We recently had an answer to a question, where a written expression was gendered in a form, which is not part of the official language.
Shall we tolerate such officially wrong spellings, which would cost a pupil points in school?
This is a site about language, so we should be especially respectful towards the decisions that the participants make in regard to their language use. We should only ever make changes to someone else's text if we are confident that the writer agrees that they improve it. Making something comply with accepted use or spelling is not necessarily an improvement.
We should stick strictly to official German writing rules in our answers. A site about language has to have a clear focus on correct spelling. Of course, free discussions about the idea of political motivated reforms are ok, or questions about conventions in special groups. Or texts, which underline that the used spelling is officially wrong like such including uppercase letters as in FußgängerInnenampel, underlines like in Proff_x, Slashes and Brackets as in der/die erste Läufer(in).
Users using such things should be led to this discussion in a comment and the text be corrected if the usage of such methods happened without notice.
In my opinion, there are better and worse ways to create visibility of both genders/sexes. (Better and worse meant in a stylistic context.)
Switch between the usage of a generic masculine and a generic feminine. (Bonus points if the one you’re using is the unexpected one in context.) Absolutely non-disruptive towards the language
Write out both possibilities. Again, non-disruptive but makes the statement longer.
Use slash and brackets. It’s a more disruptive version of 2, but at least it’s short and doesn’t really disrupt stuff.
Use CamelCased I. Slightly disruptive and sometimes leads to weird adjectives. But again it’s short. The only reason I disprefer this against 3 is that the uppercase I can often be mistaken for a lowercase l; especially with the sans-serif font our site uses.
Use of a star, underscore, space or any other means to show the so-called ‘gender gap’. These are very disruptive since they seem to create an additional word which isn’t a word at all. The ‘gap’ seems just to be there to irritate a reader <include politically incorrect references to a certain group of people>.
In the question that created the discussion, we had a usage of an underscore to represent the so-called ‘gender gap’ — coincidentally the ugliest possible version to my eyes.
Now how should we deal with these?
If the post is of perfect wording and cannot be improved by editing, then do not edit even if it contains a ‘gender gap’.
If there are minor or major other things to be edited, edit the post in its entirety. If it contains a ‘gender gap’, turn it into a CamelCase, slash/bracket or written out combination (in order of preference). Do not replace by a generic masculine or generic feminine.
Never use a ‘gender gap’ or another one of the options 3/4 as an excuse to edit the post. It’s either worth editing by its own rights or not.
I think this somehow overlaps (or should overlap) with our treatment of the 1901 orthography.
There are no official rules on gender-neutral spelling but some variants do exist. Therefore it is all a matter of personal taste on how to treat this and which variant to choose.
In almost all fields of written German those variants are well tolerated (though some are disputed but they are not clearly designated as wrong).
The same tolerance should be applied to people posting here. So I am all against editing posts of people trying to word something in a gender-neutral fashion.
I would decline such an edit as too minor, as discussions on such details will inevitably lead away from the question that was asked. In addition all such side-discussions will not be resolved and they will lead to much clutter on the site.
In the past, people corrected my texts even though they where correct on the grounds that this site is primarily meant for educating people. The example was to change Konjunktiv Präteritum to Konjunktiv II; and although I don't like all these I/II terms from German grammar, I accepted it, as the argument is quite convincing.
As gender gap is no part of the official german spelling rules, it should be corrected. Otherwise, foreigners may believe that this is the proper way to write German. If they know German well enough, they may take their own choice.