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Existing Meta posts (e.g. "queer culture" in this answer) discuss the possibility of asking questions about subcultures, but I don't see any specific guidance on whether all subcultures are on-topic or whether only certain subcultures or types of subcultures are acceptable within the site's scope.

To what extent may questions be asked, or answers be given, about specific subcultures?

Here are some examples of cultures along the lines of what I am thinking about:

  • Professional, organizational, and institutional cultures - e.g. US high-tech officer worker ("Dilbert") culture, Texas cowboy/rancher culture, Hip Hop/Rapper culture, various military cultures, prison cultures, street gang cultures, college/university/fraternity cultures, the culture of Stack Exchange users
  • Ethnoregional cultures - e.g. Appalachian-American culture, Newfoundland culture, Cajun culture, Scottish Highlander culture, African-American culture, Guido culture, Gullah/Geechee culture, Swiss French culture
  • Religious cultures (cultures of religions that practice some level of separation from the mainstream culture) - e.g. Lubavitcher culture, Amish culture, Russian Old Believer culture, LDS culture (somewhat)
  • Disability-related cultures - e.g. Deaf (with-a-capital-D) culture, Aspie/Autistic Pride culture
  • Sexual and gender identity cultures - e.g. Queer culture, Hijra culture, Polyamory/Poly culture
  • Hobby cultures - e.g. Model railroading culture, Ham radio operator culture, Brony culture, video gaming culture (pwnt!)

To be clear, I am not asking whether it should be ok to create copies of questions and answers for every subculture out there just to acknowledge their existence (e.g. "How do I shake hands with a Newfoundlander? How do I shake hands with a Cajun? How do I shake hands with a model train enthusiast? How do I shake hands with a drag queen? How do I sh4ke t3h hands with a 1337 h4x0r?, How do I thank a Mormon for holding the door open for me, etc."), but I am asking about cases where interpersonal/social rules in subcultures vary from that of the mainstream or majority culture enough that knowledge of the majority culture is insufficient to establish or maintain social connections within the subculture. For example, some religious subcultures have rules on cross-gender contact whose violation can cause offense and that are either not present in or not nearly as important in the mainstream culture.

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    I'm confused by what you mean by "on-topic". Any cultural context that the OP thinks is relevant should be included, and can encompass any of this. Are you asking about tagging? – HDE 226868 Nov 15 '17 at 2:56
  • @HDE226868 by on-topic, I'm primarily asking about whether it's ok to post about specific subcultures rather than asking about tagging procedures or tag creation. I want to avoid a situation where someone, for example, might post the question "How do I pay respects to and acknowledge the social position of a gang leader in San Quentin State Prison without actually joining the gang?" and have their question downvoted and/or closed because the community feels that it is too narrow. – Robert Columbia Nov 15 '17 at 3:02
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    "Too narrow" is not (yet) a reason to close a question on Interpersonal.SE, @Robert Columbia. Questions related to subcultures are OK here. It must however be a question about a real and specific interpersonal issue in order to be on-topic. – English Student Nov 15 '17 at 3:10
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    We generally have a policy that it's better to ask your question first and, if it's closed, come to meta to discuss why. interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1571/… We can't really say if a question or a topic is off topic unless we have a specific example to use. – Catija Nov 15 '17 at 3:15
  • As a general rule, you could try to see where your question fits with relation to this – Tinkeringbell Nov 15 '17 at 7:26
  • There used to be a close reason for questions being too narrow. It was removed for a reason. Personally, even if a question is only applicable to one person, it still is helping somebody, and there for has value. – user8960 Nov 15 '17 at 12:03
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I think questions that include the subculture shouldn't be "off-topic", because the culture or subculture isn't really the topic, it's the context. If the context of a question is different enough to warrant specific answers, that's a good thing.

Of course if it's just a question broadly asking about a subculture like "What is Queer culture all about?" it should be closed because it's not really asking about an interpersonal skill and it's way too broad.

Sometimes —not always, but sometimes— the really very specific questions are more helpful. Using the example from your comment:

How do I pay respects to and acknowledge the social position of a gang leader in San Quentin State Prison without actually joining the gang?

The answers to that question would be very very different from answers to:

How do I pay respects to and acknowledge the social position of a religious leader in San Francisco without actually joining the religion?

While both of these questions may fit somewhere under the way too broad question:

How do I pay respects to and acknowledge the social position of the leader of an organization without indicating that I want to join the organization?

Context makes a big difference for questions on this site. More often than not we need more context not less.

Early on people wanted to enforce culture/location tagging to help put questions in context, honestly I wasn't a big fan of that approach because what country a person is in often doesn't really tell you much. Having the querent actually explain the context of their question in a paragraph or two is way more helpful. Don't get me wrong, tags are helpful for organizing questions, but they shouldn't be a replacement for including context.

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    As the person who was one of the biggest advocates of nationality tags, I am totally OK if people decide they don't want to use tags but include contextual information such as location in the body of the question. I would say, however, that contextual information should always be necessary. (Sorry for leaving a comment on an area unrelated to this answer). – user8960 Nov 15 '17 at 17:30
  • @Hamlet I was trying to point out much the same thing by including the too broad example. Including context often makes or breaks a question. – apaul Nov 15 '17 at 17:33
  • @Hamlet interestingly enough, I've noticed the opposite practice on the Role Playing Games stack. Someone will ask "Can a Level X Wizard cast Arcane Spell Y while subjected to Condition C?" and only specify in a tag that they are asking about D&D 5e. – Robert Columbia Nov 15 '17 at 18:39
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Questions about very narrow subcultures are fine, and actually encouraged!

But if you're considering asking a question about a specific subculture you should be able to explain in the question what makes that subculture relevant, or what makes you think you'll need a different approach compared to the broader national or even international culture.

So if you're going to ask about shaking hands with model train enthusiasts, explain why you think they're special. Maybe you're friends with one, and they say MTEs never shake hands. You could ask here to check if that's actually true. Maybe you're concerned about the gloves they wear. Etc.

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Extracting and saving 2 consecutive comments which serve to clarify OP's question and (my understanding of) the IPS.SE position on the same:

(...) by on-topic, I'm primarily asking about whether it's ok to post about specific subcultures rather than asking about tagging procedures or tag creation. I want to avoid a situation where someone, for example, might post the question "How do I pay respects to and acknowledge the social position of a gang leader in San Quentin State Prison without actually joining the gang?" and have their question downvoted and/or closed because the community feels that it is too narrow. – OP @Robert Columbia

"Too narrow" is not (yet) a reason to close a question on Interpersonal.SE, @Robert Columbia. Questions related to subcultures are OK here. It must however be a question about a real and specific interpersonal issue in order to be on-topic. – English Student

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