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Gender Field

Discussion in 'The Suggestion Box' started by Eagle4, Feb 10, 2013.

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  1. Eagle4

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    This was discussed briefly on IRC, and I think the general consensus was that there should be a little icon, perhaps next to your name, like Nidoran♂, where it indicates your gender. Maybe in the settings or something, there can be options such as male/female/prefer not to say which you can change any time.

    Just a suggestion ;)
  2. verbatim

    verbatim This will be the day
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    Generally speaking, if you are immersed enough into the community to care about the finite details of your profile, then chances are other people already know your gender anyways. This seems like it would really only be helpful to people trying to fake/broadcast their gender one way or another.
  3. Great Sage

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    The Smogon community is definitely mature enough that any correct information can reasonably be gleaned from the addition of this feature.
  4. Solace

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  5. jumpluff

    jumpluff princess
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    Unlocked with permission from Birkal. Thanks, dearie! I'd also like to thank Cathy for her thoughtful feedback on this post. <3

    Hello, everyone. While the original proposal was suggested in a kinda frivolous manner, I was involved in several recent IRC discussions about implementing a profile field for gender and would like to resubmit this suggestion in an alternative form. Instead of having an icon next to the username or some other unsightly addition, I think a profile field would probably suffice.

    Option 1


    A text field, in order to allow people to give the most accurate representation of their gender identity possible (I don't think we can really give a fair range of options in a dropdown menu, because there are many people who don't identify with the established gender binary and the range of gender identities people do have are quite diverse). This option would allow the most flexibility and detail of self-expression and ensure that nobody gets excluded.

    Option 2

    This was the most popular and agreed-upon option, after speaking with other staff, although it excludes many identities: an optional (i.e. not filled in by default at registration) profile-visible dropdown menu field as follows.

    Gender
    Your gender.
    * (blank value so you can unset it, also so it isn't filled at registration, like with the characteristic fields)
    * Male
    * Female
    * Other
    * Rather not say

    The 'other' option would be for those who do not identify with the traditional gender binary, and 'rather not say' for those who expressly choose not to divulge their gender and would like an easy way to inform others that they don't want to advertise this information. This option is different to simply leaving the option unspecified. These options are not final, by the way, but are simply a working model for the purposes of the proposal.

    I feel that this field would be useful for quite a few users and offers several important benefits, while really bringing zero drawbacks with them. First I would like to establish that the profile is generally used for two main things: a) to provide readers with relevant context and details on the user (when reading their posts or interacting with them, etc.), which I don't think is debatable b) as an outlet for self-expression and personalisation. I think b) is a little more debatable, but has a lot of precedent in Jumpman16's Pokémon/characteristic fields (which are really useless, let's be honest, unless you look at them as ways of expressing our interests, personality, and flavour), as well as the Location: tag being stripped from the Location field because people were using it for non-location-related things, as well as the fact we have custom titles, avatars, and signatures. I also think this also contributes to a) in that it lets us learn more about the users around us and who they are as people, as well as adding a lot of fun to the forums.

    Gender is a core attribute of people's identity and a very useful piece of contextual information. More to the point, it affects how you address people. Most people default to referring to others as male in the absence of a known preferred pronoun, which can lead to some unfortunate and awkward situations for non-male users who are regularly mistaken for male because of this. If you identify as male, this may not seem like a big deal to you simply because you may not know how it feels to be regularly misgendered due to the persistent assumption that everyone is male (especially on the internet) -- please stop to consider what you have taken for granted! Furthermore, users can be misgendered as male or female because of many other reasons, cultural assumptions, and gender-associated conventions, such as use of character avatars (people are regularly treated as their avatars, and pretty much no one uses an avatar that depicts their actual appearance), usernames (I might add that these can't be changed), posting styles, etc. This might be a one-off situation for some people, but for many other users it occurs on a regular basis (stop and think about it -- it's usually treated pretty lightly, but this goes back as far as forums history!). Those users presently have the option of setting their real name or specifying their gender in their signature/location, but really it would make considerably more sense to just have a gender field and dispel the confusion for all parties involved, especially as we shouldn't expect people to be comfortable revealing their names (and names don't always reveal gender).

    It can be inconvenient, annoying, and embarrassing to have your gender routinely mistaken. Recently I had to correct an incidence onsite of accidental misgendering in The Smog that was simply caused by unawareness of the user's gender, but it was preventable and I feel like we should look to avoid incidents like this in the future everywhere in the community where possible. Additionally, while I am cisgendered and I cannot profess to understand what it feels like to be misgendered as a transgendered person, I do know that it can be quite painful and damaging and I feel like this is a very small (in terms of resources/effort on our part) but very important concession we could make towards protecting people's feelings and fostering good attitudes in the community.

    Furthermore, it would make communication easier for a lot of people, and that can't be a bad thing! Trying to refer to someone with whom you're unfamiliar when you're unsure about their gender can be very awkward -- as I discussed on IRC recently, some people don't default to male terms of reference, instead preferring 's/he', singular 'they', or avoiding pronouns altogether, which can make things very complicated, and sometimes gender is a pertinent factor to discussion --, and if users who actually really cared about how they were addressed were able to specify this (at least insofar as a 'gender' field lets you specify how you want to be addressed...), it would make this a lot simpler for all parties concerned. I think this is huge utility, personally. You might make the argument that people already know each other's genders, except gender confusion is actually a constant subject that you might not be aware of if it doesn't happen to you, and this is really only the case for established members of the community -- new users may not know how a user chooses to be addressed, and vice versa. It can be awkward to ask someone's gender directly because it's often such a sensitive and even offensive issue and further can be misconstrued in a variety of many uncomfortable ways, so it would really make it simpler for everyone if this information was available (for those who care to make use of this option) proactively.

    Like any forum feature, this is open for potential abuse. I dispute that this is a truly legitimate concern in this context. Firstly I think that we should just address people how they ask to be addressed out of politeness and respect for other's feelings (which is why I wanted a preferred pronoun field, but whatever). I think the risk of making others uncomfortable via misgendering significantly outweighs the risk of falling for immature teenage boys pretending to be girls on the internet, which they have already done in multitudes of elaborate ways throughout Smogon's history. It is an exaggerated concern, in my opinion. If you address a troll as 'she' because they set their profile to indicate that they are female, what did you lose? Nothing. (I really don't get why people here are so insecure and afraid of the 'FAKE GIRL' menace in 2013.) Furthermore, people regularly put false information in other profile fields and we have taken the position of accepting that while still valuing their legitimate usages, as shown with the location and name fields. If people really wanna troll like that, then let them have their fun. It matters little. They already do it via other profile fields anyway. In fact, basically all information that is posted on these forums is identifying in some way and much of it could be false, yet that is not a convincing argument to shut the forums down!

    Some people don't really feel uncomfortable when they are misgendered, but they may still want to provide the information, the same as they might want to provide their name, publicise their age, list their location, etc., and that is perfectly understandable. It is a very immediate facet in how we identify other people.

    Of course, this is not an important issue for some people. Those people are lucky and lose nothing through the implementation of a gender field, except maybe the administrator implementing the field, who loses a short amount of time in adding something that makes things better for a lot of people. In fact, they have only to gain, in possibly correcting some incorrect assumptions they may have made about some other users. Either way, they are not required to fill out this field.

    I hope we can have a respectful conversation about this issue. If this is important to you, please speak up -- I'd love to hear from you. Thank you!
  6. Kristoph

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    I'd like to add that I've neither been to nor heard of any forum ever having any issues with a gender field, ever, of any kind. Seems like some sort of weird joke that anyone would even remotely resist such an obvious and nonproblematic feature.
  7. jumpluff

    jumpluff princess
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    Kristoph raises a good point, in that a) this is hardly the first time this has been asked for and b) this is a pretty standard feature across forums. Neither point by itself is reason to add the feature, but a) does suggest that there is demand (which lends support to the argument that there is utility in such a feature, and that people would make use of it, in which case I don't see why it would harm anyone to add it, given the arguments I've raised).
  8. Worldtour

    Worldtour aka Swamp-Rocket
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    I think Jumpluff's version is a good idea. There is almost nothing as embarrasing as describing what someone did just to realize that you credited their gender incorrectly. This is a case in which you often will not know the person very well, and it really makes you feel like a huge idiot. Even then, if you know a person somewhat well, its not like they will just come out and say "hey I'm male/female," and sometimes the implications you have made just simply aren't true.

    It wouldn't really hurt to implement it either.
  9. Oglemi

    Oglemi THE DREAM IS REAL
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    I support jumpluff and all of her endeavors to the fullest extent that is humanly possible

    I AM NOT A FEMALE

    SRSLY
  10. v

    v a cosmic hiccup shrieking "i exist,"
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    close enough
  11. Elevator Music

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  12. Cathy

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    I support a gender profile field, and I would recommend a textbox rather than a drop down box. I was dismissive of the idea in 2009, but my position has since changed.

    I think a lot of people might find it hard to see the utility of a gender field because they're in the majority of users whose genders are correctly assumed (i.e. because they're male and most people are assumed to be male in this community). But when you're not in that majority (either because you are female or because people assume you are female and you're not), it can be very awkward to be misgendered. Even correcting people can be awkward because it might look like you are trying to draw attention to something that a lot of people claim to consider trivial. It's a lot easier to just deal with this proactively with a profile field.
  13. RitterCat

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    [​IMG]
    We should use this to show gender

    But yeah pluff's option 2 sounds just fine, this would be really helpful for some and inconsequential for those who don't need it
  14. Kristoph

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    So why not option 1? "Most flexibility and detail of self-expression" and "nobody gets excluded" seem like pretty nice things to me.

    Happy to see you around here again, Cathy.
  15. Aurora

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    I wholeheartedly support the idea of a gender field; I can't see anything wrong with it and I can't see how it would adversely affect anything or cause disruption of some sort. I'm more of a fan of the first option, however, as a drop-down menu is quite limiting and some users may not identify with any of the predetermined options ("Other" is far too broad; I prefer specifics to broad definitions), while a dynamic and customised gender field would avoid issues such as the aforementioned one (not everyone would identify with "Male" or "Female", I'd expect, and "Other", as mentioned, is broad and too ambiguous.)
  16. jumpluff

    jumpluff princess
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    Yes, I agree with this (as well as Cathy and Aurora, who expressed the same stance). This is the option I personally endorse as well -- I included option 2 as an alternative because it's the one we agreed on in the conversation senior staff had about the matter, but I don't think it has any real advantages over option 1, only limitations.
  17. Layell

    Layell Alas poor Yorick!
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    If option 1 is chosen it will just go the way of locations. The current choices in option 2 should suffice and if there is demand for further identification that can still be added.
  18. jumpluff

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    I feel like this is really minor. The field would only be visible in the profile, and people can already put whatever shit they feel like in their location, name, instant messaging, favourite Pokémon, home page URL, signature, and if applicable, custom title fields. And they do. I've seen the friend code fields abused, lol. Meanwhile I've actually had people come up and tell me they'd make use of the text field to specify something that wouldn't be in the drop down menu, so, I dunno, I feel like it'd make sense to just give people the freedom to express their gender accurately rather than exclude people with vague, awkward labels.

    For what it's worth, I see more people make use of the analogous real name text field 'legitimately' than as a custom title. I do agree with you that if those of us who support Option 1 are overruled and we go with Option 2, we should consider carefully what further identification can be added to best accommodate people, though.
  19. Redew

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    I really don't see what the big deal is, and like pluff said, if someone decides to troll and use it incorrectly, what real harm have they done? Honestly, I already thought that there was something like this on the About Me tab, but I guess I was wrong, haha. Anyway, I don't see how this could hurt the community in any way in terms of permanent damage (or any, really), so, yeah, supporting.
  20. Birkal

    Birkal We have the technology.
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    There really isn't any need for more discussion; the consensus here is that this should happen. Senior staff will work together to decide between the two options listed here and which is more feasible. Thanks for taking the lead on this, pluff.
  21. Birkal

    Birkal We have the technology.
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    With Cathy's help, jumpluff's Option 1 has been implemented; it shows up in the "About Me" tab and can be edited under Edit Your Details in the User Control Panel.
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