• LCrawford (unregistered)

    Who expects to use API documentation without frist analyzing the demo application?

  • Ignácz (unregistered)

    TRWTF is how single anonymous submitter became multiple half-way through.

  • Anonymous (unregistered)

    I had an api with the same unusual route handling. Sometimes it even requierd the ? at the end of a query, even if no parameters were used. And if they were used, you had to maintain a specific parameter order, if not you got an error.

    In the end it turned out there "REST"-Api was basically a HTTP file share, which pointed to some file, which were returned as response. You also could only send filed to the api.

  • Naomi (unregistered) in reply to Ignácz

    Remy's just using the singular "they", probably because the anonymous submitter didn't indicate their gender. (I don't know about you, but I'd feel a little bit strange if someone wrote up an article about me with the wrong pronoun.)

  • Lothar (unregistered)

    someURL and someURL/ are different resources, so returning an error is OK but IMHO it should be a 404 rather than a 500.

    I can offer a WebService of an ERP-system that breaks with a 500 error if you send ASCII and specify UTF-8 as charset and not ISO-8859-1

  • Ignácz (unregistered) in reply to Naomi

    I would feel equally strange if someone addressed be as "they". I was not slave at any point of my life. Where did that come from?

  • (nodebb) in reply to Ignácz

    IGnacz - Singular They has been correct English for hundreds of years, and people use it all the time without even thinking...

    me: I just got off the phone with a customer service representative... you: What did they say?

  • (author)

    There have been points in the past where I've guessed at the submitter's gender based on their name and been wrong. Singular "they" is the correct option for any situation where there's any unclarity.

    And I say this as someone who thinks people should only use "you/your" pronouns while talking about me, because talking about me should be disorienting and awkward.

  • Ignácz (unregistered) in reply to TheCPUWizard

    I've been speaking english all my working career and never heard nor saw anyone doing it. It sounds pretty confusing and frankly, insensitive to cultures where such forms are used to degrade or dehumanize person.

  • Pabz (unregistered)

    So there were difficulties doing a POST request with a world leading parcel company? Probably nothing out of the ordinary....

  • (author) in reply to Ignácz

    Well, in American Vernacular English, which is what our articles are written in, it's considered a good practice.

  • (author) in reply to Pabz

    Now this is a quality comment.

  • TomP (unregistered) in reply to Ignácz

    Oh, using "they" like that is very common in speaking English, less in writing. Most English speakers, if they think about it at all, probably think it's not quite right, but it's easy and often better than any other alternative.

    The problem is that English doesn't have non-gendered generic pronouns for a person, and "it" sounds unpleasant when you mean to refer to a person. "They" would be perfect if it were singular, so it has been informally adopted for that use. I don't like it but I do it anyway.

  • Jaloopa (unregistered)

    Remember when you could use an indeterminate pronoun when not sure who you were talking about and you wouldn't get hard right people with a minimal understanding of science jumping down your throat and calling you an SJW? Those were good times.

    Maybe Ignácz should take a step back and try to work out why she finds it so nasty

  • Naomi (unregistered) in reply to Jaloopa

    Hey now, that's not fair. They've given their reason and it's a legitimate cultural misunderstanding.

    And Ignácz, from the wording of your comment ("all my working career"), may I assume English isn't your first language? In the Anglosphere, the singular "they" is commonly used and doesn't have any particular connotations. It's not meant to be offensive - it's actually quite the opposite - although I understand how it can be awkward if you're used to hearing it (or the local equivalent) used that way.

  • Ignácz (unregistered) in reply to Remy Porter

    I've asked few US colleagues and none of them were able to confirm nor explain to me that and how is this form supposed to work. Are you sure you are not confusing something, similarly as how US natives tend to write "they're" instead of "their"?

    Be it as it may, I can only stress how confusing this apparent change of subject is and ask you to consider using normal english in fugure.

    Thank you and have nice day!


    Jaloopa: What's SJW?

  • (author) in reply to Ignácz

    "How this works" is not complicated. If you don't know enough about the person being discussed to know whether "he" or "she" is appropriate, you use the singular "they". I know nothing about the submitter, so "they" is appropriate.

    I have been considering adding a freeform "pronouns" field to the submission form, which would definitively resolve this issue, but honestly, I don't want more fields on the form because I want more people to submit and it seems like any sort of friction is a bad call. I will promise, though, if anyone includes their preferred pronouns in their submission, I'll use those.

    (In many cases of Anonymous submission, I actually grab a random name from a list of names and use that, but I also like to periodically credit the submitter as Anonymous- that's sorta a judgment call, but it also means that you never know for sure which articles are anonymously submitted and which ones aren't)

  • 🤷 (unregistered) in reply to Ignácz

    The singular "they" found it's way into the english language before Christopher Columbus got lost on the way to India and set foot on what we know as The Americas nowadays: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they

  • Fordom Greeman (unregistered)

    TRWTF is REST itself

  • masonwheeler (github) in reply to Ignácz

    I would feel equally strange if someone addressed be as "they". I was not slave at any point of my life. Where did that come from?

    In English, as others have pointed out, this is actually quite normal. Calling a person "it" is the dehumanizing pronoun.

  • Altaree (unregistered)

    I am now curious about which cultures find the use of non-gendered pronouns derogatory and why. Please enlighten me. Respectfully, Altaree

  • Cidolfas (unregistered)

    Singular "they" has definitely increased in popularity in the last couple of years as awareness about gender fluidity and identity has increased. It was Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year last year: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/word-of-the-year

    If you've been mainly speaking professional English and not following the sociological changes I can definitely see why you may not have been exposed to it, but in North America at least, it's now considered the least offensive way of referring to someone if they haven't specified their preferred pronoun.

    There have been other attempts at nonspecific third-person pronouns like "zhe" but none of them have caught on.

  • masonwheeler (github)

    Today’s anonymous submitter was working with a REST API provided by a “world leading parcel” company.

    I bet it was UPS. Why? Because they get everything else wrong, so why not this? I can't think of a single time someone's shipped something to me with UPS and not had something go terribly wrong.

  • Anon E Mouse (unregistered)

    TRWTF is how 4 of 19 comments are about the WTF and 15 of 19 are off topic - WFT?

  • ipguru (unregistered)

    @Ignácz as a native English speaker (from England!) i can confirm that even the Americans (who realy do need to learn to speak English correctly :-) ) have it correct whey they use they to talk about some one rather that He/Her if they wish to be genfer neutral.

    So this is indeed normal English. I do not know which country you originate from & I can certainly confirm that you command of English is far better than my command of your native tounge so please be assured this is not meant to cause offence.

  • Naomi (unregistered) in reply to Anon E Mouse

    Before or after your meta-off-topic post? :P

    (I'm teasing! Don't take me seriously!)

  • (nodebb) in reply to Ignácz

    What's SJW?


  • Gordon JC Pearce (github)

    I've always worked on the basis that it's not terrible to get someone's pronoun wrong the first time but if you do you'd better make damn sure you get it right every time after that. That said, since my name, gender, preferred pronouns and appearance all pretty much align with what you'd expect I don't really have a dog in that fight. To go even further, I don't really care about pronouns so if you feel more comfortable using she/her pronouns when talking about me I'd find it a little surprising but not particularly upsetting.

  • MiserableOldGit (unregistered) in reply to Anon E Mouse
    TRWTF is how 4 of 19 comments are about the WTF and 15 of 19 are off topic - WFT?

    Today's WTF is not so exciting, so arguing pedantically about grammar has provided more entertainment. What were they thinking?

    And yes, it's not just American English. British English works the same way, although there is also a convention of using male words when gender is unknown it is by no means a rule and has only been practised for the last couple of hundred years. If in doubt, read Jane Austen.

  • NA (unregistered)

    Merriam-Webster reference on the use of they/them/their as singular, non-binary pronoun (where gender is unknown/ambiguous/etc.). The article calls out this has been in use since the 1300s. As an American, I realize that Europe is "where the history comes from", but 1300s should still have you covered...


  • BobE (unregistered)

    Their responses to the use of they is correct. Except for them over there, they're incorrect.

    While we're on the topic, I'd like to ask, "which witch is wich?".

  • Shill (unregistered) in reply to Ignácz

    I find your suggestion that we need to change an English practice that has been in use for hundreds of years in order not to offend other cultures offensive to my culture.

  • medievalist (unregistered) in reply to Ignácz

    "SJW" means Social Justice Warrior. It has become a derogatory term.

    It implies hypocrisy. It's criticism of someone who is very aggressive or contemptuous online, yet does not actually engage in any physical or economic activity that would promote the causes they claim to support. The stereotypical SJW seeks "Internet points" for their attitude, but is too lazy or cowardly to do anything more difficult than type profanities on a keyboard.

    When used by a conservative or right-wing person, it's usually directed at someone who is very aggressively promoting social justice issues. Often these are gender or identity oriented issues of equality and fair access.

    When used by a liberal or left-wing person, it's usually directed at someone who addresses social issues in a way that sabotages the efforts of social justice WORKERS, by promoting divisiveness and purity tests.

    It's important to remember it's an insult, and like most insults it is not necessarily an accurate representation of the person being insulted. If someone calls you a bastard, it doesn't necessarily mean your parents were not married, it just means they don't like you.

  • Klimax (unregistered) in reply to Naomi

    Pretty sure Ignácz is from Central Europe like me. That long a is give way as there are not many languages with such character and cz is common to Polish, dialects in Czech and Slovak Republics and it is occasionally used in place of č when writing on foreign server.

    I think they are confusing "they" with "it". It should be noted there is no equivalent in Slavic languages. (Which are also heavily gendered)

  • Argle (unregistered)

    Singular "they." Here you go, Ignácz (I will add that it's pre-USA):

    "And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame, They wol come up..." — Chaucer, "The Pardoner's Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales (c. 1400)

  • (nodebb)

    I understand the intention behind using singular "they" in cases when the gender of the person is unknown, but I'd prefer "he". Most languages default to male gender when discussing unknowns or a known group. It is obviously not meant to offend any women. Stretching a plural word to use for singular is worse than just using "he" from language esthetic perspective. Also if we all agree that "he" is used, then we can drop the "he/she", too. Win win

  • Alex (unregistered)

    And there's a reason strongly-typed APIs were created </soapbox>

  • This guy with that API (unregistered) in reply to masonwheeler

    Nope, it wasn't UPS.

    Actually I also tried developing a mobile app and am quite balanced on the topic what I hate more :)

  • (nodebb) in reply to Fordom Greeman

    I have my popcorn ready, waiting for the blistering takedown of your heretic opinion :)

  • Worf (unregistered) in reply to Mr. TA

    Singular "they" has been in use since the 14th century. It's not new, recent or woke or anything else modern. It also respects the new pronouns that are a recent invention.

    You probably used it plenty of times already today. "Who left their phone on my desk?".

    "Who left a mess on the floor? They need to come and clean it up now!"

  • Just Me (unregistered) in reply to Ignácz

    You find it degrading that a language from a foreign country didn't consult YOU (a hundred years before you were born) to see if a certain construct is degrading?

  • Naomi (unregistered) in reply to Mr. TA

    It is obviously not meant to offend any women.

    Sure. If someone uses male pronouns by default, it's just a default. It's not intended to cause offense.

    But that's not really the point. If Alice writes a blog post using a word that, unbeknownst to her, is a slur against some group, she has every right to say "woops, I didn't know" in an apology. But she should still amend the post! Her intent doesn't change the fact that some percentage of her readers are going to read that word and immediately be made upset. Her intent doesn't stop her words from causing harm.

    ...and that's a much realer issue. Insisting on male pronouns by default causes harm. Some women will see literature full of male pronouns and immediately feel unwelcome (and there's a second-order effect here, where a lack of women in a field make other women wary of getting into it, but I digress). So it's not really about "offense" and it's not really about what anyone "meant". It's about whether or not we want to contribute to one of the many barriers to women in IT (or politics, or business, or for that matter Dungeons and Dragons, or what have you). I have never, ever called the generic "he" offensive. I do believe that it's problematic, and I do believe there's a difference.

    Stretching a plural word to use for singular is worse than just using "he" from language esthetic perspective.

    Well, aesthetics are pretty subjective, aren't they? As a woman (if my username didn't give it away!), I find the use of male pronouns when they aren't appropriate a much more glaring aesthetic problem than the use of plural pronouns when they aren't - because, to me, it isn't just a matter of aesthetics. But I'm drunk, so...

    Ahem. Semantics are less subjective than aesthetics, and, I'd argue, more important in a linguistic context - and there's a semantic reason why the singular "they" is preferable to the generic "he". Most nouns in English - hang on, TIL TDWTF has a character limit per post!

  • Naomi (unregistered)

    ...most nouns in English have obvious singular and plural forms - coworker, coworkers; developer, developers; etc.; and using a pronoun to refer to someone before using a noun is very unusual. So, unless someone goes really out of their way (do I smell a short story gimmick?), the singular "they" is obvious. The generic "he" is not; the generic "he" is, in fact, semantically ambiguous. In lots of common scenarios, you can't tell if someone is using the generic "he" or is actually indicating whether someone identifies as male:

    Leslie's coworker has, shall we say, interesting ideas on source control. When called on it, he'd always say he wants to "get it done", corporate bigwigs be damned!

    Am I implying that Leslie's coworker is male? It's legitimately unclear. But s/\bhe\b/they/g and the ambiguity evaporates! So, inclusivity aside, there's a pretty simple linguistic argument in favor of the singular "they" over the generic "he".

    In conclusion, using "they" instead of "he" is both more inclusive and clearer - and more consistent with historical English norms, if one cares about such thing. I don't see any compelling reason to avoid it, and lots of reasons to embrace it.

    Then again, I am a woman in a male-dominated industry, so, y'know, whatever.

  • sizer99 (google)

    I agree with the last paragraph. This WTF is so normal that it doesn't even seem like a WTF at this point.

    The entire field of Web Development is the WTF.

  • Pzz (unregistered) in reply to Naomi

    I feel like far too much emphasis is put into who is offended by something (in American culture). We fall into the the trap of speech being defined by who is offended. Offense is subjective.

  • JJ (unregistered)

    @Naomi "and immediately feel unwelcome" Very good point.

    Somebody likened the tech sector to a basketball game. If a female walked past x guys (sorry, not a sporty person) playing basketball, it's much easier to keep walking than to jump in.

  • Chris (unregistered)

    The only problem with "they" as a singular, non-gender specific pronoun, is that it gives away the fact that you aren't sure what gender the person in question is. It's OK when you've received a written submission online, but if you're standing right next to them...

  • (nodebb) in reply to Mr. TA

    Most languages "default to male gender" because those linguistic conventions emerged at a time when women were barely allowed to participate in most aspects of society. Society has moved on from those days, and so too should our language adapt to our society.

    And if thou dislikest the use of a plural pronoun in a singular manner, I hope that thou sayest not "you" to refer to a singular person, as "you" is originally a plural pronoun. (Which is why we say "You are", not "You is" or "You art" - we kept the plural verb conjugation even when we shifted the meaning of the pronoun to encompass the singular).

  • Olivier (unregistered) in reply to Cidolfas

    "but in North America at least, it's now considered the least offensive way of referring to someone if they haven't specified their preferred pronoun"

    Though not yet very natural :) We are talking about singular "they" so it should read "but in North America at least, it's now considered the least offensive way of referring to someone if they HASN'T specified their preferred pronoun". Now that sounds gross!

  • Olivier (unregistered) in reply to Altaree

    For example, In Thailand, age specific is more important that gender specific: there is no word for brother but for older brother or younger brother, but there is a word for younger brother or sister.

    Most of the gender specific part depends on the person who is talking and who should know their gender.

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