In the past, we’ve had some drama about what a substantial edit to a post is. The new FAQ has this section:

If you are writing or editing a post and can make it gender-inclusive without changing the meaning, you are encouraged to do so.

Would it be prudent to change this to read:

If you are writing a post and can make your wording gender-inclusive, please make it so. If you are making a substantial edit to an existing post, also make pronouns gender neutral while you edit. Please do not mass edit old posts solely to correct pronoun gender unless you are fixing references to you in the post. It’s good practice to ask for help on your site meta if many posts need to be updated, whether it’s for tagging / syntax / pronoun usage.

Perhaps my suggestion is too verbose, but I believe there will be some disagreement if you don’t clarify what is being asked of the community on editing old posts. Once everyone gets used to more diversity in pronouns, the FAQ can probably get less detailed.

For now, a little more guidance might help everyone adjust.

  • 4
    Why is this so heavily downvoted, and with no explanation? The gist of this question seems perfectly reasonable and desirable. Practically every old post could be tweaking in some way that won't make a substantive difference. As long as they're buried, they aren't bothering anyone and there's no justification to search them out and bump them. If an old post is being edited to make substantive improvements and there are also pronoun issues, sure, fix those at the same time. Or if you discover an old question with offensive word choices. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Oct 11, 2019 at 3:02
  • 4
    Who is going to be offended by buried old posts that nobody has looked at in years? Do we really want to flood the main pages and suck oxygen from new posts just to make pronoun changes on inactive old posts? We really shouldn't be encouraging people to do that. It dilutes new posts and reduces eyes and answers on new questions. How is that welcoming to the new visitors?
    – fixer1234
    Oct 11, 2019 at 3:02
  • 1
    Agreed -- I can see point-hunters digging up things to edit (and there's an archeologist badge?) and this would be low-hanging-fruit. I mean, I wouldn't want to DISAPPROVE a potential edit if that's all they do, but I wouldn't want to encourage people doing that either, because as you said, it'd flood the front of the site. Oct 11, 2019 at 14:14
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    @fixer1234 I don't know why it is so heavily downvoted. Maybe a side effect of the general rejection of the new CoC here. It tries to improve it in my opinion, but people may just not follow the nuances sufficiently. Oct 15, 2019 at 8:51
  • 1
    While it apparently has been met with skepticism, it’s not “heavily downvoted”. This is how heavily downvoted looks like. Oct 21, 2019 at 15:06
  • That information isn't relevant in a CoC
    – Kevin B
    Oct 21, 2019 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


Stack Exchange (and all the Stack Exchange sub-sites) is a knowledge database. A wiki. New Q&As are no inherently different from old Q&As in here. There's no reason to distinguish old posts from new ones in this regard and set up some rules when something is permitted and when not.

My point being is - old posts should not be disturbed for this matter and new posts should not be either. A knowledge base should be about the valuable information, not about the "call TS he or she or they while explaining how the JWT works" (which is offtopic for most of the questions anyway) and should not be re-edited each time someone decides we should switch pronouns.

  • 1
    Mass editing poisons the "active questions" list and is bad for that reason. Remember that an edit should be substantial, just correcting pronouns is not substantial. Oct 21, 2019 at 14:11
  • 2
    @jknappen, just correcting pronouns is not substantial. I challenge you to run this view point by the current PTB at SE and see how well it fares. You may be surprised. There is already a precedent, as we can still remove salutations and thanks from posts but are forbidden to touch pronoun announcements there. Oct 21, 2019 at 14:31
  • 1
    @FrédéricHamidi: What do you mean by PTB?—BTW, the edit clarifies a lot, I thought Kromster argued in favour of editing the stock of old Q&A to conform the new standard on pronoun usage. Oct 21, 2019 at 15:08
  • @jknappen, powers that be, sorry, I've seen this used here often enough that I believed it was common knowledge. Oct 21, 2019 at 15:12

Since there’s no official word on mass edits, we’ll presumably leave that up to each of the hundreds of moderators and thousands of people to handle mass edits with the existing tools.

If this causes controversy, please raise the community managers through your site mod team and the contact us form.

Only then would a change to the editing page should warn people off of mass edits as a topic and then perhaps list some times when people in the past have over done it (tag burnination / correcting some common noun that people mis-spell / new names for products ).

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