-*] tag ) Commented Aug 14, 2009 at 21:19
  • 3
    I really dislike let's stick to the median mentality. This way there would have never been any Stack Overflow to begin with. You want to keep any society in stagnation - give them statistics and democracy :) Commented Aug 24, 2009 at 10:26
  • Interesting theory. Again, of course the data itself does not suggest a tag limit. I was very careful to state that this is my opinion of how to interpret the data. As for stagnation... I'm not sure that forbidding statistics and democracy will get you very far either. :) Commented Aug 24, 2009 at 15:44

I think that 5 Tags is Okay for 99% of the cases. For example, if I tag my Post "c#" I usually do not need to tag it "c#3.0" unless it really is specifically about C# 3.0, but even then, "C#" is good enough.

At least in my opinion, I found that the 1 or 2 most "prominent" tags for a question are good enough. Unless you really need to write a C# Extension function to SQL Server that has to communicate with an Oracle database over XML using Java as a Proxy, but even that fits in 5 tags (mssql c# oracle java xml).


If you can't accurately sum up the subject matter of your question using 5 tags, then you (and others) must be doing something wrong. I can't think of very many times where I have had to use all 5 tags.

StackOverflow example:

If I am asking a question about how to do something with extending the collections class in ASP.NET I may tag it:

"ASP.NET", "VB", "Collections" "Extending"

And even then I would probably not include "extending" because it on itself isn't a very useful tag (and I would probably mention extending the class somewhere in my title).

If you are still finding that you are using too many tags, you should probably look at simplifying the question until it reaches a certain granularity. Asking a question that is too big and encompasses too many areas at one time is a good way to not get your question answered well by the people.

  • It's for this reason that I bloody hate the join tag.
    – Eric
    Commented Aug 12, 2009 at 12:29
  • 1
    Paraphrasing; If you can't accurately sum up the meaning of life in one short sentence then you (and others) must be doing something wrong... BTW Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or No - you don't need more than one word to answer this simple question, do you? :) Commented Aug 24, 2009 at 10:33

Is your real name, Roget?

5 tags is plenty if you actually know what your problem is about or at least what platform you're on about. Any more than that and you're throwing about tags just for the sake of trying to spread the net of eyeballs.

  • What is your real name random, 13? Commented Aug 24, 2009 at 10:29
  • 1
    rand() for short, mt_rand() if you want to be formal about it.
    – random
    Commented Aug 24, 2009 at 11:03

The only time I needed more than 5 tags was when I was asking about video comparisons on SuperUser. video comparisons

I ended up adjusting my question, but I would have liked to have added component video in to the question.

Other than that one exception, I've found I've never used 5 before.


I think there could be a good argument to be made to increase the number of tags here on Meta.

After all, you have to choose one of the required tags. Also if a moderator adds one of the [status-*] tags, that leaves only 3 tags to use as you like.

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