This question is closed as off-topic with a note:

"Questions asking for advice on a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else.

I do not think the OP is asking for specific choice or career/skills advice. He/she is asking how to resolve a specific workplace situation which I thought is exactly what happens on this site in pretty much every valid WP question.

There are some concerns that the question can be a troll and if the question is closed under that suspicion then shouldn't it be explicitly stated that way?

  • The question should not be "Should I tell them?" but rather "How do I tell them?", because whether or not to tell them comes down to a choice for which the pros and cons have already been included in the question (so it's basically deciding for oneself how important and likely each pro and con is). Although I can't say I'm personally too sure about when a "Should I" question is appropriate (apart from being able to say "not that"). – Bernhard Barker Feb 3 '18 at 13:25
  • @Dukeling I agree. However, considering OP has a cultural gap could also mean there is a language gap as well. It is very likely they really meant "how do I handle this situation" but did not think about wording the title to fit this. – PagMax Feb 3 '18 at 13:29
  • @MaskedMan I sense a hostility in your response and I do not understand why. What conclusion did I jump to? The question says it is closed because of this reason. I copied pasted right from there. Not my own conclusion. and yes thanks for correcting and sorry for posting the wrong link. That was a genuine mistake. repwhoring is a strong word for that. What happened to all the "be nice" policy? And leaving the possibility that I am okay with being suspected as repwhoring is even more insulting. – PagMax Feb 3 '18 at 16:45
  • @MaskedMan I also think that the question is a troll. I am just asking shouldn't that be the stated reason for closing it? You do think it is blatantly obvious. I am simply trying to understand the rules here. No other intent. – PagMax Feb 3 '18 at 16:50
  • In hindsight, I think I made a wrong choice of words, I will post an answer to clear things up. – Masked Man Feb 3 '18 at 16:56
  • @PagMax it came to my attention that you are the highest voted answer on that Question (good answer BTW). Is this perhaps the reason you are asking this post? I agree with your answer there, but it is more evident as time passes that the question was indeed trollish by nature. – DarkCygnus Mod Feb 5 '18 at 17:34
  • @DarkCygnus hehe..yes I was keen because I spent time replying to that post and it got some attention (which does not happen a lot!!). Although I do not care much about reopening it. I am just trying to understand if the reason is troll or it is off-topic. I just do not think it is both. – PagMax Feb 6 '18 at 2:32
  • @DarkCygnus Also while that response is highest voted, the question about that question here is surely not getting same love with so many down votes!! haha – PagMax Feb 6 '18 at 2:33
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    I think the exact issue I had in mind is really being discussed here workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5037/… It makes sense not to link the question as the OP is doing and just directly talk about the issue. – PagMax Feb 6 '18 at 2:50
  • There were comments about trolling and OP did not clean up the question. Closed is closed. I gave the OP a few hours to clean up the question and then VTC. – paparazzo Feb 12 '18 at 17:07
  • If the question is what to check then this question is a duplicate. workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5037/… – paparazzo Feb 12 '18 at 17:15
  • Would now be a good time to lock the question and its answers forever? – ValarMorghulis Feb 13 '18 at 3:19
  • follow-up discussion: Why was the question on eating coworkers' lunch deleted? – gnat Mar 8 '18 at 17:18

I have edited the question to remove the trollbaits and generalized it to make it more useful to the community.

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    Agree. Adding to that is the fact stated that all questions actually asked in the post qualify as off-topic by their way of phrasing. Seems perhaps like another example of skilled troll on the hunt of rep points (gamification). – DarkCygnus Mod Feb 5 '18 at 17:31
  • @MaskedMan. I agree with most of your response. Cultural difference cannot be the reason/excuse and 3 months is just too long to get away with this without anyone noticing. I just think the "troll" question can still be helpful to someone who did that mistake of eating someone else's food and now is embarrassed. It cannot happen for 3 months but it can happen once. It can happen within the same culture as well. I know because it happened to me. – PagMax Feb 6 '18 at 2:41
  • @MaskedMan. Also, I know why you decided to clarify your nationality and workplace but it doesn't matter. I for one do not want to make this a debate about culture of not only the OP but also about people who responding to it!! – PagMax Feb 6 '18 at 2:42
  • For benefit of others: I don't "like" bringing in people's nationality into any discussion because we are an international community, unless it is essential to meaningfully answer the question. There used to be a time on this site when every post had to be written in a way that made sense to American readers. Over time, we have become far more mature in that regard and that attitude is mostly gone. However, it is equally unfair and wrong to go to the opposite extreme: "You are American, so you obviously don't care about people from other cultures, as another answer seems to imply. – Masked Man Feb 6 '18 at 3:03
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    @PagMax Certainly, anybody can make that mistake, and I would have no problems with that question except for these 3 things: 1. The "mistake" kept happening for 3 months. 2. OP put food back in the fridge when she didn't like it. 3. When someone got pissed off because of the "mistake", rather than owning it up, she somehow pushes the blame on US culture. Again, I am absolutely convinced that the story is fake, and I strongly suspect it has not even been written by an Indian. The mention of "H1B Visa" which is not at all relevant seems to confirm my suspicion. – Masked Man Feb 6 '18 at 3:08
  • If you believe it should be closed and deleted then why did you edit to remove the trolling? Up votes on "question should be closed and deleted" is NOT feedback to sanitize the question. – paparazzo Feb 12 '18 at 17:02
  • Would now be a good time to lock the question and its answers? – ValarMorghulis Feb 13 '18 at 3:20
  • @Paparazzi Uhm, because I changed my mind? Is that a problem? You can cherry-pick lines from my answer to suit your agenda, it doesn't concern me. – Masked Man Feb 14 '18 at 9:02
  • @Paparazzi You also seem to be making a strange assumption that upvotes is feedback. Where do you get that from? Upvotes are not the only, or even the most important, feedback. Anyway, you are free to believe whatever you want and do what you want. – Masked Man Feb 14 '18 at 16:24
  • You are the one that stated you revised the post based on feedback. You had no feedback to revise the original. I can only assume you equated up votes to feedback - and to me up vote would mean agree with delete. Your sense of logic is different than mine and I chose not to discuss this with you further. – paparazzo Feb 14 '18 at 17:08
  • @Paparazzi I said I revised the post based on feedback, not upvotes. Upvotes are not the only form of feedback. Besides, even if I go by your logic of "feedback is only upvotes", the feedback is for the entire post and not just that one line you cherry-picked to suit your agenda. Technically, the old question is deleted and replaced by another question, but rather than create a separate post, it is uploaded as a new version of the existing post. I hope you remember I too can play the pedantry game.:) – Masked Man Feb 17 '18 at 6:33

As of right now, I see only two possible questions asked in that post, first one is in the title:

Should I tell other employees I've been eating their lunch by mistake?

Which is clearly a "should I...?" question, which is asking us to make a choice for OP.

This choice can either be a "yes you should" or "no you shouldn't" (where each possible answer would be too polarized and contradict each other), or well a "should I do X, Y, ..., Z?" were the answers are being biased or forced into those limited categories (thus limiting the freedom of answerers to actually give their suggestions).

Is it best to tell people?

Besides being highly opinion-based, this question is also a "should I" question in disguise, as it is expecting a "yes you should tell" or "no don't tell" answer.

Given these facts, it seems to me that the close reason is not wrong or unusual, as it present many characteristics of an off-topic question.

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    By this logic, most popular question on this website is opinion based. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/93696/… Here the question explicitly asked is 'Now the problem is, do I tell them?`. This sounds exactly like the choice you laid out in your answer. – PagMax Feb 5 '18 at 6:59
  • @PagMax (imo, our most q is a bit off topic hehe), but there is a line you know? Perhaps more troll experiences will make your troll alert more sensitive. But I agree that far too many posts are closed on this site (one of my year's resolutions is to be more permissive and give Qs more love before vtc) – DarkCygnus Mod Feb 5 '18 at 14:31
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    @PagMax Yeah, you are right, and that question was also closed as off topic, until some wise people decided to reopen it. – Masked Man Feb 5 '18 at 16:05
  • @MaskedMan wasn't aware of that – DarkCygnus Mod Feb 5 '18 at 16:17

The question is neither "off-topic" nor "trolling" nor is the question fundamentally flawed because of the trivial semantics of "should I" vs "how do I". It is a perfectly fine question about a type of misunderstanding that CAN HAPPEN in workplaces when folks from different cultures converge.

The problem is that some people here are so rigid in their thinking, they simply can't fathom how someone with a very different cultural background could get confused about something like lunch. Well, it happens. The workplace isn't limited to Americans in American workplaces.

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    It has become fashionable these days to blame every "mistake" on culture difference. – Masked Man Feb 3 '18 at 18:01
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    I have seen enough of the world to know that mistakes do happen due to cultural misunderstandings. I have also seen enough of the world to know when "cultural misunderstanding" is used as a get-out-of-jail-free card. Although to be fair, that is not the case here, it is blatantly obvious that the OP is making up the whole story. – Masked Man Feb 3 '18 at 18:34
  • @TheSnarkKnight, I have no idea where you get that non-sequitur conclusion. But, to answer your question, one does not need to be "stupid" to be unaware of customs and expected behaviors in foreign cultures. – teego1967 Feb 3 '18 at 20:03
  • @teego1967 I know not to eat with my left hand in India, the importance of allowing someone to save face in Japan, what flowers not to bring in Germany, and not to clink my glasses in Hungary, but you seem to think an Indian woman is too stupid to figure out not to steal lunches. – Old_Lamplighter Feb 3 '18 at 22:00
  • @TheSnarkKnight, is that so? Do you really think you know all social conventions in all cultures? I don't think the OP in question was necessarily stupid at all. We will perhaps never know if the poster was a troll. I suspect she was not and that she was surprised by the extraordinarily hostile (but not uncommon) stackexchange response. – teego1967 Feb 4 '18 at 1:08
  • Only thing which sounds suspicious in the post is 3 months and several days a week. If the OP would have said few times instead, then whether real or not, this could be a situation which CAN HAPPEN. (I ate a muffin from the pantry cabinet once thinking it is for everyone. I knew only when the owner of the muffin put an angry note on the cabinet!) – PagMax Feb 4 '18 at 2:19
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    @teego1967 You said: "Do you really think you know all social conventions in all cultures?" That's not what I said at all. What I did do was demonstrate my knowledge of several customs from several cultures I've had to do business with, and yes, when dealing with cultures other than your own you act reservedly, and do not take anyone's word without verification, especially with regards to food and drink, – Old_Lamplighter Feb 4 '18 at 4:01
  • @teego1967 Why does he need to know all social conventions in all cultures, unless he needs to work with all of them? When OP went through the trouble of getting an H1B visa, I would imagine she knew which country's visa she was applying for. She doesn't need to know the cultures of the whole world, but only that one country she chose to go to for work. – Masked Man Feb 4 '18 at 8:12

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