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First of all, I myself have asked such a question already and I was responsible for this title (it was a "Should I...?" question before).


The purpose of this post is to start another discussion about the scope of IPS, but this time with regards to "Is it rude...?" questions.

Are they on-topic or off-topic? And why?

Admittedly, they have already caused me headaches, too. On the one hand, they are about IPS and can yield very helpful results, on the other hand, they are quite opinion-based and we on IPS don't decide what's rude or not.
This was just to jump-start the discussion.


A few examples of "Is it rude...?" questions:

Is it rude to wear a sari as a westerner to a wedding in India?
The highest voted "Is it rude...?" question with 10 answers, among them many from Indians who give insight into Indian culture.

Is it rude to ask how much a new neighbour paid for their apartment?
This one lacks a culture tag and seems to be more opinion-based (the highest voted answer begins "Is it rude? No, I don't think it is rude, but...").

Is it rude to refer to someone as “he” or “she” in their presence?
This one asks about UK etiquette.

Is it rude to offer my seat up on public transit to someone who is much older than me but not yet a senior?
This one was again well-received but looks a bit opinion-based.

Is it rude to state someone's apology as insincere?
An example with fewer upvotes.

There are more examples and feel free to add your preferred one yourself. This is just to provide some examples for convenience.


Are "Is it rude...?" questions on-topic or off-topic? If they are on-topic, do we still have to be careful?

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The problem with "is it rude" questions is that they are often asked by someone looking for validation -

I did this thing and I was told that I was wrong to do it - is it actually rude or not?

We are not here to judge or to settle someone's argument with someone else. This can be seen in the recent question you mentioned: Is it rude to not ask for a reason first when receiving a gift (chocolate) from a colleague?

Whether it's rude or not to me or you or anyone else is irrelevant. If the person you're talking to asserts that something bothers them or that they expected something of you, that is what matters... they expect a certain reaction. They have their own set of rules that requires such a query, so whether we tell that person "yes, it's required" or "no, that's silly" is irrelevant. For that person, it is required.

Sure, we can tell you that what they're asking is stupid or wrong but that's really not going to address your interpersonal relationship with the person. This question should be edited to really focus on what the OP is trying to achieve - not validation but how to move forward from this situation... though since the situation is over, I'm not really sure how much value that's going to give them... but, rewording the question would possibly keep it more useful to others... As such, perhaps it argues more for a single broader duplicate target we can use when someone asks us questions like this that says something like what I just did but with more detail and explanation.

What should I do when my behavior/response to a situation doesn't match up with how the other person expects me to behave/respond?

Unfortunately, this seems extremely broad... perhaps we can find a better version of it that would be useful to more people... or maybe that's OK as a general place to start for these "someone called my actions rude but I didn't see them as being such, am I right?" questions. Perhaps this would be better as a meta question used as a target for a close reason:

Your question seeks to validate your own actions or those of someone else. This sort of question is a bad fit for our site as we can not judge who is "correct". Please [edit] your question based on the guidance supplied on our [related meta post] or see the general advice on [this duplicate question].


Questions that are about specific etiquette situations should have more definite questions. Rather than asking "is this rude", ask about the etiquette:

So, instead of Is it rude to wear a sari as a westerner to a wedding in India?, ask:

As an American attending an Indian wedding in India, what is the etiquette regarding wearing a sari as a non-Indian? [question body explains in more detail]


A lot of the questions really seem like "Am I right" questions, which are often/usually XY problems:

Is it rude to ask how much a new neighbour paid for their apartment?

Is it rude to ask how much a new neighbour paid for their apartment? My view is that it isn't, because it's information that's probably their favourite topic of conversation right now, and also in the public domain.

It ends with:

Generally speaking, is my perspective on this reasonable? If it's of any relevance, I will not be deploying any offense-taking countermeasures such as the classic "if you don't mind me asking" gambit.

What they really seem to want to know is:

I have some new neighbors who I've gotten off to a rocky start with. I'd like to change this but I'm not sure how to go about it. How can I interact with them in a way that shows that I'm interested in becoming friendly?

This is a bit broad but I think the question is currently an XY problem based on their statement:

So next time I bump into them I intend to actually make an effort. Not a huge one, but an earnest one nonetheless.

So, if they want to make an effort to be friendly, why ask this specific "is this type of question friendly" instead of asking "how can I start a good relationship with my new neighbors?"

As written, it seems that they're looking for justification for their actions so that they can assert that they're being reasonable if their neighbor reacts negatively to such a question. We can't tell them what to expect because we don't know these neighbors or what they consider rude. What a "reasonable" person might find appropriate or not is irrelevant - particularly when their question gives such a bleak outlook on their relationship with this person - so what their goals are here is unclear.

But if the question focuses on the X instead of the Y, they may actually find some better solutions.

If all they really want is to know how much their neighbor paid for their home, and it is public record, why even bother asking... just look it up on the website that hosts such information. This is a non-issue.


The "is this rude" questions will generally need editing to get rid of the "is this rude" and focus on the actual question (in the case of XY issues) or focus on whether there's any (specific) cultural etiquette in a situation. If they can not be edited, they should either be closed with a special close reason explaining how the question can be improved (or linking to meta) or as a duplicate of a canonical question that explains that whether something is rude or not is subjective in most cases and that it being not rude to one person (or most people) doesn't make it justifiable in the eyes of the person you're interacting with but that we are not here to adjudicate arguments.

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I think editing "Is it rude" questions to:

"I want to take the correct approach to XYZ, I've thought of ABC(ABC being the original "Is it rude" bit) and I'm wondering what the best approach might be...

Is it rude to wear a sari as a westerner to a wedding in India?

could become

I am a westerner attending a wedding in India, Should I wear a Sari, western clothes or would something else be better? How should I bring this up with my host?

or

Is it rude to ask how much a new neighbour paid for their apartment?

Given the context of the question at hand...

My new neighbor is trying to strike up conversation, would bringing up the price of the housing be an appropriate topic for small talk, or are there other things that might be a better topic?

Most of these can just be edited to be something other than a yes or no question and then answered appropriately

The rest may be difficult as they are requests for validation disguised as requests for advice. We are not here to judge whether someone is right for getting their knickers in a twist.

I guess the dividing line is based on best judgment

  • I guess the dividing line is based on best judgment What line are we talking about? The line about what can be saved by editing or not? Wouldn't that make asking 'is it rude' off-topic because the questions should be asking something else? So either the person is asking whether something is rude or not, or they are asking how to do something else? – Tinkeringbell Jan 10 '18 at 15:49
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    @Tinkeringbell "Is it rude" should always be off topic because it will either be off topic for being a "yes/no" question, which is off topic because it's not asking about skills, or it's opinion based. The ones that are CLEARLY rants where the "is this rude?" is just a hook for people to say "Yes it was rude! You poor thing". An "Is this rude" question can be reworded into "what's the best approach", but as it stands, it's off topic – The Wraith Jan 10 '18 at 16:56
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    So instead of letting someone learn the culture of a place, you expect them to have their dressing choices become the main question? How is what saree should I wear? a better question? It's their choice what to wear. But it's a set tradition what's acceptable or rude in a place. – NVZ Jan 19 '18 at 5:38
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"Is it rude to do X" is on-topic, as long as the context is well-defined and other quality rules are respected.

Take this question for instance:
Is it rude to ignore everybody else in a chatroom and only talk with one person?

  • The asker genuinely has no idea whether their behavior is rude or not. They are not looking for validation. They have a hint that it might be, but if they had to place a bet they genuinely would not know on which side to bet.
  • Nobody's knowledge of etiquette is perfect, even in one particular culture and time. We are certainly all guilty of doing indisputably rude things, without even realizing. That is totally an interpersonal issue, and IPS should be the place to identify such rude actions. In the future, by reading IPS you will probably be surprised to learn that some action you were performing everyday is actually considered rude by most.
  • Trying to force this question into a "How should I" would make the question less clear, and more importantly it would require that the asker already know the answer. For instance, rephrasing "Is it rude to make noise when eating tsukemen in Japan?" to "How to deal with tsukemen in Japan?" or "How should I eat tsukemen in Japan?" (or any other variation) makes the question less on-the-spot and less findable.

To summarize: Yes, we are answering "Is it rude?" questions, we have been doing it for a long time, and we are doing a great job at it. The questions+answers are of great quality and most importantly, they help a lot of visitors who have the same question.

Other great "Is it rude?" questions:

There are also many questions "How do I X?" where all top answers are "You don't, because it is rude" (in such cases, the asker thought that their action was possibly 50% rude on the rudeness scale, but would have never imagined that it is actually 200% rude):

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    Nobody's knowledge of etiquette is perfect, even in one particular culture and time --> Are we really the place to determine what's rude and what's not? Or are we here to help you find the right way to behave in a certain situation? There's a fine line between those two, and some is it rude questions can certainly be edited to focus on the latter. But using IPS to determine what's rude and what not is essentially using this site as a polling mechanism which is not what SE is about... – Tinkeringbell Jan 10 '18 at 15:56
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    @Tinkeringbell Asking is it rude is not asking us to determine something. It is asking if something already is rude/okay or not. To Is it rude to kiss in public in India, the answer by an Indian would be it's something we don't wish to see done in public, so most people around you would find it rude. I don't see how such questions can be reworded into how should I and so we're forcing an OP to assume it's rude and then ask how to navigate it. – NVZ Jan 19 '18 at 5:34

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