Adding a "Pronouns" custom user field? Good idea, or the worst idea?

Following the change that was recently made on the Discourse Meta board, would adding a “Pronouns” user field for public display be something useful to this board?

I do not know the answer, and I am very mixed about whether I think it is a good idea or not.

I’ve seen some posts (not linked) where the poster has complained about being misgendered. It is appropriate for posters to be gendered as they prefer, however unless it is the topic of discussion, I know that I cannot remember the gender of all of the members. Particularly when knowing the gender of any particular member requires the member having expressed it in a post I’ve read, and I’ve managed to retain that information.

I can also see posters wanting to keep their gender anonymous, and the best way to do that is to not have any official way of designating it.

As I said, I have very mixed feelings about whether this is a good idea. (Which is different from thinking it’s a bad idea.)

I apologize if this has been brought up in one of the other threads touching on gender or demographics, I’ve not read through all of them. If so, please close or otherwise moderate this post, with my apologies. I thought about it because I was asked to add a pronouns field to a discourse board I run. On that board the posters are generally identified by their real names, so the dynamic around anonymous gender is very different than here.

Adding a custom profile field is easy. The one catch I found is that it was necessary to use the browser reload :arrows_clockwise: button on the user profile page to see the new field. Merely navigating to the profile page did not show it.

It can’t be very hard. One of my other discourse sites had a gender field. And you can just leave it blank. No one needs to display their gender if they prefer not to.

You can say that, but someone may feel pressured to display their gender if everyone else is. I don’t think it’s necessary or particularly helpful.

It’s pretty easy to add fields to the profile/card, so I’m in favor of it.

That’s odd. I’ve never seen a need to refresh the page unless it’s a new change that the cached version didn’t include.

ETA: But I have seen some added features where you needed to log out and log back in to get them to show up.

It depends on the members. In one organization I’m a part of not putting your pronouns would make you stand out at best and probably labeled a LGBTQ+ hater by some. Another organization encourages it but the member are really good about it being optional.

More arguments pro and con can be found here:

I’m in a lot of communities that routinely display gender pronouns. I don’t share mine, for reasons i don’t want to go into. So I’m certainly aware of the issue. Speaking as a person who prefers not to share, I’ve only once found it awkward, and that was face-to-face, with a trans woman who asked me my pronouns, i think to be polite. I think it would be fine on this message board.

Although… Looking at the other thread, i was on a discord server that linked pronouns to a color, and that was wildly unpopular. We changed it, and now people pick a color, and also, if they feel like it, pick gender pronouns.

You two have both already expressed some gender preference in your usernames (though I always parse it as puzz-legal, but that’s a me problem).

I agree it is not necessary, what I’m very unsure of is if it’s helpful. I think it is helpful for posters who want to refer to other members appropriately. It may not be helpful to posters who prefer to keep their gender anonymous.

Zoom has had this feature for some time, and I put up my pronouns there (he/him), because I’ve been told that is an ally move (though I’ve also seen contrarian views!). Most people on Zoom don’t do it, and it only displays if your logged in.

I think that displaying your pronouns is helpful ally behavior if

  1. you are comfortable in your gender
  2. a minority shares their pronouns

In that case, your sharing your pronouns normalizes it, and then the trans guy can share his pronouns without it being a giant red flag that he’s trans.

I think that it’s probably best if between 20% and 80% of everyone shares their pronouns. Then it’s “normal” either way.

It’s not the worst idea, and I’m okay with sharing my gender, but I don’t want to alienate someone who doesn’t like to share theirs for some reason. How can we guarantee there won’t be some kind of stigma attached to someone who doesn’t want to share?

One thing to consider is that given the nature of the audience here, there are likely to be people who will specify pronouns with the purpose of being problematic or offending others. If this feature is added, then anything other than the common he/she/they pronouns should require mod approval first.

Bad idea. There’s no established protocol for the use of pronouns while at the same time there is likely to be one some day. If you include a text field that can contain anything people want to enter you have potential issues with the text they have used now and some day fitting it into future standards. If you have a set of allowed pronouns you’ll surely offend someone for leaving one out or including some other. Accommodation must be made for either one or two different pronouns used, at a minimum. It’s too soon to experiment with this. And as likely as it is to be used someday there is also a chance it will disappear or end up taking on a very different form in the future.

It may be appropriate to include a survey question on a form asking for preferred pronouns that might be used in the future. But I would avoid any fixed connection between a user and such a suggestion.

The only real issue I’ve ever seen is that people who refuse to do it are often transphobic and choosing not to do it to refuse to acknowledge “wokeness.” People who this don’t indicate can seem like they’re part of that group.

This is allayed by simply saying you don’t have any preferred pronouns, which can be illustrated in many ways. The most succinct is either the word “none” in a field or possibly “he/she/they.”

@filmore: I don’t see that as a big concern. Trolling in this area is pretty easy to detect. Plus we already have a rule against misgendering, yet we don’t see trolls taking advantage of that.

And, yes, treat fake pronouns as trolling and/or misgendering.

I don’t see why any of this would be a problem. If the standard on how to indicate this sort of thing changes, you can just change the form.

I find it unlikely, however, that this field is going to change in the near future. It’s not like this idea is that new. And it’s not like the old gender fields are now seen as horrible or anything.

I run/help administer several discord sites that let users select a pronoun. There’s a list, and one of the options is to contact an administrator to add additional options. Users may select as many of the pronouns on the list as they like, or select none, or select “any pronoun”.

Other than the one site that linked pronouns to color, I’ve seen no complaints. I guess except that people often don’t notice when someone changes their pronouns, despite that.

It’s definitely not too soon to do this, and protocols are stable enough today to be completely usable.

Wow. Misgendering yourself. Harsh rule, bro.

On Discourse, it’s just a text box. I’m sure that it could be made into a dropdown listbox, but that would require some work.

It’s plausible that trolls would often change and/or create custom genders to be able to act indignant when people don’t follow them. We have had trolls that chose deliberately ambiguous usernames, then when someone used he or she in regards to them, troll-responded with “how dare you assume what gender I am?” , but never clarifying what gender they did want to be called. On purpose. In order to troll.

Which isn’t to say it would be used to troll, just that it would be plausible.

Can I just say that I’ve never see anyone stigmatized or treated as transphobic for not entering their pronouns in an optional field. That seems like a made-up worry.