Why does the site say "them" instead of "him"?

“This is the first time Jonathan Boggio has posted — let’s welcome them to our community!“


I assume the software can’t distinguish man vs. woman so it uses the generic they/them.

Caleb nailed it. I’m just grateful that it doesn’t use some other bizarre made-up pronoun.


It could default to the masculine, but could you imagine? VC funding pulled. Tarred and feathered.

I “feel” like we’ve talked about this before actually. Some time back.

1 Like

In fairness, even just dealing with the two sexes God made us in makes for a bunch of extra code and data. You have to track the sex of every user (what about bot or shared accounts?) and then get the he/she, him/her, his/hers, himself/herself right every time.

Personally I’d probably recommend a style guide that avoided the use of pronouns, but third person plural seems to me like an OK compromise in 2021 America.


I’m reminded of a certain Picard quote.

1 Like

Actually, the software is fairly customizable. I might be able to replace those text messages. Any suggestions?

If you could replace “them” with first name, that would be pretty great.


That would be great, or can we force the user to select pronouns? I’d vote name over that though.

Can we change “them” to “him or her”?

Using the name seems awkward unless we can somehow pull out the first name only.

I’m ashamed for never noticing this before on any Discourse; thanks, Jeff.

1 Like

Who would trust people on the internet to select their own pronouns? I mean, present company excluded, of course. I’m not really sure that as a general rule asking users to select their own pronouns (!!!) is an improvement over awkward 3rd person plural constructions.


You’d disclose your sex, not suggest pronouns.


Apparently, eliding “him” or “her” to they/their/them and so on, has been a feature of English since the fourteenth century.

And then, there are languages where the third-person singular form is used for both genders. So, in Finnish, the form “han on” can mean, “he is” or “she is”, and the gender is derived from the context.

1 Like

Yeah, they/them for a particular person of unknown sex has been around for a long time. And I do prefer it to “him or her.” Both are somewhat awkward though.

1 Like

“Been around” vs “normal use” are two different things. Given our current context, I’d prefer forcing the user to choose (or defaulting to masculine— but the software won’t support that). But I admit I’m the type to shoot the Overton window to the right with a rail gun.

1 Like

Yeah, I agree with your framing, but that’s still asking people on the Internet to be trustworthy.

Persian, at least the form I learned, has no gendered pronouns at all. Demonstrative pronouns (this/that/these/those) are used exclusively. Hindi/Urdu is similar when it comes to pronouns, but nouns and adjectives are gendered, much like French or Spanish.

Much of this insanity is driven by insane English speakers and is not easily mapped to the rest of planet earth. Try explaining to a Mexican peasant what “Latinx” is and why it’s important.


Recently a Mexican professor of mine, a self-described liberal atheist, quietly took me aside because of my last name to ask me what I thought about the term ‘Latinx’. I told him I hated it. To which he replied, “me too”.

He then proceeded to bash woke white leftists who force the term onto the Spanish speaking world. Bash is an understatement. Lots of cussing.


I have heard this sentiment through other channels also.

If I were dictator-for-life of some third world country, I’d be seriously considering banning the teaching of English right now.