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This question already has an answer here:

So I tried to post a question and there was no tag, so I tried to make it myself.

This is the question.

And this is the tag I tried to create,

League-of-extraordinary-gentlemen

Is there a reason for the character length on a tag?

marked as duplicate by Möoz, Gallifreyan, Blackwood, Ward - Reinstate Monica, fez Aug 11 '17 at 7:36

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    I suspect the tag limit is to stop people posting really long tags – Valorum Sep 24 '16 at 10:47
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    I've already retagged as extraordinary gentlemen...which did exist – Paulie_D Sep 24 '16 at 11:00
  • @Paulie_D, did not see that, thanks. – KyloRen Sep 24 '16 at 11:17
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    @KyloRen - I downvoted because the question is trivial, nor do I think this is the appropriate forum. – Valorum Sep 24 '16 at 16:46
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    As a discussion topic I don't see any reason to downvote this. However I'm happy with the limit, dispite Adamant's points about the limitations, especially about naturality, e.g teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles being 28 characters makes me sad. – AncientSwordRage Sep 25 '16 at 20:50
5

There are various reasons to have character limits for tags, and more than a few downsides.

Upsides

Aesthetics

This is a major reason. Let’s say you raised the tag character limit to 50 characters. Then you could have tags like . As you can see, this already takes up nearly half a line. So while four 25-character tag names (a rather uncommon use-case) can more-or-less fit comfortably on a line, two 50-character tag names (probably a more common situation) take up the same space. Many lines of tags can look pretty ugly. And anything over about 100 characters is simply right out the window, since it would have to be split over two lines.

Readability

There is also a problem with readability. Tag text is in a smaller font, and displayed on a gray background, which makes it a lot harder to read even for short tags. Tags that are fifty characters long could be atrocious.

On a related note, this might also increase the likelihood of spelling errors in tag names, as well as decreasing the likelihood that anyone would spot them.

Specificity

On programming sites, as hinted at in this post, long tags often tend to be the sorts of things that can (or even should) be broken into smaller pieces, which is to say, one that is too specific. For example, instead of , try using , , (this is not actually SO’s usage guidance, but rather an example).

Such concerns are basically why there is a 25-character tag limit.

Downsides

In fairness, though, there are some serious downsides as well, which bear consideration. Some are also more specific to our site and a few others, rather than SO and the other programming sites, where this size constraint likely originated.

Naturality

In many cases, we simply need longer tags, since they arise naturally from what the site considers. The specificity concern does not hold, since (which does not exist, since it is too long) is not in any sense more specific than , nor could it meaningfully be broken into , and .

Search

The general solution to the problems mentioned previously has been to use a smaller but still meaningful subset of words. Frequently, however, this defeats one of the primary purposes of a tag, searchability. The problem is even worse on certain sites, such as Anime, where anime, manga, and light novel names tend to be quite long.

Aesthetics

The only solutions at this time are to choose a smaller set of related words, or use an abbreviation. Neither one of these is ideal. The second might work better with some series that have a commonly accepted abbreviation, but is downright ugly with others. Does anyone really want to see instead of ?

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    +1 in general, but I think that the acronym problem is only one of familiarity. No-one bats an eye at the equally obtuse lotr or hhgttg, simply because they got used to them. Use mphfpc enough and it will be familiar too. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Sep 25 '16 at 6:34
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    @AvnerShahar-Kashtan - Precisely the issue, though: people are not coming to our website knowing the abbreviations for relatively obscure works. Even with that in mind, lotr is a synonym, not the main tag, probably in part due to aesthetic issues. – Adamant Sep 25 '16 at 6:37
  • I understand all the points made, but since the tags are monitored, wouldn't the majority of the people with editing rights be able fix an unnecessarily long tag? Isn't that what the community editing is all about? – KyloRen Sep 26 '16 at 12:32
  • @AvnerShahar-Kashtan Which leads exactly to that kind of excluding people who are not "in" on the abbreviations that makes the usage of a tag seem "cliquey", no matter how famous that abbreviation might be among insiders. – TARS says Reinstate Monica Sep 26 '16 at 15:06
  • @CahirMawrDyffrynæpCeallach But these abbreviations weren't born on this site, nor anywhere where a length limit was enforced. They're a natural process of shortening long terms into useful acronyms. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Sep 27 '16 at 21:12
  • I find it amusing that two of the commenters on this answer have almost broken the character limit on usernames :-) – Rand al'Thor Oct 4 '16 at 0:22

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