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Re: Neutral language in W3C specifications

From: Mccool, Michael <michael.mccool@intel.com>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2020 19:00:12 +0000
To: "lwatson@tetralogical.com" <lwatson@tetralogical.com>, Gregg Kellogg <gregg@greggkellogg.net>, Denis Ah-Kang <denis@w3.org>
CC: Spec-prod <spec-prod@w3.org>, "chairs@w3.org" <chairs@w3.org>
Message-ID: <F62E7BD5-A163-422E-8C57-C832115F23B8@intel.com>
The WoT WG had exactly this issue in an explainer video we are working on.   We recently updated our script to avoid being gender (or race) biased.   See:
ORIGINAL: https://github.com/w3c/wot-marketing/blob/master/material/wot_explainer_notes.md

FINAL: https://github.com/w3c/wot-marketing/blob/master/material/wot_explainer_script.md

Michael McCool

On 2020-07-29, 2:43 PM, "Léonie Watson" <lwatson@tetralogical.com> wrote:

    On 29/07/2020 17:53, Gregg Kellogg wrote:
    >> On Jul 22, 2020, at 4:03 AM, Denis Ah-Kang <denis@w3.org 
    >> <mailto:denis@w3.org>> wrote:
    >> Hi Leonie,
    >> Thank you for your feedback. Sure, we can also add these
    >> pronouns to the list of terms to detect.
    >> Do you have a preference or suggestion as to what our guidance
    >> to the editors should be in those cases?
    > Use case documents are often written with stories that describe specific 
    > people (e.g., Sally, John, etc.) (see [1], for example). In generally, I 
    > think it’s good that stories can relate to individuals, but in these 
    > cases removing personal pronouns, or always using a neutral “they” might 
    > interfere with the flow of the narative. Has this been considered as 
    > part of the style guide? Is there any specific advice on writing use 
    > cases documents in a gender-neutral way?

    We're exploring this in the ID CG [2], and I hope we'll be able to 
    provide some guidance around this in due course. The rest of this email 
    is just my own point of view.

    I agree that it is helpful when user stories are personalised, if 
    they're not they really cease to become user stories.

    I think there are two things to consider:

    1. Is there a single user story or a collection?
    2. Does gender identification change the user story?

    In documents with many user stories, like the example at [1], then 
    balance is the important thing I think. The key is for people to be able 
    to relate to the user stories, so having a balance of gender identities 
    (and other characteristics) is likely to mean more people find the user 
    stories relevant.

    If there is just one user story then I think making it as inclusive as 
    it can be is important,  and choosing a gender neutral identity is 
    probably the way to do it.

    "Sally is a developer who uses SVG as part of her job..."

    Doesn't lose anything if it becomes:

    "Alex is a developer who uses SVG as part of their job..."

    There are times when the gender of the person in a user story is 
    important, but in the context of W3C I can't think of one that applies 
    to technical standards!


    > [1] https://www.w3.org/TR/vc-use-cases/

    [2] https://github.com/w3c/idcg/issues/17

    >> Denis
    >> On 7/22/20 1:21 PM, Léonie Watson wrote:
    >>> Denis, this is a really positive step, thank you to you and the team.
    >>> One suggestion - is it possible for PubRules to check for gender 
    >>> specific pronouns (he/she, him/her etc.) too?
    >>> They are rare in specifications, but do sometimes feature as part of 
    >>> use cases or examples.
    >>> Léonie.
    >>> On 22/07/2020 09:40, Denis Ah-Kang wrote:
    >>>> Dear editors and chairs,
    >>>> In order to offer the best environment possible to its
    >>>> community, W3C is supporting the push for a more inclusive and
    >>>> neutral language, especially in our specifications.
    >>>> In the upcoming weeks, pubrules [1] will show a warning if
    >>>> terms like "master", "slave", "grandfather", "sanity" or
    >>>> "dummy" are detected in a specification and this will also
    >>>> be reflected in the Manual of style [2] with a list of
    >>>> alternatives.
    >>>> Note, since it may take time for the editors to change the
    >>>> branch name "master" to something else, we will not flag the
    >>>> URLs containing that word in the first place.
    >>>> Going forward, we will audit all the specification repositories
    >>>> and open issues if they contain problematic terms.
    >>>> Let me know if you have any comments/suggestions.
    >>>> Denis
    >>>> W3C Systems team
    >>>> [1] https://www.w3.org/pubrules/

    >>>> [2] https://w3c.github.io/manual-of-style/


    Director @TetraLogical

Received on Wednesday, 29 July 2020 19:00:39 UTC

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