Let's consider this question:

Broken coffee mug and coffee break with Egyptian co-worker

It's about a guy who's upset that his Egyptian co-worker (presumably) got mad about him using a broken coffee mug. Question was held as "does not appear to be about interpersonal skills".

I am thinking that this question should be reopened. There is plenty of gooey IP goodness here:

  • Intercultural aspects -- is there a "thing" about broken crockery in Egyptian society? I'm hoping we have some Egypt-aware folks who can tell us.

  • Interpersonal intercultural aspects -- how does one figure out whether a colleague's foibles are cultural or personal? Does it matter? Should one have more patience with mug-sabotage if it's for cultural rather than personal reasons?

  • How does one bring the subject up? "So, colleague, I note my mug has gone missing..."

Honestly folks. This issue is ten years old and OP can't let it go. He needs our help.

  • Only your first bullet point is a question the OP actually asked, so the other two are irrelevant. Oct 22 '17 at 22:07
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    @AnneDaunted Sometimes when a question is asked, there are sub-questions lurking beneath the surface. I'd thought that in answers we sometimes broaden the scope of what we answer, such that we are creating a database of useful q/a. Mileage, variance, etc. Anyway, I still want to reopen the question.
    – akaioi
    Oct 22 '17 at 22:10
  • 1
    Just because a question is closed, doesn't necessarily mean that it can't be edited, then reopened... Oct 22 '17 at 22:46
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    I'm sorry but we simply can't decide whether to leave a question open or not based on how badly someone needs help. That's not a valid reason to reopen a question.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Oct 22 '17 at 23:29
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    @Catija ... sigh ... that last bit was a bit of hyperbolic language. The reasons to consider (and accept or discount) are the bullet points. Of course we shouldn't consider OP's needs. That would be ... silly.
    – akaioi
    Oct 22 '17 at 23:36
  • @Catija in addition, I'm sorry I was waspish above. Not very IPSE-ish of me, I s'pose...
    – akaioi
    Oct 22 '17 at 23:49
  • "Honestly folks. This issue is ten years old and OP can't let it go. He needs our help." I'd argue that its not the coffee cup that's the issue then. Oct 23 '17 at 23:47
  • @JourneymanGeek ... well sure, it's the guys who have a problem that post here. Otherwise we'd've seen a question "Coworker offended me with a broken mug and I can't let go" ;D
    – akaioi
    Oct 24 '17 at 15:24

We are here to solve problems people have, not make up ones because their questions aren't clear or are off topic.

The question "Do Egyptians have a cultural concern with broken crockery" is not an interpersonal question. It's a question about Egyptian culture, generally. This is particularly the case because they are no longer interacting with this person. We can not solve the problem "Why did my coworker dislike this mug?" because, even if it is cultural, we have no way of seeing inside what this person was thinking and answering the question. Only this coworker can give a definitive answer.

If the question was asking "How can I talk to my coworker about their insistence that I get rid of a mug with a broken handle?" That's an interpersonal question but, as you note yourself, this was ten years gone, so the answer to this won't help the OP much at all.

At least part of your second question is purely subjective. Whether one should be more patient in one case over another is anyone's choice and we're not here to decide that.

  • 1
    Catija, I do see where you are coming from, so +1. I suppose I find myself (too?) tolerant of poorly worded questions, and (over?) mine them behind a thin veil of "Oh, it's clearly an XY question and we must plumb the depths of X". I concede that we are trying to solve the problems people actually have... but in a way that will be useful and accessible to other people in the future, yes? In a better world, we'd be able to get OP to wrangle a better question. In this fallen world we live in, where IPSE gets 7 questions per day, well.
    – akaioi
    Oct 23 '17 at 2:46
  • Better questions are always good... also... IPS.SE... you're missing an S.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Oct 23 '17 at 3:30
  • Oh fooey, I've been "IPSE"-ing consistently and incorrectly this whole time...
    – akaioi
    Oct 25 '17 at 1:45

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