Pronouns Page is a popular LGBTQIA+ website for people of the queer community to share their pronouns, pride flags, names, and other information about them.
There are over 600,000 people who have accounts on the website and an estimated 1,000 people join daily. They have a whole team of people to help with multiple aspects of the website, including coding, moderation, translations, and user support.
When it comes to moderation, they have 77 admins in total.
“Usually cards get flagged by our auto moderator, these pages are then checked by hand to see if they were flagged falsely, mainly from them using some words in a reclaimed way.” Says Wren, a moderator for Pronouns Page. “We check them out to see if they look like they are in good faith and fit the ToS, if we are uncertain we check with others but give the benefit of the doubt when needed. We only moderate what’s on the page itself, and only use external links if we are uncertain, making sure to not moderate it just because of that content.”
“There are also moderation queues for new entries in the dictionary of nouns, dictionary of queer terminology, etc.” Says Andrea, the creator of the website. “For those, we’re using our best judgment and comparing definitions with other available sources.”
The meaning of the website is quite interesting, as there has never been a website just like it before.
“For me, it all started in early 2020 after I had read an article about a Polish translation of a character from She-Ra. Double Trouble became ‘Pan Kłopotowski’ — not only erasing their gender but arbitrarily assigning them male pronouns and even emphasizing it by using ‘Pan’ (‘Mr.’) and ‘-ski’ (masculine adjective declension).” Andrea states. “Since Polish is very gendered (for instance, you can’t even say ‘I was’ or ‘I’m hungry’ without specifying if you’re male-hungry or female-hungry), many translators seem to just give up and fall back to the binary. I wanted to create a resource to educate people that it’s possible to express nonbinary identities in Polish grammar after all.”
“There are going to be new languages coming soon, as well as updating current languages like Spanish, Russian, Polish, etc. We try to put as much effort as we can to ensure that each language is accurately translated, and so people that are fluent in these languages offer to help.” Says Benji, a moderator, translator, and coder for the website.
“People are offering help all the time, even with very niche languages, like Cornish or Toki Pona. They want to see such a portal exist for their language, so they just started building it.” Andrea states. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of work required to create a new language version — it’s not just translating, it’s localizing, and it requires lots of research and discussions — so some versions are almost ready while others have barely just started.”
“We try to be as inclusive as possible. It may not always work, but we try our hardest to ensure that everybody feels welcome. It’s important to us, and that inclusivity is what helps us grow such a vast audience.” Benji says.
“Pronouns Page has gained its popularity because it fills a certain niche that, as far as I know, no other website/service does.” tecc (the name is lowercase intentionally), another moderator for the website, adds. “I mean, a lot of people put their pronouns in their bio on apps like Twitter, Discord, Reddit, etc., but Pronouns Page does a better job of providing information about it. Pronouns Page eases the process of treating each other with respect when conversing (e.g. pronouns, slang, honorifics), and provides information about the pronouns in use today.”
Unfortunately, Pronouns Page gets lots of hate accounts and trolls.
“Mental health comes first. It’s tempting to respond to every bit of critique and every angry email,” Andrea says. “but it’s proven much more effective just to keep doing our work without fuelling the drama and feeding the trolls. On the technical side, anti-DDoS, hCaptcha, and a new, more performant server are proving very effective in mitigating attacks.”
“If a hater does create a card, and it either gets flagged or reported, we usually treat it like any other page that gets flagged on our system,” Wren adds. “From what I’ve seen, if a person creates a card, we won’t usually remove them due to their opinion and instead only moderate other content that could potentially be harmful.”
Updates on every website are important, and Pronouns Page is no different.
“There are many things on our TODO list and never enough time for all of them. But shortly, we want to focus on two things that people request most often.” Says Andrea. “One is extending cards to allow more ‘opinion’ options (so not just ‘Yes’, ‘Meh’ etc., but also custom text, like ‘Only by my partner’). And while we’re at it, we’ll also introduce fields like name pronunciation and others. The second upcoming feature is allowing multiple cards per account — useful for systems but also to have eg. one card for work and one for friends — without having to log in to two accounts. We’re also open to suggestions via email, tickets on our kanban board, and of course to merge requests.”
As mentioned earlier, they have a whole team of coders and web designers to help make sure the website is functional and beautiful.
“We use GitLab to host the code and make sure that everything is in place.” Benji states. “We use it for translating and navigation (as well as other things) and usually the coders run it through the creators of the website and have them see the changes, or at least from my experience.”
“Coding the page’s behavior — that’s mostly me, developing in NuxtJS on my laptop (although it’s an open-source project, everyone can submit a merge request).” Says Andrea. “But let’s not forget that there are tons to do that doesn’t necessarily require coding: one can propose dictionary entries, translation strings, etc. directly via the website, and for some tasks that require cooperation, we simply use Google Docs.”
“The time it takes to finish coding something usually depends on the thing we’re coding. Some updates take minutes, some days, and some weeks.” Benji adds.
Recently, Pronouns Page got involved in a Twitter shitstorm, and they had to release a statement about it.
“Moderation is hard. We’re doing our best, but it’s always gonna be hard, and whatever we decide there’s always gonna be people angry at whatever decision we have made. And sometimes it’s literally thousands of people just angrily tweeting without knowing the full context, they send us messages filled with slurs and even telling us to kill ourselves. Creating Pronouns Page is hard but very rewarding work. But as rewarding as it might be, situations like that make it really hard not to have a mental breakdown and want to just shut the project down and finally catch a break — even if you believe wholeheartedly that you’re right. And even if you’re wrong, it still hurts to see people who never contributed a second of their time into the development of this open-source project but start bossing you around and demanding to ‘ban them immediately!’ or whatnot.”
— en.pronouns.page, @/Andrea
Benji (he/him) (https://pronouns.page/@sincerelybenji)
Andrea (they/them) (https://pronouns.page/@andrea)
Wren (she/her) (https://pronouns.page/@wrac4242)
tecc (they/them) (https://pronouns.page/@tecc)