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In this question, we're being asked for suggestions on "wife-friendly adventures". While the person asking the question is doing so with entirely innocent intent (he wants to find a game that matches what his wife is looking for, and tells us what that is in the details), the title is problematic to quite a few people.

Personally, I cringe a little every time I see it. In other parts of the "gaming" community, there is a lot of general misogyny and this term is thrown around as one of many derogatory terms implying that women don't play "real" games. Having a title like that gives the impression that the question (and by extension the site) is for male RPG players. That isn't actually true of this community from what I've seen at all, but we're facing something of a negative social stigma due to the actions of others and IMO need to avoid lopsided terminology like this.

For this specific question it would be easy enough to change the title to something like "nobles & political intrigue" rather than "wife-friendly" (which would be more accurate). But I'm thinking about a more general case answer for what to do the next time similar terminology appears.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that a) the title was added by a mod, not by the original poster, and b) the original poster is okay with keeping the title or losing it, he's just tired of everyone paying attention to the title instead of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Sep 29 '13 at 12:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did some heavy editing on that question. It's now just on-target and about that kind of adventure. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 29 '13 at 12:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW Yeah, I'm not trying to pick on the original poster at all. But there's been a lot of discussion about it and people keep saying "someone make a meta post if it bugs you". So here we are. If nothing else, we'll have a reference in the future on what we should do the next time. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Sep 29 '13 at 12:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I know y'all like blaming me for stuff, but I just pasted the real question in his Q over the totally poor and vague subject line he started with ("Help me find a campaign.") I did not make up the turn of phrase or pass judgement on it one way or another. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Sep 29 '13 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk No intent to "blame you" coming from me, at least. Anyone looking at the edit history will see that you didn't originate the phrase. I think it's important to discussing the policy to note that it was not a new-to-rpg.se poster (which corsiKa was at the time) who tacitly endorsed the phrase by making it a title. I'd still have said it if it were a non-mod, though a mod's action has some extra weight because mods see patterns of use and behavior that we aren't as attuned to, so I mentioned that a mod did the edit. But it doesn't matter if that mod was you, or Brian, or Ross. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Sep 29 '13 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ That assumes that the wording was so egregious that certainly someone should have taken a priori action, which I disagree with. It's fine for us to have a meta discussion to get picker about wording, but this post was well within acceptable limits of site discourse. None of the three mods felt like mod intervention was merited, for sure. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Sep 29 '13 at 14:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for making this question. I wouldn't have been able to write it so well, since the issue is so very emotionally charged for me. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 29 '13 at 18:59
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Yes, terminology like this should be edited away liberally from questions, answers, and especially question titles.

People could be quite reasonably offended by this language - it's making disrespectful stereotypical judgements - and that in itself might well be a good enough reason to edit these terms.

But there's another reason as well.

"[societal-role]-friendly" actually communicates nothing, and we can do better

We're all aware that people can enjoy any kind of game, regardless of their gender, or their familial status, or even their profession. So, really, the adjective "wife-friendly" doesn't mean anything at all, nor does "male-friendly" - nor "dentist-friendly," for that matter.

So this terminology is useless:

Where can I find an adventure friendly to [societal role]?

Nobody knows what the heck that means. As a title, it's a poor one - this terminology tells people little about the question and it is not search-engine friendly.

What does "[societal-role]-friendly" actually mean in your particular case? Does it mean the adventure has [features]? Great! Be to the point, and write this instead:

Where can I find a game that has [features]?

This one actually communicates something. As a title, it tells you what the question's about from the questions list or from search engine results - and it's search engine friendly. It's good communication, and a great title. So it should be written like this in the first place - and edited to be like this if it isn't.

After word: Societal role terminology can be quite OK

This question and answer is meant to deal with the times it isn't useful and shouldn't be taken as a command to edit away all instances of such terms indiscriminately. Describing people in terms of their societal role is actually useful sometimes.

Consider these cases:

  • I suspect my GM is favouring this boy/girl they like
  • I'm experiencing social tensions in my group because my husband/wife/etc is also playing

The societal roles here are very important, as are the specific nature of these relationships. There's not much to be gained by editing these away, and there's not much room for improvement here: these statements are already to the point.

So edit away cases where mention of a societal role is useless, but naturally, not indiscriminately when they're useful.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for your "making the question better by communicating needed features" \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Sep 29 '13 at 12:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 for changing the scope of the question. "Wife" does not simply equal "girl." Sure, "game for girls" or "game for boys" has no value. However when someone uses a term like "wife" in this context it's not just gender, it's trying to encapsulate "get a significant other who is not a primary gamer, but who is willing to consider it due to their relationship with me, to play..." This is why many of the comment-responses to gender complaints were "yeah but we know what he's talking about..." Replacing "gendered term" with "gender" in your answer above simplifies the discussion past usefulness. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Sep 29 '13 at 15:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Why is it relevant that the target is his wife? If the target was a friend (or a husband), except for possibly changing "princess" to "prince", it doesn't change the meat of the question or answers in any way whatsoever. The question was really for a type of game, and the part about his wife is just extraneous background. In the question itself that's one thing, but it doesn't belong in the title when we could have something descriptive instead. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Sep 29 '13 at 17:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I can see the relevance of scoping it exactly to "an adventure suitable for enticing my RPG-curious SO", but that's not what "wife-friendly" obviously means. It's a) loaded, b) ambiguous. Much better, if the question is about enticing an SO, to directly ask for "help making an adventure that will encourage my SO to stick with RPGs." Either way, a more accurate title removes both ambiguity and the appearance that we don't care that a title could be ambiguously read as offensive. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 29 '13 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ The edit addresses my issue. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Sep 29 '13 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Cool, okay. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 29 '13 at 21:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW Thanks for that edit. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 29 '13 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tridus For instance, most traditional games generate lots of bad dynamics if "you're favoring her because she's your mate" or "you're hampering me because you don't want your friends to think you're favoring me" happens. It doesn't really matter if it's a male or female mate (even though the majority of men I know are more likely to favor women in the attempt to impress them and have them like their game). So, it sometimes matters that it's her wife and not a friend. I agree on the "describe it instead" approach, anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Sep 30 '13 at 9:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ My rule-of-thumb: if you swap the gender and the question suddenly sounds "off", there's a problem. If someone asked "what's a good husband-friendly game", the first response would be "well, it depends on what sort of games your husband is into; the question isn't useful". Which is the proper answer for a "wife-friendly" game. \$\endgroup\$ – Allen Gould Oct 4 '13 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel I feel like there may be an exception in this rule - like: "if you do the describe-it-instead part and wind up with this anyway, it's fine" - but I feel like that isn't necessarily going to be the case, because terms like "I need a game women/dentists like" just... isn't answerable. "I am having social tensions because my wife/husband/significant other is in this game" or "I suspect my GM is favouring this girl he likes" is totally fine - but I suspect it's not what my answer's supposed to address anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 5 '13 at 2:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mxyzplk does have a point about it not being completely meaningless, since "wife" isn't just a role within society, but a description of the person's relationship to another person who, by context, we know something about. Still, the answer's main point is that "What systems are good for <people with relationship X to a gamer>?" is far less useful a question than "What systems are good for <people with personality trait / preference X>?". That is the distinction which should be of overwhelming importance in deciding this issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Oct 6 '13 at 18:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the relationship-to-me thing is a useful sniff test, actually. Is their relationship relevant to the question they're asking? E.g. "What systems are good for [roommates/army buddies/FWBs/co-workers]" fails the sniff test: the relationship has no connection to what they're looking for, since the system authors don't know these people. E.g. "How to solve conflicts between two players who are recent exes?" passes the sniff test: the relationship is directly relevant to the problem. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 7 '13 at 4:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not downvoting since the "other reason" about the title not being as useful is good, but your premise that people could "reasonably get offended by this language "and that "it's making disrespectful stereotypical judgments" is absurd. Not saying people won't get offended by it, but there was clearly no ill intent or stereotyping in its use, and any offense taken to it would be quite unreasonable. Then again, we are a product of an unreasonable society, so that may not matter. \$\endgroup\$ – asteri Oct 28 '13 at 17:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @asteri Ill intent has zero to do with whether someone could be reasonably offended by a title deliberately using a word for its stereotype-conveying power, as in the case at hand of "wife-friendly." \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 2 '15 at 22:21

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