I think we should have a discussion about some words that, for the benefit of everyone, may need to be avoided or at the very least supplemented because they don't really help a question out.


Rude - appears in 45 posts, of which 20 are questions. Is "rude" clear enough without any additional information? Does it mean the same thing to everyone?

Shy - appears in 10 posts, 4 questions. "Shy" has a psychiatric definition but many people don't realize that or use it that way. Do we need more information than just "shy"?

Polite - appears in 79 posts, 25 questions. Is "polite" clear?

I'm not saying that we should consider banning these words from the site entirely but are the words themselves clear enough (with or without locality context) for us to answer questions without getting more specific, detailed information about what the Asker thinks words like this mean?

If you think they are clear, please explain what they mean in a clear, distinct way that could be used as the Tag Wiki for the terms.

If you think they are not clear, what should we do with questions that rely heavily on these terms? How can we address the related tags and which have pretty generic excerpts explaining when they should be used?

  • I think for the purpose of this discussion, we should limit to these three terms. If there are more subjective terms appear and need to be addressed later, we'll use another post. For this I suggest removing "example" and rewording the title of the question.
    – Vylix
    Jul 16, 2017 at 20:30

3 Answers 3


I think "rude" and "polite" are generally understood unconsciously.

From Google

Rude - offensively impolite or ill-mannered. Middle English (sense 2, also ‘uncultured’)

Polite - having or showing behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people.
relating to people who regard themselves as more cultured and refined than others.

I agree that both are heavily dependent on the culture of the parties involved, however when a question is already tagged with regional tag, we can safely assume that all parties involved follows the same cultural manners. I think a regional tag sufficiently define the common manner in the region, with exception variance from a migrant family or with foreign roots. But that should be included in the question ("My friend is a French, but he currently study in California").

I think the appropriate steps to translate both terms are:

  1. Use common sense. Yelling is considered rude in almost all situation.
  2. When it involves a specific interaction, ask for details, especially the region. Cultural difference between parties can be safely ignored unless stated in question. Kissing between unmarried man and woman in most Asian country is considered inappropriate, but when one is from Europe and other is from Asia, this complicates things and should be addressed in question.

When one objects to a statement, simply address it in comment ("Why kissing his girlfriend is inappropriate? Where are you from?"). If it blatantly ignoring the facts mentioned in the original post, downvote it (I don't think deleting is the appropriate response).

For the Tag Wiki:

rudeness - Questions that deals with behavior that is considered inappropriate or offensive to others. As what is considered rude vary through regions, add a regional tag to define the manners accepted in that region.

I don't have much to say about shyness, but I think this common definition is enough.

being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people.


I don't think these are subjective, it's a person's perception that is subjective. We need to use words and restricting the use of these most common words is throttling the site, before it's started.

The difference is what people perceive as "rude" is cultural, personality, to name a couple and each individuals perception is coloured by their experiences, cultural constraints and personality.

This is why there needs to be description to show if a person is outside of what we regard as cultural norms. Between each questioner and answerer from different sides of the globes, there's going to be differences, no matter how similar the countries' cultures may be. Within one community people will vary. Gender also plays a part.

Restricting the basic building blocks of the vocabulary for the site will not help to define the problem - which is writing and communicating clearly the problem statement and issues pertaining to it within a question.


It may be an over simplification, but I think these words are generally understood well enough for our purposes.

When the usage of the terms seems vague or unclear people usually get the point through the surrounding context or ask for clarification in comments or solve the problem via editing.

Getting pedantic doesn't really serve any useful purpose in the grand scheme of things. Do we really need site specific definitions, when the common usage seems to be working?

  • 1
    This really isn't the sort of answer I was hoping for. You can say that but you don't support what you are saying with any evidence that you are correct.
    – Catija
    Jul 16, 2017 at 18:42
  • 1
    @Catija I just haven't noticed these terms being misused very often, the few cases that I've seen seemed to be English as a second language issues that were later edited or closed as unclear. Have you noticed significant misunderstanding of these words/tags?
    – apaul
    Jul 16, 2017 at 18:47
  • What is "rude" or "polite" is so culturally dependent I don't think that they are helpful terms. So many questions want a way to do X without being "rude"... but how can we possibly know what someone considers to be rude. The tag wikis literally define the usage with the word it is supposed to be defining. Someone asked a question about a "shy" friend and then went on to describe someone who sounds more like they have extreme social phobias. They are certainly being misused.
    – Catija
    Jul 16, 2017 at 18:51
  • @Catija I'm also concerned that crafting overly specific definitions may cause more conflicts/misunderstandings​ than they might solve. When terms have somewhat loose culturally dependant definitions forcing a strict definition doesn't usually make things easier for users... We may find the odd case where there is a misunderstanding, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
    – apaul
    Jul 16, 2017 at 18:58
  • @Catija yes there's cultural differences - which is why it's good to include cultural info. The definitions of the words are clear, as the answer states
    – user57
    Jul 17, 2017 at 14:07

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