There are many behaviors that may be acceptable in a culture and may not be in another:

  • Smoking in an elevator hall
  • Shouting a general salutation to all customers when entering a bar
  • Talking on the phone in an intercity train
  • Drinking hard liquor on a bench 20 meters away from a playground
  • etc.

All of the behaviors above are accepted very differently depending on the area I ask for (Sweden, Bavaria, China, Japan, Russia, etc.).

Is it on-topic or off-topic to ask "Is behavior X acceptable in culture Y?"

  • 1
    I think curiousdannii addressed whether such questions are appropriate for a Stack Exchange site, in that they can be factually based, but I don't see how it addresses whether it's on topic for a site about interpersonal skills.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 11:25
  • @Andrew Grimm given that there is much objectivity to the subject, as the answer seems to assert, avoiding/dealing tactfully with such behavior as is objectionable within the context of certain cultures would certainly fall within what's on-topic for 'interpersonal skills', wouldn't it? Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 20:49
  • @EnglishStudent: I believe Andrew's point is that the answer should not only give the conclusion but also the reasoning leading to that conclusion. If you develop your comment it could become a great answer, feel free to post it even if you reach the same conclusion as curiousdanii. Cheers!
    – nic
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 4:04
  • 1
    @nic thanks for explaining the comment in context: and I shall try to develop an answer. Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 8:49

2 Answers 2


Yes these are on-topic.

Good questions will explain why you suspect it is or is not acceptable, such as something you saw in a movie, heard from friends, read online. Please don't simply ask the same question for every culture in the world!

Good answers will provide references beyond your personal experience, especially when such behaviours are not only unacceptable, but illegal!


Asking about an interpersonal action is directly on-topic at this website, and mentioning which culture you are referring to is equally on-topic because it supplies the context that is vital to answer the question.

'Is behavior A acceptable' is too generalised a question, so it is necessary to add 'in culture B' in order to achieve the specificity that keeps the question on-topic (and the fact that such a question has a factual basis makes it even more on-topic, as suggested in the earlier answer) according to the core principles of Stack Exchange!

However, as elsewhere in the network, and as hinted at in the earlier answer, the person asking such a question should supply adequate references to justify their connecting behavior A with culture B convincingly enough to make it a relevant question.

Example: is eating meat acceptable in Sweden? It is not acceptable among many communities in India.

Unless the asker could convincingly link the 2 statements with references, I wonder if many members would consider this a relevant question in context?

  • Why wouldn't that be a relevant question? You don't need to connect two ideas to form a question - a question is a question. Nothing more to it.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:02
  • @Zizouz212 I don't want to try it out, but if I asked that question here somebody would promptly say: "how is this question relevant? Please prove that eating meat not being acceptable among certain communities in India has anything at all to do with meat eating being acceptable in Sweden." If I couldn't prove the connection, the question might not get answered and rightly so: the Stack Exchange community's energy must be utilised for real questions. Which is why the previous answer says: "Yes these are on topic (...) Please don't simply ask the same question for every culture in the world!" Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:14
  • It may have been the example that you've used, but there will always be more factors to that question. Chances are that if you're familiar with one culture, you're going to interact with similar subcultures that exist in other countries, as in your example.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:20
  • So, the thing is that question would be standalone - any question like that would be immediately closed as too broad. The chance of somebody actually asking a "made-up" question like that is remarkably low. Most questions here will be subjective, so references don't actually mean that much (unless you take the research effort aspect in questions to heart). For the Sweden question, the answer would actually vary according to the specifics of the situation - the sub-community you made be interacting with, faith traditions. That question is actually good because it includes a premise that is...
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:22
  • A genuine question is self-evident & easy to explain how it's relevant but the example of India cannot simply apply to Sweden. @Zizouz212 again, if I never mentioned India and simply asked 'is eating meat acceptable in Sweden' somebody would immediately say, "why should eating meat not be acceptable in Sweden? Substantiate your question with adequate references." I believe this is a good way to approach questions, or else we might waste a lot of energy answering irrelevant made-up questions that really don't need an answer in the first place. You can test it out by asking this question here. Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:23
  • Why don't you hop into chat and we can further discuss this there?
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:23
  • @Zizouz212 and we are always willing to accept a question on good faith, but if you think "made up" questions are rare, then you must visit English.Stackexchange.com! Kindly excuse me but I am called away on an urgent matter. Thanks for the interesting inputs, and we can continue this discussion later in chat. Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:25
  • Oh of course! Whenever you have the time. I'm generally around so feel free to come by at any time :)
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:28
  • Thanks for the invite, @Zizouz212 -- I think it's something special that we now have a site dedicated to Interpersonal skills at Stack Exchange. Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 19:30

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