Why is the limit on tags set as five? Often there seem to be questions of sufficient complexity that the limit necessitates omitting fundamentally connected tags. What is the advantage of setting such a low tag limit on a subject matter as richly complex and nuanced as Judaism?

Honestly, at the end of the day, what benefit does a limit really provide? If a tag is truly relevant and significant to the question, why would other relevant tags diminish its usefulness? My understanding of tagging is that it provides a useful way to quickly find related questions. How does a limit help in this task?

1 Answer 1


Here's the accepted answer, from SO Director of Community Development Robert Cartaino, to this question on Meta Stack Exchange:

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.

I agree with his closing recommendation - please provide examples. Then, we'll have more to talk about.

  • It seems to me yatza schara ("Five is a good limit because it encourages you to pare down the tags to just the essentials.") b'hefseda (that many questions/answers are less searchable/organizable based on their major themes). Note, for example, that questions tagged based on the parshat hashavua really only now have four tags. E.g. judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/57860/… is a question primarily about pictures/art, yet the 5 tag limit has already been reached, and none of the assigned tags are irrelevant.
    – Loewian
    Jan 28, 2016 at 5:11
  • @Loewian I took out parshanut-torah-comment, since that's actually a question about Halacha and not really about interpreting the text, per se. Part of the problem is hierarchy. We want to tag all Halacha questions halacha, but really, most of them have another tag that pretty much implies that, e.g. avodah-zarah. If there was a mechanism whereby applying the latter would make questions automatically pop up in searches for the former, that'd save us a lot of tags.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Jan 28, 2016 at 14:44
  • On the contrary, I think the question was primarily about interpreting the text, but also about how that interpretation translates into practice. Further, not all avoda-zara questions are necessarily about halacha - they could e.g. be about parshanut, derash, minority opinions, hashkafa, or history. I still think the 5 tag limit is pointless and impractically low. If a tag is irrelevant or unnecessary, that's the case regardless of how many tags there are. The converse is true as well.
    – Loewian
    Jan 28, 2016 at 15:01
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    I wonder what percentage of questions on different sites use each number of tags? [Waits for Isaac to whip up a Data.SE query...]
    – Double AA Mod
    Jan 29, 2016 at 5:52
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    @DoubleAA, Here you go: data.stackexchange.com/judaism/query/430934/… (building on others' work)
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Feb 1, 2016 at 20:41
  • @DoubleAA, I've been poking around, and so far, the only site I've found with a similar breakdown to ours (in particular, a similarly low proportion of one-tag questions) is Travel.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Feb 1, 2016 at 20:55
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    i.stack.imgur.com/CeftW.png @IsaacMoses Indeed we are an outlier.
    – Double AA Mod
    Feb 1, 2016 at 21:02
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    @DoubleAA I have some hypotheses about that: 1) On some sites, e.g. Arqade and Movies & TV all the context you really need for most questions is what product they refer to, which can happen in one tag. 2) The smaller/older the site (or more precisely, the higher the ratio of experienced uses to new users), the more likely that each question that comes up will get edited by someone who can think of other tags that apply. 3) Sites that encompass an entire lifestyle may be more prone to needing multiple tags to fully contextualize a question.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Feb 1, 2016 at 21:08
  • @IsaacMoses I'm no statistician but seems if we're trending toward a normal-ish distribution, the limit should be at least 6...
    – Loewian
    Feb 4, 2016 at 5:06
  • @IsaacMoses (At least it would seem less capricious than the 5 tag limit.)
    – Loewian
    Feb 4, 2016 at 5:07
  • Not sure if there's still a point but here's another q. that would likely benefit from more tags, e.g. [clothes] or even more specific (and/or [high-priest]/[priestly-vestments]). (Though again a lot of this goes toward the intention/purpose of tagging and a "cost-benefit analysis" of the limit...)
    – Loewian
    Feb 8, 2016 at 17:44
  • Should have 'literalism' - judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/56561/…
    – Loewian
    Feb 8, 2016 at 21:50
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/68089/what-is-the-firmament should probably also have [parshanut] and [bereishit] (and perhaps [emunas-chachamim], [hashkafa], and [translation] for starters;)
    – Loewian
    Feb 8, 2016 at 21:56
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/68210/… should have [hebrew]
    – Loewian
    Feb 12, 2016 at 4:04

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