Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Anti-harassment/Add gender options to user preferences - how do you prefer to be described

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Add gender options to user preferences - how do you prefer to be described

  • Problem: Germany will add the third gender option by the end of the year, about a dozen nations in the world already recognize more than two genders
  • Who would benefit: everyone who wants to be addressed in another way as he / she / neutral
  • Proposed solution: Either add two more radio button to the preferences page (female / male / divers / other). Or allow free text for self determination of one's gender.


  • See previous discussion at T61643. And I note MediaWiki already supports three options that serve as "male", "female", and "neutral"; wikt:divers#German indicates that "divers" means "various, diverse, miscellaneous" which would seem to correspond to the third. Anomie (talk) 00:23, 6 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • The three options supported by MediaWiki at the moment are actually "male", "female", "do not disclose". This matches a bit the past german law of having a birth certificate with a gender entry of male or female or to leave the entry open. However the german constitual court ruled last year that there has to be another option apart from having no entry, as persons not male and not female do belong to an own gender, that by now has been named "divers". In english there are the personal pronouns he, she and they. That should be matched in wiki mesaages that address a person with the approbiate personal pronoun. I oppose however the free text option, as this would require large changes to the wiki software. --𝔊 (Gradzeichen DiſkTalk) 17:32, 6 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      • The default English description "When mentioning you, the software will use gender neutral words whenever possible" says nothing along the lines of "do not disclose". As far as I can tell the German description doesn't say anything like "do not disclose" either. Anomie (talk) 17:57, 6 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
        • But that is the point of the ruling: People belonging to the third gender have a right to be addressed with their correct gender and not to stay neutral (even so some - some - consider themselves as neutral). uselang=qqx displays this:
          • (yourgender)
          • (parentheses: (gender-unknown))
          • (gender-female)
          • (gender-male)
          • (prefs-help-gender)
        The gender of people belonging to the third gender are not "gender-unknown" (unless voluntary choosing to not disclose their gender)
        --𝔊 (Gradzeichen DiſkTalk) 19:40, 6 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
          • @Gradzeichen: Would you have an example for "addressing with their correct gender" which is not "neutral" in German? Asking as w:de:MediaWiki:Gender-unknown currently seems to use male forms (while for example w:fr:MediaWiki:Gender-unknown instead says that the software will try to use neutral terms when possible). --AKlapper (WMF) (talk) 03:36, 7 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
            • No, I do not have an example, I am not part of the community. But the wishlist is about technical issues. The issue is "adding an option" to conform with law and society. The current text reflects an use of the technical options. This texts can be changed, if the software supports more than two options. You touch a very sensitive situation with this. German wikipedia uses in its texts "Generisches Maskulinum". While I am very in favor of that, german society is changing. The german equivalent of "political correct" is "Geschlechtergerechte Sprache". German Wikipedia might actually change from generic masculinum to gender approbiate language. If that happens, than one thing that could not stand, is that the neutral text (generic maskulinum) is identical to the male text. In such a case it would become unavoidable to have different texts for male, female, divers, unknown. The german parliament will sign the law on the third gender in november, it will become operational before new year. The question is: Will Wikipedia adapt to this, making Wikipedia a forerunner, or will Wikipedia wait for a shitstorm to happen, and than be forced to find a solution fast. --𝔊 (Gradzeichen DiſkTalk) 14:41, 7 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
              • Wikipedia in German is not only created by German contributors, but anyone who speaks German, including Swiss and Austrians. So I see no reason why Wikipedian should abide to German government decisions. Implementing changes now will not, in itself, prevent controversy. As a rather good German speaker, I really wonder what this "correct address" might look like. I never came across it in Swiss or German newspapers, even left-winged. I'm strongly for a "wait and see" policy. --Braveheidi (talk) 01:01, 17 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • There is no gender option in MediaWiki. The current wording of the preference clearly says "how do you want to be described". The distinction is small, but very important. This means the user can choose their preference regardless of their actual gender identity. The current three options are a compromise between what is available in natural languages and what can easily be mapped across languages – this is a cross-language feature. --Nikerabbit (talk) 10:27, 14 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • The real problem is lack of respect for the existing preference, as use of the gender function or variants of the strings to the gender function are removed or overridden at several projects. Thus I don't believe the solution would be to increase the number of variants. — Jeblad 07:51, 18 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • As others; everywhere this debate comes up. Gender is biologically unary, binary, or in some rare cases (referring to humans) trinary. Gender is NOT gender identity. it's the terms that cause so many issues. Adding options such an option beyond a potential user page box, is just asking for trouble. A quick google/bing/duck of the Linux CoC situation will show just how messy such processes are.Lostinlodos (talk) 01:48, 19 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • This request as described cannot be implemented. There is no way translators can work with "divers" or, even worse, free text option. I propose this proposal to be closed and the voting to be stopped. --Nikerabbit (talk) 15:37, 22 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • @Nikerabbit: some languages support more than one plural. Similarly, it seems trivial to support more than two genders and fall back to unkown in languages which do no have a neutral gender. OTOH are there any languages where the "third gender" (whatever it is) would actually be different from "unkown"? AIUI gender is used for grammatical gender (not pronouns, which seem to be the main focus of political debates, since there is no reason the UI would ever address the current user in third person), and I'm not aware of any language with more than three grammatical genders. --Tgr (talk) 04:37, 25 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Note that some languages has variants that does not agree. For example in Norwegian the Nynorsk variant (official) uses maskulinum, femininum, and neutrum. The Bokmål variant (official) uses maskulinum, femininum has become weak, and neutrum, while Riksmål variant (unofficial) uses utrum, femininum has almost disappeared, and neutrum. Note that this is gender, which does not always follow the sex. If you show respect to a female you tend to use utrum in Norwegian, which is opposite of German where you show respect by using femininum. Not sure if there are any specific common form here. Note also that some languages has a concept of a women-man. I'm not sure whether this has propagated into the genus. Some languages has even incorporated the speakers gender into the mix, so what gender has Wikipedia? Has Wikisource the same gender? The speakers gender is fixed, which simplifies this a lot. — Jeblad 11:06, 26 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • @Tgr and Jeblad: MediaWiki does not currently support talking about groups of people, but cldr has data about it. This is not about grammatical gender of words either, {{GRAMMAR}} is for that. Why do you assume this should (only) affect the person itself? This is exactly for pronouns and verbs (like Russian in past tense) when referring to other users in third person singular, in languages used by other users where gendered forms exists, because using the wrong gender form would be incorrect and rude. Politeness level is also handled elsewhere (using -(in)formal variants, having problems of their own). --Nikerabbit (talk) 15:40, 26 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, but this does not make sense to me. It is about gender, but not about gender? In Norway there were an attempt to create a third gender for third person singular in the 80s. It has not catched on. — Jeblad 20:29, 27 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • My main concern about this proposal is that I feel like the free text part would be difficult to implement especially when it comes to being able to have it in different languages. Saederup92 (talk) 13:15, 27 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]