For so long I have wished that English has a singular gender-neutral pronoun that isn't "they". After the push on Official FAQ on gender pronouns and Code of Conduct changes, do you think we should encourage neopronoun on Stack Exchange?

Imagine a scenario:

- Newcomer: I'm sorry, what is "ze"?
- Old folk: Oh, it's just a neopronoun that folks in Stack Exchange likely to use. It's "more correct" than singular they, and it saves people time to ask back and forth what pronoun they should use. You can use the singular they as you wish without problem
- But then, why we don't all use singular they instead?
- Well, because it comes from a need of non-binary community, and people get used to it. Gradually it becomes a culture here.

As a straight person, I really have no idea if the last sentence is correct or not, but according to My Kid is Gay, it seems so.

Some resources:

See also: Should we have a tag for significant points in time?

  • 21
    "You can use the singular they as you wish without problem" Except according to the CoC you can't. Oct 18, 2019 at 16:01
  • 9
    @eyeballfrog according to the CoC you can, unless someone requests otherwise. you know, respect. The CoC isn't forcing us to use any particular set of pronouns.
    – Kevin B
    Oct 18, 2019 at 16:02
  • 10
    @KevinB The CoC isn't forcing us to use any particular set of pronouns, except when it is. You just said yourself that I can't use "they" if someone requests that I call them something else, which explicitly means I can only use a particular set of pronouns. I personally don't have a problem with using whatever pronoun someone asks (actually I generally completely avoid them), but you can't say that the CoC isn't attempting to make people use words they may not understand or use in their day-to-day lives. I also worry about getting in trouble for avoiding pronouns. Oct 18, 2019 at 16:15
  • Again, you don't have to. you always have the option to step away. There's no forcing here. No compelling. Continue speaking the way you always have.
    – Kevin B
    Oct 18, 2019 at 16:19
  • 4
    @KevinB The problem with that is the arbitrarily worded changes mean that I could get in trouble for stepping away if someone perceives that I stepped away because they asked me to use their pronouns, regardless of intent. Oct 18, 2019 at 16:21
  • 4
    @KevinB Did you read the comment I linked to from Cesar? "If someone's natural writing style always pertains equitably to everyone through typical discourse or isn't frequently interpreted as a clever means to avoid someone's stated pronouns, then, in theory, one might conclude that would work. In practice, it may simply not, ..." Oct 18, 2019 at 16:22
  • 1
    @GrumpyCrouton Ultimately, that's a problem with the explication of the CoC in the now obsolete FAQ. They've announced that that is changing. The new rules might not be better, but fighting over the old ones doesn't really accomplish anything
    – divibisan
    Oct 18, 2019 at 16:23
  • 1
    @KevinB I'm not talking about anything from the FAQ, I'm talking specifically about a comment which seems to completely contradict what you are saying. Oct 18, 2019 at 16:23
  • 3
    @divibisan But the comment is from a CM and staff member at SE, also the person who wrote the FAQ. Oct 18, 2019 at 16:25
  • 2
    Look, i'm against this whole debacle probably as much as you are... but you're presenting a weak argument. All i'm trying to do is point that out. You're claiming things that are simply not true. The CoC doesn't force us to use 'they', it doesn't force us to interact with people who've asked to use a given pronoun. It simply asks for respect. You can choose to be respectful, or don't interact. It's the same "be nice" policy we've always had.
    – Kevin B
    Oct 18, 2019 at 16:25
  • 1
    @KevinB In my opinion, my argument isn't weak. I point to a comment from a CM and staff member at SE which is saying something which completely contradicts what you are saying and what the FAQ is saying. The comment is from someone who can, by themselves, and at their own discretion decide the intent of my messages, and take corrective action against me because of an assumption they have about my behavior. Oct 18, 2019 at 16:27
  • 1
    @divibisan I agree with you there. Oct 18, 2019 at 16:31
  • 1
    "it saves people time to ask back and forth what pronoun they should use" but then causes back and forths like the one you outline, no? I don't feel like it'd be saving anything, just making things more confusing.
    – scohe001
    Oct 18, 2019 at 18:27
  • 3
    I can assure you that old folk (elderly or older generations) would not know what "ze" refers to. You probably mean a veteran user :) There is nothing incorrect about singular they, it's been widely reported on Meta and on EL&U that its existence dates back to Shakespeare's time. Ignore it at your peril, it's a darn sight easier than e, er, eir, and em. Oct 18, 2019 at 19:17
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA It would be very easy to think that ze is mistyped he as they are close on QWERTZ keyboards. Oct 18, 2019 at 20:45

3 Answers 3


No, they should not

It has been said so many times that they would only make non-native English speaking people use the site even more difficult.

Where should they learn how to use them? I do not think they are part of any language course and it is already challenging to use the classic ones correctly.

If Stack Exchange should encourage anything then it should be correct English and not some stacky-slang.

  • 4
    "Where should they learn how to use them?" Where does any person learn any part of language? Generally, from other people. A good place to start would be to ask the person requesting that you use them. There are also a variety of very helpful sites that are dedicated to education around this issue. Oct 18, 2019 at 19:02
  • 10
    I've been following meta for the last 3 weeks. A few times I saw lists of some neopronouns... but I still have no idea what those even mean. When should I use "fae"? There must be a usecase other than "user x asked me to". So yeah, I find them hard to learn.
    – Philipp
    Oct 18, 2019 at 19:32

Actually my real question is:

Isn't it the easiest solution is to use "you" or "nickname"?

My native tongue is already non-binary, in other words, it does not contain gender pronouns so I'm having a little bit hard time to empathize this problem.

  • 1
    "you" is not a third person pronoun. Using nickname seems find on surface, but it creates unnecessary cognitive burden. If not, then people have used it instead already
    – Ooker
    Oct 19, 2019 at 5:16
  • Out of curiosity, which language is that?
    – Cypher
    Oct 25, 2019 at 22:46


This is a political issue and politics should stay out of SO.

  • I'm still not fully understand the issue so I'm not sure why this is a political issue. Can you explain more?
    – Ooker
    Oct 19, 2019 at 5:21
  • @Ooker See politics.stackexchange.com/questions/46314/…
    – Oleg
    Oct 19, 2019 at 6:04
  • 2
    It is an inherently political stance to say that something isn't political, and to exclude it on that basis. Excluding a stance "because it is political" is a political stance, because all choices are political.
    – Welbog
    Oct 21, 2019 at 18:30
  • @Welbog "It is an inherently political stance to say that something isn't political" Uhmm.. no. What the political right and left currently argue about is a matter of fact.
    – Oleg
    Oct 21, 2019 at 19:26

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