Checking for insensitive language with alex

alex is a tool that allows you to identify insensitive and/or inconsiderate language in written prose. The following description is taken from the project page:

“Whether your own or someone else’s writing, alex helps you find gender favoring, polarizing, race related, religion inconsiderate, or other unequal phrasing in text.”

As an example consider the following markdown file:

# A typical user of Nashpy

He will use it to study games.

If we run alex on it:

$ alex

We get:

$ alex
3:1-3:3  warning  `He` may be insensitive, use `They`, `It` instead  he-she  retext-equality

⚠ 1 warning

Correcting the markdown file to:

# A typical user of Nashpy

They will use it to study games.

Running alex now gives:

$ alex no issues found

The above example is quite a clear one, alex assists by identifying errors like this but also more subtle ones.

It is possible to ignore certain checks using a configuration file but as described in the how to guide it is also possible to annotate the file itself. This is preferred as it makes exceptions explicit.


The Frequently asked questions about alex can be found here: This includes:

Q: This is stupid!

A: Not a question. And yeah, alex isn’t very smart. People are much better at this. But people make mistakes, and alex is there to help

The Nashpy library uses alex for exactly this reason, it is one of many efforts made to ensure the project is inclusive.