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Q: Official FAQ on gender pronouns and Code of Conduct changes

Cesar MWe expect today’s Code of Conduct changes to generate a lot of questions. We’ve tried to anticipate some of the most common questions people may have here, and we’ll be adding to this list as more questions come up. Q: What are personal pronouns, and why are they relevant to the Code of Conduct?...

Within are contained the changes to the code of conduct
 
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A: Official FAQ on gender pronouns and Code of Conduct changes

Monica CellioI am glad to see that you have removed the compelled speech that was in the first draft. Let me highlight something: We are asking everyone to use all stated pronouns as you would naturally write. You are not required to insert pronouns where you otherwise would not. From the beginning, my...

 
@MonicaCellio also erf. There seems to be one gentleman who is dead set in discouraging you
He clearly has no idea. Ignore him 😁
 
This is like seeing your friends fighting
I don't like it
 
4:30 PM
@AndrasDeak is it just me or do those changes look weird? Why do I see razor code there?
 
razor?
 
I don't know about the imagery. The actual changes seem sensible though
 
it's just bleeding-edge
 
@Magisch I don't either
 
@AndrasDeak that is what ASP.NET uses to mix code and html
 
4:34 PM
ah
 
What happens if a faction declares *selves as no pronoum [applicable]?
 
Faction?
 
@202324 use their name
 
@202324 Then you use the name
 
@202324 then you don't
 
4:37 PM
pronoun means "instead of name", so if you don't have one, the name is grammatically correct in all cases
 
^ is actually useful btw
 
there's a part about Sam
 
it expands on rationale behind the choices too, which makes it easier to understand why you're doing it and what positive impact it has.
 
Awesome.
 
4:42 PM
You mean to tell me... @Catija...you want me to keep that language in a question about Java?? Are you serious? — Makoto 3 mins ago
not that I've seen that in any question on SO
 
I don't see many people doing that. Certainly not enough that it becomes a noise issue worth addressing. Also, I asked about an official profile field for it, that'd be neat.
so a userscript can just display it on the usercard
 
They have chosen their hill
They haven't not changed position at all
 
So it seems.
 
@Magisch Would love that. Would really help support this. It could be totally optional so no one would feel they had to disclose.
 
@Catija It would be cool because I could just run a userscript to display it in the usercard and then never be at risk of forgetting again
 
4:51 PM
I declare *self as no pronoun applicable. :D
 
I mean, forgetting isn't punishable, but still. It seems like an easy way to do it right
 
@AndrasDeak thank you, I gave it a minute.
 
@202324 SegFault core dumped
@Magisch Uh... re-read the comments that is not how I'm reading it. This is proper though police level stuff to me.
 
Q: What should I do if I don't know someone's pronouns?

When in doubt, use gender-neutral language or refer to the user by name.
Q: Does this mean I’m required to use pronouns when I normally wouldn’t?

We are asking everyone to use all stated pronouns as you would naturally write. You are not required to insert pronouns where you otherwise would not.
 
4:55 PM
Doesn't look like that to me
 
That is exactly what it is to me
no other way for me to read that
 
And also, our moderators are still in charge of enforcing this. They're not going to start looking for reasons to ban people
 
@Magisch then it was pointless unless the moderators are on board. I can see staff actioning on this
 
I read this as if I make a good faith effort to comply I'm allowed to forget and get it wrong in the natural course of being an imperfect human and nobody will get on my case for that, except the occasional edit. Which is fine.
I don't assume it will go beyond that
 
regardless the whole thing reeks of bad faith assumptions IMO
 
4:56 PM
the FAQ is slowly drifting down on average
 
you know how many comments there are?
 
It just feels hostile to me.
 
Even if staff did nothing else then look at comments all day every day they wouldn't come close to reading 1% of all of them
 
@Magisch they don't need to, all they need to do is have a flag
at the end of the day all it takes is one bad faith assumption by another user
 
flags are still handled by mods, not staff
SE cannot afford to pay staff to look at regular flags
 
4:58 PM
this sort of thing scares the crap out of me because I've seen this sort of language policing used to target minorities including those that it's ostensibly trying to protect
 
and we elect our mods
 
The intent of the requirement is to avoid users feeling singled-out, disrespected or invalidated. If someone's natural writing style always pertains equitably to everyone through typical discourse or isn't frequently interpreted as a clever means to avoid someone's stated pronouns, then, in theory, one might conclude that would work. In practice, it may simply not, and if we received multiple complaints of deliberately avoiding someone's pronouns, regardless of the intent, we'd need to take corrective action. — Cesar M ♦ 6 mins ago
^ smoking gun?
 
sigh. I'll just wait how it plays out
 
@Magisch The issue I see is that one user and their friends can abuse this and unless a mod takes a very careful look at the situation the mod will likely act conservatively against the targeted user. I don't dispute the intent, I dispute the absoluteness of the implementation.
 
@Mgetz no, that comment says "if you use he/she normally but when a they comes up you resort to name, that is explicitly avoiding" -- so not using he, she, they, xe, or any of the others, equally, is not a conflict with that.
 
5:04 PM
if your natural writing style is to not use any that can't be used against you
which I recall was one of your main criticisms @MonicaCellio
 
@MonicaCellio whereas I read it as switching to name in those cases triggers a violation even though you're not intending to offend. Ignoring the political issues there are accessibility ones too as accessibility tools may not have the new pronouns in them. I can see this being deliberately abused to target or troll, particularly against the groups its intended to protect.
 
@AndrasDeak oh, so now they're back to judging based on presumed intentions? That's no good. There's no way mods can apply that yardstick fairly, since we would have to be able to read minds.
@Magisch yes. I just want to be left alone to write clearly and respectfully like I already do. I accepted a tweak to that; I'm fine with the tweak.
 
@MonicaCellio hence my concerns, you can't possibly meet a subjective definition.
 
We're also supposed to act based on what people do after a policy has been made clear, not on what we think they'll do.
 
If singular they is an issue for some people, I get the feeling that neopronouns will be even more problematic. OTOH, how many people will request neopronouns?
 
5:11 PM
@PM2Ring in the specific example we have, the person is fine with using neopronouns, just not "they"
 
Several people, eg speakers of Indian English, and other ESL people, have insisted that they were taught to use "he" when referring to a person of unknown gender, and they have no intention of using singular they. They won't use neopronouns in a million years.
 
user206222
Well, that post turned into a garbage fire of transphobia very quickly.
 
sure did or at least will
 
Aaaand, I'm out of comment votes on meta again
 
This will be difficult to enforce. How do you distinguish between honest mistakes & intentional non-compliance? And with ESL people on English language sites we see mistakes all the time. Eg, on Physics.SE, it's not unusual to see gendered pronouns used for inanimate objects, eg referring to an electron as him. Obviously that's not intentional, but such a person isn't going to be able to easily correct their pronoun usage.
 
user206222
5:18 PM
@MonicaCellio, I really hate to be this blunt, but you know your story is a rallying point for people whose aims range from selectively escaping pronoun usage, to deliberately seeking to make trans people unwelcome. Is there any way I could ask you to be a little more careful?
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user206222
About how, where, and who might think you are advocating their position?
 
@PM2Ring same way we enforced be nice
common sense and conflict resolution, which is coincidentally what we pre-select for in mods, the people who will be enforcing this
 
user206222
Like, it's absolutely preposterous that so many users are going to just suddenly avoid using 3rd singular pronouns entirely. There's no way that's true. But people are clearly using your post as a means of ballooning their own arguments into legitimacy.
 
To be fair, anything can be interpreted by anyone to be taking a certain side in a hot debate
Especially if it has to do with zeitgeist.
I was looking for an excuse to use that word.
 
@Aza could you please tell me what is dog-whistling in my post so I can fix it? I'm not part of that bigotry from either side; apparently I've stepped into some markers or something but I don't know what they are. I'm just trying to make the case that the posted policy and my writing style are not incompatible.
@Aza it's true for me. My post is about me, specifically my status as a moderator.
And remember, SE isn't taking my email so I can't make that request that way.
A lot of the comments on my post need to be nuked.
That doesn't make the post wrong.
 
5:26 PM
Parsing logical arguments takes time and some mental energy. People prefer extremes.
 
user206222
I understand that it is true for you. I don't think you, specifically, are acting in bad faith. Or at least, it's not useful to assert that.
 
If I've erred, please educate me instead of jumping on me.
@Aza so I'm supposed to not make my appeal because some people are bound and determined to use it as an excuse for trolling? How 'bout we shut down the trolling instead?
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@MonicaCellio Monica, next steps for your modship have been made clear over email to you... advocating for that on SE and here is not the way to go.
 
@PM2Ring In my English class (taught in the USA), I was taught that singular they was incorrect and that I should use "he/she" instead.
 
user206222
But when you ask these questions loudly and publicly, people who carry transphobia see that as concern trolling. You're being raised as a paragon of Just Asking Questions by a lot of people who are seeking tacit approval to not use pronouns at all.
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5:28 PM
You are hurting other, unrelated people, doing that, and it's not going to move your case either way.
 
user206222
I'm not jumping on you, Monica.
 
But I later read another book which said that it's OK in informal English.
 
You are not being ignored over email, you are getting responses. They may be delayed because people are busy. They are not going to be immediate.
 
I encounter it all the time. I'm giving an opinion on why X isn't all that good, and X can be anything from a biochemistry teacher to a movie to an online article, and even when I have a positive opinion about X, people's first reaction, you guessed it, "Get the hell out you hater!"
@SonictheAnonymousHedgehog taught in the USA. Well isn't that nice. Nonnative speakers are definitely not going to encounter any problems. :/
 
@M.A.R. No, it is still problematic, because it overlooks a lot of people (e.g. agender people).
 
5:31 PM
@CesarM I think Monica should have the right to defend herself in public against public accusations and public punishment?
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For many years, I've out of habit used singular they.
 
user206222
@MonicaCellio Those people are making facsimiles of your writing. People are using your exact arguments as-written, because they're already being taken seriously and are an easy route to dogwhistling. Truth be told, your position is a dogwhistle. I don't think there's a way to advocate "just use no pronouns" without pulling those people out of the woodwork.
 
user206222
To be perfectly clear, I don't think you yourself reflect that transphobia. But your argument is an exact copy of one vocal bigots have used and continue to use.
 
@SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Yes, and let's make it the main focus of a programming-oriented site's moderators to take on this cumbersome task. Sorry if I'm being a bit snarky at the moment, but it seems large chunks of the userbase are entirely ignored.
 
@Aza Criminals will argue for personal freedom. Does that mean we cannot?
 
5:32 PM
@CesarM With all due respect, the people that made this whole thing public were SE staff by publicly casting aspersions to the press, not monica. I find it a bit unfair you're cautioning her to remain in private conversation yet do not afford her the same respect.
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@Aza at some point I can't be responsible for other people acting badly. I mean, merely being a (visible) Jew or a person with a disability can invite trolling and counter-(concern-)trolling too, but I can't exactly do anything about that.
 
I use "you" as SE staff as a whole here, nothing against you personally :)
 
You seem to be making an argument along the lines of "evil people do X; you do X; therefore you are responsible for evil".
 
@Magisch I'm... not cautioning. I'm saying it's having unintended side effects that are hurting people and saying it's not going to help the case.
So, with the information that it is... somewhat pointless (from our view) and also hurting people, free to carry on.
 
user206222
@MonicaCellio That's how it works when you have broad sway and influence, yes.
 
5:34 PM
It's not a threat saying it'll hurt the case. That's not what I said/meant.
 
@MonicaCellio I haven't spoken to you in a very long time, but, now that I see you here, I wish to complement you on your extreme self-control and your utterly reasonable response to everything.
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Aw come on.
 
@CesarM Making the first step by taking steps to harm the (most likely unintended, assuming good faith here) consequences your statements are having would go a long way to getting monica to be more private. I'm just guessing, but that seems my rub of it
 
user206222
I wrote, "While minoritized people are not responsible for the actions that systems of power take in response to our vocality, we would be remiss not to be careful about how we are heard." This applies equally to you and to me.
 
@CesarM and yet that's how it was interpreted, the parallels to my concerns with the new policy are quite explicit.
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5:34 PM
@CesarM doesn't the same argument also apply to the stuff said about Monica by SE publicly?
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@Cerberus thank you. Hi! Been a while!
 
@CesarM Don't the statements made by SE to the press also have unintended side effects that are hurting people?
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anyways, I don't want to sound presumptuous so apologies if I did
 
user206222
You have power and influence by virtue of the wrong that was committed against you. Yes, that means you need to be extremely careful with it, because, as I wrote in my follow-up, even tacit approval can have severe ramifications.
 
> [Monica] is now described in the press with language that can be taken to imply she is an extremist and a bigot. This news article is now the top search [result] for her name, which may cause her serious issues in real life
 
5:37 PM
@M.A.R. Some people prefer extremes. Some prefer compromises. Ideally, yes, it would be wonderful if everyone were happy to use each other's pronouns. But I don't think it's realistic, and forcing the extreme position is just asking for trouble. I'd be happy to have people agree to use singular they, or like Monica, write in a natural way where they can avoid singular they, if that's their preference. Asking conservative people to use neopronouns is asking for too much, and they will kick back.
 
@Aza Let's not lay undue burden on people for daring to have been hurt by somebody.
 
@Aza From what I see, Monica has unambiguously disapproved of bigots.
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And we should not have assumed guilt anyway.
 
@Cerberus but SE already did.
 
@Shadow Yeah.
 
@Aza So what can she change about her post to make it better?
 
user206222
5:38 PM
@Cerberus Then the fact that they keep coming to her side should make her very cautious about when, where, and how she talks. She has an enormous amount of sway.
 
@CesarM Is there any objection from SE's end if Monica chooses to publicly disclose the email exchange between her and SE?
 
@Aza Don't you think she has already stated very clearly much much she disapproves of bigots? She is not responsible for what they do, just as we aren't.
 
@PM2Ring I'm not commenting on the recent CoC change, haven't even gotten myself to read the post. I'm saying trolls be trolls. I read recently that they cut scenes from Forrest Gump to promote pro-war propaganda. If people want to interpret something a certain way, there's really nothing stopping them. On the other hand, SE has already aggravated the issue by speaking into a mic.
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@SonictheAnonymousHedgehog She should ask that over email to the person talking to her there. I'm not the one to say yes/no there.
 
user206222
Y'all gave me so much praise for writing the following lines: "While minoritized people are not responsible for the actions that systems of power take in response to our vocality, we would be remiss not to be careful about how we are heard. A lack of clarity on my part contributed to her enduring harm."
 
5:40 PM
I'm also disengaging here, I said what I came to say, and I can't continue arguing over it right now
 
aza has a point though
with great sway comes at least some responsibility
 
@Aza Clarity is good, sure.
 
@SonictheAnonymousHedgehog yes, SE needs to fix this @CesarM. It's disgusting.
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Then an example of what's wrong with (some of) the sentences would be helpful
These general remarks don't add to anything.
 
(Oh sorry; didn't see your last message that you were leaving. But it's still disgusting, whether you choose to do something about it or leave.)
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5:41 PM
@CesarM - as a former employee I am appalled by how all of this was handled, as I am sure several people still "inside" are. When is the company going to properly apologize to Monica and reinstate her?
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user206222
Personal ownership of the effects of our writing is important when we have influence, even when we are not culpable for what happens.
 
Aren't clarification and disavowal of bigotry enough?
 
user206222
Whether it is "enough" is measured by its impact, so evidently not.
 
So what can or should be done?
I'm very concerned that we're struggling to find a way forward here
 
@Aza do you see any way for her to express the sentiment (since she's happy speaking the same to/about anyone, and has expressed comfort with using people's preferred (i.e. real) gender idetentiy be it he, she, or xe) -- and just objects to the singular "they". Are you saying that stance is inherently bigoted? If not, can you advise how to write it so it's not a dogwhistle?
 
user206222
5:44 PM
She could, for example, change from arguing for generic permission to arguing for her specific circumstances surrounding why and how she does not use 3rd singular pronouns.
 
@Aza Just a quick question: why not point out this example a lot earlier?
 
I deleted my answer. I see that the question itself is already being quite the lightning rod for bad-faith comments, so I'm not sure what I had to do with that, but since it's not going to make a difference anyway and y'all are beating up on me about it, meh.
 
user206222
@SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Because high public involvement effectively ended a conversation I was trying to have with Monica.
 
I don't want to spoil a good discussion but I ask all off you to not try to make SE staff give public statements here while they have chosen to keep things private. Until all involved parties agree otherwise I consider that of-topic for now.
 
It's just one more bit of evidence in the "treating people badly on SE" pile.
 
5:46 PM
@Aza She may find both issues very important, the principle of free speech and not using singular they.
 
user206222
@Cerberus "Not using singular they" is not Monica's position. And what do you mean by "free speech"? What speech are you specifically advocating for?
 
@MonicaCellio I don't think that's quite the case. I think it's just that any post from you is going to be held up like it was biblical literature by extremists was my reading. You could have said that the sky where you are is currently blue, and it would probably have been taken wrong.
 
@Aza I should probably not speak for her.
 
@LindaJeanne it's literally discrimination to treat some people differently because of their gender.
 
user206222
@Cerberus I want to know what you think is covered by "free speech."
 
5:47 PM
Unfortunately, you are judged not by you intentions or even how a reasonable person would perceive your words. Instead, every person's perception (even a bad-faith interpretation) is considered valid.
 
@SaraChipps Yes, I agree. And so did Monica, from what I read?
 
@Mgetz so I should let fear of bigots silence me? Ok I guess -- I mean, that's what just happened here.
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@SaraChipps fortunately, no one here is proposing doing that.
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@Mgetz By extremists? By those who defend the principle of freedom of expression, I should think. There may also be right-wing extremists among those, yes, but all the people I have spoken to are only concerned with the principle. And I am 100% sure that they are not extremists.
@Aza This.
 
@SaraChipps what about treating people differently because you disagree with their opinion?
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@Cerberus They weren't ones I was referring to, but @MonicaCellio is right in effect the bigots have stolen her voice.
 
user206222
5:50 PM
Okay, what do you mean by "freedom of expression"? Do you mean, "not using someone's pronouns"?
 
@Mgetz Perhaps I have missed something, but I have only see principled people speak, not right-wing extremists.
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@MonicaCellio that explains why it disappeared when I logged in!
 
user206222
@Oded You know this isn't discrimination by any reasonable definition, Oded.
 
@Cerberus The conversation on SE isn't the only one happening
 
@Mgetz It is the only one that matters (to me).
 
5:51 PM
This is evidently a very heated discussion. Please remember more then usual to assume good faith and remain calm. I'm not singling anyone out but chat can get quite hectic and emotional in these times. Nobody wants to time the room out.
 
Assuming good faith is important!
 
@Aza trying to make a point here. Discrimination has many faces.
 
@MonicaCellio did you delete your recent answer?
Hello everyone!
 
@Aza I'm going to abjectly disagree. More often than not minor disagreements are used as excuses to target minorities.
 
@MonicaCellio I'm happy to learn that it is you that did it. Although I'm not sure how I feel about your reasons.
 
user206222
5:52 PM
@Mgetz No, I agree with you.
 
@MisterPositive yes, she deleted it.
 
@Oded eh, there's discrimination and then there's discrimination. I get what you're going for, but I would not push them under the same umbrella.
 
@Shadow ah, ok...
 
apologies for the violent agreement then
 
(Since looks like several people found it offensive in a way?)
 
5:53 PM
@Bart fair enough.
 
@Shadow it looks more that the reason is that some found it a rallying point.
 
@Aza I'd love to talk to you more about freedom of expression. But perhaps this is not the best time and place. I think my point was that most people support Monica not because they are extremists, but because they consider freedom of expression a very important principle.
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It is a core principle of the Enlightenment.
 
So many pinned messages
 
@Oded so many messages I've written and deleted before posting because I know they would be taken the wrong way.
 
I suggest we rename this room to The Pincushion.
 
5:59 PM
My god! It's full of hollow stars!
 
So... I've been keeping a close eye on pretty much everything that's been happening surrounding this. I've read upwards of 50,000 chat messages, a hundred meta posts, dozens of Reddit threads, and a swarm of comments on Hacker News. While Monica most certainly did not intend for this to happen - heck, it was supposed to all be contained to a private room - there have definitely been outright bigots rallying around her position, using her as a standard to justify their own anti-transness.
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Can we please start handling bug reports now?
 
I'm not saying that this is Monica's fault. I am saying that this has had ramifications much further than anyone anticipated, and the actions that people have taken have set into motion things far beyond their control. That's something we need to keep in mind - both to understand that what happened as a result of one person's action is not necessarily what they wanted to happen, and to realize that everything we do can be taken the wrong way.
 
@SonictheAnonymousHedgehog no.
 
@user58 she had the misfortune to become their martyr
 
5:59 PM
@SonictheAnonymousHedgehog We're not prohibiting discussion on this topic in the tavern.
 

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