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Currently, everywhere on the SE network, communities are limited to 5 tags per question:

Screenshot of the tags section.

However, puzzles can meet many different tag criteria and as such, 5 doesn't always seem right. For example, I'm currently writing a puzzle that technically qualifies for the , , , , , , and tags.

My first thought is to consolidate the tags to simply use , , , , and , which will actually be my course of action today. However, I can only do this because of a few noteworthy points:

  • The tag implies that rhyming is used, so can be removed.
  • The tag will be easily identified in most puzzles and can be removed.
  • The tag can be inferred from the post itself and can be removed.

This isn't always the case however and there have been a few (e.g. two or three) other puzzles I've created that I wanted to use more than 5 tags for. I understand that in most cases, if you're exceeding 5 tags, your puzzle is likely entering the realm of too broad and is likely to be closed; but, consider a puzzle with a few steps, for example:

  • Decrypt a message.
  • Solve a number sequence.
  • Perform some mathematical calculation using said sequence.
  • Use lateral thinking to prove something about the puzzle with said calculation.

All the while, the puzzle could include a rhyme, tell a story, and include some imagery as a clue. This would qualify it for the /, , , , and potentially depending on how dependent the puzzle is on the visual clue. Albeit, that's probably a terrible example, but, I hope you get the point I'm trying to make there.

Now, I will add that I don't think that new users should get access to this feature right away, but instead it could be a privilege earned around the 500 - 1000 reputation point mark (perhaps even higher around the 3k-5k mark), simply because I can easily see the potential for abuse and gaming.

My personal recommendation is between 8 and 10 with preference for the lower bound.


Should we (and if we should, can we) allow more than 5 tags on questions?

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Currently, everywhere on the SE network, communities are limited to 5 tags per question:

... and that's where this answer starts and ends. This is a limit everywhere on SE, and there's not going to be an exception made for a site as small as Puzzling. So the short answer to can we is "No", and the lengthier answer is still "No" but adds "unless SE decides they want to increase this limit everywhere". (Which amounts to the same thing.)

The limit has been with us a very long time, and it's not there without reason. See Why is there a limit to the number of tags? on main Meta (and, in particular, the accepted answer there) for some pertinent thoughts on the topic.

We want tags to not merely list all elements of a puzzle, but rather to serve as a way to help a user who likes a particular type of puzzle find puzzles with a significant focus on that type of puzzle. Even if a puzzle is comprised of many elements, if some of those are only incidental then it is probably best not to include them in the tags. If you find yourself wanting to use eight to ten tags on a single puzzle, stop to consider which of those tags are describing the important elements of the puzzle—it is rare for a puzzle to have that many distinct important elements. Or, to put it another way, the short answer to should we is, again, "No", and the lengthier answer is still "No" but adds "because tags should focus on what the heart of the puzzle involves, not just list everything the puzzle might tangentially involve".

Replace "puzzle" with "question" and the same answers apply network-wide, where the five tag limit has applied for many many years and is not only adequate but helpful in preventing over-tagging. I don't expect this to change, and it certainly wouldn't be changed just for us.

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  • $\begingroup$ If we'd been discussing this a few years ago, I would've agreed with you. But recently, SE seems a lot more willing to make fairly fundamental changes in the way their system works, and even to allow different network sites to make their own decisions on whether to accept those changes or not - e.g. see this post. Even four years ago, they suddenly changed the tag name length limit network-wide, initially at the behest of a very new beta site (Literature). There's definitely a whole lot of sites that would like to be able to use >5 tags. $\endgroup$ Oct 30 at 6:16
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If it were my own puzzle, I think I would just add any extra tags to the bottom of the puzzle using the [tag:tagname] syntax, like this:

Additional tags:

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a very good alternative! $\endgroup$ Oct 1 at 0:13

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