An Argument for Non-Gendered User IDs?

Starting with this:

Speaking While Female, and at a Disadvantage

Women’s voices are often missing and discounted in public affairs, even when they have seats at the tables of power. They speak less, make fewer motions and are more often subject to negative interruptions. Similar patterns prevail online.
Women’s silence also extends to discussion of public affairs on the internet, where women’s voices are outnumbered by three to one in news comments, according to data from the University of Sydney and Stanford University.

A similar imbalance is seen in comments to articles in The New York Times. About a quarter of comments have identifiably female names, another study showed. Women’s participation was highest in stereotypically female subject areas such as parenting, fashion and health.

First, is it true online? Is it true in The Hive?

If true, would non-gendered IDs eliminate the difference or would gender "leak thru"?

What other practice might help? Perhaps the automated "You're posting too much" messages like The Hive has? Something else?

I'm personally not sure to what extent it's true in The Hive. I guess from my limited observation it does seem to be the case that men are "speaking" more than women, but there seem to be actively-involved women as well. I think gender might still "leak through" even behind non-gendered IDs, even if only by means of self-identification, but it's an interesting thought and idea. Under certain circumstances though, such as when the subject of conversation is related to sex &/or gender, sexual assault, misogyny, etc., where I think women's voices should be particularly honored, a user ID name that most would recognize as "feminine" might help guys be more mindful of trying not to "speak over" them, but ideally it shouldn't matter.

Incidentally, my own gendered user name didn't help me in that manner over here. In fact, that recent exchange, where no moderator jumped in despite comment flagging, and no assistance from other commenters (except for a supportive personal message from clunkertruck) came, made me seriously question whether I could consider this community home and whether I should bother commenting at all. (I don't mean to blame other commenters here, since there were other threads they were probably commenting on at the time, and the world doesn't even remotely revolve around me, etc.)

I realize the OP is framed more broadly than my response, so I'll try to get back to that. I'm honestly not that sure about other concrete practices to try. You may already be familiar with the strategy that women in the Obama administration have used to amplify each other's voices. There might be something along those lines that can be attempted, not just by women but by men here as well.

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I think it's a rare occurance here that a women gets told to go make a sandwich. On the other hand, I'm not a woman. I think a discussion of this will necessarily require a lot of female input, in terms of their perception of how they are treated and whether they feel they are taken seriously. I will reserve further input to this discussion until more of that arises.


Tone is obviously difficult to capture in writing, so I am trying to be charitable when I ask whether you would consider anything more subtle than telling a woman to go make a sandwich to be problematic? How about this comment on an article about sexual assault, where ronbyers says, "Seriously, all the problems in the world and this is the story you run." In other words, sexual assault of dozens of women is less important than other problems in the world, and it's unremarkable because sexual assault has always been a thing (this last part from another of his comments). That's just what I saw today.

Now a moderator has messaged me saying that the thread I linked in my previous comment was only an example of another commenter being "a bit condescending, but only that." I beg to differ.

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And I also referenced a story about sexual assault that had real national news value, but you over looked that didn't you. I think you might be confused about my position on sexual assault. I am against it. Have been my whole life. I also think it is an important topic, but some stories are local and others are national. The Wisconsin story is local. The BYU story is national. Why, because Wisconsin has done the right thing throughout and BYU had to be pushed to do the right thing.

Perfect time and place to jump in with this defensive comment, I've gotta say! I saw you mention the other instance, but I disagree with your conclusion that it matters more than the one that TPM reported on. Who are YOU to make that determination? And how do you know yet that Wisconsin has "done the right thing throughout"? Based on what little, preliminary information is being reported now?

Of course I jumped in. You imply that I discount the importance of sexual assault. You don't know me and you are wrong. Just thought I would let you know how I feel. As to the "done the right thing" comment, I base it on the TPM article and the fact that the police have moved to seize the alleged perp's property.

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Actually, this very thread you are commenting on is NOT about how YOU feel.

Aaaand with that, I'm outta here. Any other women here who dare venture in here: you have my mad respect, and good luck.

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Never fear. Imagine my surprise, just now, seeing how someone has brooded over an old comment thread.
Thankfully, words speak for themselves...

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No but your comment does concern how I feel. Personally I don't really care about this comment thread because I am opposed to commentors using aliases in the first place. If you want my opinion of non-gendered user ids, I think it is cowardly. Not using a real name seems to give a lot of people the idea they can simply insult without responsibility for the pain they inflict.

Removed -- didn't contribute to discussion.

It is true online. It is very very true in more technical communities. As someone who's career and hobbies are/were in or very tech related I get this a LOT. There are only two small, community hobby boards in my decades online where I have not seen it last long. It still happens there. Both have small tight communities though and happily ban/run out of town anyone they decide doesn't fit. Happily harassing the rare females there annoys them enough.

I have not been at the Hive long enough to guess here. I even wonder my attempts to educate in the hacking and voter thread on tech are being dismissed in part due to my gender. But I then remember, on the internet I could be anyone. While I feel very well qualified to present the information I did, I did not, and will not post my resume. I absolutely won't post the two relatives resumes in tech/security either. And the participants may not know I am female anyway! But my impression here is important. I may get needlessly defensive. So even if no one here is dismissing me due to gender, past experiences do color my responses. I am more willing to just walk away than deal with it. In real life I'd deal with it promptly. So the defensiveness and the quick to disengage rather than even find out if this is that crap (again) is a factor.

And I will speak from experience a female. Gendered ids won't do squat. The people that want to harass women will look for cues and wait for someone to post something that discloses their gender. Since you also have to define gender it is very non-gender conformist unfriendly.

For example, before they decided to crack down on this themselves (and no they aren't one of the two private boards!) had a thing in your profile called "boobies". Once an admin guessed you were female, that field was updated to YES, with the date and a link to the post where they felt they had guessed your gender. A tad obvious no? :smile: I just looked, as I was going to link it but I guess they removed it as the site owner "grew". But for people who feel the need to know to harass they will still track, and accuse and harass. I am a very active computer gamer, just don't get me started on gamer gate. /cringe /stresshandflaps

IMHO, a sound, comprehensive anti-harassment policy that is enforced does work. But again, I've only seen weeding that aggressive on private, one owner hobby-based boards.

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I tell people who try to use their own authority as "experts" that they are only judged by their content, not who they claim to be. I only reference my own creds to explain why I harp on some stuff.

Games steal away limited time from real life. I was playing a neat game on my Commodore 64 one afternoon. I was new to it and exploring all the options. At the point I became tired, L glanced at the window and , from the light leaking around the shade, figured it as about 7 pm. It was actually 5 am and I had lost a night to gaming. Never again.

Having been a moderator on a large community, I would dread trying to separate "I hate your guts"/"I hate your position"/"I hate your incompetent posting"/"I hate your gender" type of motivations. And if only the latter carries special punishments, I can imagine the arguments that would ensue when it was invoked.

I was using the most extreme example to illustrate an event where women are not being taken seriously. This can take many forms.

I hope you can put aside your personal battle and contribute to the thread.

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Games are just another way of entertaining yourself, which I hope is part of your real life. Games can also be a way of relating to other people, as long as everyone knows the game.

I've used both ambiguous usernames (not intentionally), and identifiably female names (again, not intentionally). I don't hide who I am, but honestly - gender isn't something that drives my online interactions, it's ideas. I love a good or a great idea, one that makes me think, one that helps me look at things in ways I've never seen before. That's my dopamine. I've encountered the best of people and the worst of people online, and they've been of both genders. Yes, there can be male-dominated discussions, but that might be more of a proportional statistic than that women's voices aren't being heard.

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Now that I'm thinking about it, I love a bad idea too - because bad ideas are great for generating opposing good ideas. :wink:

Sounds like mansplaining. I have been posting long enough for the basics, thanks. I will try again and will try being more blunt and concise. I notice you are often and I appreciate that stance.

It is like trying to explain to a black person what to do at a traffic stop. They have your experience, with something added. And, unless its really bad, you can't tell if the interaction starts if it will be routine, routine with implicit bias, or outright looking for an excuse hostile. And even if it is biased/hostile, sometimes they hated your "type" but sometimes they are just having a really bad day and you happened to be the next contact. I was trying to explain that, poorly I guess. My experience is like yours, but with that added "not knowing" and lots and lots of added bias and hostility. Sometimes I can defuse it, but in some cases it is not possible.

So, please don't ask for female input on how it feels to post, and then respond with "you are doing it wrong". It does not help. It is akin to saying, "why didn't you reach for the registration slower?'.

Oh yes. :smile: And now I am retired I like that much more than I did when I was working. I even finish most of them I start ... now.

Apologies again. I almost edited. My key word was "comprehensive" in the anti-harassment. So why is not the issue. Are you discussing the difference in a way that inflames the community or in a way that informs it so people will not disengage. So a simple "don't harass". Period. That's best. As long as there isn't a caveat of "but if you are a female/golfer/foreign-born/NASCAR fan/Trump supporter/whatever" then it is ok to harass you. Just no. No exceptions. Otherwise yes, the moderators end up either having to, or seeming to pick sides and as you know that is ineffective.


Damn! And here I thought I was agreeing with you.

Probably. But if a poster goes too far out on a limb, it is easy to post a devastating response and not harass, just beat the other person's argument to a pulp. When we make a mistake in posting (misread someone's post or argument, or present a really weak justification, or just get basic facts wrong) the response can be gentle or not-gentle while still not falling into harassment. In any case, I chew myself out when I screw up a post and I suspect I'm not an outlier.

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