Self-Defined

A modern dictionary about us.

Self-Defined is an open-source dictionary that seeks to provide more inclusive, holistic, and fluid definitions to reflect the diverse perspectives of the modern world.
Future plans include a full API, bots for Twitter and Slack, and custom URLs.
Discussion
Would you recommend this product?
13 Reviews3.5/5
Self-Defined came to me out of harassment. I realised that most people seeking to discuss and to question core aspects of our identity—race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability (physical and mental), religion, age, physical expression, etc—lacked the adequate vocabulary to engage. I was often asked—with bad intent—to define key core words in conversations over and over again. Dictionaries failed me, as they were written by people who didn't need these words, who didn't want these words. And even when they tried, dictionaries didn't reflect the ever-evolving definitions. It was a way to invalidate my existence through the lack of words. Tired, I wished for a bot that I could tag in and that could self-define. Thus, Self-Defined was born. I imagined a world where a bot could define 'racism' or 'gender non-conformity' or whatever word I was asked to define repeatedly. I imagined a world where a Slack bot could inform a user they were using an ableist slur before it sent. I imagined a world where we could have URLs that preemptively told people that we identify as 'Asian American' and 'pan.' I wanted to make this imagined world a reality. I sincerely believe that words are immensely powerful. Words form policies and laws. Words give us ways to identify ourselves as individuals and to come together as communities. I hope this project allows everyone to self-define who they are and to see themselves in the dictionary, in ways I never have.
Upvote (10)Share
@tatianatmac This is exactly the kind of innovation I love to see in digital products -- thank you Tatiana. Excited to see how this evolves over time. Really clever way to use Github, too. How does moderation and adding to the dictionary work now?
@abadesi Thank you, Abadesi! I am in the process of writing the Code of Conduct, as I recognise that is the number one foundational need for any open source project. Currently, users can submit requests for words as issues or as pull requests (depending on their comfort working with the codebase). In the future, the plan is to create Issues templates that lower the "technical" barrier to entry (recognising that many excellent writers of these minoritised groups do not necessarily write code, and that's okay), and provide more framing mechanisms for people to submit. For now, the moderation of submitted content is handled by myself, but I hope to expand to a board or small group of individuals of many orientations and identities, since I have limited knowledge and biases, too. I hope that provides valuable context—thank you again for the support!
Really well made @tatianatmac, I love that you extended definitions with tips and alternative words. It breaks the common, false assumption that dictionaries are not made of heavy political choices. The reading was pleasant and the layout really helps! 👍
@hypervillain Thank you, Hugo! Your comment warmed my heart! I definitely think words have major political and social impact—dictionaries as they stand tend to act as an objective source, when they're just as biased as any other piece of writing. With this, I hope to make the bias one of progress and of inclusion. And thanks for the kind words about the design. I love tapping into my inner typographer!
Good Job! This app has a future!
@klara_fletcher Thank you, Klara! I'm really motivated to continue to expand it as I agree. Appreciate your support.
This is so helpful and so needed. I'm really glad you took the initiative to make this happen. Its a great first step and I can't wait to see where it goes. Lots of support here!
I believe in absolutism over relativism in my search for knowledge, while abstractions do help to encompass all and everything, concreteness is what allow to make deduction and induction reasoning. In my interactions with people, I often see words being misused voluntarily or not. I think having common definitions is more important than fluid words. Good luck with the project nonetheless 👌