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When is a domain name too long???

It depends. I myself not a big fan of three word combinations and trying to stick to two word gererics. However, it's all about quality of the combination. I have a few three word combinations which are doing pretty good such as "City"
Also, I see that some three word combinations go for 2-3k on auctoins e.g. and many more.
I had a few 'personal' pretty long domains in the past including, '' (for the wedding of my brother) and '' (for a personal experimental site/playground.).

I guess those sure would count as way too long, but still they were fun to explain to anyone. ;)
It all depends on the domain. There is no number of letters that makes the domain too long. A three word name such as would be worth a fortune even though it has 16 letters and is 3 words. would be worth a fortune too and so would even though it is 18 letters. I would stick to 3 words or less though and keep it generic.
I think any domain that has a market is ok no matter the number of words. Depending if you're going for type ins that may make a difference. I own a couple of 3 worders and they get a steady flow of traffic/rev., it helps that they are generic and not randomwordorder.coms. Of course you could always go for one like this etc...
anything over 4 characters is a bit unwieldy IMO ... (j/k!)

It really depends on the memorability & poetic quality (which helps memorability) of longer phrases ...

"padding" words added just because the sensible shorter version was already taken quickly dilute memorability, impact & value ...

But a nice, poetic 3 word phrase can work out okay for type-ins as far as I'm concerned. Here are a couple I type in on a regular basis:

TalkingPointsMemo (17 characters)
FireDogLake (11 characters)

and of course, FineArtDomains (14 characters) :)

also, apparently I can take 18 five-year-olds in a fight ... (I don't think so!)
I think 3 words combinations are still accept to me though it a bit long. Those short& pronounceable LLLL/LLLLL.COMs are not easy to get now. A long buy correct keywors combinated Domain is easier to be remenbered than raNDOM LLLL in my mind, and keywords combinations work better on SEO than LLLL/LLLLs

e.g, I have the name, it even easier to be remembered than "" even it is 28 characters long :)