Seems like pronoun clarification and proper use of them is very important to the staff of Stack Overflow at this time, based on the firing of a mod over the issue, resulting apologies, scrambling to deal with fallout, stressing of the new CoC and the specific FAQ about pronouns. And yet, SO staff don’t seem to have clarified their pronouns in the ‘About me’ sections of their profiles. Doing so would help normalize pronoun clarification clarification and set an example for real cultural change.

In addition, it seems like many responses to the CoC, and particularly the pronoun use aspect, have been highly negative, and yet there don’t seem to be SO staff defending the CoC.

Finally, beyond the CoC and some dubious machine learning stuff, it doesn’t seem like anything real is being done at SO Inc., such as hiring consultants or experts in culture and inclusivity, conducting internal training, etc. I suggest the situation with Monica Cellio was handled so badly because of a lack of training and understanding on the part of the SO staff that led to what was essentially a panic reaction.

So what is really being done about the culture? Has it just gotten lost in the noise and I missed it?

This post from more than a year ago (and referenced again recently) seems to recognize the problem but mainly calls on the users to act differently to fix it. It only mentions creating and internal team of existing employees to work on it.

This one mainly seems to talk about new tools, and also seems to put the onus on the community. I don’t think tools create culture.

And this one talks about machine learning, the new CoC, and changing site interactions and other technical elements. There’s no mention of how any of these could help with bigotry, holocaust denial, sexism, exclusionary language, or the understanding at the very top of how we got here and what experts say should be done about it.

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    I feel that calling out named individuals for not stating their pronouns is unhelpful and hostile. It should remain a personal choice as to whether individuals do this.
    – CB Bailey
    Oct 13, 2019 at 8:28
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    @cbbailey That’s fair. My question is really why they have made those personal choices. Perhaps as such the question is off topic. Still, it does feel like this seemingly important aspect of the CoC is not being promulgated in the most helpful way. Oct 13, 2019 at 8:32
  • @cbbailey If you have any suggestions about how to make this a question about the underlying culture at the top of the SE/SO pyramid not being inclusive while the CoC hypocritically calls for inclusivity, I would love them. I agree that calling out specific people is not necessarily appropriate. That said, something in me feels like the three named in the question are “public figures” in this context. Also I feel like the problem of the CoC not being nearly enough to fix a culture has been lost and/or ignored. Perhaps a better question would be “what else is being done about the culture?” Oct 13, 2019 at 8:59
  • @cbbailey After thought, I heavily edited to question to get it much closer to my real question and concern. Thank you for your criticism. I’d love to hear any other thoughts you have on the question as it stands or as it stood. Oct 13, 2019 at 9:09
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    at this point your question has changed too much. Maybe revert it back to the original so the posted answer is relevant to it, and take time to post a new one. Oct 13, 2019 at 9:16
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    I think only the last paragraph is a question, most of the rest reads just like a rant, which by definition isnt very constructive.
    – Luuklag
    Oct 13, 2019 at 9:16
  • @user1306322 It would make more sense to delete this and then repost the current version of it. The original version of the question isn’t worth it. Oct 13, 2019 at 9:18
  • @Luuklag To me it is explaining the symptoms of the problem to establish that a problem exists and the nature of the problem. Oct 13, 2019 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


From the FAQ:

Q7: Are we going to force everyone to identify their pronouns?

No. Just as we do not force users to identify their real name, we will never force users to identify their pronouns. This is a voluntary decision by each user to share as much or as little as they are comfortable.

Forcing (or more gently pressuring) people to identify their pronouns is not welcoming, whether those people are users, moderators, staff, or deities.

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    I didn’t ask why they didn’t force anyone to do so. I asked why they haven’t voluntarily done so, nor encouraged anyone else to do so. Again, normalizing pronoun specification is arguably more important for inclusivity than prohibiting incorrect pronoun use. Oct 13, 2019 at 8:29
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    @ToddWilcox Asking people "why haven't you done X?*, although not forcing, can certainly be perceived as a form of (peer) pressure.
    – gerrit
    Oct 13, 2019 at 8:40
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    Yeah, don't pressure people to publish information they'd rather not publish. That's never good. Even asking why someone hasn't done it is absolutely pressure. 'sides, if they did this, people would just jump on them for "virtue signalling." Lose/lose, just let them be.
    – user206222
    Oct 13, 2019 at 9:10
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    Sorry, as I mentioned in the question comments, I heavily edited my question as I see how it was both not constructive and also not what I was really trying to ask. You might find this answer isn’t what you want it to be in light of the current version of the question. I have no problem with you leaving it as is, I merely wanted to give you a heads up about the major edits to the question. Thanks for your helpful and polite responses. Oct 13, 2019 at 9:11

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