On Chess.SE, there's a user who is suggesting pronoun-only edits. And I mean lots of edits. Some even change quotes.

Is there an official policy regarding such edits? Should they be approved (improve the post) or rejected (no improvement whatsoever)?

  • 14
    If they are wrong, they should rejected. There isn't anything wrong in using he when referring to a male person or a person who said he should be used to refer him. Those edits are just adding confusion.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 11:50
  • 1
  • 2
    @kiamlaluno question is what to do when the post is general and does not refer to a specific gender. Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 11:54
  • Of course, the post I linked doesn't address the point of someone going on to do mass edits... Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 11:55
  • 3
    @ShadowWizardisVaccinating If the user just edits pronouns when there is something else that needs to be fixed, the edits should be rejected. I am not even sure that editing the pronouns like that would always be the correct action to take.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 11:56
  • 18
    What strikes me as odd that they even fix the pronouns in quotes from external resources, where the external resource simply isn't gender neutral written, at all.
    – rene
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 11:59
  • 15
    @rene is correct, changing quote inside a post is wrong, period. It's like changing code on Stack Overflow: we just don't do it. Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 12:01
  • 4
    The edits are trivial and unsupported, it looks like you are doing the correct thing; overall the person has so many rejections that the problem may correct itself shortly. --- To the general question: If any reason to review / flag / etc. is correct then it's not "wrong" to use it. --- Trivial edits are for those with editing privileges; who often spot additional improvements, pick better posts to bump, and don't bother the reviewers. -- Different sites, different (unofficial) policy about bumping; YMMV. -- Reject away.
    – Rob
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 12:05
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    @rene It's even more odd because nobody would write [they] when referring to a person.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 12:09
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    @kiamlaluno I would, when not knowing the person's gender. I was introduced to it on SE, and use it everywhere else now, with success. Read this nice blog post about it. Times are changing. Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 12:34
  • @kiamlaluno oh, no. Thought you mean just "they". :) Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 12:42
  • 2
    @ShadowWizardisVaccinating No, that's not how I quote what a person says. (Times could be changing, but something is immutable.)
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 12:45
  • 7
    @kiamlaluno I think the editor uses [] to indicate that it's an edit from an 'outsider' and not part of the original text, as in changing I think, while I consider a long phrase of irrelevant text that is going to be edited out for legibility, not can be edited to I think [....] not
    – Jan Doggen
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 13:38
  • I noticed they're inclusive of other species too: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/74769
    – PeterJ
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 13:19

2 Answers 2


Well — your examples are being handled appropriately.

It is worth considering both the spirit and letter of the overall rules.

In cases where it is a specific person — I think the intent is to have the correct pronoun. Editing someone who is indisputably "he" or "she" to "they" certainly doesn't match the spirit of "call people by their correct pronouns". In many of these cases, considering that the people in question are public figures, looking them up should be trivial. Using the singular they here might be incorrect in many of these cases (though if it is correct, maybe adding the source to the edit summary is a great idea).

Likewise — where a text uses a specific set of gender specific pronouns — it is for the body that is writing it to choose to switch to a neutral set of pronouns. A quotation is a quotation, and ought to be exactly as the source is.

As such, a good chunk of the edits here are bogus and counter-productive and ought to be rejected.


This was already discussed in pronouns FAQ clarifications and looks reasonable:

From Catija:

There's two separate cases, which is, I think, where the struggle here lies. In all cases, mass edits are bad. Please don't seek out edits to make.

  1. A post speaks of a hypothetical or generic person. In this case, unless the gender somehow matters to the post, being gender neutral is beneficial.
  • Be very careful that the edits don't harm the post or make it confusing. This is particularly the case in code.
  • Be aware that suggesting pronoun-only edits should be acceptable but do be certain to correct more than just the pronouns. If there are spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors, fix those, too.
  1. A post speaks of an actual person. In this case, unless you know the pronouns are incorrect AND you know that the person is generally known on Stack Exchange to have identified their pronouns, do not make the gender neutral.
  • It's possible the poster actually knows the correct pronouns.
  • If you know their pronouns from elsewhere, disclosing them yourself can "out" them to a community where they wished to be anonymous.

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