Much to my surprise a very chatty question on cultural differences got reopened. It is an interesting topic, but not a great topic on a QA platform. You could split this question up in a virtually unlimited set of combinations. One could ask how a European should deal with cultural differences in Asia, but at the same time ask how a German should deal with Spanish differences.

On other QA platforms it is not uncommon to disregard these forum style questions. Since it got reopened, I am wondering why and if we really want this?

6 Answers 6


Agreed, I was also very surprised that it was reopened :/ This is a Q&A site - meant for solving specific problems, not general - as you put it - forum-style ones.

  • I would just say that the question asks more for a blog post putting one's experience together than for a forum-style discussion. However, this doesn't change the fact that it's not a good question for a QA site.
    – yo'
    Mar 14, 2014 at 11:20

The question is On Hold now, so it seems that the community is indeed finding it to be too forum-like. It's a very broad question and I don't see there being any solid answer.


I don't know why y'all put that on hold, I don't see it as too broad, but that could be due to knowing the answer to it.

Conversational / chatty forum style questions have some very distinct characteristics:

  • They tend to be short conversation starters
  • They tend to get lots of answers (as in more than 8 - 10)
  • They tend to attract very short, non-explanatory answers
  • They don't state a real problem

This particular question is an example of one that I think we're going to continue to see, something rather specific coming from someone that is looking into a rather big unknown - they have no idea how they're going to manage to do something once they arrive somewhere. When it comes to how they're going to get an apartment, handle wiring money and other things - it gets easier to ask.

I'm going to be going to Japan in the not too distant future and as someone that's quite socially awkward to begin with, I'm quite frankly terrified of committing a series of social faux pas. Sure, I could ask another version of that very same question with the additional scope that it's only about Japan, and presumably someone that's been living in Japan with the context of arriving as an outsider could answer it. That's definitely not too broad.

When there is guidance in the absence of more specific guidance, I don't see it as a problem, and that's what I saw that question as being.

There are a lot of countries, and there is, in fact, a manner of thinking and strategy people use as a base to understanding and acclimating to a new culture. I really think in this case, 'broad' was mistaken as 'I know an answer to this but it's difficult to articulate'.

  • "because I know the answer" I would say that that is a nice example of an appeal to authority en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority
    – Andra
    Mar 14, 2014 at 6:25
  • @Andra Then how about, because I knew a perfectly objective and comprehensive answer to it existed - and that's not a straw man or fallacy, that's knowing the characteristics of overly broad questions and realizing that the one you're seeing probably isn't.
    – user100
    Mar 14, 2014 at 6:29

No offense to Tim Post, who posted an asnwer to the question, but the answer does not answer the question, and in general is not a good answer. The reason for both these is that the question is bad.

And one moment, it's being explained that the question asks for "a strategy", and at the same moment, the answer reads: "There isn't any single good strategy for this".

In the sense of the question as I see it, the answer should be a (rather infinite) list of things like that in Czechia, the lozenge is widely known as a rude symbol for a vagina and that the word "sex" means "intercourse" and never "gender", etc.

As such, the question is not answerable, because it is too broad.


Most sites under-utilize their chat rooms, and that is exactly where chatty discussions and chat-provoking questions should be directed: to the chat room.

Every SE site has three pillars: the main Q&A, the meta Q&A, and the chat. Meta and chat exist to distribute the weight evenly, but they can only do that if we use them to their full effect and purpose.


I think that particular question was fine. I have an app I carry on my phone called "Customs" which has a handy database of common cultural quirks and pitfalls for every country in the world. It seems like exactly the sort of thing the poster was looking for. The question seems to have actually been broadened rather than focused by the editing, and might not have become so chatty if it had been kept focused on OP's search for a resource that documents examples of these pitfalls.

Splitting this answer into two, as it probably should have been from the outset.

  • Perhaps I should have separated "that question was fine" from the portion about the chat room. I am interested to know which part was disagreed with and hear some discussion about the chat part of my answer. Mar 21, 2014 at 14:56

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