How the Open Demographics Initiative recommends you ask for gender information
© Open Demographics Initiative's gender identification questions

Last week, Nikki Stevens presented "Other, Please Specify" for TEDx at Arizona State University. In her TED Talk, Nikki shares the story behind the Open Demographics Initiative, which is developing a recommended set of questions that anyone can use to ask online community members about their demographics.

Nikki demonstrates how a majority of demographic surveys require users to conform to restrictive identity fields, which can alienate minority or underrepresented groups. The Open Demographics Initiative wants to develop forms that are more inclusive, in addition to giving people more control over the data and information they chose to disclose.

Inspired by Nikki's presentation, I reached out to the engineering team at the Drupal Association to see if there are plans to implement the Open Demographics Initiative's recommendations on I was happy to learn that they are collaborating with the Open Demographics team to add the recommendations to the user registration process on

Adopting Open Demographics on will also allow us to improve reporting on diversity and inclusion, which in turn will help us better support initiatives that advance diversity and inclusion. Plus, we can lead by example and inspire other organizations to do the same.

Thank you Nikki, for sharing the story behind the Open Demographics Initiative, and for helping to inspire change in the Drupal community and beyond.


Tara King (not verified):

This is really exciting news, for the Drupal community and for open source as a whole. Thank you so much to Nikki & OpenDemographics for creating this resource, and to Dries & the Drupal Association for implementing it on

John (not verified):

We have had 2 "Drupalgeddons" in the last months. Maybe a focus on code quality would be preferable over this obsession for gender theory that seems to dominate the Drupal agenda now days. #drexit

greg boggs (not verified):

Drupal has had 3 major remote code exploits since D7. Meanwhile other similar systems have had hundreds over the same period of time. The idea that a group of thousands of people cannot work on both security patches, and other things is, well, offensive.

dalin (not verified):

You seem to be suggesting that it's possible to create software without bugs, specifically security bugs.

If you're not interested in working on improving Drupal's inclusion, that's fine, but many people are. Some of whom don't code. If you've got any constructive criticism about how Drupal can improve its code quality, or the way that security vulnerabilities are addressed, there are many avenues for that already. The key word is *constructive*. Whining doesn't accomplish anything.

drupalshrek (not verified):

If I'm conducting a survey on gender identification, where that is the focus of the survey, or a dating website where this is an important part of the target demographic, then this may be an excellent list.

If I'm doing a form for normal general-purpose use, I think a simple, binary-choice radio button with male/female selection is more appropriate.

Adam (not verified):

Wouldn't it just be infinitely easier to have an open text field? With the never ending obsession of adding more gender identifications, how much screen real estate or scrolling is viable for this profile question? Invariably, someone will squeak loud enough that their gender reference isn't included, or should be more prominent on the list. Just kill all of the potential noise, and prefer simplicity by having an open field.

Ben (not verified):

John's right, I've been fighting for years now to convince my entire university to move over to Drupal from Wordpress... and I've decided not to continue the fight because something is dramatically wrong with Drupal and the community right now. I don't know anyone who uses Drupal for the "community experience", we use it to help us to advance our careers. It's becoming increasingly obvious that the Drupal Community is being led by progressive ideologues who are distracting from the true mission which is to create quality software and two Drupalgeddons in two months is really proving that point.

grubb (not verified):

Maybe the problem isn't that we don't have enough labels for ourselves, maybe the problem is that we have to label ourselves.

Mike Milano (not verified):

Unless educating on gender identity is an official purpose of the DA, perhaps they should consider not collecting gender information at all. I can't speak for anyone else but how I identify is not anyone's business. I know there is a checkbox for that, but also, gender has no business in how I should be profiling anyone else on d.o.

When I visit someone's profile, I'm generally looking at their contributions, companies, mentors, social links, but never have I looked at the gender field. I didn't even know it was public till reviewing it just now. Is there a reason we should be profiling members based on gender?

Something else to consider are those who would like to keep their gender private yet unwittingly expose the information to the public. The question above gender is private and I think there would be a good chance for someone to enter this, potentially private information, without thinking it would be listed publicly. I know there's help text, but we all know most don't read that. Others may simply not understand that everything is public unless otherwise stated.

Observation: I express these thoughts with hesitation since I'm not 100% behind a proposition made in the name of inclusion. It would be easier to simply move on. There are many respectful (and respected) in the community who avoid engaging in topics like this entirely. They don't engage out of fear of being misunderstood, or perhaps misjudged while using clumsy language to navigate the delicate subject. Ironically, this itself is an inclusion issue, arguably in direct conflict with its most outspoken proponents. Exclusion (and not just D8) has driven people away. No community member opposes inclusion (I wouldn't consider them a community member otherwise) however the method and approach lack voice.

Jason (not verified):

When you show up at work. I hope that you will not be labeled in some way. Regardless of your sexuality I hope that the people around you will see you for who you are. You are not defined by your sexuality or race.

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