Neopronouns or trolling?

by Laurel   Last Updated October 19, 2019 18:24 PM

It’s the 112 rep question: Am I looking at someone’s legitimate pronouns or trolling?

(It’s unfortunate I have to ask, but this is just where we are right now.)

I’ve seen “my pronouns are [insert ridiculous fake stuff here]” trolling recently (in posts) when before I never did. Also stuff that looks to be trolling, but could also maybe not be. Trolls deserve red flags while everyone else specifying pronouns does not, right?

Some neopronouns are clearly legitimate. Some trolling is clearly trolling. But unfortunately there’s a big grey area where it’s not clear to me what is what.

Does anyone have a good method for dealing with this? There just doesn’t even seem to be a good way to ask about someone’s specified pronouns in such a way that doesn’t sound insulting if the user isn’t trolling.


Note: A while ago, I did some research on neo-/third person pronouns which can be found here. There are several important things I found:

  • There are more neopronouns than I could ever hope to keep track of
  • The most popular neopronouns are very uncommon. On the other end of the spectrum, it looks like some neopronouns are neologisms used by a single person
  • Some neopronouns come from unlikely places, such as SciFi


Answers 3


Use your common sense. There's another list here and while it's not exhaustive, the pronouns there are all short words bearing some kind of similarity with the common pronouns, he/she/they.

I’ve seen “my pronouns are [insert ridiculous fake stuff here]” trolling recently (in posts) when before I never did.

Those posts are worthy of being mod-flagged, maybe even rude/abusive as we normally do for trolls. The current situation is hard enough already without pranksters.

But unfortunately there’s a big grey area where it’s not clear to me what is what.

Yes, I feel that with the current version of the Code of Conduct it's inevitable. The simplest option might be just to stop participating and move on.

Glorfindel
Glorfindel
October 19, 2019 17:08 PM

Does anyone have a good method for dealing with this?

No.

It's a catch-22.

If you say someone is trolling and they aren't, then you're guilty of being insensitive, yet, at the same time it can be (ab)used by some users to enforce ridiculous (again, me calling it ridiculous can be problematic too) pronouns.

To quote Cesar M regarding this exact issue:

I can't give you a definitive answer because it will depend on case by case.

Conversely, this is also what's causing a lot problems recently.

Who can really judge someone's motivations, especially over the Internet.

Script47
Script47
October 19, 2019 17:20 PM

The two are not mutually-exclusive.

But unfortunately there’s a big grey area where it’s not clear to me what is what.

The essence of a successful troll lies in that grey area. If I show up on your Harry Potter fan site and my first post is "HARRY POTTER SUXX!", that's probably just going to get me banned. If I post "My favorite Harry Dresden character is Gandalf!" I might get a few bites - there's a small chance I'm just really clueless. But if I jump into a discussion of Merlin with an encyclopedic knowledge of Le Morte D'Arthur, then I might be able to string you along for a good while before you realize that I have no knowledge of nor interest in Harry Potter's Merlin... And if I'm really good, I'll be able to get the entire forum arguing over it before you catch on that this is my real intent. Doubt and ambiguity are fertile soil for trolling...

...and also a staple element in English, where one word should never have just one use, nor one meaning limit itself to being expressed by one word, nor are there any practical limits on how many new words we might create or borrow. Think you're gonna make up a fake word just to troll pedantic readers? Joke's on you - now it's in the dictionary! English might be named after the Angles, but it's the native tongue of the troll.

In short, if you think you're gonna protect yourself from getting trolled by carefully excluding words that are meant to troll you... Congratulations, you just got trolled!

Shog9
Shog9
October 19, 2019 18:18 PM

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