I want to include my preferred pronouns in my username. Is that allowed? Allowed but discouraged? I just want to make it easier for everyone to know, so there's no faux pas.

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    Usernames on Stack Exchange are explicitly meant to be display names. As such you can edit them once a month. I don't see which rules including pronouns would run afoul of, soo .... – Vogel612's Shadow Oct 11 '19 at 7:33
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    @Vogel612'sShadow Just tried it, usernames don't allow punctuation, so the typical way of denoting pronouns (something like Welbog (he/him)) is not permitted. – Welbog Oct 11 '19 at 12:06
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    One advantage would be that it would make them immediately visible. – Trilarion Oct 11 '19 at 12:10
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    If anyone is wondering, the reason for the significant number of downvotes was the OP's "coy" profile page, and their so-called pronoun(s) "OP", see Glorfindel's answer. – Mari-Lou A Feb 28 '20 at 18:04

Yes, it is allowed, since it doesn't offend anyone.*

Whether it's a good idea, I doubt it. As I mentioned here,

One thing to note is that @-replying might be going to look awkward, e.g. if you type a comment (or chat message reply) it will autocomplete to @fredsbend(OP). The system could for these cases omit the part between parentheses but I'm sure such a feature would be abused one way or another.

It's better to put them in your profile, as it's not in an intrusive spot there. It's then possible to fetch them with a userscript; I wrote Pronoun Assistant to do exactly that. Here's how that looks like on the usercard of the other co-author of the script:

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Oh, by the way, 'OP' isn't a pronoun; it's an abbreviation of a phrase consisting of an adjective and a noun. If you don't want to be referred to with one of the regular or neo-pronouns, that's fine with me and I will respect that; I use 'OP' quite frequently and will do so with you – unless it leads to confusion because you didn't write the question.

*: There might be situations where a non-offensive username concatenated with a pronoun produces a word or phrase that is offensive; I'm talking about the general practice.

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    Did SE publish a list of acceptable pronouns? Are you declaring that you're unwilling to refer to this user by their pronoun? – faintsignal Oct 13 '19 at 0:00
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    OP isn't (grammatically) a pronoun, no, but it can be used in place of a proper noun (i.e. a name). – ArtOfCode Oct 13 '19 at 0:03
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    Not trying to sound toooo picky or cynical here, but: Where does the assumption that it does not offend anyone come from? If you asked, I'm sure somebody would (at least claim to) be offended. You could say "It does not violate today's policies" or something like that... – Marco13 Oct 17 '19 at 23:27
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    I think this argument against "OP" being a pronoun can be easily recycled into an argument against "they" as a distinguished pronoun. Based on this precedent, I would say that the fact that OP has a prior meaning does not preclude one from taking it as one's pronoun. – Calvin Khor Oct 20 '19 at 13:52

Adding pronouns to your signature is discouraged by many (most?) of your fellow users - because you're forcing us to focus on the pronouns business, which we would really rather not (especially given recent events, and generally). You wrote:

I just want to make it easier for everyone to know

Please don't. We don't want to know. We are here to answer your questions (or comment on your posts/comments) - about software, about literature, about international travel, Christian theology, and so on. We're not here to talk about you the person. If we want to know about you, we'll visit your user profile (where you can put a link to a personal page).

If the information is relevant to your post - put it in the post itself. Example:

I need to do [something or another] , but this is complicated because I am a [woman/man/non-binary/etc.] with [other identity features], and so [explanation of how your identity affects the situation].


Please do not make assumptions regarding [my/somebody's] [gender/sexual orientation/etc.]

PS - To clarify - I'm referring to any user, not just to @fredsbend personally.

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    This point keeps being made as though it is brilliant and incisive. It is true you don't need to know someone's gender to solve an error message the question asks about. However the moment two users start discussing a third user ("did you try what X suggested?" or "but in the question X explained that Y was not possible") most people start to use pronouns. "X said he repro'd your problem" or "X said his architect forbids that solution" -- and when you get them wrong, it stings for some people. This has nothing to do with needing to know gender to answer a question, evaluate an answer, etc. – Kate Gregory Oct 27 '19 at 20:30
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    @KateGregory: Yours is a partially valid point. It's somewhat valid because it's natural to try and use someone's pronouns like you've demonstrated. But it's also invalid because you can write, and many do: "Did you try what SomeUser suggested?" "SomeUser reports they reproduced your problem". Also, I did not self-flatter in my post, it's simply what I know to be the sentiment and opinion of many users. – einpoklum Oct 27 '19 at 21:24
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    Yes, you can. I often do. NOT THE POINT. Until the new CoC, if someone referred to me as he, whether accidentally or deliberately to upset me (which wouldn't work but that's not the point) it was almost certainly not against the CoC, a mod wouldn't edit the comment to fix it, etc etc. So the CoC was changed. Was a lot of stuff mishandled after that? Oh boy, you betcha. Does that mean none of us should have pronouns, or care about them? It does not.* Caring enough to avoid using the wrong ones (by using none) is cool. It is not the same as "pronouns don't matter here." They do. – Kate Gregory Oct 27 '19 at 21:54

There are two parts to this:

May I put my pronouns in my username?

Some users are starting to do this. Usernames can't contain ( or ) but I've noticed some users wrapping pronouns using hyphens or quotes, like someUser -she/her- or otherUser 'they/them'.

In @ replies the spaces are removed like @someUser-she/her- and replies use stub matching so if the text gets too long, users can type @someUser and it will match @someUser-she/her-.

However, it's worth mentioning that most of the examples I've seen so far appear to be attempts to troll or protest the new policies (and/or the manner they were bought in) with confusing pronoun pairs, like:

Username -he-her-

I don't want to link to or flag examples because I don't know what's in good faith and what isn't.

If you do want pronouns to be visible, this is a convention that you could follow, but be aware this is something very much in flux.

Can I use "OP" as a requested pronoun?

The policy is currently unclear as to where the line is drawn, but it looks like there's nothing stopping you.

However, I'd suggest not choosing "OP" as a pronoun because it is a widely used abbreviation of "Original Post" or "Original Poster", which will cause confusion in cases where you are not, in fact, the "Original Poster":

[Answer] You can extract the body text from that HTML by using regular expressions. There's an answer I saw that shows how, if I can find it I'll edit the link in with a quote. -[User1234]

  1. [Comment] Please don't parse HTML using regex, it summons demons. -[fredsbend 'OP']
  2. [Comment] @fredsbend'OP' What do you mean? I don't understand -[AnotherUser]
  3. [Comment] @AnotherUser I think OP's referring to [this answer]{link} -[bobince]
  4. [Comment] @bobince No I'm not. Who's Zalgo? -[User1234]

I think this would make sense in cases where the Username is something like "TheQueenOfJavascript" or "HisBrothersKeeper" or even "TheirMunchkin".

Usually a name identifies the pronouns by proxy - David is connected to "he", Monica to "her". So using a readable name that lets people infer the pronoun should be encouraged.

I also like names that make it clear I'll have to watch my use of language to be nice. ZoeTheTransGirl is a good example. With such a name, I might look at the profile before I address the user for the first time.

I think this is one of the best ways to avoid unpleasantness all around - if you want to be addressed in a special way, advocating it with a clever username seems like a really good way to ensure that.

It makes much less sense with Usernames such as "David-she" or "TheGroundHog-xir". Tacking on a pronoun just for the sake of it being there - that's just ugly.

  • Thanks for the answer. I agree your final example is ugly, but apparently the issue is big. Your answer doesn't cover how one could use their name to denote a pronoun like xir or even they. – user212646 Oct 12 '19 at 15:50
  • Yes it does, in a roundabout way. "HisBrothersKeeper" implies that the person wants to be adressed by the standard "he/him/his/" set. So a possible Username might be "ZirWhoKnowsBest", which would imply the "ze/zir/zirself". It obviously doesn't work with every possible username, but that's what I meant to say - I think it's a great idea if you're creative and find a clever username, and I'd avoid it if you can't come up with something readable. – Pascal says Talk to Monica Oct 12 '19 at 15:57

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