Editable Codex

Political Correctness of Gender-Inclusion[]

Use he/she or they, whichever you prefer. Just stop bickering about it. This is a fan Wiki, not a formal documentation for the series. Browncoat Jayson 17:37, September 25, 2009 (UTC)

Sorry it got out of hand like that, but I was trying to build consensus! I thought that was better than being silent and arbitrary, although it seems that might have been safer AngusM 03:12, September 26, 2009 (UTC)

This is getting a bit ridiculous. We're obviously all using different ways to handle this, and the wiki looks terribly unprofessional for it - yes, I know it's a fan wiki, but it's also arguably the last remaining and most complete source of Ultima information on the Internet. I agree that consensus is required so we don't have to spend so much time editting each other's articles. I think that gender-neutrality is a must; not because of any political correctness issues, but simply to remain neutral in the spirit of the wiki phenomenon. I also firmly believe that "he/she" looks terrible and has no place anywhere but in End-User License Agreements and other legal mumbo-jumbo. It also severely disrupts the flow of the text and the immersion of the reader. You've already seen what I believe is the proper way to handle it, by avoiding the use of he or him entirely. Like Terilem wrote elsewhere, it requires a slight bit of creativity but is not very difficult. It also has the advantage of not looking terrible. --Warder Dragon 11:56, March 2, 2010 (UTC)

Ok, as per Warder Dragon's invitation, here is a regurgitation of my two cents on the issue:
  • "He/she" looks dreadful and silly. Even feminists have had better things to do for the last 30 years.
  • In an attempt to be inclusive "he/she" winds up being exclusive since it excludes the sex that is neither male nor female ("other") in U3
  • "He" is neutral when the sex is ambiguous. French, to name one, which is a more genderly complex language, defaults to the masculine when necessary.
  • Avoiding any pronouns that imply gender is a very good solution if it makes for good writing. I'd say usually it does, but sometimes that, too, is awkward.
  • "He/she" is the greatest of the three evils, and I don't always have the energy to wrangle with a sentence so as to remove any ambiguity. If someone else does: then I say go for it.
  • Finally, I think it's bad taste to lock an anglophone out of his own language.
AngusM 18:32, March 2, 2010 (UTC)
"He" as a neutral pronoun is just fine for talking about things like... organizations and the like (Once a Knight finishes his training, he must...), but it's awkward when referring to a single, specific person. To be fair, there's not a whole lot of precedence for this sort of thing, since it's very rare to be talking about a specific person and not know their gender. I fully agree that "he/she" is the worst way to handle this, but I also have a healthy respect for the female Ultima players who are irked to see the masculine pronoun being used when referring to a character they've always seen as female. It can also confuse newcomers to the wiki and the Ultima universe.
I know avoiding gender pronouns entirely is a bit more work, but it's not that much more work, is it?
--Warder Dragon 18:44, March 2, 2010 (UTC)
No, not that much more. But we are dealing with extremes here. It might be extremely little extra work to get what we agree is the best possible solution, but the number of he/shes that need to be corrected is also extreme. How should this be approached? Leave an article untouched until you have the time and energy to make it perfect? (See A.A. Milne's poem about The Old Sailor) I think it should be something in between.
I say we phase this stuff in. If the sentence structure is complicated, go for a medium quality solution that takes very little time, and then naturally go to the optimal solution later. AngusM 19:27, March 2, 2010 (UTC)

I see your point, I'm just concerned the reverting and counter-editing won't end. I'd been planning to simply edit them as I come across them the way I've been doing, provided people agree with this solution. From a purely personal standpoint, it's also easier to spot the he/shes because they stand out so badly. I don't know, it's something we need to agree on - hopefully Tribun will add his thoughts as well. --Warder Dragon 20:00, March 2, 2010 (UTC)
Ya got me there! The advantage of he/she is that someone who knows what to do with them can't miss them. Previously, I've used the discussion pages to call attention to stuff I thought should be attended to, but, for whatever reason, I wasn't going to myself at that time.
A few other things come to mind:
  1. I suspect that he/shes might be created faster than we could fix them. In that event, efficiency would be more important.
  2. Some Ultimas could not have a female Avatar--U8 comes to mind. For those pages, I don't see any reason to sweat this issue at all. And I'm not just being academic. I've removed a lot of /shes from pages where "she" could not be relevant. They're probably back
  3. Usually I consider a style (capitalization, spelling, etc.) authoritative if the games use it. The text from the games' code would not be very useful for this issue, but what about the documentation? I don't have access to any at the moment, but I'd be interested if they let any pronouns slip, or managed to avoid them. I'd remember a he/she.
AngusM 05:36, March 3, 2010 (UTC)
Documentation that immediately springs to mind is the U7 manual. They didn't bother avoiding the issue; the Avatar is frequently referred to as male. Of course, it's written from an in-game perspective by Batlin, so a gender really had to be chosen. --Terilem 08:13, March 5, 2010 (UTC)

Ok, after some thinking, here my thoughts:

  • It should be strictly taboo to write the Avatar as purely male, except for Ultima VIII and IX (since there is only a male Avatar in these games).
  • The he/she after some thought, really doesn't look nice. In the future I'll try to re-write the passages in article when I edit them, so that it still stays gender-neutral.

--Tribun 01:09, March 5, 2010 (UTC)

For the sake of consistency I think we should stick with gender ambiguity even when dealing with Ultima VIII and IX. I personally consider the lack of a female option in those games to be a technical shortcoming, not an instance of canonical lore. I'm leaning towards a "majority rules" situation here, and the vast majority of installments accommodate both genders. I don't know, maybe others will think differently. --Terilem 08:13, March 5, 2010 (UTC)

I also try to avoid the use of he/she as much as possible but when I can't satisfactorily twist a sentence into not using it I prefer using it over not. Warder Dragon's point about it being a single specific person I though the most poignant.
If we are unable to figure out a better way it is best to be consistent so if we ever do figure it out we can easily use a bot to tear through to make the changes or at the least easily make a list of all the pages that need attention.
<not serious>I've got it! We could use a symbol for pronoun's referring to the Avatar; "The Avatar got more than ☥ bargained for..." or "... though the Avatar ☥self is never killed." </not serious> Fenyx4 06:54, March 7, 2010 (UTC)
Yup, the Avatar was always meant to be the player themself, not a character per se. --Terilem 07:47, March 7, 2010 (UTC)

Research into Origin's lead[]

I finally got around to reading through the documentation that comes with the games to see what Origin probably thinks on the issue. I did it by researching the documentation for the Age of Enlightenment and U3 (if there's more documentation for 1 and 2 than what is available on the Ultima Web Archive then I don't have access to it). And here's what I found:

No identifiable gender[]

The documentation has little to say about the Avatar, but nowhere did I find them using any pronouns. In one case, they seemed to let the language get pretty awkward, ostensibly to avoid using a pronoun. Ultima VI, however, was the smoothest, which used the 2nd person (you are the Avatar). So, if Origin would deign to avoid 3rd person pronouns, I guess we could. However...

This should only apply to the Avatar[]

I frequently found very casual use of hes, hims, and hises in other cases where the gender was ambiguous. These cases would be in spells, users of armour and weapons, and various other miscellaneous contexts, all of which do not necessarily refer to the Avatar. U6 was the worst offender, which frequently used hes, hims and even a man for the professions.


If we are to go with the Origin's model from this case study:

  1. For the Avatar, don't use any language that could be used to construe gender, even if the language is a little awkward.
  2. For any other situation where gender is ambiguous, and the subject may or may not be the Avatar, use of the gender-neutral he is fine.

AngusM 03:42, April 28, 2010 (UTC)