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girlofscience's avatar

Do you find the gender ambiguity among most Fluther users to be annoying?

Asked by girlofscience (7567points) October 17th, 2008

I wish it was more obvious if a Fluther user is male or female.

(Please god do not flame me with WHYSHOULDGENDERMATTER nonsense.)

It’s just irritating when referring to a user that I need to use its username multiple times in a sentence because I can’t figure out if it’s male or female.

And sometimes, I’d just like to know what sex a response is coming from.

Additionally, there have been numerous times that I have, after having been aware of a particular user for a period of time, been shocked to find out its gender was the opposite of how I’d been imagining it.

It was mentioned on another thread that we all (without even trying) form images of what we expect a user to be. With the majority of Flutherers, it’s difficult to know whether they are male or female, and I find this somewhat irritating.

Considering that answers often involve opinions and life advice, it seems natural that it would be beneficial to know the sex (and maybe even age!) of the person posting.

Thankfully for all of you, my username is unambiguous. But what if there was also a note that said “22F” for users? Would you prefer this or hate it?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

104 Answers

MrItty's avatar

Your username is not unambiguous. Your username says absolutely nothing about your gender. It only says that you want us to think you’re a female, much like mine only tells you that I want you to think I’m male.

You, however, have no way of knowing whether I’m a 29 year old male or a 16 year old female.

That wouldn’t change if there was an A/S/L field.

jca's avatar

i’m a 42F, FYI.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@MrItty i doubt the majority of fluther users would lie about it if asked, we are after all a pretty open community IMO.

I think it should be shown on the users profile page like on most other boards, but only if the user agrees to have it shown.


DrasticDreamer's avatar

When I first started coming here I intentionally never mentioned my age or sex, specifically because I didn’t want anyone to stereotype me or disregard a certain answer I gave simply because of my age and gender.

Sometimes I wonder if someone is male or female, young or old, but I can’t say that I mind too much not knowing. It kind of evens out the playing field and opens up the dialogue, because people aren’t expecting a specific answer simply based on age or sex.

girlofscience's avatar

@MrItty: Uh, ok. But, in any event, I’d rather a Flutherer’s desired identity was less ambiguous. This question was not about the honesty of online identities. Even if every post we made displayed our age and sex, people could enter the age and sex they wish to portray.

jca's avatar

maybe jack adams was a 22 year old girl.

girlofscience's avatar

I agree with uberbatman. While it certainly shouldn’t be mandatory, there should be a convenient option for displaying the information.

Bri_L's avatar

39 male

fireside's avatar

Can’t you just get used to using ”(s)he”? lol


girlofscience's avatar

@jca: I hope you’re not implying that you believe I am one of JackAdams’ alternate personas that is continuing to Fluther until November 1.

jca's avatar

no no no.

girlofscience's avatar

@fireside: Sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m interested in knowing the genders of users and am annoyed when I had the entirely wrong “image” of someone… to the point that I had the gender incorrect.

artificialard's avatar

I feel like this is nothing unique to Fluther though – much of the internet’s casual discussion spaces have the same limitations/advantages. I don’t think it adds to the conversation – if context is necessary the information presents itself naturally in the course of the conversation.

girlofscience's avatar

@jca: Ok, good.

(Btw, does anyone have any guesses on that? “JackAdams” may have been banned, and his IP address was also prevented from creating new accounts, but apparently, he already had had two accounts created on different IP addresses months before JackAdams, and he will be secretly using those and pretending not to be “JackAdams” until November 1, when he had planned to leave Fluther.)

shadling21's avatar

I apologize. I enjoy remaining ambiguous.

If I feel that my age or gender in necessary to appreciate my response to a post, then I’ll gladly tell you I’m a 20-year-old female. I’d much rather leave it open-ended, though, so people won’t think, “My god, no wonder she says that. She’s so young and naive.” or “Of course a female would say that.”

It’s one of the best things about the internet – to have your words stand alone, disconnected from your true identity.

fireside's avatar

@ sci girl – i saw a couple of posts that i thought sounded like his writing, but didn’t think much of it

shadling21's avatar

As for the JA… I haven’t been able to figure it out. I doubt he’d use the same posting style.

charliecompany34's avatar

44 male. love my wife and kids and the dog and my kitchen. hope loving the kitchen doesn’t throw anybody off.

jca's avatar

42 year old single white female, love my cats, my house and my doctor.

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t really think about it much. If I find out that what I perceived is false, then I adjust. I don’t get annoyed at all.

El_Cadejo's avatar

i think its stupid that people still care about this JA thing, what is the point of this whole thing omgs let me go make secret accounts and participate until nov first just so i can leave on the date i originally planned. Seriously wtf is the point?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@shadling: My feelings exactly.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

first off,. uber, your avatar is scary.

actually, i kind of like the ambiguity. it keeps things interesting. it’s different from the real world.

on the other hand, i did have an embarrassing moment with shadling earlier when i assumed she was a he. so i also know where you’re coming from, GoS.

jrpowell's avatar

It is easy if you want your gender and age to be known.

El_Cadejo's avatar

la chica gomela its my Halloween avatar heh. it comes from this clip in The Adventures of Mark Twain.

shadling21's avatar

Y’all should just refer to me as “it”.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

John: Cool, a fellow Oregonian. There seems to be quite a few of us here.

Also, I too thought shadling was male. I don’t even know why.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

In my defense, her question was something about “what would a 20 year old boy something” but on the other hand, you’d think a 20 year old boy would know what he would do, so i guess i should have guessed the other way….

shadling21's avatar

@Drastic – That’s cool with me. Some days I feel pretty masculine. I actually didn’t form any ideas on your gender. I just thought of you as some dreamy person, head in the clouds. Because of your name. Not the answers you’ve given. Wow, I’m just digging myself into a hole here…

@La chica – Haha! I forgot about that.

@Drastic again – Wait, so… What are you? Or would you prefer not to say?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@shadling: I honestly don’t even believe in the terms “feminine” and “masculine”, but that’s another thread altogether.

I actually have said my age and gender, but only after I posted a picture of what I looked like, along with everyone else. I thought it would be kind of hard to remain ambiguous after that, though… :D

23F, here. It also wouldn’t surprise me if you’d come to the conclusion I was a dreamy person because of some answers I’ve given. I tend to get pretty philosophical and out there once in a while.

shadling21's avatar

@Drastic – I like your thinking. I very much would like to destroy the words “masculine” and “feminine”. A lot of its usage is based on messed-up social norms. But YES that’s another discussion (one that you may perhaps like to begin?).

…and what? When was this? The picture posting, I mean.

EDIT: “destroy” may be too harsh a word.

Les's avatar

It doesn’t really bother me too much. I’ve had people mess it up in real life, too. I had a subscription to Popular Science and the address was made out to Mr. Les. I don’t know who this Mr. Les was, but he sure as hell wasn’t me. Sometimes I like the ambiguity, other times I don’t care. What does bother me is when people who aren’t experts at the question at hand take over the responses. We have here people knowledgeable in medicine, science, English, you name it. Thes are the people who should handle related questions.

BTW. 25 (Nearly. My b-day is Oct. 22), single, female, red hair, green eyes, what else do you want to know. (Sometimes I think there is too much information out there. I sort of like the ambiguity, now that mine is shot.)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@shadling: I would have no objection to beginning a conversation about abolishing the idiotic social norms. :D And… Here are the links: and

Edit: “Destroy” is fine. Perfectly emotes exactly how stupid the words are.

AstroChuck's avatar

22F by the way. But you all knew that, right?

galileogirl's avatar

Maybe my age and gender puts me at a disadvantage because I don’t get game playing about who you are. This is not meant to be insulting to anyone but my snap judgement is that doing so indicates the person is uncomfortable with who they are. I learned a long time ago that hiding or dissembling takes way too much energy. So when I wrote my profile I was totally honest about what I feel I am. Also the way I aswer questions really do give me away.

As an aside, I am unhappy to hear that JackAdams has been banned or suspended or whatever. He was abrasive but in this kind of forum you don’t have to respond to that kind of person. Once you start taking things personally and thinking about banning, things will change. At the site-that-cannot-be-named the entire community was changed and months later people are still censoring themselves. Free speech is the most important thing on the internet.

61yo, F, moonchild, urban, hetero, born in the year of the boar. If you didn’t know that, you haven’t been paying attention

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@galileogirl: It’s not about hiding who you are. It’s about not mentioning the parts of you that you think are completely irrelevant anyway. Yes, I’m female. Do I feel that adequately portrays who I am? No, not at all – just what I am. Same with age. Neither my age or sex define me, so I don’t think mentioning them is very important.

AstroChuck's avatar

Okay, I’m not a 22F but actually a 46M. But my real name is Brenda.

Bri_L's avatar

AstroBrenda? that doesn’t make sense.

squirbel's avatar

@girlofscience: It seems to me that the ambiguity of the internet should get to you as well? It’s a face-less wall of people and bots.

AstroChuck's avatar

@Bri L- Neither do many of my questions and/or answers.
If you don’t believe my name is Brenda, just ask my wife, Doug.

MacBean's avatar

I love the gender ambiguity of the ‘net in general. Often, if registration for a site requires a gender to be chosen, I just say “Forget it” and find somewhere else to hang out.

augustlan's avatar

It doesn’t bother me at all…but I did post that I am a 41 year old mother on my profile right from the beginning.

@JohnPowell: lurve for “womb of evil” on your profile!

Allie's avatar

With a name like Allie I think it’s hard for my gender to be questioned (unless I were a character in Catcher in the Rye). And I’m 20, almost 21 (on Dec. 22).

wildflower's avatar

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the mystery of the person behind the answers is a big part of the intrigue that keeps it interesting. If I knew everything about the others on here straight away, it’d take away the discovering process – which I for one find fascinating!

I’ve been horribly wrong in my initial assumptions of several Flutherites – finding that out, and what the reality is was a discovery and learning process I wouldn’t want to be without.

MarcIsMyHero's avatar

I have always felt like it would be beneficial to know age moreso than gender. There are some questions that I would feel inappropriate answering if I knew they came from a 15yr old. Or at least my advice may be different. Same thing if I knew I was answering a question asked by someone who I knew had 3 times my life experience.

cookieman's avatar

To look at it from another angle…

I personally enjoy imagining what someone is like based on their screen name, avatar, and answers.

Fluther is like an idealized world for me where most people are intelligent, caring, thoughtful, and interesting.

Knowing someone’s true age and gender is just one step toward making it like the real world – where most people are exactly the opposite.

PS: I’m a five-year-old female. No wait…that’s my daughter.

poofandmook's avatar

I get what GoS is saying. I get annoyed because I’m embarrassed that I’ve actually been totally sure I knew the gender, and so I referred to the person as he or she and found out I was wrong… but on the other hand, I get what everyone else is saying about not being stereotyped and intrigue and all that jazz. Jury’s out on this for me.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

I think my name says it all. I would be interested in knowing the gender of Flurtherite personalities.

SuperMouse's avatar

I don’t necessarily find it annoying when I don’t know a poster’s gender. I always chuckle when my assumption is wrong. For instance I was SURE Shadling and Les were both male! What’s funny is that I do get slightly irritated when fellow flutherers think I am a guy. I’m not sure why anyone would have known I was a girl, but I just figured they should! In order to avoid that I added my gender to my profile.

poofandmook's avatar

@Mouse: I got really annoyed when people thought I was a guy too! Until I made the same mistake with another user. I just assumed that everyone would know that a guy probably wouldn’t put a cat as an avatar with a username beginning with “poof.” Guess not. LOL

Bri_L's avatar

I will point out one definite hitch and please forgive me if I missed it above. I did get kind of lost.

Given the age bracket on fluther there are topics of discussion where engaging people of a certain age could be considered criminal, couldn’t they?

laureth's avatar

One of the things I like about Fluther, as well as other online communities, is that it is more like a meeting of the minds and less like a singles’ bar meatmarket. (Of course, seeing as I’m off the market anyway, I may simply not be perceiving the needs of those who are looking at it like a bar.)

Would having a/s/l stats on every entry make it more of a flirting interaction and less like civilized society if you found that the Flutherite you’ve always admired is near you age and lives close to you, and is of the appropriate gender?

For what it’s worth: 36F, very married, Michigan, 5’8”, works in a cubicle, likes to knit. Sun and moon in Aries. Did I miss anything?

chyna's avatar

@les happy almost B.Day.
I like to know if i am addressing a male/female also, but if i dont I am not annoyed.

syz's avatar

I like that I usually don’t know. I’m sometimes perplexed when I find out I’m wrong, and then I wonder about what directed me towards that assumption. It’s interesting to think about gender identity, social expectations, and self expression.

While I would like to think that I don’t skew my perception of the value of responses based on gender, hey, I am a product of my environment and have been trained by society for 44 years now.

I’m always surprised at how often my own gender is guessed incorrectly online. I compare my own self image with my apparent self-expression…....just another facet of recognizing traits about myself.

janbb's avatar

That’s what I like about the internet – nobody knows I’m a dog!

squirbel's avatar

I’m a squirbel. **mischevious grin**

loser's avatar

I’m a loser. **mischevious grin**

Okay, I guess that didn’t really have the same effect…

janbb's avatar

@squirbel – Since I’m a dog, I feel as if I should be chasing squirbels up trees!

squirbel's avatar

You didn’t hear? squirbels are ferocious dog eaters, about 4 feet tall and are bipedal.

We also like cashew nuts. Even though cashews make us gassy.

janbb's avatar

@ squirbel – Just a little more info than I needed to know, but I’ll keep it in mind next time I see a squirbel eating cashews and am tempted to chase it!

MissAnthrope's avatar

“Annoyed” is a strong word.. it doesn’t annoy me. However, there are times when I’ve been curious as to how old someone is and what gender. I definitely wouldn’t mind if there were an option to disclose such things. I’m terribly wordy, as I’m sure most of you have noticed.. I actually used every single possible character in my profile and have no room to add anything else. :P

But just for the record, I’m 32 (next month), biologically female, mentally half-female/half-male, Scorpio with Virgo rising, Virgo moon. Additionally, I am single, if there are any hot, single lesbians out there who dig brainy chicks. Just had to throw that in there. Hee.

shrubbery's avatar

At first I didn’t want people to know my age, because I didn’t want anyone to just dismiss my answers or something like that, or assume that I’m immature and think that I didn’t know anything or that I shouldn’t be here. However, after being mistaken for a middle-age man (not looking at anyone in particular… GoS…haha) I’d just like everyone to know that I am a 16 year old female!

There have been a few times where I have been surprised to find out someone’s age, but others not so much. I haven’t really noticed it being annoying, and for the most part I’m okay at being able to tell between genders, and when I don’t know I don’t make a point of stating either way.

laureth's avatar

@shrubbery: Sometimes it’s true that youthful people haven’t had the experience—on the other hand, very often, youthful friends of mine have noticed things or put things together in wise ways that older people have not. I appreciate them for telling the truth like it is! So thanks. :)

AstroChuck's avatar

Now I must disregard everything shrubbery posts as she is far to young to add anything of value to the collective.

Bri_L's avatar

@shrubbery- for what it is worth I had added you to my fluther a long time ago because of the answers you gave and the manor in which you gave them. If asked I would have put you at older than you are but it would not have mattered had I found out.

AstroChuck's avatar

I meant too, not to. Oh, and yes, I was j/k.

deaddolly's avatar

naw, i don’t care what sex ppl are on here. I’d prolly dismiss more of the answers from the guys if I did know. lol

And, this is the internet—even of you think you know that I’m female, I might not be. i am tho
And I’m 23. And I’m sticking to that age, no matter what.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t see what the problem is. It seems to me that it’s generally pretty obvious who people are, whether they say it or not.

It’s weird for me, because I can’t begin to count the times that I start becoming friends with people who share my afflictions, and this is before we have discussed them.

Lately, though, I pretty much announce it everywhere. And for that reason, I can’t put a picture online, in case anyone in real life might see it.

shadling21's avatar

@deaddolly – 23? I thought you had a teenage daughter?

@daloon – Afflictions?

wundayatta's avatar

@shadling: various forms of abnormal thinking and perception

La_chica_gomela's avatar

shadling, i think she was joking about being 23…

deaddolly's avatar

lol….yes, i was joking. I’m 23 in my mind…. In my head I was 5 when I had my daughter. I’ve always been mature for my age!!!!

shadling21's avatar

@you guys – Oh. Haha!

lapilofu's avatar

I didn’t have time to read over all of the answers to this, so apologies for that, but I do want to put in my two-cents. And maybe this qualifies as “WHYSHOULDGENDERMATTER nonsense” but if you take that away, I don’t see any other way of responding to this question.

To ask this question accords a degree of importance to gender that is not actually there. I can see the reasoning for wanting to know which pronouns to use, but if I don’t know the gender of someone I’m referring to, I usually either assume a gender and allow them to correct me (not the end of the world if I get it wrong) or I use “he or she.”

The latter reasoning, “Considering that answers often involve opinions and life advice, it seems natural that it would be beneficial to know the sex (and maybe even age!) of the person posting.” I take a great deal of issue with. I don’t think that gender and age (and certainly this is true of sex as well!) are particularly important in answers to questions, even if they are about “opinions and life advice.”

If it’s relevant to the question, than it a Flutherite should certainly have the presence of mind to share the information about themselves (incorporating “I’m a girl” into an answer should be easy enough), but most of the time a person’s age and gender are as irrelevant as their race, how tall they are, and the color of their hair. You wouldn’t say, “I wish I knew what race the people answering my questions are,” unless you’re actually asking a question about race. Similarly you wouldn’t wonder how tall the people answering your questions are unless your question is “How has your height affected your life?”

So I suspect, therefore, that knowing a person’s gender would not really have a positive impact on your understanding of a person’s answers, whereas I could see a great many situations that could make it detrimental. I would hate for people to read my answers and think, “Oh, well he just thinks that because he’s a boy.” or, “Well he’s too young to really know about this.”

I think the additional information would just make it easier to rationalize away otherwise legitimate answers.

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

I honestly love that it is hard to tell whether I am male or female. I don’t FEEL like either so it’s a breath of fresh air to have people not say I am a girl or boy just by looking at me, which is not who I am. Gender or sex has no importance to me.
I do get curious from time to time as to what my fellow Flutherers assume I am. I know some of you know.
But, to answer the question…No.

pathfinder's avatar

I thing that it is not so bad.Lets look at it from the good side.Any one of us has a free space to express them self.Like a words to the fight.That mean we are prove in our focus about anything.Is some one here neutral?I know the pictures can t be real,right.We are not stupid.By answering.honestly, it is like part of the character.Yes or not.

krose1223's avatar

I agree that on fluther it would be useful to know in order to answer questions. I liked my age being a secret because I always feel like people think differently of me because I am so young. (19 getting close to 20/female) I am the youngest of 6 and even though I have a child of my own, I am still the baby. I have always hated that and I hate when people look at me like a child. I may be young but I still have my opinions and I have always felt like I am slightly beyond my years.

janbb's avatar

I would really be interested in knowing people’s nationality more than their age or gender. Sometimes it is indicated on the profile, sometimes not. I find that it is really interesting to hear the opinions of people who are not Americans as the majority of us are.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

For those of you who care, I am a 48M. A lot of people see the Evelyn and assume that is my name. Of course, I think I have mentioned having a wife once or twice, and since I don’t live in a state where gay marriages are legal, that, and having testicles, probably means I am a male.

Male or Female, it doesn’t really matter, most people think I am an ass once they get to know me. I’m living proof that there are more horses asses in the world than there are horses.

BoyWonder's avatar

I find irrelevant questions to be annoying (such as this one)

augustlan's avatar

@BoyWonder If you find it irrelevant, move on to another question. No need to be insulting.

fireside's avatar

Actually, it seems like he does have a need to be insulting.
Probably just feels left out and this is how he gets his kicks.

Sort of funny that he always goes to the dead threads to insult people.

wundayatta's avatar

Maybe he’s too stoned to know which way is up!

BoyWonder's avatar

Or maybe for such an irrelevant response to an irrelevant question, you flutherites are breathing on my bolas a little too hard, don’t you think?

galileogirl's avatar

Hmmmm you flutherites. Interesting. Run away home, little boy. Your bong is calling.

MacBean's avatar

I want a talking bong.

Allie's avatar

[mod says:] Enough, please. Back to the question at hand.

Response moderated
FBI's avatar

@BoyWonder – The internet is not as private or as safe as it used to be. Choose your words carefully young one.

giltesque's avatar

I think it would be great having 22f or 30m…with avatars but I would not trust them considering the swarmy trolls that lurk in some sites Ive seen. For me, I usually can tell the sex Im talking to but age is not always apparent unless the answers or language they post date them properly.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

Female, age 24.

I guess it’s typical on a forum-type site that there are many gender-neutral usernames.

fireside's avatar

Yeah, i was thinking we should all just change our avatars to images of the sexual organs we have.
It would be much clearer that way : )

YARNLADY's avatar

Perhaps it might matter with some questions, and if the asker finds it important, they can specify, but for the most part it shouldn’t matter. If anyone cares, they can always look at the profile, and if it doesn’t say there, the user doesn’t want you to know.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

to an extent. sometimes it helps to have that information. as much as ‘wahhh gender doesn’t matter, blahblahblah”, the reason there are 2 different genders is because of some differences. it’s not absolutely necessary to know, but it does lend a bit to perspective in a lot of cases.

tinyfaery's avatar

@tiffy There are more than 2 genders.

MacBean's avatar

<wiggles ambiguously-gendered butt at @tinyfaery> Lurve!

tinyfaery's avatar

@macbean Don’t worry. I always got your back.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t find it to be annoying
I find it to be exhilarating
I have no need to form certain opinions of what people say just because of gender and I don’t assume genders so I never have to be shocked…if you want to know my age, it’s 25, I was sexed as female at birth and though many others perceive me as a woman, I don’t identify with a gender…if you want to know what pronouns to use with me, I’d prefer gender neutral ones like ‘ze’ instead of ‘she’ but you can use female pronouns if you absolutely must

SABOTEUR's avatar


The military follows a concept called “need to know”.

If certain knowledge is required in the execution of your job, you know it.
Otherwise, you don’t.

If gender were required to accurately answer a question, I’m sure the jelly would provide it.

Otherwise, that’s information I don’t need to know.

avvooooooo's avatar

Yes, I find it very annoying. :P

Cruiser's avatar

I find it very soothing….one less thing to worry about!

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