Quoting Muke Tever <[log in to unmask]>:

> The gender of a John is likely to be known before one can make narrative
> statements about them.  Online it can be somewhat different, and one can make
> all sorts of statements about a specific named person using "they" when
> gender isn't evident.  I believe "they" can also be used for, for example,
> neuter animates like bots in chat rooms.

FWIW, IME bots are usually "it".

I do know a Chinese woman who insists on calling them "he", however.