As shown by various retagging efforts, the space character as tag separator is a double edged sword: tag entry is easy and natural, but multiple-word tags often become split tags. Likewise, other typos are likely (not long ago I retagged 2 [thumnails][sic]...) Requests have also been made for warnings before the (otherwise silent) creation of a new tag, and to prevent some types of tags from being created.

One work around would be the use of individual fields for each of the 5 possible tags. One tag each, tab jump to next, space character, comma, semi-colon, et al. do not print.


Actual Lorem Ipsum used!

Errors can be managed per level.

Interface for someone without tag creation rights:

SO gui w/o tag creation rights

Interface for someone with tag creation rights:

SO gui w/ tag creation right

On top of dynamic tag validation, there are some fun advantages too:

  • Simpler "list-like" control is more similar to common combo-boxes, rather than the current "multiple lists in single field"
  • No need to validate that the maximum of 5 tags has not been breached
  • No need to validate that the tags are of appropriate length, just set maxlength on each input field to 25. (Of course, keep that validation! But it doesn't have to be on form submit)
  • 2
    Hmmm... great work on the mockups but it def. needs a freehand circle Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 3:16
  • @Farseeker, better? It's my first time producing mockups like this for MSO, so I wasn't sure of the proper way to go.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 3:28
  • @MPe - much better. They should be red, and preferably with a drop-shadow but for a first attempt, most excellent! Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 5:11
  • 2
    I really want to like this proposal... I really do, but the amount of space that would be needed for the five inputs would make the currently clean "Ask Question" interface a lot more cluttered (At least the appearance of been so, even if its not true in terms of user interactions).
    – Yi Jiang
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 6:03
  • 2
    don't forget a "this tag does not exist, but you cannot create it" for not-enough-rep users, and "this tag is blacklisted", "this tag is a synonym to [...] and will be replaced" verification directly before typing. This would save some captcha'ing. Oh, and +1 of course Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 8:13
  • @Tobias Kienzler: Well put. The "this tag does not exist, but you cannot create it" is essentially what I put as "this tag does not exist. Choose an existing tag." in the 2nd image, for users without tag creation rights (i.e. not enough rep). I'm not suggesting exactly that text, but something to that effect.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 8:46
  • @Farseeker: version 3.0, no shadow yet.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 9:09
  • @MPelletier: But they're not circles anymore!
    – Yi Jiang
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 9:23
  • @Yi Jiang: I thought the main idea was delimiting images to differentiate them from the rest of the page. Is it not?
    – MPelletier
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 10:24
  • @YiJiang: I will tag you better next time in comments :)
    – MPelletier
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 10:58

4 Answers 4


Here's a mockup of a more compact version.

Compact version

  • 1
    Might want to re-mock-up; it should probably be "j-query is a synonym of jquery".
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 14:31
  • +1, but I'm afraid of breaking the h-scroll with 5 input boxes side-by-side. That's going to be icky to adapt to every browser... Even likelier if the length limit of 25 is augmented.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 16:45
  • That's a good point, but while ugly, they could be shown on multiple lines if necessary.
    – Gelatin
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 19:31
  • 1
    another win of this method is the killing of the objective c problem as well as the other ones you've mentioned. Commented Sep 3, 2010 at 10:48

I just want to reaffirm that I don't want to be able to create tags accidentally. I was happier when I didn't have enough rep for this to happen. I would even be happy to see tag creation move to a different page entirely.


I would rather have todays interface. I need much less tabbing or mouse work to fill in the tags. If one of the conditions is met, a popup or message area (as in Simon's answer would let me react.

A popup maybe would be more suitable. I find myself searching for the reason why an interaction I made did not end up with the result I expected and tend to overlook such message areas.

Draw back: using blank instead of a hyphen will result in two tags - as now is the case too. Splits will not take place so often. In order to get unnoticed, all parts of the split tags have to exist and the number of tags including splits is to be 5 at most.

alt text

  • 1
    I should point out that "tag1-space-tag2-space-tag3" (as it is currently) will be the exact same count of key hits as "tag1-tab-tag2-tab-tag3".
    – MPelletier
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 16:42
  • On the other hand, this is a really nice mock-up. I like the "faux-freehand" look. What did you use?
    – MPelletier
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 16:43
  • 3
    @MPelletier: Looks like Balsamiq mockups to me.
    – Gelatin
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 19:17
  • @MPelletier, @Simon - you are both right.
    – malach
    Commented Sep 3, 2010 at 9:24

To me, this seems far, FAR more complex than what we have -- for a very limited benefit.

Ralph's mockup is the least complex of the options presented here, I suppose, but I'm still not very enthused about it.

  • 1
    Complex in what sense? In making it work with the current setup, or in that sense?
    – MPelletier
    Commented Sep 5, 2010 at 16:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .