With respect to inclusiveness and the site's be nice policy, should we require it that identity-first language is to be used in questions and answers?

This question has been sparked by Can an autistic person have very advance language skills? where certain individuals were referred to as "autistics" rather than autistic people.

I have edited the question to suit, but I have noticed the accepted answer doesn't use identity-first language. Maybe I am being a little oversensitive to the issue but please see https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/identity-first-language/ for what I am referring to.

As examples of professional organisations usage of identity-first language, the NHS uses autistic people and so does the National Autistic Society.

  • Thanks for calling attention to this. I notice that even in the quoted parts of the answer, both forms of reference are used, such as "hyperlexic children" and "children with hyperlexia", though "people with autism" appears to be the dominant form in the reference texts, so quotes may feature this form prominently.
    – Arnon Weinberg Mod
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


That's an interesting question.

My first thought is that people will write questions and answers in various ways and use various terminology. In particular, people asking questions are much less likely to have relevant knowledge about modern or preferred terminology.

It makes sense to encourage the use of modern and preferred language when it comes to answers.

The site does have wiki-related features, so it's possible for someone to edit questions and answers by other people to adjust things like language and terminology. So presumably, it would often be fine to make such edits. That said, presumably the person making the edits should be truly confident that there is an established preferred terminology and that it is not just a personal stylistic preference.


I agree with Jeromy. And just to add my 2-cents worth here as well is the fact that certain disciplines may also have certain terminology [still] engrained in their writing styles. For instance, I try to write in a person-centered way here on SE and elsewhere, yet I'm still talking about cochlear implant users (as opposed to people with a CI), simply because pretty much everyone in the field refers to these folks in this way. So why should I change the style of writing here on SE, whereas in papers I do the opposite?

In such cases it may be a bit awkward when someone outside the area of expertise starts correcting posts created by a more well-versed person in that area of research because certain phrases happen to disobey person-centered writing.

So I agree and underscore Jeromy's conclusion that

[T]he person making the edits should be truly confident that there is an established preferred terminology and that it is not just a personal stylistic preference

  • To be honest, I would struggle to find a more identity first term than cochlear implant user. The other way round [user(s) of cochlear implants or people with a cochlear implant] may be a bit problematic on the identity first basis (see the advocacy website I linked). At least your term is not defining the patient by the cochlear implant just like the term autistic people or depressed people... Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 9:26
  • ... Having said that, I can see your point. Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 9:26
  • @ChrisRogers -- you really think CI user is a correct thing to say? I always thought it was a hallmark example of how not to do it... That's fascinating. I might have terribly misunderstood and probably still need to dive into this further! Thanks.
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 9:29
  • I may have it wrong and therefore I will have to look into that myself on the users of... as that could be an exception to the rule you have highlighted. It's just that if you read the autism advocacy website I linked, they suggest that people with autism would be a problem, and they state why. So by that point I would say people who use CIs may be problematic, but then maybe not. 🤔 food for thought Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 9:35
  • @ChrisRogers that's all really interesting. Thanks for bringing this all up. I do fully agree however that stuff like 'autistics are people that...' or 'deaf patients are characterized by...' are good examples of how not to do it.
    – AliceD Mod
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 9:38

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