After looking at this whole CoC war and all of the backlash on other tech communities with similar ones, it seems that bringing identity politics into discussions and policy decisions is a major flash point these days.

I think the only way to put out this fire for good is to simply ban any and all content that involves identity politics entirely unless it is revelent to an appropriate question such a programming a field in a database etc. Or on an appropriate SE site. It is extreme but I am certain it would fix a large chunk of the drama going on right now.

Does anyone on here think that a blanket ban on identity politics related content should be enacted unless it is in the context of an appropriate question or on an appropriate SE site?

Note: Some of the things that are considered to be a part of identity politics are: age, body size, disability, ethnicity, sex characteristics, gender identity and expression, nationality, personal appearance, political views, kinks, race, religion, or sexual identity and orientation.

To explain how the ban would be enforced in theory under the following conditions:

  1. Unconscious slips/revelations of identity by accident will not result in an enforcement action since by definition, an unconscious action is uncontrollable.

  2. If a demand from another user to be treated in a specific way solely due to identity politics is made, the post will be deleted and an enforcement action will be taken. If the request is due to a disability that inhibits the ability for the user to use the site effectively such as a learning disability, then it's ok.

  3. If the post results in a flame war breaking out, it gets deleted or the thread gets locked. If it is discovered that the user making the post expected it to cause a flame war and intended for this to happen, an enforcement action is taken.

  4. If a post is nothing but a complaint of being offended, it gets deleted and an enforcement action is taken.

  5. "Calling out" another user for being offensive will also be a violation and any user found to be doing that will be severely punished.

  6. Retaliation towards another user over an offence towards identity regardless of justification will be considered a violation and a severe enforcement action will be taken.

  7. Using identity politics to appeal an enforcement action or justify violating a rule will be severely punished.


  1. Using identity politics as an intimidation tactic to get your way or to deflect criticism by "Playing the Victim Card" will be severely punished.

There might be some other too but I don't know.

  • 6
    Not going to solve anything. There already is a ban on off-topic content. You can't ban refering to someone in the third person. It's not entirely avoidable even on the driest of technical sites so there is no way around addressing this eventually. You could theoretically ban all expression of sex/gender/etc in avatars to avoid the issue, but to do that you would have to force everyone to be anonymous and that wouldn't rhyme with the desire to show off your skills which is part of the motivation to participate here.
    – Pekka
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:05
  • 35
    The clarification of the CoC isn’t about identity politics, it’s about being nice. Some people don’t understand that using the wrong pronoun for someone when you’ve been told the correct one isn’t nice, so the CoC was updated to make sure that would be clear. Don’t get me started on the FAQ, but the CoC shouldn’t cause anyone any grief.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:05
  • 2
    Could you explain what, exactly, "identity politics" is? Who've explained what is a "part" of it, but not what it is.
    – user245382
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:06
  • 8
    @House: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics
    – user102937
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:08
  • 6
    Telling people that they should just shut up about it already is not likely to be conducive to constructive discourse. Oct 29, 2019 at 19:25
  • 3
    @ColleenV But the FAQ is there and it isn't going anywhere and it is about identity politics. In most cases when people say CoC they actually mean CoC + FAQ + CM answers in the feedback post. There seems to be a lot of identity politics there. Oct 29, 2019 at 19:27
  • 5
    @ColleenV Lately, being nice is used as a euphemism (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism) for identity politics.
    – dfhwze
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:29
  • @Goyo You’ll get no argument from me, but Warlock should be more explicit about what “identity politics” is referring to.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:29
  • 4
    @dfhwze I wasn’t using it as a euphemism. I meant it in the sense of being respectful/not rude.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:31
  • @ColleenV Certainly the question is not very well written and clear. I guess it might be asking for something like this answer by Robert Harvey Oct 29, 2019 at 19:55
  • 5
    @Goyo The author conflates “identity” with “identity politics” - who knows what they’re looking for?
    – ColleenV
    Oct 29, 2019 at 20:00
  • @ColleenV Yeah, I find that confusing too. Oct 29, 2019 at 20:06
  • 8
    This question could be improved by adding some concrete examples. For instance, suppose I call Joel Spolsky a homophobic slur in chat. If he complains, he gets punished under (2); if someone calls over the mods to delete my message, they get "severely punished" under (5). If that's not what you intend to happen, you should say so in the question. Oct 29, 2019 at 20:53
  • 1
    @LeopoldsaysReinstateMonica I don't see how identity politics (or identity at all) is involved in your scenario. (5) as written would apply but not (2). Oct 29, 2019 at 21:52
  • 1
    @gbjbaanb The conversation starts with an explicit request for clarification. Since we don't know whether they will respond, speculating looks fine to me. We can ping only one user in comments and pinging the OP is wasteful since they are pinged automatically, we know they are being notified of every comment. And of course there is a clear implication that the OP is a human and is more than welcome to join the conversation, clarify anything we don't understand and prove our guesses wrong (or right). Oct 30, 2019 at 17:59

5 Answers 5


"Identity politics" is not a widespread problem in posts

People's identity is part of who they are definitively. And, as such, it leaks through in many ways. Some intentional and conscious, some not.

In general, talking about your identity is not really common from a network-wide view, and even when that does happen the amount of problems it causes is extremely small. The number of cases where having benign personal information in something causes significant problems to the site is simply very low. As you mention, especially outside of SO, this information might actually be highly relevant.

Banning people from talking about themselves would be a nightmare to moderate and cause more issues

Banning any talk of anything related to any kind of identity would be creating even more problems as moderators would have to police comments for any kind of identifying information (eg age, body size, disability, ethnicity, sex characteristics, gender identity and expression, nationality, personal appearance, political views, kinks, race, religion, or sexual identity and orientation) or discussion even when it is otherwise not causing any problems. And as any moderator will tell you, removing/editing comments and answers often causes disruption/controversy even when the cause is just. Doing so for the ambiguous reason of removing "identity politics" would be unjustifiably bad and there is absolutely nothing to be gained from doing so.


I feel like the argument you're making is a red herring.

Does anyone on here think that a blanket ban on identity politics related content should be enacted unless it is in the context of an appropriate question or on an appropriate SE site?

This implies that people regularly talk about these kinds of things and that it has become an extensive issue, when the CoC change is much, much more narrow than this.

You're right when you say that there are two sides to this -

  • there are the technical Exchange sites who don't really assign an identity to an OP beyond "OP" and are only focused on code; and
  • there are the non-technical interpersonal Exchange sites which would prescribe identification.

Basically the table stakes for everyone is that you don't call someone what they don't want to be called, period. There's enough in the way of being able to deal with trolls or people who just want to argue in the CoC that I don't believe that it'd be such a big deal if we stuck to just this interpretation.

  • 5
    Now I know this is getting into a semantical argument here but, in regards to the pronoun wars, I fully agree that you wouldn't call someone "dickhead" because that is clearly a name meant to insult someone. But pronouns are in themselves, not insulting or offensive. They are not like racial slurs or profanity. So it really should not be treated in the same way calling someone a mean name would be treated.
    – WAR10CK
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:49
  • 20
    @WAR10CK purposeful misgendering can be just as (and even more ) insulting than using some other slur or expletive. Oct 29, 2019 at 19:56

"Blanket" solutions are what got us into this mess to begin with.

Moreover, if we were to ban identity politics, one of the first casualties would be your question (which would obviously need to go, since it asks about identity politics).

In short, the ban would not be wise, nor would it put out the current fires.

At this point, I don't think we need a longer list of rules or outright bans on taboo topics. Language is too gray for that to be feasible.

I think we'd have a better chance of "moving forward" by taking a few small steps backwards. We could right that one most glaring, recent wrong, and then drift back to the Exchange's simpler roots: common sense, being nice, and a flexible theory of moderation.

Sadly, though, none of that seems likely to happen.

Despite the price, despite the cost
Despite the good that we had lost
The sandlot lines were hastily drawn
And the band played on

With no regrets, without remorse
They forged ahead and stayed the course
A tumult met with one big yawn
As the band played on

Despite mistakes, despite past flaws
They clung to one preem'nent cause
Our former trust and concord gone
Yet the band played on

A giant rift, a great divide
A one-time pillar cast aside
To push a brand-new lexicon
While the band played on


A ban on "identity politics" could not be enforced, but that's not what this is.

The definition of "identity politics" is, and I'm paraphrasing here based on multiple sources, when certain groups (genders, sexualities, races) prioritize their own concerns related to their specific identity and exclusively join with people of that same identity to amend those concerns.

In agreement with this comment, you're confusing "identity" with "identity politics". This isn't about trans/nonbinary people banding together to coerce SE into pandering to their wants, nor will you be blackballed for making a mistake in regards to pronouns. The goal of the new CoC (stripping away all the bad moves SE made and the cluster-screw of Monica's removal) is to just be respectful.

No one likes being called something they aren't. If I insisted on referring to a man by "she/her" pronouns, even after he asked me to stop and clarified that he's a man, I'm just being disrespectful. And it isn't just about being offended, or having hurt feelings. Misgendering trans/nonbinary individuals can cause them psychological harm and exacerbate gender dysphoria. Not misgendering someone is doing them a gigantic favor.

Now, let's say that this was all about identity politics and political correctness and not about protecting trans people. There's no feasible way that we could enforce a ban on identity politics. The term itself is extremely open-ended and could be interpreted in many, many ways. Arguably, there are good and bad identity politics. The enforcement of this ban would be almost entirely subjective, and most likely all removals would be contested. That would just create more division, not less.

  • 1
    Oh thx. I wish more people would read Wierzbicka, or doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70329-9 or DOI: 10.1177/1745691616659391 While digging trenches, we find surprising neighbours, sometimes. Alas, even 'nominally on the same side' it seems that "that's where the bloodiest struggle starts"? I completely agree on your stance on "ban". But we seem to need an informed discussion. Now, where's that ;) Oct 29, 2019 at 21:47

No. Such a ban is unnecessary and would not have the effect you seek.

Much of the public discussion of identity politics issues takes place here in Meta, where the way groups of users are affected by SE policies and design are very much on topic. Your ban allows discussion of identity politics where relevant, so it would have no effect here.

If there are existing discussions of identity politics (or of any other topic) on sites or questions where it's not relevant, then those discussions are already off-topic and subject to removal.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .