UCoC Roundtable in Wikimania 2022

Hello All;
A few day for Wikimania 2022 to start, and what’s better than Wikimania to meet with you all to update you about the UCoC Project.

The UCoC team is hosting a roundtable on Thursday, August 11, 14:05-15:00 UTC in Tent 3.

Join us to learn more about review of the enforcement guidelines and the overall progress of the project. Ask questions and discuss with the revision committee members. If you are interested or would like to submit your early questions, please visit our submission page on Wikimania Wiki.


We are delighted to confirm four members of the UCoC Revisions Committee who will be on the panel for today’s Roundtable: @Barkeep49 @MJL @Vermont @Ruby_D-Brown.

If you would be so inclined, please introduce yourself here and briefly share what you hope to achieve with this session :slight_smile:

Questions are still welcome – post below and we’ll relay it live to the Roundtable later today!


The Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC) and its Enforcement Guidelines have the potential to affect all editors, projects, and affiliates. After a community-wide vote earlier in the year, the Board of Trustees has empowered a Revisions Committee to make final changes to the Guidelines.

We invite you to join the our session on Wikimania tomorrow Thursday 11th August 2022 at 2PM UTC.

The session seeks to continue the project team’s dialog with the Wikimedia communities and affiliates after Enforcement Guidelines were voted on in March 2022.

Myself and other Revisions Committee members as well as members of the Trust & Safety Policy team staff will host a roundtable to discuss.

Main topics will include discussion of some changes to the UCoC and the revisions to the enforcement guidelines currently being worked on by a staff-volunteer Revision Committee.

Register to join the session you will have to register for the virtual wikimania event using this link- https://lnkd.in/e2wcV7-2

Check the program here- https://lnkd.in/eqPshStr


](Registration - Wikimania)

1 Like

The session is starting now at Tent 3!

Question: What steps have the committee taken to mitigate the Anglo-centricism of its operation? For example, in today’s roundtable introduction, the explicit request for participants to introduce their pronouns is incredibly Anglo-centric.



The UCOC Revisions Committee does have issues with a relative lack of geographic diversity, though I believe that we have a strong level of experiential diversity reflected in our members. We do, however, lack local administrators from smaller language projects. That is an issue we can talk about, and something we can discuss in relation to future phases.

However, my focus with my response here is more on the assumptions present in your question.

Pronouns are not anglo-centric. Tolerance is not anglo-centric. Respecting the way that someone identifies is not anglo-centric. Respecting other contributors’ gender and sexuality identity is a bare minimum for constructive contributing to Wikimedia projects.


Vermont, thank you for your passionate comments during the session about respecting fellow contributors’ self-identities. I admire your work on Wikipedia, UCOC, and around the Wikimedia movement.

I was in two minds about whether to reach out to you after the session, since it appeared to me that you were responding to a strawman that arose from multiple layers of paraphrasing following my original comment. However, now that you have responded here and stated your assumptions about my assumptions, I am compelled to respond.

Respect should be universal. Tolerance should be universal. However, pronouns are language-specific.

Half the languages I speak do not use pronouns like English does. My native language, Cantonese, has no grammatical gender and has one singular pronoun for everybody and every countable object. In Japanese, of which I have an intermediate level of command, using any pronoun in the middle of a conversation would signify emotional distance and would thus be considered disrespectful if one knew the name or job title of the person being referred to. “How to respect the way someone identifies” is culture-specific. We should appreciate that maybe, just maybe, the way you show respect for someone’s identity can vary between cultures and we should be gracious to one another when we cross linguistic boundaries.

If it is the committee’s consensus that it is unacceptable to even discuss the possibility that the way we’re handling pronoun respect is somewhat biased towards English and similar languages, I can only apologise and disengage.

But I was not trying to make a point specific to pronouns, but rather to use it as an example to illustrate a wider phenomenon. The fact that we are having our international discourse in English means that behavioural issues more prominent in English-speaking discourse have tended to be more prominent in UCOC as well. I think the UCOC process has done a good job listening to editors who speak languages that don’t work like English about these issues: the caveat “As a sign of respect, use these terms […] where linguistically or technically feasible” is the result of a lot of good compromise, and we should stay vigilant moving forward.

Thank you for your response, your intentions with the initial comment were unclear.

Stating someone’s preferred pronouns is certainly specific to languages that both use pronouns and grammatical gender. However, respectfully communicating in such a language (like English) involves knowing other people’s preferred pronouns, which involves people informing others of their preferred pronouns. Mentioning preferred pronouns is a byproduct of using a language that has gendered pronouns and the intention to respect others’ gender identity. In other words, if you have no issues with people having preferred pronouns, there logically would have been no reason to specify pronouns as the anglo-centric aspect. You could have just said that it’s anglo-centric to be speaking in English. Your initial comment’s fixation on pronouns gave the impression that you had a specific issue with people respecting others’ gender identity.

Discussing respecting pronouns and gender identity inherently is biased towards and applies only to languages whose structure involves gender. I don’t think there’s any controversy over recognizing that, hence my and others preference of slightly more vague terminology when writing policy on it. It’s better to say “respect of gender identity” than “use of preferred pronouns”, for example.

If there are issues with the text of the Enforcement Guidelines that you believe does not sufficiently account for linguistic differences, please let us know. But that was very much not how your initial question was read.

Deryck, I agree that calling out an English convention is Anglo-centric, and I can imagine that it causes some consternation for the translators on occasion. (“This is WhatamIdoing, and the pronouns are – why would you want to address this editor with pronouns?!”)

On the other hand: Giving people the information they need to join a discussion is also a way of reducing language barriers. That conversation was in English and included people who are not native English speakers. It’s not reasonable for English speakers to expect all the non-English speakers to know which English names are associated with which genders. On wiki, it’s not reasonable for me to expect anyone to “just know” that User:WhatamIdoing is a woman, and therefore to be described as “she” and addressed formally as “ma’am” rather than “sir”. And it is reasonable for me to assume that people are sometimes embarrassed by guessing wrong.

I think this is the equivalent of the traditional international approach to business cards, in which the Latin-character last name is printed in all caps: Deryck CHAN, or CHAN Deryck. Regardless of which order your name follows, this convention tells me that you are Mr. Chan, and not Mr. Deryck. The “My pronouns are” convention helps people figure out the “Mr.” part, just like the all-caps convention helps people figure out the “Chan” part.


Thank you Vermont and WhatamIdoing for hearing me out, and for your calm, well-reasoned responses.

I am still in two minds about asking everyone to state their pronouns in gendered languages. Calling out pronouns at the start of a discussion can help non-native speakers too, by taking away the need to learn what names typically associate with what gender. But the lived experience from myself and many other genderless language speakers is that, on balance, calling out pronouns in international English discussions promotes gender inclusivity at the expense of raising the entry barrier for non-native English users.

Since my native language is genderless, I make my fair share of honest mistakes with gendered pronouns in English (and German for that matter). In the past we would have a laugh at my mistake (to which I can reply, yeah, you try distinguishing hai6 and hai1 in Cantonese. Content warning: one is the copula and the other a swearword). Then we get over it. But since it became commonplace to state one’s gender at the start of discussions, my mistakes have typically been met with open hostility that assume I was deliberately misgendering someone.

This is why I feel uncomfortable whenever I enter an English discussion that begins with asking everyone to state their pronouns. It not only communicates the appropriate pronouns to use, but also signifies a requirement to have a preference and an expectation to use them correctly. I need to think twice about every personal pronoun I use, because I have learnt to expect open accusations of bigotry with every mistake.

If we want to have a cross-cultural discussion in English, we ought to beware of the entry barrier that these signals can raise.

I have digressed here with my diatribe about stating pronouns. Responding to Vermont’s comment, we are on the same page that it is better to write in general terms (respect self-identity / preferred terminology) rather than specific ones (pronouns). I have no objections to the current wording of UCoC, which has already been refined by three years of movement-wide debate. My worry is that we have written “where linguistically or technically feasible” “be mindful and respectful of each others’ preferences, boundaries, sensibilities, traditions and requirements” but still fall back to an English-native mindset.

I have spent the past decade fighting the uphill battle as a near-native English speaker who represents a language that behaves very differently from English. I have seen both incomprehension (“Error: PLURAL magic word missing in translation” - my language does not inflect for number, shut up) and open denial of the existence of certain features in my native language.

The rational part of me sees no evidence of bad faith and I have no accusations to bring against anyone. But the hard feelings are real - and I imagine, not dissimilar to how you would feel when someone misgenders you.

May I leave you with one Tweet on this matter written by someone I don’t know, but which I really resonate with.

Thanks for hearing me out, again. I really appreciate this discussion.

I see two problems so far. Do you think my stories are correct?

  1. Alice wants to speak correctly in English. Therefore, Alice sometimes needs to know the relevant pronouns for Bob. Alice may find it difficult to fully join a conversation in English without this information. However, when Bob announces this information (especially when nobody asked for that information), it feels strange to Alice. Volunteering information that cannot be used in Alice’s language suggests that Alice’s language is the wrong language, or an unimportant language. This makes English feel more dominant. It makes Alice feel excluded.
  2. If Bob tells Alice, and Alice doesn’t use the relevant pronouns perfectly, then some people make unkind assumptions about why Alice made this mistake. If Alice makes a mistake, Bob might or might not be unhappy about the mistake. However, even if Alice and Bob are satisfied, someone else might decide Alice is being intentionally rude. Also, the stronger Alice’s English skills, the more likely someone will decide that a one-word mistake is intentional rudeness. Alice is afraid someone will misunderstand a mistake. This makes Alice feel afraid of participating.

This feels like a “unwinnable game” for Alice.

How can we fix it?

It might help if we teach people how to respond. People, especially monoglot English speakers, need to learn that writing in a language that is very different from your native language is difficult. Mistakes should be expected and considered normal. Mistakes should be interpreted in the most friendly way.

It might help if we make a rule about what to do with a mistake. I am happy when someone quietly corrects my grammar mistakes in German. Perhaps Bob could quietly correct Alice’s mistake?

It might also help if we do not announce personal pronouns when they are unlikely to be useful. For example, if you send a translated announcement, it does not make sense to write “WhatamIdoing (she/her)” because that would be pointlessly translated into “WhatamIdoing (佢/佢)” – which means (he/him), (she/her), and also (it/it). But perhaps it is useful for me to set the gender preferences, or to put a note on my userpage, so that if you want to look for that information, you can find it easily.

Does any of this sound like it might help?

(I have avoided pronouns in #1 and #2. I tried to write the sentences in a way that might produce an accurate machine translation into languages that don’t use personal pronouns. I hope that my tactic worked.)


Thought to also share an example as a native Mandarin speaker when it comes to pronouns. While I use “She/They” as my pronouns when speaking in English, it is difficult to translate the same thing to Mandarin. Therefore when there is a live interpretation or one trying to translate pronouns in their own head when listening to a conversation, I could imagine that being challenging or there could be room for confusion. To share some examples below:

  • They: could be translated to 他們 or 她們. Either way, both signify plural - meaning more than one person.

  • She - 她 and He - 他: although written differently, they sound exactly the same when one speaks it. Therefore if I hear a person saying the word in Mandarin, I actually have no clue which gender are they referring to.

Therefore, one needs to say something very concrete to explain their identity in Mandarin. For example, by saying “I’m a Transman” or “I’m non-binary…”. Just to also share this from a language perspective.


WhatamIdoing, you have abstracted my concerns better than I could ever have done myself. Thank you for validating and explaining my perspective.

Vivien - Thanks for your Mandarin examples. You may be aware from historical linguistics that the 他、她、它 distinction in Modern Standard Written Chinese arose from a successful conscious attempt to emulate he/she/it in European languages during the New Culture Movement within the confines of spoken Mandarin’s single gender-neutral animate pronoun tā. The result is… clumsy, as you have testified. To borrow UCoC terminology, it was technologically possible but linguistically impractical. I am in part motivated by this phenomenon in Chinese when I express my concerns about asking people to state their pronouns in international discussions.


In case you missed the session live, the recording is now up and running on YouTube:


Thank you so much Ramzy.


Thank you Ramzy.