It is not always obvious what Part is fronting in a System. Some have more obvious traits like favorite clothes or specific postures, but that's not always the case. In most Systems the Parts will still have some differentiating behaviors. Katie, in our system, has more feminine voice but is much more shy. Gold has a much more masculine voice than even Aster or I. Katie and I enjoy wearing feminine clothes like skirts or blouses. Gold and Viv will go and change out those clothes.
Traits, Preferences and Skills
Interests are also trait that can change in obvious ways. Our interests and preferences can change greatly. This was actually noticed by friends even before diagnosis. No other Parts our System (roughly 11 known Parts now) have any interest in that hobby at all! Additionally these changes can even be tied to what parts of the brain an Alter has access to. Katie and Aster are both very knowledgeable about programming, but they are the only two with skill. More than a lack of interest, Viv and I do not know how to program. Even when technical issues occur for us, like our proxy bots going down, we have to wait for Katie or Aster to fix them for us.
Preferences can also change. Viv, Aster and I all enjoy video games but the genres we enjoy are very different. Viv loves fast paced moving shooters like Doom and Doom: Eternal. Aster and I both dislike those kinds of fast-paced 3d movement games. That game play is very disorienting to us and can make us motion sick. Viv does not have that issue. Food preferences can change drastically too. Katie loves sushi, while the rest of us dislike sushi and cannot even eat it. I like like Coke soda, but no one else enjoys the fizzy goodness at all. Viv only has roughly 3 foods it will eat at all; anything else and it will not eat.
Lastly, and less often seen, Parts can have different allergies too. Although allergies are biological DID/OSDD can sometimes affect how different Parts experience the allergies. In our System Aster has a very bad reaction to cats and cat fur. The dander causes their eyes to water, nose to run, and their face feels very itchy like it is covered in fur too. Katie, Viv and I have never experienced this at all. We have regularly had cats of various ages in our hands, on our shoulders, and pressed against our face with no reaction at all.
Not the cat we have experience with, but still a wonderful cat.
Lastly, and most simply, you can just ask! Most Systems (who are aware of being a System) will not be offended if you just ask who is currently fronting, what is rude is to ask for someone else if you don't like the answer! Just asking, "Sorry, but I'm not sure who's fronting now, would you mind telling me?" is a much better approach than trying to play detective yourself. Many Systems will have some kind of way to visually indicate who's fronting without even having to ask, if they are comfortable with things like that! We have used a number of different formula's that we'll discuss below.
Communicating who's Fronting
After diagnosis, one of our first methods was to use Hair Clips. Aster purchased a packet of 10-20 hair clips like the picture below. As Aster made a list of "suspected parts" they would also assign a colored clip to that Part. Then whenever Aster thought that Part was fronting, or near the front, Aster would clip the corresponding color pen to their shirt collar. As the System became more comfortable we would each pick our own color. We could then change the clips to help our Wife understand when switches occur.
This is a super simple method that is easy to use and can be very covert! It's very easy to incorporate hair pens into any outfit.
A lot of our life is spent online or in online communities. Many of our friend groups are online, and now even our work is entirely remote and online. Online communication opens up a host of possibilities to easily convey this information. One method we still frequently use is putting specific emotes, quotes, or lyrics in our status. On both Discord and Twitch we frequently use a set of Emotes to show who is fronting on stream or in Direct Message's. We have wonderful custom emotes made by our friends and wife, but generic emotes will also work perfectly! The important thing is to make a "key" like below for others to easily reference. For a long time we would Direct Message trusted friends a sort of index or key and pin a text/emote key for them.
This method is very easy to implement on any online platform.
Quick plug, come watch us stream Metroid Dread and do coding things on Twitch! We have a special setup with hotkeys just to toggle these icons up and down during stream. This helps quickly and easily communicate to viewers who is doing what!
Some online platforms allow for "proxy messages". Role Players often setup multiple "characters" to play as, but plural people can also use this to help show who's fronting! Some bot's such as Pluralkit and our self made Maybax bot are made specifically for plural people. Maybax provides both a website and bot commands to register your System and Parts. With these bots, you can setup a profile for each Part. You will also setup an "indicator" which is just a snippet of text to identify which part is speaking. Finally send a message with that indicator included. The bot will delete your message and create a new message from that Parts Profile.
We have found proxy messages to be very helpful! Each Part can setup individual pictures and pronouns for messages. Pluralkit also provides integration with SimplyPlural for tracking switches too! This can even be helpful for System discussions. Create your own private Discord server to help open internal communication!
SimplyPlural is a great app if you have a smartphone and good internet connection! SimplyPlural is a whole System management app. You can add profiles for each Part, add pronouns, likes, dislikes, and pictures for each part. By far our favorite feature of SP is the timeline. Once you have some of your Parts put into SP, you can begin to record switches. All of these switches are recorded in a full screen Timeline. This timeline shows your fronting and switch history. It's even color coded displaying each Part in their favorite color. SP also public options too! You can share your SP (ours is in the footer!) so others can easily see your fronting status. P.S. It is possible to hide members (like Littles) to not be public. Finally, SP also integrates with Pluralkit! The integration syncs Part profiles and Switches back and forth!
Altogether SimplyPlural is a wonderful app that is easy to understand. In our experience the most difficult part is getting every Alter to log switches.