back to article The mod firing squad: Stack Exchange embroiled in 'he said, she said, they said' row

In the past month or so, about 20 volunteer moderators out of about 600 have distanced themselves from Stack Exchange, the online network of Q&A communities, to protest corporate policy changes and the removal of a moderator, Monica Cellio, over alleged violations of as-yet unpublished Code of Conduct changes. Cellio on Friday …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Is this just an English thing ?

    For a language which doesn't really use genders, it's amusing that they're causing so much hot air.

    I wonder how these things pan out in French with it's masculine and feminine words, or even better German with the added frisson of a neuter gender ?

    I can see the old joke about the "ATR" button becoming reality. Which might stop some of the more nonsensical extremes of this phenomenon (which, by the way, is nothing new. We had it in the 70s).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      It is just an English thing.

      What makes it contentious, I feel, is that despite the renowned flexibility of the English language, no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements. So that is my suggestion - drop-in-replacement-pronoun or DIRP - pronounced 'dear', as in "Dirp Smith".

      Bit tricky in a letter though: "Dear Dirp Smith, ..."

      ;-)

      1. Thoguht Silver badge

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        I can imagine Japanese being even more complicated because of the many different personal pronouns for each gender, or even Italian causing headaches because feminine pronouns can be legitimately used for males in more formal situations.

        1. J27 Bronze badge

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          No, Japanese doesn't have pronouns. What you might be thinking of is the system of referring to people you don't know by titles instead of their name (which you don't know).

          1. Thoguht Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            OK, be pedantic if you will, but most people will still call things like watashi, boku and ore pronouns even if someone with a PhD in linguistics calls them deictic classifiers.

          2. morningtea

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            You are actually both wrong.

            Japanese does have pronouns, and also gendered pronouns for persons. There are even some pronouns that are generally used for or by one gender, but may also be used to characterise a person (or oneself), independent of sex or gender. For example, a woman could use "boku" for "I" to explicitly express a less-ladylike demeanour, instead of the more common "atashi". If no such expression is desired, a gender-neutral pronoun like "watashi" can be used.

            There's also a number of ways to address a person, both gender-neutral and gender-biased.

            In contrast with English, where the address is usually gendered, Japanese also has the nice concept of referring to a person by their profession, rank or last name plus the gender-neutral "-san" suffix. This can be used almost universally and elegantly avoids situations where the correct address is difficult to determine.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              So it should be Lorenzo-san rather than Daniel-san?

            2. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              "referring to a person by their profession"

              plurality mismatch detected.

              'a person' 'their profession' - correct grammar would be 'people' 'their profession' or 'a person' 'his profession', regardless of it triggering some overly-sensitive-ready-to-be-triggered-snowflake-type that INSISTS there's something wrong with the lingo AND! WE! MUST! ALL! CHANGE! to bend to his whim...

              grammar nazi icon, because. it's relevant, really. "singular they". EW.

              (heh)

              1. fozzy73
                Coat

                Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                'a person' 'his profession'

                Not an expert in any form, i am in IT not languages, and english isn't my first...

                what with "her profession' ?

                Seriously curious, does it generalize with masculine?

                Thanks.

                Anyway yes, I already have my fireproof coat on.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Considered Harmful

                Use of "they" in the singular has been a feature of English since before use of "you" in the singular. It is simply factually wrong to say that it's in any way incorrect or unnatural to use the word "they" in the singular.

                Of course anyone who disagrees is entitled to their opinion, but refusing to type the word "they" for pedantic reasons, when specifically asked to do so to be nice, is indefensible.

                Note the completely natural use of "their" in the singular right there.

                1. TheMeerkat

                  Re: Considered Harmful

                  No, it was not.

                  The propaganda you bought intentionally confusing what is called “notional plurality” and politically correct madness of modern usage.

              3. DJSpuddyLizard

                Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                "plurality mismatch detected."

                Thou art hereby banned from using "your" for singular second person. Thou must use "thine" instead.

                Seriously, if singular "their" and "they" was ok in the 14th century, then it's fine now.

                1. Scott Earle
                  FAIL

                  Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                  I hate to be pedantic (who am I kidding - I live for this shit), but the archaic equivalent of "your" is "thy", with "thine" being the archaic equivalent of "yours".

                  1. pbowl

                    Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                    * whom am I kidding

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

        I agree with you that it seems cumbersome when you are talking about a specific person you know. But I was thinking the other day in fact, if you don't know the other person's gender - their name is hidden or not informative or whatever - it happens quite naturally. e.g. I would struggle to write about Boris Johnson using non-gendered terms, but if I was writing about "the prime minister" it would be entirely straightforward.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

          In German you have to know the gender of the Prime Minister, because the German word for a female Prime Minister is different from a male one. There is no gender neutral version, the same goes for most job descriptions, professions etc.

          But they did clean up their act a bit in the 90s, Verniedlichungen (belittlements) were dropped, you only have Mann and Frau today, Fraulein is no longer acceptable, for example. Although they are still used in certain circumstances, such as parents reprimanding their daughter or son (Sohnemann - Junior).

          But AFAIK there are few or no gender neutral terms, other than "it".

          1. Vincent Ballard

            Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

            But you need an epicene form to talk about the person who will be Prime Minister in 2090.

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

          "...but if I was writing about "the prime minister" it would be entirely straightforward.

          Until you consider the offense of not using 'the prime minister/ministress' , of course.

          Next up: Ministoids - are they 'OK'? And 'OK'- is it a hateful collection of glyphs?

          Redacted visuals at 11...

          1. yoganmahew

            Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

            Ministoids to rhyme with haemorrhoids?

            Or to rhyme with toads?

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

          OK - you have a good idea.

          Let's INVENT SOME PRONOUNS!

          I suppose El Reg commenters might have some really good suggestions.

          In the mean time we could just use 'semprini' for all non-sex-specific cases...

          (most o the things I'm thinking of are profane and have more than one syllable, with a profane term followed by 'face' 'head' 'brain' or has 'ass in it somewhere')

        4. LewisRage

          Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

          "I would struggle to write about Boris Johnson using non-gendered terms"

          How about lying cunt... oh no that doesn't work. Massive bellend? Oh. Still not right.

          Total fuckhead, works though maybe, I don't think that crosses any linguistic gender barriers

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

            Have you considered the slang term of "Johnson" - quite apt.

            I think that may have pricked up someone's ears -->

          2. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

            Insipid arsehole?

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

        It's part of the base-spec. 'They' is perfectly adequate..

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          I was about to say the same thing, but what if "they" is also on the banned list?

          1. Ken Y-N
            FAIL

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            > what if "they" is also on the banned list?

            I've just been catching up with this whole story, and yes, "they" is banned as you may hurt his/her/xer/attack helicopter's feeling by not using his/her/etc's preferred pronoun.

            1. 404

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              I'd like to be an attack helicopter... sounds like fun ;)

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              Actually the root dispute is that someone refused to ever use the word "they" because they deem it to be bad grammar.

        2. EastFinchleyite

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          "no one has been able to invent new pronouns that sound natural as drop-in replacements

          It's part of the base-spec. 'They' is perfectly adequate.."

          I was having a discussion with my brother on this very issue. They were not so sure about the adequacy issues.

          1. HenryBowman

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Since the "woke" requirement is that we be indeterminate about gender, but not (yet) instantiation count, shouldn't this be "They was not so sure?"

            Are we discovering a new route to resuscitating Ebonics?

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      I wonder how these things pan out in French with it's masculine and feminine words

      Same kind of political correctness overkill. Instead of, say "les chefs" versus "les cheffes" you're now supposed to use "les chef·fe·s",. with the centred dot as a sort of "boolean or" operator. Who knows how that's supposed to be pronounced. Doesn't help with singular articles, though, is one boss le or la chef·fe? L·e·a chef·fe?

      The Académie française is not happy.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        And I am right with it. Natural language is not programming, it has to remain natural. It's already difficult enough to have people use accents properly. This dotting bullshit will not take.

      2. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The Académie française is not happy.

        Are they ever ?

        1. Paul Kinsler

          Re: The Académie française is not happy/ Are they ever ?

          To be fair, "the Académie française is quite pleased with how 201X turned out" is not the sort of thing ever likely to be chosen as a high profile news story.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        For job descriptions you are supposed to use both in German as well, in a similar manner.

        Gesucht, einer/eine Geschäftsführer(in)

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          >For job descriptions you are supposed to use both in German as well, in a similar manner.

          Whereas in English (or at least in American) you are supposed to NOT use gendered form.

          Actor rather than Actor/Actress

        2. Wapiya

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          For job descriptions you are supposed to use both in German as well, in a similar manner.

          Gesucht, einer/eine Geschäftsführer(in)

          Gesucht Geschäftsführer (m/w/d)

          FTFY

          * (m/w/d) stands for male, female, diverse

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          "For job descriptions"

          Why can't we all just accept the fact that a Mailman can be a woman, as could a Fireman, Policeman, Congressman, or Maintenance Man. If a lady shows up, nobody's surprised.

          The way it's been in the Navy, unless it got changed for some STUPID reason, is that all officers are referred to as 'Sir' or 'Mister' within the right context. Havingt to know what sex-term to use is against good order and discipline. "Mr Fielding is officer of the deck" - well Lt Fielding happens to be a lady, let's say, but nobody's going to care about that, as they're trying to drive a ship, stay on course, and not run into things.

          And that's how it SHOULD be.

          1. James O'Shea

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Bloody hell. I agree with Bombastic Bob on something! Be still my heart!

          2. ROC

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Ah - maybe something STUPID has happened in the USN, and that explains the recent ship collisions?

      4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        The Académie française is not happy

        I thought that that was their default state..

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          Which dwarf are they then?

          1. OssianScotland Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Grumpy?

            1. James O'Shea

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              Dopey.

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      Well, it's complicated...

      Lots of languages have gendered pronouns but that can get mixed up with grammatical gender and case so the gendered pronouns may not always be distinguishable.

      Of course, we have a perfectly acceptable gender-neutral pronoun in English: it, but it's associated with inanimate objects and to use it in connection with people is unlikely to be helpful.

      The real problem with the pronoun debate is that a pronoun is something that someone else uses to refer to you. Few people would be bothered about someone choosing the way he/she/they talk(s) about him/her/themselves, but it's more of an issue when that person insists they have a right to enforce that choice on other people - I certainly wouldn't be referring to anyone as Lord X or Your Majesty, for example, however much offence was taken and I doubt I could call anyone "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" with a straight face.

      There's a strong case for not using pronouns if they can be avoided: they're actually confusing if you have more than one he or she and they is very non-specific. Unless or until such time as language evolves to accommodate this phenomenon, unusual usage is simply drawing attention to the thing that is supposed to be irrelevant so avoidance would seem to be the best policy.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        They to refer to unspecified individuals has been used for hundreds of years. Gender is a fact of biology that will survive any linguistic fashions. It's not the same as sexual orientation and distinct from any grammatical representation. The rules for any particular language are arrived at by consensus of the speakers, which means that changes by diktat are rarely successful for anything other than spelling, because the speakers have an innate sense of what is right or wrong for the language.

        1. Julian Bradfield

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          The statement that gender is a fact of biology is controversial. Usually sex is a fact of biology, and gender is a social construction. If you think our social constructions (girls wear pink, boys wear blue, for example) are biological, that's quite an elastic definition of biology.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            >The statement that gender is a fact of biology is controversial. Usually sex is a fact of biology, and gender is a social construction.

            In my experience, "gender" was, until relatively recently, commonly considered merely a less titter-worthy synonym for "sex". So I would be very hesitant to say that "usually" there was such a distinction made between the two terms, outside of sociological circles.

            I personally find the distinction to be a useful one, but many people will outright reject someone else's redefinition of a word they already "know" means something else. It is important not to confuse a semantic disagreement with a sociological one.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              In my experience, "gender" was, until relatively recently, commonly considered merely a less titter-worthy synonym for "sex".

              I'm guessing you're young-ish?

              Until recently differences in sex (male/female/etc.) were referred to as "sex", and "gender" was reserved for the grammatical difference between masculine and feminine. Then Americans got too prudish to say "sex" and had to find an alternative. I'd date it from around the 1990's.

              1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

                Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                Then Americans got too prudish to say "sex" and had to find an alternative. I'd date it from around the 1990's.

                The "cock" to "rooster" transition in US English happened much earlier. The Puritans have a lot to answer for.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                  But I have such a big rooster...

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcMgIGEN2LM

                  Yes...it's your risky click of the day.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              I have no problem if people want to be called by the gender of their choosing, but I have to admit it's difficult for me to think of anything that would define a gender identity, and that I would not consider as stereotype.

              When I read of parents declaring they realized their child was a girl-in-a-boy's-body because she was quiet and preferred the pink blanket, I can only shake my head.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                > When I read of parents declaring they realized their child was a girl-in-a-boy's-body because she was quiet and preferred the pink blanket, I can only shake my head.

                One of my kids has decided they don't feel comfortable with their biologically assigned gender. At no point did my wife or I recognise anything about their behaviour which was stereotypical of girls. They were just clearly unhappy. They now wish to be identified as "she", which is OK by us. They still don't exhibit any behaviour which meets the stereotype associated with being female. In fact they show all the behaviour that tends to be associated with teenage boys. Surly, uncommunicative most of the time, spends every available moment killing things in video games. Banters and tends to do so by exaggerating everything upwards in a competitive spiral with their brother. IE perfectly normal and probably health boy behaviour. But they consider themselves to be a girl. She is certainly uncomfortable with the body which comes from her genetic make up.

                1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                  Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                  sounds like a teenager of any sex/gender/self-identification to me.

                  1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                    Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                    Yes, in every respect *except* for the wishing-to-be-the-other sex bit. Based on my experience of teenagers (I was one once and knew a few others at the time) that's pretty unusual and so our AC parent is probably right to take it seriously.

                    In passing, I'd make a similar argument about homosexual teenagers: Given the mountain of Bad that will fall on their heads from certain quarters, no-one in their right mind would come out unless they actually *were* homosexual.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                      My concern is based more on their not wanting to be one gender rather than wishing to be the other gender. My concern is that one is a positive feeling whilst the other is negative. The worry is that the negative feeling is depressive in nature and that the outcome won't meet their aspirations, that having achieved what they think they want they will find it equally unsatisfactory.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                  Your kid is suffering social anxiety and projecting it as discomfort with his body, expressed through contemporary language. Don't encourage delusion. He needs counselling to overcome that social issue, not be encouraged to sink further into it.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                    Indeed, but the majority of counsellors work under the prevailing social situation which assumes that what the child professes is the problem. The problem is compounded when the child is sufficiently intelligent to be able to convince the councillor of what they want to the prognosis to be.

                    Many of those practising in the field are scared of being labelled transphobic and so coach the their patients as to what the "test" will entail and what is required to "pass" them.

                    So the suggestion that they need counselling is sadly unhelpful as there is no way to find the right counsellor of the right patient.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                  Uncomfortable with the body you were born with describes every teenager ever.

                  As does confusion and the desire to experiment with gender identity and sexuality.

                  The bit that is a fad, specific to the late 2010's is the bit about inventing your own "gender", and pronouns, and the desire to attack and outlaw anyone who fails to use them.

                  When I was young there were different fads which look equally bizarre to not anyone of that specific age of that specific time.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                    Before this, the fads also didn't involve drastic, life-altering elective surgery and a 41% post-intervention suicide rate.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                      > life-altering elective surgery and a 41% post-intervention suicide rate.

                      Do you have a source for that statistic?

                      I've seen various sources for pre-intervention suicide rates, which is scarily high and this is used as a pro-intervention argument. When I looked for post-intervention suicide rates I couldn't find a published number.

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            If you think our social constructions (girls wear pink, boys wear blue, for example) are biological

            I don't, which is why I didn't say it.: those are roles. FWIW pink used to be considered the male colour.

            As someone else has pointed out, it can be helpful to use "sex" for biology and "gender" for grammar, but I did point out that the two should not to be considered the same, though they are generally correlated for animals in many languages.

            But I don't agree that gender can be self-assigned and I'm not at all a fan of the attempt to normalise sex-change medicine. I won't necessarily go out of my way to point this out.

            But by and large, I find these CoCs are little more than a conscience-salving by an IT industry that has allowed itself to be cowed by some well-organised lobbying and American tort law. And it's always easier to sign up to a CoC than actually do anything significantly different.

            1. El Frenchie

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              _FWIW pink used to be considered the male colour._

              Pink shirts are worn by males all the time, at least in France.

            2. jmch Silver badge

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              "I find these CoCs are little more than a conscience-salving... "

              Incidentally, I find it extremely Kafkian that the CoC that the fired mod supposedly broke was 'in development' and apparently is still 'in development'. There's no mention of pronouns on SOs CoC linked in the article.

            3. Norman Nescio

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              As someone else has pointed out, it can be helpful to use "sex" for biology and "gender" for grammar, but I did point out that the two should not to be considered the same, though they are generally correlated for animals in many languages.

              Could well be correlated, but there are some startling exceptions, the canonical example of which is the grammatical gender of the German word Mädchen, meaning 'young girl'. It's neuter.

              The lack of connexion between grammatical gender and sex is also illustrated by Swedish and Danish, where nouns have one of two grammatical genders, which are not, as you might expect, male and female, but common gender and neutral gender.

              Gender is one example of Noun Classifiers which are all basically ways of making other languages difficult for monoglot English speakers to learn.

          3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            our social constructions (girls wear pink, boys wear blue, for example)

            Back when I was born (1950s) the colour association was the other way round (in the UK), and to this day some NHS maternity hospitals record data for male newborns on pink cards and data for female newborns on blue cards (the computers are all beige though :-). AIUI the original logic(?) was that pink was a form of red and red was the colour for Mars, god of war, and thus butch and macho, whereas blue was the colour for Venus. The wikipedia article on the subject suggests the US had two contradictory schemes up until the 1940s. I presume the UK changed because of US influence (probably via Disney).

          4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            "The statement that gender is a fact of biology is controversial."

            There are languages (mostly outside the Indo-European group, I think) where the statement is flat-out wrong. The word "gender" comes from the same roots as genus and general and is a linguists synonym for "type" (of a noun). Masculine and feminine are two very common "types" in language, but some languages have "types" for animate objects, vegetation, even means of transport. You'll be pleased to learn that none of these languages are actually consistent, hence the jokes about German girls (and yes, I know about diminutives, but it still demonstrates the problem).

          5. Captain Obvious

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Yet ironically, it was boys who wore pink and girls who whore blue back in the early 1900's

            All of this is STUPID. Guess I won't be checking out STACK anymore (not that I really used it).

            You have a private part (except for the VERY RARE CASES where people are born with both). If it extends, you are male, if not, then female - there are NO OTHER CHOICES. IF you feel you are the other sex, then have the operation and go to the appropriate bathroom/gender/whatever. NOT a hard concept - no need for other genders.

            We have that stupid idiot woman that was trans race

            What is next? trans species? Sadly. there are people who have had operations to do just that such as a lizard man. When will intelligence come back into vogue?

            Queue the downvotes!

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              Earth to Captain Obvious ... I have personally observed females with an extendable nether-bit. In fact, all of them I have participated with have this bit, bar none[0]. If you haven't observed this, then either you're into guys (not my cuppa, but nowt wrong with that! enjoy!), or I feel very, very sorry for your female partner(s). Perhaps educate yourself for their pleasure?

              [0] Yes, I know, there are exceptions, but that's hardly germane to this post.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          I've been using "they" in documentation since I started writing technical documentation in the 80s.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            well, you can still get it right, go back, and edit it all, using 'he' for singular unspecified sex of the subject, and 'him' for singular unspecified sex of the object. Use of 'they' or 'them' for the singular case is just WRONG.

            1. jmch Silver badge

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              If the sex is unspecified, why use 'he' rather than 'it' or 'she'?

              'they' for singular unspecified has been around a long time, and is widely grammatically accepted and understood. More importantly, it is a real word, unlike the made-up ones that the gender police try to force everyone else to use

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        "Of course, we have a perfectly acceptable gender-neutral pronoun in English:"

        "They" is the gender neurtral pronoun for people, and it has been in use since the 14th Century.

        The use of the word "you" as a singuar pronoun is much more recent than that, so if you think "they" is gramatically incorrect, then you will have to start addressing people in front of you as "thou/thee/thy" instead of "you/your".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          they/their is plural, just like "you"*. thee/thou is (was) singular.

          *Some regions still like to make a distinction, as yous from Belfast will know.

          1. mmccul

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Tell that to Shakespeare who used it in the singular.

            1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              Shakespeare is post-14th century and actually wrote around the time that thou/you was flip-flopping in English, which is why he uses a mixture of both.

          2. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            They is commonly used in the singular, e.g. ' I don't t know who left this wallet here but they are going to be unhappy when they find it missing'.

            I don't subscribe to other people's codes of conduct, I have my own.

            Regardless of gender, self identified or otherwise, or race, religion etc I treat everyone with reasonable respect unless they demonstrate it is undeserved.

            I don't care if a 250lb body builder has a huge beard and wears a tutu, I do care if he/she/it is rude to me or sits on my lap.

            My wife would be furious.

            1. The Nazz Silver badge

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              I notice you make a clear distinction between "a 250lb body builder has a huge beard and wears a tutu" and your wife.

              Not always the case, Though as they say, there is someone for everyone.

          3. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Since the 15th century at least, they and you are both singular and plural, depending on context. Probably the 14th too.

            The PM came onto the stage. They said "ptaugh fwah!". The crowd cheered, even though they had no idea what it meant.
            Teresa May stood at the sidelines. "Oi, You!", she exclaimed. "Come over here and say that"

            Perhaps you should read a few books?

          4. veti Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            "You" is also the respectful singular form. "Thou/thee" implies familiarity. (Or disrespect.)

            (The root is the same as French 'tu' or German 'du', and the distinction in usage, vs 'vous' or 'Sie', was similar.)

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: "You" is also the respectful singular form.

              The problem with "you" is that it can appear accusatory. A sales course I attended many years ago drummed into delegates ways to remove the word from one's vocabulary as much as possible.

            2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              With respect, thou is familiar, thee respectful.

              In my native dialect: "Don't thee thou me; I'll tell thee when thee can thou me."

              As du and sie are|used to be in German. Now I'm old enough that pretty much anywhere in Germany I can get away with 'du'.

              1. Pseudonymous Howard

                Re: Is this just an English thing ?

                The older you get in Germany, the more you get away with "du". This is because of the commonly accepted code that between two persons the older initiates the switch from "sie" to "du". Basically it is like this: Small children can say "du" to anybody, around 1st or 2nd grade at school they should use "sie" when addressing grown-ups which are not family. Usually from the 11th grade on teachers start also to use "sie" when addressing the pupils and from 18 on there is always "sie" in both direction for strangers. The older person can always implicitly or explicitly propose the "du". The implicit version (just start using "du") can be awkward to the younger person, because it stays a bit unclear if the reverse "du" is really OK. In certain situations it is also OK to refuse the offer of "du", but it can be taken as rejection of friendship in other situations.

                Quite complicated, but I personally like it like this, because it helps to keep a kind of distance to people you do not want to have too close to yourself.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          as "thou/thee/thy" instead of "you/your"

          Thee/thou/thy were always the formal version of you/your.. and were dropped when such formality went out of style (when the King James Bible was written thee/thou/thy had already dropped out of fashion in standard speech but was included because of the subject matter. Of course, it then came back into speech among the very religious, simply because that's what the Bible used.. And since it had become (again) standard religious speech it crossed over into being used in context where respect was to be indicated like National Anthems..).

          1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Well, in urban speech it may have dropped out by Stuart times. But assuming that one can trust Thomas Hardy on dialect, not in parts of the countryside:

            """

            At home in the barton, you said "thee" and "thou"

            """

            "The Ruined Maid": https://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poems/ruined-maid

            The only folks I know of who brought "thee" and "thou" into the 20th Century on religious grounds were the Quakers.

          2. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Thee/thou/thy were always the formal version of you/your

            'tother way around methinks. The KJV made deliberate use of them to show that God (in the New Testament at any rate) isn't setting himself "above" humanity. I am told that New Testament Greek uses the equivalents. I have no experience of modern languages other than Welsh, but the same is carried forward there. "Thy kingdom come" is talking to God as a friend and in Welsh, "deled dy deyrnas" uses "dy" - "ti", the singular / familiar form of "you" in exactly the same way.

            Yorkshire talk uses "thee" and "thou" in that familiar way to this day and it's only the rest of us who promoted / demoted "you" and "yours" to cover both formal and familiar forms that over the years began to believe "thee" and "thou" to be the more formal words, probably because we only heard them used in formal settings such as churches, where the KJV was near ubiquitous up until the 1960s.

            M.

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              The KJV made deliberate use of them to show that God (in the New Testament at any rate) isn't setting himself "above" humanity.

              Yes, he's supposed to be a Father figure, and spoken to in the intimate forms. French uses tu forms where English uses thou, and AFAIK German does the same.

          3. nagyeger

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Thee/thou/thy were always the formal version of you/your.. and were dropped when such formality went out of style

            I've always heard it completely the opposite. The use of the plural 'you' for singular was the formal, like in French tu/vous; thee, thou were the intimate form, for use in the home. Use of the intimate form inappropriately could cause grave offence, denying them their power-trip, so you became the normal form. The biblical usage of thee/thou for God made people who were missing the theological point - yes, God knows your innermost thoughts, don't think he's distant - think it must be formal. The quakers insisted on thee/thou much longer than most people because they were insisting on the equality of humanity and suchlike issues.

            1. ratfox Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              The Scarlet Pimpernel, written about a hundred years ago, uses "thou" and similar pronouns to reproduce in English the use of "tu" by French-speaking characters... En anglais dans le texte

          4. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            "Thee/thou/thy were always the formal version of you/your"

            No, Thee/thou/thy was the informal version, much like tu in French.

        3. BazNav

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          I see a linguistic car crash on the horizon. One set want to use 'they' as a gender neutral singular pronoun and the far right set are already using it as a derogatory plural pronoun for anyone who isn't them, e.g. "They come over hear......"

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            "They come over hear......"

            or they come over HERE

            *THEY being those lazy foreigners who come over here to sponge off our social security while at the same time stealing our jobs. I've never understood how that's supposed to work!

            1. tim 13

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              ""They come over hear......"

              "or they come over HERE"

              You missed the irony

        4. JoeySter

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          It's not about being reasonable though. It's about domination. As in yes mistress, sorry master, etc. If you forget to use the correct titles you get whipped.

          I am sure I'm dreaming all of this. It feels like an episode Sliders where you're thrown into a parallel what if worlds governed by some twisted morality.

      3. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        Actually, a 'they' instead of an 'it' works too... That's what Monica was saying in the first place, that she would prefer to write in a style that does not require gender complexity, but is neutral. Which is a fair enough assumption. Apparently some other mod disagreed and called her a transphobe. How that works out to transphobia I don't know...

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          Actually, a 'they' instead of an 'it' works too...

          Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. 'They' seems fine in most cases, and referring to someone as 'it' is rather impersonal. But then being too personal may be triggering, and some people may prefer to be an 'it'.

          That's what they were saying in the first place, that they would prefer to write in a style that does not require gender complexity, but is neutral. Which is a fair enough assumption.

          Agreed, and I.. neutralised your comment to demonstrate the simplicity. But it also neutralised the object, ie 'Monica', and an assumption that their preferred gender pronoun is 'she'.

          Apparently some other mod disagreed and called her a transphobe. How that works out to transphobia I don't know...

          Cultural sensitivity I guess. For me the issue would seem to be knowing the preferred pronoun in the first place, so I think using a neutral expression is the safest option. If someone says they identify as 's/he', but then gets referred to as 'they', especially if they're a transperson could be seen as transphobic. For a mod on teh Interwebz, I guess it's especially confusing, ie just looking at us commentors here, it's a gamble whether we're he, she or it. But then if we're just looking at the content of the comments, the creator's gender really doesn't matter.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            "For a mod on teh Interwebz, I guess it's especially confusing"

            If I have to look at a poster's profile before it is safe to reply to their question, I'm not going to help anyone on that site. (As the fine article notes, all the real work being done on SE is unpaid.) There are other sites I where I can play. The internet is big (...really big, etc.) whereas my free time is small.

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            As I read it, I thought the only safe thing to do now is to avoid the use of singular pronouns entirely. Use names every time.

            But apparently that's not acceptable either.

            Now, normally I'd be bang alongside "avoiding unnecessary offence to anyone", but frankly at this point just "ditching Stack Exchange" looks like a comparatively reasonable option. This level of linguistic policing is beyond reasonable.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Is this just an English thing ?

              "Now, normally I'd be bang alongside "avoiding unnecessary offence to anyone", but frankly at this point just "ditching Stack Exchange" looks like a comparatively reasonable option. This level of linguistic policing is beyond reasonable."

              Exactly.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        Here's an option. How about we just call them "Special Fucking Snowflakes" or Siffs for short?

      5. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince"

        He spent the year dead for tax reasons.

    4. McKrack

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      It gets even more ridiculous in languages with M, F, and neuter gender. New words are being invented. Nobody can agree which new word is proper.

      It is a cluster-consensual-intercourse.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        Þe olde wordes are best. Thou shalt not maketh nue wordes.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          olde wordes

          And the terminal or penultimate 'e' was never pronounced (so it's not 'oldie') but instead are used to emphasise the preceding letter..

          So "The Olde Shoppe" isn't pronounced as "the oldie shoppie" but "the old shop"

          (I like Þ - we should bring it back..)

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Some Nordic languages, such as Icelandic never lost the letter Thorn, or Eth for that matter.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @CrazyOldCatMan - Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Oh, it's like French then! (No offense intended).

          3. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            It's called a "þorn", for those who would like to know.

            A funny-looking word.

          4. Julian Bradfield

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            Wrong. The final -e was pronounced up until the late Middle English period - if you read Chaucer, you have to pronounce final -e (except before a following vowel) to make it scan. It started dropping from around that time.

        2. Vincent Ballard

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          Thou makest. He maketh.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Is this just an English thing ?

            But, confusingly, "thou shalt not make".

            Cite.

    5. Kane Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      “I think perhaps the most important problem is that we are trying to understand the fundamental workings of the universe via a language devised for telling one another when the best fruit is.”

      ― Terry Pratchett

    6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      For a language which doesn't really use genders

      Err.. it does - just not in the all-encompassing way that other languages do.. And for when the individual gender identification (he/she/his/hers) labels are not required we have a perfectly adequate gender-neutral 'they' to use.

      Yes, it can be used in both a singular or plural manner but it's not *that* confusing!

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        "...but it's not *that* confusing!"

        Is 'That' a definite* one of 'They'? ( or Them - unless They are Ants, Giant [GiAnts??]...)

        *Not certain of the correct grammar term... not any more :(

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Is this just an English thing ?

          They might be giants to ants...

    7. Imhotep

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      I would suggest adressing everyone with the same gender neutral title - Comrade comes to mind.

      1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        Agreed, Citizen

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      terdon's summary (taken from TL transcript):

      > Many LGBT+ folks have been feeling that SE in general and the Teacher's Lounge (TL) in particular is a hostile place to them. I personally have seen some [pretty egregious examples](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/46531120#46531120) of transphobia, but I understand that most of the ugliness has gone over my head as things that don't directly affect you personally so often do. As a result of this, multiple trans mods have either stepped down or have been forced to leave the TL in tears because of how they've been made to feel in the room. And many seem to have cited Monica as a main reason.

      >

      > Monica Cellio has had a few conversations with people trying to explain that she really doesn't feel comfortable with singular _they_ but is willing to use any other pronoun, including non-standard neo-pronouns like _xie_ etc.. This came to a head this summer, when she flat out refused to use singular they for a trans moderator who explicitly asked her to ([transcript link](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/45643853#45643853).

      >

      > Fast forward to Friday when Sara Chipps, the "Director of Public Q&A at Stack Overflow" came into the TL and dropped the following announcement out of the blue:

      >

      > https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51749726#51749726

      > https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51749738#51749738

      >

      > [editor's note: These two links are long. [Part 1](https://i.imgur.com/Z28e1Dw.png), [Part 2](https://i.imgur.com/Ua8wmRL.png)]

      >

      > She then proceeded to leave the room and let the inmates fight each other, essentially. This included a conversation about what constitutes misgendering and whether it is possible to not misgender someone while still avoiding the use of their pronoun if that pronoun is _they_. This conversation ([starting here](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51751510#51751510)) is the one alluded to in [Monica's answer on mi Yodega Meta](https://judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/a/5200/7124)). Eventually, Shog asked us to stop and instead send emails to the team if we still felt we had something important to add. After this, the TL was frozen for the weekend. More than 20 moderators duly sent in emails. A week later, which was before the CMs had a chance to read them, however, and certainly before any of them were replied to, we got this:

      >

      > https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51865321#51865321

      >

      > https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51865346#51865346

      >

      > This time, to their credit, the CMs were very much present and did their damnedest to answer questions and deal with concerns. However, the fact remains that one of the most respected moderators in the network was summarily canned. Monica is an observant Jew and this came right before sundown on a Friday, right before the start of Sabbath, a period she'd have to be offline for. What's worse, it was the beginning of a yearly, 4-day religious holiday.

      >

      > [editor's note: Again, long link: [Part 3](https://i.imgur.com/UXSCxAU.png)]

      >

      > So, we now have roughly 5 main overlapping groups of mods:

      >

      > * Some are upset over the fact that as respected a moderator as Monica was defrocked so unceremoniously.

      > * Some can understand the defrocking, but object to the way it was handled.

      > * Some are all for the defrocking but object to the way it was handled.

      > * Some are against the changes that are coming to the CoC.

      > * Some are upset that everyone is focusing on Monica and not on the people her behavior hurt.

      >

      > For what it's worth, I don't object to the changes (although I dislike not allowing people to avoid pronouns, I can understand how that would make folks feel singled out), but I'm extremely upset by how this was done.

      >

      > The direct result of this is 8-11 mods have resigned (and counting).

      >

      > Some important links:

      >

      > [Monica's post on Judaism meta.](https://judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5193/stack-overflow-inc-sinat-chinam-and-the-goat-for-azazel)

      > [Ongoing dumpster fire on main meta](https://meta.stackexchange.com/q/333965/203101)

      > [Monica's answer on Teams that set a lot of things off](https://stackoverflow.com/c/moderators/a/1110/16).

      > [Doppelgreener's helpful summary.](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51870354#51870354). This one is particularly worth reading. I tried to be neutral here, but I'm sure I failed and doppel is trans so has a different take.

      Doggelgreener's summary (taken from TL transcript):

      > There's multiple layers to the discussion that took place. Let me separate those layers so I can talk about them individually:

      > (a) Monica suggested a policy that stated specifically there was no requirement to use anyone's pronouns. We also talked about this policy in Teacher's Lounge mid last week.

      > (b) Monica said that singular they throws her off.

      > (c) Monica said that singular they is grammatically incorrect.

      > (d) Monica suggested using peoples' names instead was an acceptable workaround to not using their pronouns. [there's more to this message below the fold, if you're viewing a onebox.]

      >

      > (a) is a policy that leaves trans people undefended from misgendering. Earlier I mentioned a school teacher who used “he” and “she” around all his students except for a trans male student, who was exclusively always “they/them” out of refusal to acknowledge the boy's gender. This school teacher's behaviour is accepted within the policy Monica proposed to teams, in other words, the policy enables transphobia and misgendering.

      >

      > (b) Ok, sure. I don't understand this, but I'm taking her word for it. She's a professional writer, I would imagine she can adapt? Maybe she can't, ok.

      >

      > (c) is just not correct at all, people have been trying to tell Monica and others this.

      >

      > Trans people hear the “singular they is grammatically incorrect” argument a lot. The fact is though we see society use singular they all the time. Examples of perfectly ordinary usage of it include:

      > “If anybody wants their admission fee back, they can get it at the door.”

      > “Would the person who left their umbrella in the break room please come pick it up.”

      > “Nobody in their right mind would do such a thing.”

      >

      > But we see it get rejected in the context of a trans person using singular they for a pronoun. HMMMMM...

      >

      > Dictionaries endorse singular they, style guides use singular they. Even if singular they was a brand new concept (it isn't; it's centuries old, it's been around longer than “singular you”) the English language can change.

      >

      > Flatly, Monica saying it's grammatically incorrect... is not correct. Or it's extremely un-nuanced: maybe from a certain specific prescriptivist standpoint established sometime in the 1800s or early 1900s it's incorrect, but otherwise it's entirely acceptable.

      >

      > Why's this matter? Well, because people who reject trans identities — who call it a lifestyle, who will seek to misgender us, who will call a trans woman “he” — will frequently use “it's grammatically incorrect” as a backing for refusing to acknowledge nonbinary identities. Monica arguing this stance enables those people to continue to do so. Monica being such a vocal and upstanding member of the community, having written a heavily-supported policy, means her actions have more than private ramifications—they set the bar of what's acceptable from others as well.

      >

      > (d) It is not a problem to refer to trans people by their names. It is not a problem to do that when you forget their pronouns and would feel embarrassed to ask and just need to refer to them right now: heck, I do the inverse when I've forgotten someone's name; I'll ask them for it again later. But it becomes a problem mixed with other things: she's refusing to acknowledge peoples' request as valid, insists it's incorrect, and advocates for a policy that leaves trans people vulnerable, and insists it despite four (at least) trans moderators telling her it's harmful to us.

      >

      > All of this begins to feel pretty wrong: we feel un-acknowledged, we feel that there is a refusal to acknowledge or validate our identities, we feel there is a lack of concern or compassion given to us when our claims that something is harmful are outright ignored on the altar of a non-starter grammar argument. I told Monica that the combination of all of this is harmful and would cause suffering, and apparently she still did not want to change. We're moderators and we're specifically here to protect others from suffering; this does not feel right.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        "This came to a head this summer, when she flat out refused to use singular they for a trans moderator who explicitly asked her to"

        See, this is the root cause of all this BS. People who are not content with being given the full freedom to be who they are, identify with whatever gender they feel like, dress any way they want and operate themselves so that their body matches whatever it is that they think of themselves.... no, that's not enough. They want to impose on others a whole new language structure.

        You know what... if a trans person asked me nicely if I really wouldn't mind addressing them by "whatever" because it made them feel more comfortable, I might even do it from a (possibly misplaced) sense of courtesy. But having it imposed by fiat, and having anyone not doing that labelled as a transphobe will just have the opposite effect - people will dig their heels in and be difficult just out of principle.

        Incidentally, and slightly off-topic, but if the rabid radical left in the US toned down on this sort of bullshit, and accepted that some people may legitimately have beliefs different than their own, maybe Trump wouldn't be President right now (and dear FSM help us, it would have been Hillary!)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        The fact is though we see society use singular they all the time. Examples of perfectly ordinary usage of it include:

        > “If anybody wants their admission fee back, they can get it at the door.”

        =============================================================================

        Bad example.

        "Anybody" designates a subset of admitees. To consider this to be a singular reference is to assume that at most one person may want a refund.

        In fact, with any sufficiently large event, it is almost guaranteed that there will be more than one person who wants their money back.

      3. Trilkhai

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        As a result of this, multiple trans mods have either stepped down or have been forced to leave the TL in tears because of how they've been made to feel in the room.

        Can't SE manage to find enough adults to volunteer that they're not required to rely on people who are so unstable/hypersensitive that they run out of chatrooms bawling like babies over somebody using the wrong freaking pronoun?

        Cripes, as a regular on some forums for interests that are traditionally seen as masculine, I frequently encounter newcomers who automatically refer to me as "man" "bro" "dude" or similar, but I don't consider it a big deal. If it bothered me, I'd just switch to a new username that explicitly referenced my sex/gender in some way, like "Lady Trilkhai" or something like that.

    9. davcefai

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      Is it a British English thing or is it a US "English" thing?

    10. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Is this just an English thing ?

      "For a language which doesn't really use genders, it's amusing that they're causing so much hot air."

      A language without 'genders' yeah ('gender' being a linguistics term, having NOTHING to do with chromosomes or sex). And that's probably why there are way too many attempts to INSERT such things into the language...

      No, this is all about FEELINGS. It's about adult-children raised with safe spaces, participation trophies, being driven to/from school every day [read: chauffer parents], and then told "it's ok" if they say 1+1=3 because you don't want to HURT THEIR FEELINGS for BEING WRONG.

      I'll now make reference to the "when I was their age" tirade and not do it.

      Point is, these *WHINERS* need a *CLUE* *BAT* instead of society CODDLING THEM and ENABLING THEM to be ASSHATS about PRONOUNS.

      Feelings are IRRELEVANT. They need to SUCK IT UP and realize that the world really does *NOT* revolve around their SELF ESTEEM. If they get triggered: *TOO* *BAD*.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        @Bob - I don't often agree with you but I think you're mostly right about a new generation that's been so protected that they can't handle anything that doesn't go their way.

        Where I disagree with you is about "Feelings are IRRELEVANT". Quite the opposite, feelings are very important feedback indicators to us. If we feel uncomfortable in certain situations that's our mind/body telling us there is something we need to change. The real problem is not giving kids the opportunity to develop their understanding of their own feelings and their reactions to that, and not having any compassion (ie taking into account of everyone else's feelings). Adults can decide whether to "suck it up" or not depending on the situation they're in, because they have an understanding of what they are feeling uncomfortable about, and an understanding of what it is acceptable to voice their discomfort about or not. There are learned boundaries on what is or isn't acceptable behaviour in oneself and others.

        Kids who are taught (implicitly or explicitly) that all of their behaviours are acceptable are also being implicitly taught that everyone else needs to adapt to them rather than the other way around, which is why you get 20, 30 and 40-year-olds behaving like kids.

        The "They need to SUCK IT UP" part is also the opposite part of the problem. I was raised in the belief that I always needed to suck it up, never to complain, always to respect authority figures etc, and it messed up my teens and early twenties. There are times when people absolutely should not suck it up. The important thing is to find a balance between the two.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is this just an English thing ?

        Never would I have thought that I'd agree with b-bob. Wow.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good riddance!

    Best to get rid of racists, bigots and homophobes. Stack Exchange has made the right decision.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Good riddance!

      It's about time people stopped pre-emptively taking offence on behalf of other people. If I refer to someone as "he" and that person replies with "I prefer to be referred to as she" then I should apologise and remember that for the future. It should only be considered offensive if I continue to use "he", or if I deliberately used it knowing I would cause offence.

      I use a contraction of my first name which is now generally considered to refer to a man, but in the past was often used by women. If someone gets my sex wrong because of that, why should I be offended by what is clearly a genuine mistake?

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Good riddance!

        And here's me thinking you were the Philomena from the Feeny branch of O'Sophicals

        8o)

    2. ILikeDrinkingBeer

      Re: Good riddance!

      Indeed. Bigotry will not be tolerated.

      1. ILikeDrinkingBeer

        Re: Good riddance!

        In case it's not clear, this is sarcasm.

        1. ldhauwe

          Re: Good riddance!

          you must have missed the note : sarcasm is not tolerated anymore on social media

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Good riddance!

            In case you've missed the memo.

            Sarcasm is compulsory in all postings here on El'Reg.

            (BTW, I prefer to be refereed to as "Oi You" although "You Bas****d" is also acceptable).

            1. DavidRa

              Re: Good riddance!

              > (BTW, I prefer to be refereed to as "Oi You" although "You Bas****d" is also acceptable).

              Identity theft is NOT a joke.

          2. ILikeDrinkingBeer

            Re: Good riddance!

            Surely this proves a corollary of Poe's Law - any subject matter where Poe's Law applies can be safely ignored.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Good riddance!

      Where "bigot" is anyone who holds views different from you, and anyone can become a bigot when their views stay the same and society changes theirs.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good riddance!

      Says the bigot.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Good riddance!

        "Says the bigot"

        Sounds a bit bigoty, that...

        1. Swarthy

          Re: Good riddance!

          "Look. I'd had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was 'That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.'"

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Good riddance!

            You're only making it worse for yourself!

    5. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: Good riddance!

      While I think they're trying to make steps in the right direction, pre-emptively banning someone because they might violate a new code of conduct you haven't finished writing yet does seem a little bit like something Stalin might have thought up.

      Whether their code of conduct is correct or not, I think the right way for a community-driven site to go about it is to get is to work through the issues with people and get a consensus. Which is... not what happened here.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Good riddance!

        Honestly, as described it seems SO did the right thing.

        They do appear to have actively and vociferously announced that they utterly refuse to use preferred pronouns, after also repeatedly calling someone by a pronoun they really didn't like, despite being asked not to.

        If someone says "please call me X", you damn well try to remember to call them X.

        Using the wrong pronoun is no different to calling someone by the wrong name. You'll forget sometimes, but you should try to use the right one.

        If someone decided they would never call you Zippy, instead insisting on calling you Bungle, even after you remind them that your name is Zippy, and they replied with "no, I'll never call anyone Zippy?"

        That's not the act of a civilised person. That's the behaviour of a bully.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good riddance!

          "Using the wrong pronoun is no different to calling someone by the wrong name."

          Wrong. There is a difference between proper names and made up pronouns.

          "If someone says "please call me X", you damn well try to remember to call them X."

          They don't say please. They say - "you must use our made up language or we will have you fired."

        2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Good riddance!

          @Richard 12: Okay, so let's say that I have decided that my preferred pronoun is "fuckwit", or "pussy-magnet" or "slave" - does your argument still apply?

          [Note: one of those definitely doesn't apply to me, and the other two are involuntary pronouns :-) ]

        3. Grooke

          Re: Good riddance!

          > They do appear to have actively and vociferously announced that they utterly refuse to use preferred pronouns, after also repeatedly calling someone by a pronoun they really didn't like, despite being asked not to.

          I'm curious to know where you got that idea. The mod was fired for asking for clarifications about the new policy. Namely: is it OK to avoid pronouns altogether, to use examples gender neutral examples while not referring to the "asker" at all. She didn't say she would misgender people purposefully, she asked if omitting gender altogether was acceptable.

      2. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Good riddance!

        Stalin thought up the infamous law that rendered you liable to arrest for not having reported someone who was subsequently arrested. The prison camp population burgeoned, which was useful as a source of forced labour. <sarc>So nothing's wasted...</sarc>

    6. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Good riddance!

      I'm entirely with you on this, and look forward to you and others demanding that personal pronouns be determined by the person in question use my personal pronouns of My Master/My Master.

      Normal people are welcome to refer to me using traditional gendered pronouns.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take out the trans issue

    The question you have to ask is, if the person was not a transgender person (and the mod was simply referring to a man as 'she' or vice versa), would the response have been as strong? I suspect it wouldn't, which makes this feel like an overreaction.

    1. goldcd

      Surely it's just a bit of civility

      If he/she wants to be referred to as she/he - then why is it such a big issue to go along with it?

      Sure mistakes will happen and both sides should overlook it, but I always feel a bit queasy when people "want to make a point of it". That's not a mistake, that's a statement you're making about your refusal to recognize a request from the other person.

      I dunno - way down the spectrum from that teacher who insisted on calling the child "Robert" (as that's your proper name) even though they'd told everybody they preferred to be called "Bob" (as that makes you sound common).

      1. Paul 25

        Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

        Glad I'm not alone on this subject. If someone say "I'd like you to use <pronoun>" and then you make a point of using whatever pronoun you've decided is correct for them then you are being an ass on purpose. If someone is doing that on SE on purpose then they are being an ass and should be moderated as such.

        Obviously mistakes will happen, and there are constructive ways of handling it. But the basic rule to use somone's preferred pronoun just seems like an enforcement of good manners and being polite.

        I don't get why simple curtosy is so hard for some people.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

          I'm pretty sure people should be allowed to be an ass though. People are asses on SE all the time, for whatever reasons. I don't think they should be banned simply for that.

          1. The Axe

            Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

            @JDX, agreed. People are asses on SE when someone asks a stupid/silly/obvious question and they respond with a derogatory turn of phrase. Just stopping pronoun use won't stop people being asses - it's just human nature.

          2. d-m

            Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

            sure, but this is in the code of conduct, the document that dictates what is appropriate. Being an arse is not appropriate.

            1. hplasm Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

              "sure, but this is in the code of conduct, the document that dictates what is appropriate. Being an arse is not appropriate."

              But how do you know- it's not published yet...

        2. Julian Bradfield

          Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

          Since you ask..because civility does not require me to tell lies. I speak a language with sexed pronouns - it hasn't had grammatical gender for a thousand years. Referring to something as "she" is a statement that it is female (I'm not a nautical type, so I don't even follow the tradition of making ships female).

          1. Graham Cobb

            Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

            because civility does not require me to tell lies

            Rubbish. It does that all the time. Take starting a letter with "Dear" or finishing it with "Yours faithfully".

            "she" is not a statement that it is female. It is reference to someone mentioned earlier, with the hint to the listener that the individual meant is one of those who is or appears or prefers to be female.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

              There's a world of difference between 'is' and 'prefers to be'.

              1. Graham Cobb

                Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

                Yes. But 'she' applies in both cases in polite conversation.

        3. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

          I instinctively refer to someone presenting themselves as female as 'she', and male presenting people as 'he'. If a woman in trousers tells me that she's a he then my brain struggles to remember this, and I would expect them to be tolerant.

          When a man with a beard wearing a dress tells me that he's a xir then my brain rejects this idiocy. That's not bigotry, I'm perfectly fine with bearded people with male genitalia wearing a dress and I'm comfortable engaging with them in a private or work setting. I just can't do the linguistic gymnastics needed to use the word 'xir'.

          The very rare person that manages to present themselves in an entirely androgynous manner leaves me in a state of utter confusion and lust.

        4. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

          "But the basic rule to use somone's preferred pronoun just seems like an enforcement of good manners and being polite."

          That depends. If someone wants to be specifically referred to as he, she or they even if it's not what I would normally refer to them as, I will endeavour to do so, although I might sometimes mistakenly forget. If someone is using a made-up word to refer to themselves, I'm probably not going to remember such made-up word and associate it correctly with the right person, unless I'm interacting with them very often. If it's a website where I'm not even interacting with the other person in person, all bets are off

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

        Or people who assume that I will be happy to be called Andy (or are just too lazy to bother using my full name).

        When I was a young lad (back in the 80s :-/ ) I had a boss who insisted on calling me Andy 'Because it's easier'. I made a point of ignoring him. It was only a holiday job anyway.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

          When I was at school (many moons ago) my woodwork teacher was in the habit of calling me Alec (which is not my name) and also got a lot of other peoples' names wrong. I kept correcting him, but he kept doing it Finally explained his reasoning....

          "You work at that bench. The person who works at that bench always gets called Alec. That kid works at that bench, so he gets called Brian because that's what I always call people at that bench, and so on. It saves me learning new names each term. I just keep a ready-reckoner to get real names for people when I'm writing an end-of-term report or doing a parents' evening."

          1. SloppyJesse

            Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

            "You work at that bench. The person who works at that bench always gets called Alec. That kid works at that bench, so he gets called Brian"...

            Let me guess, you worked at the first bench? After Brian came Carl , Dave, Eric, Frank...

          2. fajensen Silver badge

            Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

            What a Complicated system! Why not just call everyone Cunt? Easier on Teachers small brain and skips the passive-aggressive gameplay and gets directly to the total lack of respect for his 'subjects'!

        2. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

          I actually get this Andrue - - apparently Alistair is challenging for lots of folks on the start. Al is not acceptable. Thus I get the 'gender' bit -

          I don't understand the point of nuking the mod in this case, I rather suspect that the mod's issue has more to do with the fact that whilst moderating posts, posting and replying to posts, one may not find an easy or direct method of determining the preferred gender pronoun of an individual with whom one is interacting, thus by default falling back to the gender neutral 'they' in indirect references may well be a wiser course of action for the moderators.

          I regularly interact with a couple of individuals who are at this time in their lives wont to alter their preferred gender almost weekly. "They" has become an effective neutral point that avoids generating immediate drama.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

            I'll admit I didn't do much more than skim over the article but as I read it the mod was bounced because they insisted on using gender neutral terms for safety rather than because they kept using the wrong ones (or ones based on biology/culture rather than personal preference).

            If correct that makes it sound even more draconian. Personally I stick to they/them/you mainly because it saves me the effort of having to remember stuff about people. I'm a bit socially challenged so my life is easier if I class everyone else as 'person' and ignore the finer details :)

            1. John G Imrie
              Thumb Up

              Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

              I think the world would be a much better place if we just classed everyone else as 'person' and ignored the finer details.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

              This is correct. Monica said she is a professional writer who writes gender-neutral by default. She pointed out that on SE we rarely talk about other people. We talk directly (you) or use names or refer to specific posts (links). The response in TL was that this wasn't good enough and gender-neutral language is misgendering. Which sounds crazy.

              1. jmch Silver badge

                Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

                "this wasn't good enough and gender-neutral language is misgendering. Which sounds crazy."

                That doesn't just sound crazy, it IS crazy. It is also gospel truth in any campus in the US, any nonconformists are automatically bigots (and I'm sure they fail to see the irony there)

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

        >If he/she wants to be referred to as she/he - then why is it such a big issue to go along with it?

        In day-to-day conversation with someone - no.

        Having to check their profile first before answering a technical question for free on a programming site - fsck off

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surely it's just a bit of civility

        That's not a mistake, that's a statement you're making about your refusal to recognize a request from the other person.

        ----

        That's not a failure to recognize a request, it's a refusal to obey an order issued along with an implicit and explicit threat of significant punishment, from people you have not decided to obey in all their whims.

  4. Wellyboot Silver badge

    yet again.

    >>>we are committed to creating communities that are welcoming and inclusive<<< Except for anyone not using the latest edition of newspeak who should be shunned without delay.

    I gave up on stack exchange when the advice I posted was edited to remove the actual recommendations (about a specific piece of hardware) because they were 'promoting a vendor'

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Agreed

      They'll be all nice and inclusive with the community, but say something the moderators don't like and you're called names like in kindergarden before being booted from such a nice, inclusive community.

      What bollocks.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Agreed

        Yup.

        "It was created to foster a community of kindness, collaboration, and mutual respect. We understand that a few other moderators have resigned, and they may or may not have full knowledge of the situation. But we hope all moderators know that we very much value and appreciate their contributions, and above all else, we are committed to creating communities that are welcoming and inclusive." - did he write that without even a twinge of cognitive dissonance?

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Agreed

          If stack exchange want to foster a community of kindness, collaboration and self-respect they could do worse than sack ALL the moderators. It has none of those characteristics, instead concentrating on cutting topics short when they're just getting interesting, pointlessly recategorising questions because they're allegedly off-topic.

          I don't ever go to stack exchange to ask anything now, but on the occasion google finds a match for something I'm curious about, the useful stuff is almost always obscured by the moderators. Occasionally, the contributors give a good answer anyway, despite but never helped by the mods.

          The whole organisation is so far up its own arsehole a few more feet to handle gender-appropriate pronouns won't make a scrap of difference. It will just create another element for moderators to moan about.

          Lets just hope this argument kills it off once and for all. The only good thing about it is that it isn't as bad as quora, which hides its useless answers behind a login screen that isn't worth the effort of using.

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Agreed

        What bollocks/ovaries/void

        FTFY.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: yet again.

      I gave up on SO years ago and wish I could stop it polluting my programming searches. By and large the content is low quality and often out of date. The rest of the network seems either pointless or laughable to me.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: yet again.

        Was a Beta user, according to their stats I have "helped" > 10M people, but haven't bothered for years.

        I sometimes login and delete old answers if people comment that they are out of date.

    3. fajensen Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: yet again.

      Same here, Stack Exchange is so inclusive that the highest scored 'solutions' are all too often incorrect, while the correct ones are buried down the page somewhere with a '+6' score.

      Or -

      Maybe those 'Russia, Russia, Russia' robots, that totally exists, are busy up-voting garbage in the hope of gradually sabotaging western civilisation? And complaining about gendering while at it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: yet again.

        It was predicted back in 1980-s by the classic ESR's Questiond Smart Way essay.

        It includes a chapter on Acting Like Looser where he observes that time and again hyper-courtesy was being long-term deadly to utility.

        When the essay was prohibited to link to on SO about 5 years ago - they steppee on the road to that self-induced prophecy.

  5. 9Rune5 Silver badge

    CoC

    When discussing optics, CoC means "Circle of Confusion".

    To me, the article made more sense then.

    1. joeW Silver badge

      Re: CoC

      I find its best to pronounce it as an acronym rather than an initialism. Unless (or maybe especially) you're discussing matters with some HR drones.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: CoC

        New keyboard please!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: CoC

        Careful, drone implies male

        <sarc>

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: CoC

          ITYM "bee careful".

          I'll buzz off now ...

    2. dajames Silver badge

      Re: CoC

      When discussing optics, CoC means "Circle of Confusion".

      Really? I can only see it as the name of a short story by H.P.Lovecraft.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: CoC

      CoC means "Circle of Confusion".

      Or, in my somewhat addled brain, Call of Cthulu..

  6. Charles Calthrop

    bellends

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      bellends

      /clitends/void

      FTFY...

  7. JDX Gold badge

    Why is it even an issue on SE?

    I have no idea the gender or assumed gender of anyone asking or answering questions on SE sites. Why would I know or care about LlamaObamaDingDong44467's personal life?

    Surely SE should follow national/state laws here, not dictate their own anyway?

    1. Raedwald Bretwalda

      Re: Why is it even an issue on SE?

      You wouldn't. But if you were a MODERATOR there, you might have to address a specific person, by name, in a message. Then the subject of names, chosen names, and which names are polite or rude becomes important.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why is it even an issue on SE?

        if you were a MODERATOR there, you might have to address a specific person, by name, in a message.

        That name will have been given to you by the person in question, so just use it. It's clearly what they want to be called.

      2. AVee

        Re: Why is it even an issue on SE?

        I'm not so sure about that. It's a Q&A site, it should be about the questions and the answers. There are plenty users where it's impossible, to know their gender/desired pronoun, if you address people directly it's generally easy to avoid (you use the username, and 'you' generally. Frankly, it's hard to think of a case where dragging gender into the discussion isn't horribly off topic. You managed to write the above post without any reference to gender. I replied to it, addressing you directly, without running into issues. I didn't phrase things differently, gender doesn't come in to play when speaking in second person.

        Generally it only becomes an issue when talking about users other then the one you're addressing. Because in the third person gender is relevant. But there it's generally possible to avoid it by just mentioning the user by username, which is often a good thing for clarity anyway. So to me it seems pretty much a non-issue which can only be a distraction from the actual topic being discussed.

      3. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Why is it even an issue on SE?

        Good luck with names that in some languages are female, while in others are male... (i.e. Andrea and Nicola are male name in Italian) you'll need to know far more about the person to use the correct pronoun. And then you wold have to ask them about their gender preferences which could imply sexual preferences - which are also sensitive data under EU privacy laws...

        Anyway the Pandora's box (for those who still remember Greek mythology....) is open... enjoy.

        1. baud Bronze badge

          Re: Why is it even an issue on SE?

          Or in such case, the mods could just use the username during the conversation, it even remove some uncertainty, since it's explicit whose user is the subject.

          1. vgrig_us

            Re: Why is it even an issue on SE?

            @baud or they can concentrate on the subject of the conversation and stop wasting energy walking on eggshells?

      4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Why is it even an issue on SE?

        I am a moderator but I don't have time for it, which tells us all we need to know about crowd-sourced moderation. My time is devoted to answering questions on my software.

        I like SE. I have found lots of usual information on it and I hope I've helped others and I think that the software gets a lot of things right that other forums have failed and the credit system isn't completely flawed.

        But that doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of crap there.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why is it even an issue on SE?

        Worse. Moderators are there to moderate. That is, read posts of every other users and edit them if other users did it wrong.

  8. John Sager

    Wait till El Reg does the same...

    1. Solarflare
      Joke

      Actually, I believe that with their preferred pronoun, you should refer to them as "La Reg"

      1. baud Bronze badge
        Joke

        Or "El Rag"

      2. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
        Headmaster

        Or Los Reges

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it was somebody that used gender pronound for some people and did not use gender pronouns for other people, it would be reasonable to enforce that they either used gender pronouns for all people, or did not use gender pronouns at all, but this appears to be somebody that does not use gender pronouns being told that they must use gender pronouns...

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    As far as I'm concerned the use of "they" whenever it's uncertain whether "he" or "she" should apply has been part of English as long as I can remember.

    ISTM that pronouns are rather more complex than singular/plural. In a nutshell singular is one aspect of being more personal and the plural an aspect of the more impersonal.

    For second person the "plural" form has become the norm. Thee/thou/thine were the "singluar" form but the actual usage was governed by rules similar to tu vs vous in French. Use of "they" is entirely consistent with that.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      As far as I'm concerned the use of "they" whenever it's uncertain whether "he" or "she" should apply has been part of English as long as I can remember.

      For come reason this isn't a thing in US English and they've been tying themselves in knots over it for years. Apparently "they" is gramatically incorrect and must not be used. Code of conducts and so on are preferred.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Code of conducts and so on are preferred.

        Because they confer power on the groups that lobby for them. The US tendency to litigate does the rest.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        "Apparently "they" is gramatically incorrect"

        That's some knobhead ignoramus who wrote a grammar book a couple of centuries ago that everyone got hung up on.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if...

    ... you identify with a Dorito

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What if...

      Bite me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What if...

      ...then you obviously have a chip on your shoulder

      1. OssianScotland Silver badge

        Re: What if...

        Or are completely balanced - a chip on each shoulder

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What if...

      ... you identify with a Dorito

      Then your perfect partner would be a someone who's a bit dippy

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple solution

    Stop using pronouns! Pronouns can be ambiguous anyway. Some Asian languages seem to get by just fine without pronouns.

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Madness

    I'm just waiting for the day my code gets rejected because the functions and variables don't have 'gender appropriate' pronouns.

    And will we be able to use C++ anymore? What about the elitism of classes?

    Mind you I'm already prolly in trouble for using the terms master-slave.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Madness

      I'm already prolly in trouble for using the terms master-slave.

      Yes, that would get my code banned where I work. Even "client server" is starting to raise eyebrows.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Madness

        Master - direct the working of subordinates > Slave - perform the tasks assigned.

        Client - create requests for service > Server - fulfils the request

        These terms were coined (long ago) by engineers to explain the subtle difference in system relationships to the non IT-literate, just as Male plugs & Female sockets were identifed thus for the actual illiterate a few centuries ago.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Madness

          Oh, I don't disagree. It's just political correctness over words like "slave" and "serve". They'll be having a go at Wimbledon next; "And a beautiful energize-the-round-object-with-the racket-stroke there".

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Madness

            While I understand PC objections over the word 'slave', I fail to see that around 'service'. Perhaps today's youth are too entitled to understand that there is no dishonour or shame in 'service' aka doing a job that you're paid for, and many 'servants' (and here I should include public servants, civil servants and military service) take a great deal of pride in their service.

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Madness

          These terms were coined (long ago) by engineers to explain the subtle difference in system relationships to the non IT-literate, just as Male plugs & Female sockets were identifed thus for the actual illiterate a few centuries ago.

          PC engineering started a long time ago, making me feel old. So BT, back in the late '80s informed engineering staff that we must not refer to M/F connectors as such, and under no circumstances call M/F convertors 'gender benders'. Being older and wiser, I see the issue with the last one, and convertor/adaptor generally works fine, but M/F is still widely used. It just ends up less ambiguous than trying to use alternatives like plug/socket, especially for cabling.

          1. JassMan Silver badge

            Re: Madness

            M/F wasn't so obvious in the the case of (now obsolete) XLR power connectors.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Madness

              I have no idea what you are talking about. XLR connectors were quite obviously male or female (at least to my eyes and way of thinking).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Madness

            When I worked for BT, mid-80s, we had a young and naive student who asked why connectors were called Male or Female. He went a lovely shade of pink when one of the female engineers explained it to him.

            1. jmch Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Madness

              Reminds me of when I was out on a hike with a group of friends. One of the girls (must have been a proper city girl) thought that some cows weer bulls (because they had horns). When we told her that both cows and bulls had horns (Oh!), she went... so how do you know they're cows?

              Double facepalm because she was a medical student

              1. Christian Harten

                Re: Madness

                Udderly ridiculous.

    2. druck Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Madness

      Have you seen this? C-plus-Equality

      1. TheSmokingArgus

        Re: Madness

        I apologize for the cancer that is third-wave feminism.

      2. trindflo

        Re: Madness

        FFS++

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Madness

        That is fucking hilarious trolling.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Madness

          Laughing at the hyper-politically-correct isn't trolling, it's laughing. Sadly, the HPC set have forgotten how to do that most human of things: laugh at themselves.

          The entire lot of them need to lighten up, learn to laugh, and stop getting upset over trivialities and minutia on the behalf of others.

  14. Paul Smith

    Some people have all the luck

    Is this a moderator specific privilege? I just went through my SE profile and I couldn't find anywhere I could set my preferred pronoun. I want the world to call me "MightyZog" on pain of being accused of Speciesism.

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: Some people have all the luck

      Dear, MightyZog Paul Smith, you are lucky. I wanted to add my preferred pronoun into the comment box here and El Reg said they didn't like the characters I had chosen to represent it, those being U+1F46C U+1F46B U+1F46D

  15. vgrig_us

    huh?

    Wtf?! That's it for stackexchange for me...

    And - fuck it: let's just call everybody "it"...

    "It talks to me funny - must be political correctness stuck in it's throat".

    Queue in "lotion in the basket" jokes...

    1. tekHedd

      Re: huh?

      "it" seems so sexless. I prefer "she". After all, it contains both "he" and "she" and could not possibly be considered offensive to anybody (except possibly for some of the poser cowboys down at the Boot showing off their 4x4s that have never seen dirt).

    2. jmch Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: huh?

      just use

      - 'us' instead of 'me'

      - 'they' for anyone and everyone else

      - say 'Precioussss' a lot

  16. TheSmokingArgus

    So tired of these bitter malcontents policing language, seems all the rage in tech to place political correctness above proficiency. Generally giving in to Marxists is a good way to lose your civilization.

    These do-godder word police, make it more difficult for actual women in tech who have climbed the ladder based on their skills as opposed to being a diversity hire, to wit merely sews resentment.

  17. tekHedd

    I am not plural.

    I identify as male. I realize that even choosing a gender is offensive to some, but sadly this is the way I was born. I am also singular.

    Once I have explained that I identify as both male and singular, continuing to refer to me as "they" is just as offensive as deadnaming, and more offensive than "she".

    1. tekHedd

      But it's not cool because I'm not trans

      So...let's see how many downvotes I get from this apparent troll...which it isn't of course, it's simply my actual opinion. Just swap out the genders so that "I" identify as trans and see how many upvotes you can harvest:

      "I identify as female. I realize that not identifying as my biological gender is offensive to some, but sadly this is the way I was born. I am also singular.

      Once I have explained that I identify as both singular and female, continuing to refer to me as 'they' is just as offensive as deadnaming, and more offensive than 'he'."

      Phrase it this way, now I'm the hero.

    2. tim 13

      Re: I am not plural.

      I assume you are American? They doesn't doesn't carry the same plural connotations in the UK

  18. T. F. M. Reader
    Coat

    Different point of view

    Has it occurred to anyone that not using one's preferred gender may actually be in one's best interest? -->

  19. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    I can see the problem

    I can see the problem here, refusing to use preferred pronouns is just rude but most people that I know accept they or them as a compromise without issue.

    It is easy to write and speak in a gender neutral way.

    What Cellio, I think was proposing was that being gender neutral was better than using preferred pronouns. It is not, but a hell of a lot better than point blank using the wrong one on purpose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can see the problem

      The problem is that if you use the wrong pronoun accidentally,

      YOU MUST NOW BURN IN HELL FOR ETERNITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      We must take your career, your livelihood, destroy your life and family... part about making such a big deal about pronouns.

      Strange how it was "toxic masculinity" that was the problem, now a woman is being destroyed because she feels it is silly to force pronouns when the chance of getting it wrong and offending someone is there. Using neutral ensures less offence but she is being chastised for it.

      Get one thing straight YOU CAN'T FORCE RESPECT, it will end badly and the more you force it the more enemies to your cause you will create.

    2. tekHedd

      Re: I can see the problem

      "it's easy to write and speak in a gender neutral way". Well, it used to be; we just used "gender-neutral he" in cases where we were speaking generally, or asked the person in question before using a pronoun. Now the totes lazy writer can use "singular they," and offend everyone all the time.

      We've turned pronouns into a way to troll.

  20. Evil3eaver

    Got one question about the following excerpt:

    "The disagreement stemmed from an interpretation of a certain policy, but our CoC is not up for debate."

    How does a CoC come into existence if it is not up for debate?

    1. Huw D Silver badge

      Fascism?

    2. EastFinchleyite

      Unchangeable

      "How does a CoC come into existence if it is not up for debate?"

      Somebody decides the result and then declares it unchangeable because they like it like it is even if it proves unworkable and increasingly less appropriate. . A bit like a referendum.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unchangeable

        > they like it like it is

        I'm sorry...did you just say they?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry guys, there are only two genders..

    Based on an exceptionally large sample of personal experience over four decades in SF ( I really have seen literally absolutely everything..) there are only two genders. Male and female. Pretty much everyone else has some mental illness of one form or other. Always seems to be part of some broad spectrum disorder,

    There are the occasional biological hermaphrodites, one in several thousand, who tend to be pretty stable and normal otherwise. But all the rest. To a lesser or greater degree, nutcases. And in the case of pre and post op trannies, an exceptionally high occurrence of NPD's and ASPDs. Its the height of cruelty to pander to the delusions of paranoid schizophrenics and I see little difference with the people who claim to be other "genders". They need treatment not validation of these delusions. These people have very high suicide rates and rates of institutionalization. They should be given the compassion and treatment they need. Not some politically motivated social fad about language that fuels these poor peoples mental illness. I have noticed that the faddists are the usual suspects. Affluent middle class twits who grew up in the suburbs know zero of real life and despite their credetialization have at best only average intelligence. Most tend to be pretty dim.

    T.V's on the other hand are pretty normal apart from those who tend to NPD bitchiness. Usually done with a stiletto welding humor. My only complaint is that T.V dress standards have declined over the decades. Back in the 1980's and 1990's some of the best dressed and most elegant people wearing women's clothes in the City were T.V's. In fact if you saw someone in womens clothes who looked particularly elegant more often than not they were T.V. And they took the well deserved compliment on their look with a real graciousness. I think its been almost a decade since I've seen a really well turned out T.V. Although there was someone on upper Polk a few weeks ago who almost caught the elegance of the good old days.

    Bloody Millennials, they've ruined everything, Even T.V's once impeccable dress sense..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry guys, there are only two genders..

      If I could only give infinite thumbs up I would.

    2. Notas Badoff

      Re: Sorry guys, there are only two genders..

      You invalidated your argument at the very start, proving there are at least three: he, she, and anonymous.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sorry guys, there are only two genders..

        Reminds of a joke from Northern Ireland in the 1970's..

        Guy stopped by a bunch of paramilitary thugs and asked in a very menacing tone - "What religion are yeh? Protestant or Catholic?"

        "I'm an atheist" the guy replies..

        "Would ye be a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist then?"....

        So very much a Male A.C here.

        1. James O'Shea

          Re: Sorry guys, there are only two genders..

          Harry Turtledove once perpetuated a novel, which, among other things, had a major character who was Jewish and who spent a lot of time in Northern Ireland. NI was, according to the novel, the safest place to be a Jew, the Christians were too busy killing each other to be anti-Semitic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry guys, there are only two genders..

      Okay, boomer.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just an English thing

    Here in North America we used to refer to folks of Iberian heritage as latinos / latinas, in keeping with heavily gendered Castilian language. Now the correct term is latinX, which flows off the tongue about as well as you'd expect, in either English or Spanish.

    "Ms." made sense, given the lack of a male Mrs. / Miss distinction.

    If for some reason you'd like to hide your gender (either the one "assigned" you at birth, or the one you think you are at the moment) behind some non-binary pronoun and rid the language of he/she, him/her, ma'm/sir, while I personally would mourn the loss of precision, go for it! Hopefully your neologism will be more aesthetically pleasing than "latinX".

    My $0.02.

    AC so I don't catch hell from my SJW daught, er, uh, afterbear.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Not just an English thing

      ""Ms." made sense, given the lack of a male Mrs. / Miss distinction."

      It does, except that when I pronounce 'Ms' it always sounds exactly like when I pronounce 'Miss'

      1. Unhandle

        Re: Not just an English thing

        You've gotta get that "zzz" sound in there. "Miz" and keep it short.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not just an English thing

          "You've gotta get that "zzz" sound in there. "Miz" and keep it short."

          That would make me feel like I had fallen into an old black and white movie set in the old South, and I was talking to the plantation owner's wife.

          1. Trilkhai

            Re: Not just an English thing

            The few movies like that I've seen had the "miss" pronounced with a specific intonation & accent so it's actually closer to "miyahs." Very different from miss (rhymes with kiss) or Ms. (rhymes with Liz).

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Not just an English thing

      "If for some reason you'd like to hide your gender (either the one "assigned" you at birth, or the one you think you are at the moment) behind some non-binary pronoun... " What, such as Dr., Professor, Reverend, maybe Mgr. in some countries?

  23. dnicholas Bronze badge

    Banned for refusing the CoC. That is all

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This was compiled by a handful of moderators that feel Stack Exchange has has given up. We've tried to work on their platform. We've tried to work off their platform, privately. Now we are using the platforms others have bemoaned: social media. [editor's note: We are using "media" media now too, since Stack Exchange has] Many interactions leave us with the feeling that we are being told to wait, it will get better. We've been told to trust them and in the same breath told that we probably shouldn't. The company makes another mistake and the cycle repeats. This post is a violation of our moderator agreements. Some of us have stepped down already. Some have not, but will. Others are still on the fence and hope that *this* incident will be the one that causes Stack Exchange to reevaluate their relationship with the community.

    We are releasing these transcripts because this fight is being fought behind closed doors. The communities we represent and want to grow are seeing ripples in the pond and getting vague references to something that happened in a secret chat room. They deserve a fuller view of what is happening. They deserve to have this conversation themselves, among themselves and with Stack Exchange. They don't deserve to see repercussions of decisions they don't know anything about, or policies that aren't officially announced. We are also releasing this because public comments by the company have violated their own policies. They have spoken with the media. They have posted answers on their own platform that, at best, lower a respected user's reputation in the real world. That is less courtesy than they gave to to a moderator who was arrested for pedophilia. Stack Exchange has violated our trust and has not tried to prevent this from spreading.

    We will not be providing more transcripts.

    Links provided may not work depending access level and reputation.

  25. <script>alert('the register');</script>

    Reading those big posts its actually really fucking embarrassing how they take it

  26. James O'Shea

    Let me see if I have this right

    1 The CoC is still a _proposed_ CoC?

    2 The mod in question was booted over the weekend, without warning, without a chance to defend herself, without appeal?

    3 The mod in question in an observant Jew, and not available after sundown on Friday, ensuring that she did not even know of the action until the next week... and the next Monday was a Jewish holy day so she wasn't around until Tuesday?

    4 This whole mess was because she didn't like to use 'they' as singular?

    5 The mod in question was NOT paid for her services?

    Am I correct? Is there something that I'm missing? Because as it is, it looks to me as though the mod in question was subjected to a drumhead courtmartial in her absence and presumed guilty even though the alleged offense isn't yet an actual offense. It's one thing if the CoC had actually been implemented, and if the accused had had the chance to offer a defense. If I understand correctly, that's not even close to what happened. Personally, if I have it correctly, at this point I'd close my Stack Exchange account, if I had one. Which I don't and am extremely unlikely to ever get one, not after this. If I read this correctly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let me see if I have this right

      You read it correctly, your eyes are not deceiving you. It's bad when you have to within the same comment have to re-verify each thought process multiple times, sad that people are so sensitive that they cannot have a cogent discussion on anything.

      Sign of our times, I personally will get the popcorn out when these millennials are in positions of authority and they will have no one else to blame for tragedy that happens and I do hope the next gen of counter culture (you know those who chose to do the opposite of the current "norm" will do... it ain't gonna be neo liberal extremism... what is the counter to that;) undoes all the BS brought in by this generation. I'll be in retirement by then laughing my ass off encouraging the mellennial replacements to go further.

      Notice to the mellenial generation your ways will be considered what you consider today's normal to be "bad"... it will happen and you will be reminded of the last two decades and the damage you have caused which WILL have unintentional consequences (will do the exact opposite of what you claim you stand for)...Better learn and understand what hypocrisy is cause that will be your nickname.

  27. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Yo

    I'm surprised that this word has not been mentioned as a suitable replacement for gender. It has a very fluid usage, but maybe considered too informal in some contexts.

    1. jmch Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Yo

      "but maybe considered too informal in some contexts"

      Like Yo mama?

  28. DJ
    Meh

    Do you think just maybe

    some people are taking themselves just a bit too seriously?

    Maybe it's just me then.

  29. razorfishsl

    Compelled speech..... that is all it is, but this is already started in many open-source projects.

    They have decided to get their dirty left wing roots firmly into the technology sector becasue if you control technology you control the future.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Right wing smudges?

      Downvoted for the "dirty left wing" characterization. Everyone can screw up things for others.

      Look up the father of Chinese rocketry. Conservatives in the 50s forced him to go to PRC. So he helped build their A- and H-bombs, then founded their missile programs.

      Short-sighted people create long-term problems, your 'side' not excluded.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for posting what the actual cause of this trouble was. It was quite infuriating reading all of these resignation posts all vaguely pointing to some sort of "censorship" trouble, and everyone blindly cheering them on. Just another case of SO being a members-only party

    1. Daniel 18

      "Just another case of SO being a members-only party"

      I have to ask.... what is SO?

      1. Two Lips

        Stack Overflow

        Duh!

  31. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  32. earl grey Silver badge
    Trollface

    thank goodness i don't have this problem

    I'm usually addressed in the gender neutral "you arsehole" so at least i know to whom they speak.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: thank goodness i don't have this problem

      In one circle I run around in occasionally, "you fuckin' fuck" is a term of endearment.

      1. Huw D Silver badge

        Re: thank goodness i don't have this problem

        Try calling your Trans female friend a "daft cunt" while in the US. The shock and horror on the faces of the rest of the bar....

    2. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
      Trollface

      Re: thank goodness i don't have this problem

      My old man always used to refer to me as "BuggerLugs", but I rarely responded to it.

  33. jake Silver badge

    So let me get this straight[0] ...

    ... A person was ganged up upon and kicked out because of a CoC that hasn't even been put into place yet? In some communities, this would be considered bullying. What does their precious CoC have to say about bullies?

    [0] Am I allowed to use "straight" in this manner, or have I inadvertently offended somebody?

  34. jmch Silver badge
    Trollface

    Ze

    From the linked (mental!!!) Preferred Gender Pronouns PDF: "Use gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” and “ze” "

    "Ze" as in Fawlty Towers "Ze Germans?"

  35. Unhandle

    As we would say in my neighborhood, "They crazy." I have watched various stacks with amusement over the years, especially the Workplace stack. Non-technical stacks are just sooooo tense and uncomfortable. People seemingly are in a constant state of rigid rule enforcement, devoting more resources to rules and submission to rules than to discourse. Stack is, as far as I am concerned, a totally toxic place to be. But this being the Internet, there is nothing to stop anyone from starting a similar gathering place where they'll feel right at home.

  36. Chozo
    Devil

    Cease & Desist

    Honoured members of The Register it has been brought to my attention that some of you are rendering my words on screen using the default font settings of your web browser. I find this behaviour highly distressing and request henceforth all readers use of Comic Sans to display my posts.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Cease & Desist

      I'll DejaVu-Sans-Mono your comments even harder in the future!

    2. Huw D Silver badge

      Re: Cease & Desist

      I'm only using the default font because Sarcastica isn't available as an option.

      1. fobobob

        Re: Cease & Desist

        Monotype Corsiva

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh!

    Ok. Here's my take on all this.

    If a person outwardly appears as a male, I shall refer to them as Mr/Him/His/He.

    If a person outwardly appears as a female, I shall refer to them as Miss/Her/Hers/She.

    That's it. That is the only outward social queue as to indicate the preference of a pronoun.

    If a person wants to be referred to as some other form of pronoun (ie: (f)ae, e/ey, per, they, ve, xe, ze/zie) they can forget it because there is no way to know. And if they want to get upset with this policy then they need to learn that tolerance is a two-way-street.

    I do not judge anyone, I accept everyone for who they are regardless of race, gender, creed, colour, or sexual orientation. I don't go telling other people how to live their lives, we only get ONE so live it the way you want to. But I am not going to be forced to use pronouns for anything other than the two basic sex-aligned genders because 1. It's prone to error, and 2. It is someone else forcing their beliefs onto me, which I do not do to others.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ridiculous action by SO

    The mod appears to have simply said they can avoid giving offence by using terms like "OP" and "<username>", in response a woke type asserted that this was a transphobic ploy to circumvent using preferred pronouns.

    Absolute bobbins.

    It's actually more akin to spotting a minefield surrounded by gleeful fruit hurling goblins, and deciding to walk around rather than through it.

    (AC, obviously!)

  39. stick box
    Facepalm

    How not to apologise

    TBF, the issue on Stack Exchange has nothing to do with gender pro-nouns and is all about the owners of a community violating all their own prominent 'be nice' guidelines and recklessly punishing somebody for breaking a new Code of Conduct (to be extra nice) which hadn't even been released yet.

    Anyway after El Reg did it's piece - S.E. published a boilerplate apology which went down, well like a boilerplate would really.

  40. David Crowe

    I have a novel idea. Why don't we base pronouns on sex, not gender? There are only two sexes, which mesh nicely with the provision of two pronouns in English - he/she. There, problem solved.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Why don't we base pronouns on sex

      I see people on the train wearing black badges calling themselves Elders. Are you suggesting we refer to them as Missionaries?

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Why don't we base pronouns on sex

        No - trees, or berries.

  41. John Wayland Bales

    OP & @user suffice

    I have been a member os stackexchange for years and have never found it necessary to use any reference to other users than 'OP' and '@<user>.'

  42. Mr_Red_Pill

    It goes back to Rudi Dutschke

    All of this nonsense goes back to Rudi Dutschke - a leftist German scumbag who (in the 1960s) urged the Left to mount a "long march through the institutions" - teacher training colleges, schools, universities, media, government - infiltrating and subverting them to push the Leftist agenda.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudi_Dutschke

    The Left knew a powerful idea when they saw one and they grabbed this idea like a drowning man would grab a life-raft.

    Fast-forward 50+ years and we can see the results. Pronoun nonsense. Universities pumping out SJWs and snowflakes who know nothing except how to be "offended". Schools pumping out children who are terrified that the world will erupt in flames in a couple of years.

    This pronoun nonsense at Stackexchange is nothing but a **leftist power grab** to control yet more of the English language. It is THAT simple.

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