It's been suggested that the US location of StackExchange offices somehow makes this a US site in some meaningful way, in terms of what assumptions we can make about users or their posts. Is that true?

Note: it's completely obvious that SE is based in the US, and this question is not about that, but rather how we should read, post, and interact on the site.


1 Answer 1


Absolutely not. This is a global site, and StackExchange's location is just a practical detail.

The company that made it happens to be in the US, and yes, the site is in English, but that's because it needs to have a single common language so we can communicate, and it needs to be maintainable by StackExchange. (For practical reasons, this also extends to tags standardizing on US English.) Beyond that, it doesn't matter.

If you're looking at a single user, they're quite likely to be from outside the US. So any US-centric assumptions - that people use American units, that they're using US English rather than UK English, that they can easily order from Amazon - are not all that likely to be correct. Sure, sometimes you can infer (a 500° oven is probably 500°F, not 500°C), but you can't assume.

On top of that, making assumptions like that makes the site unwelcoming. Seeing a US bias is unpleasant for non-US users. We've heard various complaints about this over the years. Since the US is a big country and plenty of users are from there, it's easy for them to start to feel and act like everyone's like them. But that just makes non-US users feel ignored.

So, please, don't make assumptions about where someone's from, any more than you'd assume everyone on the site is a programmer just because StackExchange started off with programming sites. We're all kinds of people from all kinds of places, and the best way to keep on helping people and producing useful Q&A is to respect that.

  • 4
    In a very real sense, its quite the opposite - that its worth being mindful of different 'cultures' within cooking. My mom cooks by eye or proportion. Some folks do volume (flat and heaped), some do weight. Some are precise, some are intuitive. And of course, that whole temperatures mess. Its handy to be mindful not everyone is american, but we can convert. If somethings ambigious, that's what comments are for no? Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 3:27
  • Exactly: if it's ambiguous, try and clarify it, don't just assume, and try to avoid the need in the first place when you can.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 3:34
  • 1
    And assumptions also include "standard" equipment, ingredients and customs. I, for example, can't buy corn syrup at my local store and many Germans have the main meal around noon.
    – Stephie Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 14:16
  • 1
    @Stephie Thanks! Things like that are tricky - people don't always realize what they're assuming. Often for a cooking question, it takes a couple people from different places to provide answers that will cover a lot of the world, so I'd encourage everyone to say what they know, and be ready to upvote alternate answers.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 14:50
  • 'Seeing a US bias is unpleasant for non-US users.' Condescending does not go far enough for this comment in your answer. And please where is your datum from with regards to -'...everyone on the site is a programmer just because StackExchange started off with programming sites'. At least credit SE users with some intelligence and understand that they, unlike a lot of others have tolerance of other nationalities and cultures. I think you might find that the average SE user does not really care about the origins of the site - they just try to enjoy the experience - when allowed to. Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 13:22
  • 5
    @dougal3.0.0 Some people have defended the idea of making US-centric assumptions; this answer is about carefully explaining that it's a bad idea. If you think it's all obvious, good - it should be, just like the "be nice " rule in general. Unfortunately there's always a minority we have to clarify for. And the programming example is supposed to be extremely obvious to drive the point home - you wouldn't do that, so don't do this either. (That said, I've certainly seen programming-related bias here before too.)
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 14:35
  • The more subtle thing here is about being conscious about this bias. Most people are extremely welcoming and good-intentioned, but it's easy to make small assumptions without realizing it; being on the lookout for that helps make things even better.
    – Cascabel Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 14:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .