While browsing various Stack Exchange sites + the private one I am currently administrating where I work I see that many profiles still show the classic About me placeholder:

Apparently, this user prefers to keep an air of mystery about them.

I could not help but link this placeholder to the never-ending discussions about pronoun usage and its enforcement by SE.

If I remove my About me text now I see another text:

(Your about me is currently blank.)

Click here to edit

So, clearly the initial placeholder is not used after a custom About me text is saved.

I am wondering if this placeholder text will be affected by all these pronoun usage related changes (SE missed a spot) or it is not linked to the newest rules (although it is the message someones sees in their profile).

Question: Will the old "about me" message be affected by these recent pronoun usage rules?

  • 1
    Related: 1, 2, 3.
    – tchrist
    Nov 16, 2019 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


The code of conduct says:

Be inclusive and respectful.

Prefer gender-neutral language when uncertain.

Since the system doesn't know the user's gender, it reverts to the gender-neutral 'them'.

  • It makes sense. Thanks.
    – Alexei
    Nov 16, 2019 at 7:37

If you don’t like being referred to as “them” then you can put this in your About Me:

Apparently, this user prefers to keep an air of mystery about [insert your pronoun here]

(Or, you know, change the entire message to pretty much anything else.)

The system does not know your pronouns (by design, to prevent people from abusing it I guess), so it uses gender neutral them, as the CoC specifies.

  • You are right about customizing the message. My question is also a little bit of irony of the tremendous effort put by SE in relation to the pronoun usage.
    – Alexei
    Nov 16, 2019 at 15:58

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