To hopefully alleviate concerns regarding the new Code of Conduct, I want to explain how I intend to moderate regarding pronoun use.

  1. When speaking generically, posts should use gender neutral language (which per the Code of Conduct means, for example, "they" not "he or she"). If a post doesn't, I will not be removing it on sight. If flagged, I will comment asking the user to make an edit. If they refuse, I will point them to the Code of Conduct and inform them of behavior expected on this site. If they cannot agree to abide by the Code of Conduct, I will remove their post. If a user is not active, I may elect to edit the post for them while waiting for their reply. I will not be seeking out posts to see if they comply. As usual, I will rely on flagging or whatever I happen to come across in my normal perusal of the site.
  2. Number 1 does not apply to quotes. I will not require anyone to make editorial mark-ups of quotes to ensure they comply.
  3. When referring to other users on the site, posts should use gender neutral language until asked otherwise. If you want to check someone's bio to see if they've specified, you're welcome to, but I won't expect you to. Once asked to use a certain set of pronouns, per the Code of Conduct, you should use that set. If you don't and the post is flagged, I will edit the post or remove the comment and leave a comment explaining why. I am letting you know this now so that if you are not comfortable with me putting words in your mouth you will be aware. The reason I will be doing this instead of waiting for users to edit on their own is that leaving unaffirming pronouns around while waiting for edits would make the site unfriendly, per the Code of Conduct. If there is push back or an edit war, I will then handle according to how I would normally handle someone who refuses to follow the rules. I don't really see this coming up, but if a quote of some external source happens to refer to a known user of this site and uses the wrong pronouns, then you should use appropriate editorial conventions (brackets to replace incorrect words and a footnote to explain the edit) to rectify the problem. If you slip up and accidentally use the wrong pronouns, it's fine, we'll edit it and move on. There's no reason for moderator action over a mistake.
  4. When referring to specific people not on this site, posts should use whatever pronouns Wikipedia does. You don't have to check in advance if you think you know their pronouns, but if someone edits in or requests a correction and points to the Wikipedia article, you should comply. If there is reason to believe the Wikipedia article is wrong, please leave a comment pointing to the source for the person's pronouns. When a person doesn't have a Wikipedia page, use whatever information you have (e.g. if a news article uses a pronoun, use that). Again, if you think you know their pronouns, you don't have to check in advance, but if someone requests a correction and points to a source (or if by chance the actual person joins the site and requests a correction) then you should oblige.
  5. Obviously, I will use moderator discretion when handling these issues.
  6. Please do not go around editing other people's posts just to update their language. If you feel it needs to be updated, comment and/or flag. However, if you are editing for another reason and you also see an opportunity to make something gender neutral that should be, you may edit it, but please leave a comment explaining why.

I know this is a lot to process, but really I don't see this coming up very often. As described above, I don't see this really changing the way most of you write 90% of the time. If something I said is unclear or if you have further questions, let me know. If you disagree with the new Code of Conduct, please take that commentary to the official Meta post. For this discussion, assume we are following the Code of Conduct as directed.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How about "we" assume the new CoC is crap and refuse to go along with it? That would earn you a lot of respect from the community. And yes, I moved my response to the 100 or so responses to the "official" meta page announcement. $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2019 at 8:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I get the reasoning for an update post like this being made on Astro, but I think it might've benefited from waiting a little while. The situation is highly agitated right now and we're not sure how SE might change the CoC in the very near future, given the feedback they've gotten. $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2019 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ @SirCumference If policy changes, the post can be updated, but I have to mod according to the policy now, and I wanted to head off questions about how I would do so. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Oct 12, 2019 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ Just to alleviate any doubt, I agree with everything called2voyage has said here and intend to deal with these cases in the same way. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Oct 14, 2019 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ It would be non-CoC to thank you for explaining your responsibilities and to thank you for what seems like a calm and polite, respectful, approach; but it seems fair to add that it's well thought out, and written. $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Oct 14, 2019 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Rob I'm not sure I understand the first part of your sentence, but I appreciate the feedback and I'm glad you found it calm and well-written! $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Oct 14, 2019 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Rob Oh, I understand now that you're talking about "Thank you" comments. That's not exactly CoC, but part of the editorial guidelines of the site. Also, on Astronomy at least, meta is a little different in that we can get a little more conversational. I generally tend to be lenient on that type of stuff anyway. If the comment thread needs to be cleaned up, thank you comments are the first to go and if they get flagged as no longer needed I'll remove them then, but I don't judge users for that type of thing. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Oct 14, 2019 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Carl there are certainly major issues with SO/SE’s new CoC, but respecting people’s pronouns was already implicit in the old CoC, and I think [@]calledtovoyage’s explanation is eminently sensible. It’s not hard to be respectful, and “being nice” is the bedrock on which our SE interactions are based. It should be even easier on a science stack. I’m glad we have moderators on this site that can rise above the clamour and provide some calm, rational leadership. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2019 at 3:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Chappo i have no problem with the "once asked..." part. I do not accept Wikipedia as any sort of authority on grammar. Use of a plural "they" as an indiscriminate singular makes my teeth grate. I fail to see what's wrong with "it" as in German, for example. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2019 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft I don't know [@]calledtovoyage’s gender so I would quite naturally refer to "them" rather than "him" and "they" rather than "it", even though they are obviously only one person (i.e. singular). This is normal English usage. I would be most offended if anyone referred to me as "it": in English that pronoun is never used for humans, except as an insult. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2019 at 2:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Chappo If you're genuinely curious, I recently listed my pronouns at the top of my bio. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Oct 16, 2019 at 2:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Oct 16, 2019 at 13:17


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