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There is a longstanding tradition in chess that players - even in the abstract - are referred to using male pronouns: "Black can improve his position", "White has lost his bishop" etc. This now seems pretty dated, and out of keeping with modern goals of gender neutrality etc.

Is there support here for:

  • making this a formal policy/guideline,
  • strongly encouraging participants to avoid "he" (in favour of "they" or just rewording the sentence) in both questions and answers,
  • encouraging people to edit other people's questions/answers to correct this?

(To be super clear: this has nothing to do with using (or not using) pronouns for actual known players or participants on this site. "Kasparov lost his bishop" is fine, as is "Steve has lost his mind".)

EDIT

Questions that are related but not duplicates:

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  • I don't think the question that this was closed as a duplicate of is even about this topic. – Steve Bennett Jun 1 at 10:33
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    What's wrong with letting each contributor write his or her questions/answers in the way that feels more natural or intuitive, allowing focus to stay on the content rather than on whether or not they're fitting an ever-increasing list of formal requirements? – David Jun 2 at 17:44
  • The problem, I guess, is that you could make exactly that same comment if my question was about not including blatant homophobia or racism. Presumably you wouldn't make such a comment in that situation, so is there something more specific to this particular question that you can say? – Steve Bennett Jun 2 at 23:58
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    The difference is that sexual orientation and race are not a basic grammatical feature of the English language, while gendered 3rd person pronouns are. All you get is "he/she/it/they", and none of them make any assumptions about race or sexual orientation – David Jun 3 at 7:53
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    I don't agree with the premise of the question but I gave an upvote because it is a valid question to clarify. – qwr Jun 12 at 21:47
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  • making this a formal policy/guideline

Chess Stack Exchange is part of the Stack Exchange network and abides by the same policy as all other sites.

The official policy on this matter is this:

  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.

Note the word beneficial, that means it is not required. In the linked question, you can see an example where the disadvantages (mass bumping old posts, changing quotes) outweighed the advantages of gender-neutral language. This is not just the collective opinion of Chess Stack Exchange; the Q&A on Meta Stack Exchange indicates a similar sentiment.

strongly encouraging participants to avoid "he" (in favour of "they" or just rewording the sentence) in both questions and answers

Given the episode above, I don't think (but I could be wrong) that there is much support for this here. It took me a couple of years to get used to "singular they" and now I use it more or less consistently (occasionally using "he/she" because that's how it works in my native language). I'd say: lead by example. Chess is still a rather conservative world, you can't really expect it to be on the forefront of a movement like this.

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    Maybe I'm quibbling, but I don't think "black" and "white" are "hypothetical or generic person[s]" when we are analysing a position. They are just a set of pieces, with no implied person even present. So I don't entirely agree that the collective opinion applies here: that would be about making sure that "nurse" is not assumed to be female, I'm saying that "black" is not even human, and does not have gender. – Steve Bennett Jun 2 at 11:08
  • "Chess is still a rather conservative world, you can't really expect it to be on the forefront of a movement like this." - I don't. I actually think it's already lagging many years, probably decades, behind. Absolutely no risk of chess taking a progressive position on gender, don't worry. :) – Steve Bennett Jun 2 at 11:09
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    @SteveBennett from how it's used in other langauges, either English is a weird exception or "Black" and "White" are indeed referring to the players – David Jun 2 at 17:45

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