re: What words we should avoid? VIEW POST


I've been thinking more about this, and the one I forgot was "all specific pronouns".

For a really long time, software documentation (especially open source) has pushed against the trend by using the pronoun "she" to refer to developers. "When a programmer decides to write a device driver, she usually thinks to do it in C", sort of thing.

The first demonstration user of a system is female - see any description of Alice and Bob.

That's kind of nice, and it's kind of jarring because we've been historically so used to reading "he" as the default pronoun for centuries.

But we don't want jarring, and "he" now reads just as badly to me. There's nothing wrong with using "they" in documentation and examples.

I notice on here, and on Twitter especially, a lot of people use "he" by default still, especially those for whom English is a second or third language. Teaching English as a foreign language either hasn't caught up with modern sensibilities or the speaker's native language has a firmer demand for a male default that they carry over.

We should encourage everyone to re-phrase documentation which refers to anyone with a gender-specific pronoun.

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