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.

  • 5
    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
    Commented Jan 7, 2010 at 0:15
  • 4
    and what have we learned about any process involving people that has no limits..? blog.codinghorror.com/rate-limiting-and-velocity-checking Commented Jan 7, 2010 at 0:31
  • 2
    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. Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 6:59

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 4
    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 ? Commented Jan 2, 2013 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
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 22:10
  • 1
    I think this idea may be localized to the sites where computer/programming languages/environments are much of what tags are used for. Questions about more than 5 languages are probably too broad. On softer sites that doesn't necessarily hold, eg. cooking could easily have a question which isn't too broad about safety issues with different substitutions for [salt]() in a [meat]() [sauce]() for [pasta](). (So many tags I can't even include all the links!)
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 5:51

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.

  • Yeah, I don't see this actually working unless there is a set baseline for intelligence, and there ain't no such thing. Limiting the choice to 5 by no means ensures they'd be the 5 most appropriate. And then again, without being careless about tags, I've found myself limited by the number on several occasions, so having to compromise and give up on a flag only compromises the exposure and helpfulness of the question and potential answer. One size does not fit all... ever...
    – dtech
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 17:55

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

  • 2
    Agreed. I think the point is to force you to think about your tags for a moment. Commented Jan 7, 2010 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. Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 6:54
  • And some people don't.
    – dtech
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 17:55

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