Gender Pronouns (original title: Should we have gender-identifiers on the SDMB?)

When referring to another poster whose sex I don’t know, I generally revert to “he” unless corrected, but I know there are many women on the board. On one message board I go to, men’s names are in blue, women’s names are in pink, and non-identifying names are in yellow. Is that something we could do here?

Should? I don’t know.
Offer it as an option, perhaps as a line under the name? I don’t see why not.

I’m not philosophically opposed but I hope it wouldn’t just dump everyone into “other” who doesn’t opt for pink or blue. Perhaps a freehand box. Although if it is labeled “Sex” you’re going to get a lot of folks typing in things like “Not with you” or “Your place or mine?” or “Kinky” or whatever. And sex isn’t the same thing as gender, by the way.

I would hope that “they” could always be used as the generic pronoun if you don’t know their preferred pronoun. Having to do a profile lookup to find someone’s specific pronoun can be cumbersome when doing a reply. Obviously it’s not an insurmountable hurdle, but for ease of communication it would be beneficial to be able to use “they”. If someone wants to do a profile lookup and find the pronoun, great!, but that should be something optional. No one should get in trouble for using “they” instead of the person’s personal pronoun preference.

Why is this necessary? Specifying gender in face-to-face interactions is important because people will make inferences based upon appearance and sexual characteristics that may not be consistent with the person’s gender identity and may lead to embarrassing or uncomfortable circumstances, but the default for online interactions is that they are mostly gender-neutral (or should be) unless addressing a. gender-specific topic, in which case context and explicit self-identification is typical. I frankly don’t need to know if SomeUser is male or female to discuss games, quantum mechanics, or what the best bourbon is, and for the most part I don’t even need to know on more delicate topics such as politics or popular culture unless it touches on gender-specific issues.

“They” is linguistically kind of annoying as a gender-neutral pronoun because it can be difficult to distinguish singular from plural (and just often sounds like bad syntax in my ears even though it is grammatically perfectly acceptable as a convention) and I wish we could agree to adopt a distinct term but is fine in the context of online discussion where the gender of another person is unknown or not relevant.


Could we do that? Sure. Should we? Probably not. Some people don’t feel safe sharing their gender. Plus, it adds a lot of unnecessary formatting to the posts.

Easier would be a profile field with pronoun preference. It can be set in Discourse to show up on your card that pops up when someone clicks your username.

Personally, I never check people’s pronouns. Unless I know for a fact what someone prefers, I just go with they.

No pink and blue, please. And no in general.

Names are varying shades of gray / black depending on Discourse’s trust level. Regardless of whether you think this is a good idea or not, changing name colors isn’t an option.

Many women purposely choose non-gendered names (or traditionally male names) on the internet for safety reasons. Those who choose to can put their preferred pronouns in their user profile, but there are many reasons why it would be detrimental to “shes” and “theys” to be outed by handle color (pink and blue?gross.) or any other identifier on the post level.

I think an option would be fine, as long as there was no requirement to enter something.

Alternately, of course, posters can include a signature with their gender identifier if they wish.

Generally, I try and be gender-neutral when I talk about posters who I don’t know what their preference is. Sometimes when I’m posting in a hurry or from my phone I probably revert to some sort of gender identifier.

Unless a poster complains, I don’t think it’s a big deal. If they do, then you should honor whatever their choice is, or just post about them with something gender-neutral (instead of ‘s/he’, say ‘they’ or something along those lines).

I don’t think we need some sort of formal, color-coded system, personally. And I don’t think we need to have any sort of formal posting templates either. If someone has an issue with how they were gender identified (calling someone who identifies as female a ‘he’, or vice versa) they will let you know. I’ve had that happen to me here in the past because some user names seem ‘male’ and some ‘female’ based on culture and upbringing. For reference, I’ve had posters refer to me as a ‘her’ before, and it was more amusing to me that they would think that than it was offensive or whatever.

Just my two cents worth (and still a bargain at double the listed price!).

I specifically put “Mr. Atama” as my “name” in preferences to identify my gender, especially since I’ve had people mistake me the other way on these boards. (Not that I mind that but it can lead to confusion.) So I’d support something like this personally.

I generally use gender-neutral terminology unless I know ahead of time what a person’s gender is. That’s just something I do anywhere on the web and sometimes even in real life when there is any ambiguity.

Could we NOT use stereotypical colors, PLEASE? I absolutely loathe pink.

You know, this forum has existed 20+ years without such gender-identifiers without imploding although we’ve had men, women, trans men, trans women, non-binary, non-identifying, and no doubt others I’ve since forgotten. Worst has ever seem to have happened was something like:

OnePoster: That Apple, he collects stamps
AnotherPoster: Apple’s actually a woman
OnePoster: Oh, sorry. That Apple, she collects stamps

When someone would deliberately and repeatedly mis-gender someone the mods would deal out appropriate warnings/sanctions/worse.

Some user names have an “obvious” gender. Sometimes someone is using a name that many think is one gender but the user is actually another. Some are neutral and maybe you’d have to ask, or you could just use “they” until/unless the user specifies.

Not seeing the problem that needs a solution here, but I’m willing to go with majority rules. As long I don’t have to be in pink. Ugh. :::: shudder :::: Frankly, I don’t care if I’m mistaken for a man here, I do care about being forced to wear pink. (Admittedly, my hang up about pink is unusual and my own)

I think I mentioned here somewhere else that there is all kind of bling that can be added to avatar pictures. It’s called flair and looks like tiny icons surrounding your avatar. I’m not recommending that we use any of that, just listing it as another option already available to us.

lol…I’m not overly fond of blue. If we go with colors, I’d like mine to be green. Or chartreuse, not because I particularly like the color, it just sounds cool…

My personal preference for myself is purple.

This. And I’m not willing to go with majority rules. :wink:

Your gender is sociologist?

Naw, I just like purple.

If we do something like that we must be inclusive of all of the colors of the rainbow, and represent every letter in the alphabet.

I am a meat popsicle.