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    The RuboCop Name Drama Redux culture ruby metaredux.com
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    It’s easy to suggest a rename when you pay none of the maintenance cost yourself. Renaming things isn’t always free.

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      Requests of the form “I support $GOOD_THING, so please make $CHANGE” are often emotional manipulation and power plays, as they carry a subtext of “if you do not make $CHANGE, you support $BAD_THING and are therefore a bad person”.

      Statements like “all software is political” are used as a motte-and-bailey: the motte is the narrow sense in which a piece of software could be downloaded by almost anyone and applied to nearly any end; the bailey is “there can be no middle ground - you are either with us or against us”. The aim is to back the maintainer into a corner where a hasty decision gets made under pressure.

      Note also the rush to fork - that’s another power play and adds pressure to the existing project’s leadership. In addition to the emotionally-manipulative requests, there is the additional threat of “if you do not comply, we will attempt to take your work and community away from you”.

      Projects which allow these kinds of tactics to succeed increase the likelihood that they will be deployed again: both against the project itself and within the wider ecosystem. The correct response, IMHO, is to call out the manipulation for what it is, refuse to enter discussion, and wait for the storm to pass. Bozhidar, you did well.

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        I agree that this PC virtue signalling manipulative game is bad.

        “if you do not comply, we will attempt to take your work and community away from you”.

        Work given in the spirit of free software, and community of free individuals, are not yours.They cannot be ‘taken’ away.

        I think forking should be encouraged. If you don’t like it, make your own, has always been in the spirit of Freedom.

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          “if you do not comply, we will attempt to take your work and community away from you”

          What action do you feel would be reasonable for community members and users to express their discontent with the current name?

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            None.

            If the name really bothers you – and I don’t believe that’s what’s going on here, it reads to me like a power play, as the GP states – but if it really does, then recognize your feeling as the personal idiosyncrasy it is, rather than interpreting it as a right to impose on others. Then either don’t use the gem, or fork it yourself and rename it without any fanfare.

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              So would you agree that in light of maintainers’ unwillingness or inability to change, a fork is appropriate?

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                I was referring to a personal fork, to satisfy one’s personal feelings. I think forking the project publicly with the intention of promoting the fork is petty, vindictive, and completely inappropriate. That said, people are free to do as they wish per the license.

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                  I actually support this kind of public forking. I’ve said before that I would like to see more open-source projects publicly fork over political differences, rather than have political fights within the project over whose vision will prevail. Forking an open-source project, even publicly, is absolutely within the rights of anyone using open-source software and no one should feel dissuaded from doing so for any reason.

                  I do think that in this specific case the people who forked Rubocop are being petty and vindictive, but that’s because I disagree with them on the object-level political political issue, not because of the fact of forking. In fact, if the activists had succeeded in convincing the project to change their name, I would support a fork to restore the original name of Rubocop!

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                    Fwiw, I upvoted this and don’t consider it incompatible with my post.

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                    Would you say that it is fine to fork the project over a difference in political point-of-view, just as long as it is kept quietly private and no one ever heard about it?

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                      Yes. I think it’s fine to fork a project privately and do whatever you want for any reason whatsoever. That’s the beauty of OSS.

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                        Under what circumstances should a fork be publicized?

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                          What are you aiming at?

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                            It seems that @jonahx has some ideas about the normative standards of community behavior in OSS. I’m trying to understand what those are.

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                              I guessed so, but the whole thread started to look like an interrogation. Thus, and sorry for asking it so abruptly, I thought it would be better both for him, you, and us, the readers, to know what is the topic of the discussion.

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                            Common reasons I can think of:

                            • Original is no longer maintained.
                            • Fork was made for substantial technical reasons. Eg, the forkers want to support a new API and the original author does not.

                            This list is not exhaustive and I doubt any list could be. But that ambiguity does nothing to diminish the argument that a gem name containing the word “cop” in a playful, tongue-in-cheek way is not a good reason to fork and publicly promote someone else’s work.

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                              If this proposed fork began with a name change and subsequently diverged in function or API compatibility, would that be a good reason to publicize it?

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                                @jec Have you heard of “io.js”? it was a fork of Node.js that lasted for a few years, born from the dissatisfaction of how Node was being managed (at the time, by a single company, Joyent). Eventually, for a combination of reasons, Joyent would adopt the open governance model of io.js for Node, essentially giving up control to the community, and the fork was no longer necessary. In that time, io.js and node.js did have some significant differences in feature set, primarily in the realm of ES6 adoption. I think a lot of your questions could be answered pretty well by simply reading up on the history of that project, why it started, and why it ultimately no longer needed to exist.

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                  No action. If you don’t like product A because of the way it works, use a different product.

                  If you don’t like product A because its name has a word that reminds you of something you feel the need to publicly perform against, stop what you’re doing, and go outside and publicly perform against the thing you’re actually mad at.

                  The idea that the existence of police brutality somehow gives you the right to demand a bunch of programmers you don’t know rename their entirely unrelated project is farcical and bad behaviour like this does nothing to aid your causes.

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                    As soon as it’s publicly forked, it’s a different product. So what’s the issue?

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                      It would seem that this means that OSS affords a community no additional freedoms over traditional software. Take it or leave it. Do I misunderstand?

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                        I’m not making any statement about OSS or community management. I’m making a statement that if your response to police brutality is harassing software developers about the name of a static analysis tool that’s clearly a pun on a 30 year old action film which is itself clearly extremely critical of police brutality then you’re being a jerk, and you’re being part of the problem.

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                          Yes, of course you misunderstand. If you don’t like the name Windows you can’t just take it and run with it under the name Doors . You can do this with free software if you so please.

                          An important misunderstanding is that you seem to think that the maintainers of free software have some sort of obligation towards you, the user of such software. While there are some obligations they do not exceed those you’d have in any interaction with other people, e.g. free software can not intentionally cause harm nor can it intentionally discriminate based on a bevy of things the extent of which varies by country. Otherwise there is no obligation, zip, nada, niente. Take it as it is, fork it and rename it if the licence allows you to do so or leave it.

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                            So, to be clear, a public fork is an acceptable course of action in this case. Do you agree?

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                              If the licence accepts it and - and this is a big and - if the rhetoric is free from the usual vitriol about how insensitive and *-ist and *-phobe those original maintainers are then I see no problems with a fork since that is one of the mechanisms used to promulgate free software. That part about rhetoric is important since another mechanism used in free software is voluntary cooperation, something which is made far less pleasant when you get accused of being a horrible person for volunteering your own time and effort to make something useful for the world to enjoy, all because a limited number of people insist on their own moral superiority. Just because others don’t blindly follow doesn’t make those others despicable -ists/**-phobes. Discuss the matter and be prepared to accept that you might be wrong in your assumptions. If there is true weight to the matter you want to discuss there is a good chance you can convince reasonable people. That does not mean those people need to act in any way since you do have the possibility to fork the project. When doing so, do not use smear tactics to try to get the other developers to jump ship to your fork. Again, if your position has merit and is of significant importance those developers will probably follow, if not immediately then after a while. Accept the fact that what you consider to be of utmost importance might not be important at all - or even valid - for others.

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                                I’m not following your point about rhetoric. Do you really mean that the tone with which a fork is made determines its allow-ability?

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                                  Legally those who fork a project for these reasons are allowed to be as nasty as they want. Ethically they are not since that type of behaviour severely undermines the process which makes free software development possible. Nobody is helped by balkanisation of the development community, nothing is gained when people retreat behind rhetorical barricades and throw epithets at each other.

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                                    Can you give me an example of what you consider “nasty” behavior on the part of the activists here? I read many of the comments on the Github issue, and while most people on both sides of the discussion were respectful and measured in their tone, the most vitriolic language came from those who were opposed to the change. Here are some specifics:

                                    “this is a joke” https://github.com/rubocop-hq/rubocop/issues/8091#issuecomment-640170345

                                    “fuck off, grow up” https://github.com/rubocop-hq/rubocop/issues/8091#issuecomment-640172260

                                    “go eat dogs shit” https://github.com/rubocop-hq/rubocop/issues/8091#issuecomment-640184377

                                    encouraging abortion/suicide https://github.com/rubocop-hq/rubocop/issues/8091#issuecomment-640185317

                                    “fat and or ugly and/or seriously damaged” https://github.com/rubocop-hq/rubocop/issues/8091#issuecomment-640186576

                                    [ablist/heteronormative] “make children” https://github.com/rubocop-hq/rubocop/issues/8091#issuecomment-640173744

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                                      Not in this thread, yet. In other threads on other projects I’ve been involved in, very much so. Peertube is a good example:

                                      the ridiculous responses from people who don’t seem to understand the need for this…

                                      https://github.com/Chocobozzz/PeerTube/issues/1179#issuecomment-427225447

                                      What exactly makes you think that you deserve respect? The fact that you’re some random dude on github who doesn’t understand the definition of harassment? The fact that you can’t empathize with the other people in this thread? Like, I don’t do this “respectful” bullshit. If you’re an asshole and being intentionally obtuse I’m going to tell you that you are, and you are.

                                      https://github.com/Chocobozzz/PeerTube/issues/1179#issuecomment-427259110

                                      On the issue of solutions, I’m pretty sure solutions were already given, but since you’re pretty much the posterchild of the average techbro, nothing’s gonna get done.

                                      https://github.com/Chocobozzz/PeerTube/issues/1179#issuecomment-427260328

                                      lmao. dude, can we like, not with the “submit a patch” thing? does this really need to be explained to you?

                                      https://github.com/Chocobozzz/PeerTube/issues/1179#issuecomment-433243619

                                      This is a sampling of some of the abusive comments in a thread which started by someone asking for a way to block others from following a Peertube (a federated video server for those who might wonder) channel. It started with a reasonable request but quickly turned into a shouting match with people from outside the project joining in on trying to shame the developers into submission. The thing is, there was no hostility from the developers, just the normal questions on the what - why - how of a feature request.

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                                        Four of those examples are egregious and vitriolic. Describing something as a joke is not.

                                        Most importantly, saying ‘make children and raise them well’ is not ‘heteronormative’ or ‘ableist’. Or if it is, then those terms have lost all meaning. That was a very respectful and reasonable comment. It was also clearly by a non-native English speaker, which means you have to forgive the particular choices of words. We’d say ‘have children’ and most people today are comfortable with the idea that homosexual people can have children by adoption or surrogacy.

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                                          Read the context of “this is a joke” and it is clearly disrespectful and dismissive. That comment does not belong in a constructive conversation. That person followed it up with “fuck off, grow up idiots.” https://github.com/rubocop-hq/rubocop/issues/8091#issuecomment-640172260

                                          As someone whose partner has struggled with infertility for several years, I would say yes that a suggestion to “make children” is indeed ableist. I listed it here because that was the only comment of all these that hit me personally. I can imagine my partner would be very hurt to hear someone say that she should go “make children” instead of speaking up for her sincere beliefs.

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                                            While for some individuals a remark like the reworded version of “go forth and procreate” might give bad vibes because that is just what they’d like to do but can’t for whatever reason (infertility, China’s single child policy, lack of a suitable partner, no financial means, dire outlook on the world, etc) this does not mean the remark itself is in any way bad. For the absolute majority of people this remark is either neutral, positive or maybe meddlesome or something similar.

                                            If someone were to say “have a good holiday” there will be people in the audience who have never had a holiday and won’t get one this time either. Say “listen to this, people” and there will be those who can’t because they’re deaf. Say “don’t worry, be happy” or “Hakuna matata” or something similar and there will be people who are depressed or manic or otherwise incapable of following this device. Say “enjoy your meal” and those who can’t because they have to lose weight, they have nothing to eat, they have no sense of taste or in any other way are kept from doing just that will be left out. Go and enjoy the sunshine? What about those with photophobia? Think of the children! Well, I guess that one was mentioned already.

                                            In short, nearly anything which is said will in some way leave out a fraction of the population. Policing speech (no pun intended) by attaching labels to all those cases will make it simply impossible to communicate as there will always be new categories to be added, new ways to split people, new lines of demarcation between the victims and the perpetrators, new barricades to throw up and defend.

                                            By the way, the mere fact that we’re discussing these issues in lengthy and sometimes complex sentences might be labelled as ‘ableist’ since it potentially excludes those with dyslexia. We still discuss, as we should, since not discussing would not do them any good nor does discussing really hurt them in the same way that an expression like “Teach your children well” (or, say, a song with those lyrics) does not really hurt anyone.

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                                              I like CSNY too but are they the type who you would consider model parental figures?

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                                                I consider them to be musicians. They don’t need to be model parental figures nor do I need to take anything they say literally. Which more or less goes hand in glove with what I’m trying to convey, I can listen to the Ramones telling me to beat on the brat with a baseball bat without either getting the urge to start beating brats nor to feel insulted. I sometimes listen to the Red Army Choir performing the Soviet national anthem even though I consider Marxism-Leninism and Communism to be ideologies on the same level as Fascism and Nazism (and many other *-isms, I ’m not that much for any *-ism really). When they sing ‘Partija Lenina – sila narodnaja, Nas k toržestju Kommunizma vedët!’ I consider them to be misguided by their leadership but great musicians nevertheless and feel no urge to lead us under the guidance of Lenin towards the victory of Communism, nor do I refuse to listen to them because they want to doom us all to a future of toil and trouble without recompense.

                                                Are there no limits then? Yes, there are, but they’re not defined by any personal grievances I might have. I consider ‘gangsta’ to be off-limits since it does not only glorify a criminal lifestyle but actively promotes it - the more street cred (i.e. the larger the rap sheet) the better. That’d be like the Ramones gaining fame by piling up a stack of brats beaten with baseball bats or CSN(Y) actually selling tickets to their wooden ships to flee to some remote place where they’ll be eating purple berries for 6 or 7 weeks and not much more.

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                                                  It’s pretty cool that you chose to tell that that the only music you consider off limits is gangta rap, as it just happens to be a Black American art form that arose in response to highly visible police violence in the early 1990s

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                                                    That is because a) it is immensely popular and b) it is the only popular music style which combines the glorification of something I consider to be bad - a life of violent crime with all the attitudes to women which are normally loudly protested but often ignored in this case - with the actual practice of many of those things. By the way, gangsta might have started in the black community but it is by no means limited to it. Glorifying crime in such a way that those who actually commit crime gain higher credibility as ‘artists’ is a bad thing, more fitting to the crime guilds in Ankh-Morpork than something I want to see thrive in our society. Violent crime is bad, no matter who commits it. Why mention race at all?

                                                    Stop doing that, identity politics only leads to balkanisation and segregation. It is not good. The original version of your post read “Ok whatever, see you in the next culture thread” which was a better response.

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                                                      What year is it for you where gangsta rap is still immensely popular?

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                                                        The year 2020, when the most streamed artist in Sweden, ‘Einar’, just was in the news for first being kidnapped and molested and then for not cooperating with the police to apprehend his kidnappers and also continues on the gangsta path? The year when the Swedish’ television ‘most promising artist’ (who is not the same as the above-named ‘Einar’) is now hiding for the police somewhere in Göteborg, being wanted for murder?

                                                        This conversation is getting way off-topic. If you have more questions on the phenomenon of gangsta send a PM.

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                                              You’re just much too easily offended. It was a list of things that are more effective than trying to rename a project with ‘Cop’ in the name, which is clearly a completely ineffective way to solve gun violence issues in the USA.

                                              Suggesting someone does something is not ableist just because some people can’t do that thing. “Go and protest” isn’t ableist against people stuck at home unable to leave the house for example.

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                                                Having a hurt feeling is not the same as being offended and I haven’t claimed to be.

                                                Suggesting someone go off and do anything is rude, dismissive, presumptive, and uncalled for in this case. How would anyone know whether these folks are not already also doing these other suggested things?

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                                                Also, I don’t know if you are aware but adoption, surrogacy, and fertility treatments are very costly, on top of the expense of child-rearing. These aren’t options that are just available for everyone. I’m privileged to have a well-paying job and insurance that covers much of the costs.

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                                  That is certainly the baseline - or if it was, I think we would all be a lot more relaxed. To take the four essential freedoms as an example (not because this is representative of all OSS, but because it’s a clear statement of intent), the benefits to the user clearly do not include having any influence over the development, or expecting the maintainer to do or not do any particular thing. What OSS offers is much more flexibility in how you “take it”. I wouldn’t call that “no additional freedoms over traditional software”.

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                                    The way I’m understanding comments here, some folks are willing to grant freedoms 0&1, but to exercise 2 or 3 with a political motive or without consent of mainstream crosses the line.

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                                      I see what you mean - I think there is confusion in both camps due to many maintainers who really want to build a community. If you’re someone who tries really hard to accommodate everybody in your development process, forks represent a cheap insult, a vote of no confidence in the unity you’re working so hard to build. In these projects I think forkability is viewed more of an “in case of emergency” circuit breaker in case the project really goes off the rails, and those who would pull it for seemingly minor reasons might be viewed as troublemakers. IMO the solution is to pay less attention - forkers are going to fork, and if it avoids some acrimonious arguments that might just be for the best.

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                                        due to many maintainers who really want to build a community

                                        There’s also some expectation to that end, otherwise “throw over the wall open source” wouldn’t be commonly considered pejorative.

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                                        There’s a difference between what is legal and what is right. Adultery is legal essentially everywhere but is also considered morally wrong almost everywhere, for example.

                                        Forking a project for this reason is stupid and wrong, in my opinion. That doesn’t mean that there can’t be good political reasons to fork: a bad governance model can be a good reason to do so.

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                                          Adultery is in fact punishable by law in many places even in the US, Cf.https://www.womansday.com/relationships/dating-marriage/a50994/adultery-laws/

                                          It’s also admissible in court as grounds for at-fault divorce (effectively a breach of contract.) This doesn’t look like a good metaphor.

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                                            The point isn’t adultery but that legal and moral clearly aren’t the same thing because, for example, there are things that are legal but not moral and things that are moral but not legal. The random example I gave not applying in your backwards theocracy doesn’t make my analogy bad.

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                              Objectively speaking, RuboCop is the less racist and fairest cop out there. It doesn’t care about your syntax highlighting background color or origin. :-D

                              It’s sad to see that people feel entitled to bully somebody for a totally unrelated issue. There is a lot of anguish in social media and this feels like a misdirected spill-over. It has nothing to do with actually fixing police brutality or racism, unfortunately.

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                                I am disappointed that requests like this are treated seriously and the authors are under some kind of an attack because they ignore them. Let’s not pretend that the manufactured issue at hand is anything but laughable. There is some kind of a limit to being politically correct by treating all requests/tickets seriously. I feel like people will stop creating open source software under some circumstances because they will fear being attacked for some inane reason such as someone feeling offended by the name of the project.

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                                  I don’t think anybody would have dared suggest this if the issue had been in any country other than the USA.

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                                    It’s interesting that the language that’s dividing developers is not a programming language. It’s English.

                                    The belief that social issues can be addressed by changing the language around them is one I’ve only seen among English speakers. Perhaps it’s time to drop this legacy language until they sort out a new standard.

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                                      A lot of the concepts about the connections between language and social issues came out of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, which were developed in France, and to a lesser degree Italy, by philosophers like Derrida, Foucault, Barthelme, and Eco before spreading to liberal-arts academics in most countries. There is a ton of this stuff in US progressive discourse (more than I’d like tbh), maybe more than in other English-speaking countries, but you may just see less of it from non-English-native people because they participate less in English-dominant forums.

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                                        That’s quite possible. And I think that all languages have euphemisms and political correctness. (So, say, a politician might prefer jobseekers’ allowance over unemployment benefits to borrow an example from the UK). But at least over here it’s not considered desirable to talk like a politician.

                                        And this kind of request, were it asked in my native language, would typically met with complete incredulity. And I think it would be the same for bbatsov’s native environment. And think of the recent example of antirez (a compatriot of Eco if I’m not mistaken), who completely misread the opposition to master/slave terminology in Redis.

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                                        The green party in Germany just proposed to remove “race” from Germany’s constitution’s Article 3 which states “Nobody shall face face disadvantages or advantages due to their sex, family, race, language, home and origin, belief, religious or political views.” so that we “unlearn racism” that way. (If having that word in there perpetuates racism, we should probably drop all the other qualifiers as well to ensure equality on those ends, too?)

                                        While that might be an Anglosaxon import (we have tons of those), from what I gather there’s more interest in the US in particular to keep the terms alive so that they can be used to reason about inequality (as in: without race, what’s “black” in “black lives matter”?).

                                        So I’m not sure if it’s really an English-only phenomenon.

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                                          Had this discussion a while ago, while the English version of the hacker ethics CCC version includes the word ‘race’, in the German version it was substituted with ‘Spezies’.

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                                          well, it’s not english, it’s the anglo-saxon philosophical discourse that puts an emphasis on language as the tool we use to build realities and subjective experiences. It’s also spreading to the rest of the western world and part of the indian discourse is also entering the same sphere.

                                          In many places though is divisive and seen as a result of American soft power and to be rejected (also because it didn’t really bring big wins for the American Left).

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                                            language as the tool we use to build realities and subjective experiences

                                            What are some alternatives for me to ponder and research here? I’ve always intuitively believed this, and have read some materials in the field of cognitive science and philosophy, but nothing beyond undergrad-level course material.

                                            I’m curious as to what other models of cognition exist that posit language as a secondary or ancillary driver in our experiential self awareness. Have any suggestions?

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                                              Well, all the essentialism , from Plato onward, states that reality exists regardless of perception. It’s not built but exists on its own with specific traits.

                                              Same for realist philosophers like Popper, that take similar positions .

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                                                In some eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism, language is considered to be something along the lines of a cognitive pollutant. In order to understand the universe better it is often recommended to abstain from all forms of language completely for a period. I don’t want to put words into the mouth of a culture I don’t belong to and please someone correct me if I misrepresent anything, but that is my understanding of the take on language from that philosophical direction.

                                                I certainly think that the question “What are some alternatives” does show something interesting: As someone immersed in language, no answer comes to mind. But I have a vague memory from the time I stopped using all language for 10 days (silent retreat), when language was not my main tool it did not really even seem like a useful tool for understanding. Only from within the language paradigm does it seem like language can really facilitate clear understanding. When language is not the main support of your entire ontology the feeling that some fundamental element of understanding is missing falls away too.

                                                If you wish to research these ideas further I recommend spending a week or two working your way through the following reading list:

                                                and not discussing it or anything else with anybody :-p

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                                                  That’s a great question. I don’t know enough about the topic to answer you, but I can say that this is generally known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, and searching for that phrase should turn up years’ worth of reading material, pro and con.

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                                              Yes, but it doesn’t matter, since the USA are culturally egemonic in the western IT space. The culture of IT is American culture. And I say as a person that doesn’t buy in the American political discourse (or tries to, at least). Nonetheless if the community is mostly american or sharing the american space of values and beliefs, this comment is irrelevant. You cannot claim something is less valid in the American discourse just because there’s a whole world outside that doesn’t care about these issues.

                                            3. [Comment removed by moderator pushcx: Deleting off-topic thread. We're not going to solve policing here, but software maintenance is topical.]

                                              1. [Comment removed by moderator pushcx: Deleting off-topic thread.]

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                                                why is “cop” bad? it’s like saying that “programmers” are bad, as some are building ransomware. applying a label to a whole group of people (in this case ironically whose job-description is to help people!) is exactly what should be supposed to be bad.

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                                                  The answer to this is a very large and current hot topic in politics, and it’s off-topic here.

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                                                    I think most comments on this article are likely to be off-topic then. Perhaps it’s the whole article that’s off-topic for this site then? In any case it’s a bit strange to delete comments but accept the article.

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                                                      There’s a worthwhile discussion about maintaining open source software and communities that’s off to an ok-ish start.

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                                                      Perhaps on-topic is that the answer to the question is highly specific to geography and social status. Not all countries, and not all communities, have the same experience of policing. IMO it’s questionable project policy to rename based on one probably atypical (in a global sense) example.

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                                                        well, the question was rhetoric :) i can’t quite see why it is off-topic related to this article.

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                                                          because Lobste.rs limits discussions that are openly political. So it’s very hard to answer your question with a lingo that programmers won’t label as political. Being a cop is not like any other job (for some definitions is not even a real job, like a soldier) but to argument this, it takes quite a lenghty explanation.

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                                                            because Lobste.rs limits discussions that are openly political.

                                                            to be nit picky, as the folklore seems to be that there are no apolitical things, we could just close up discussion platforms.

                                                            Being a cop is not like any other job (for some definitions is not even a real job, like a soldier) but to argument this, it takes quite a lenghty explanation.

                                                            i’d rather not discuss who qualifies as worthy enough to be deemed “a real job”. declaring an entire group X of people as “bad” by the choice of profession is just plain wrong. denying that the members of group X have chosen their profession in good faith just shows how paternalistic ones own world view is, by declaring that one is without fault.

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                                                      bbatsov, thanks for all your hard work on rubocop. I’ve had a few of these heated OSS issues in my time too. Just remember to keep perspective, policing in the USA is a very hot topic right now; there are millions of protesters on the street for a reason. If I was in your shoes: I’d tell everyone to step away from the issue for a month, let me consider the issue and make a decision then. Time often brings clarity.

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                                                        Just remember to keep perspective, policing in the USA is a very hot topic right now; there are millions of protesters on the street for a reason

                                                        They are protesting because of police brutality, not because of the term “cop”. This is a bit like saying we should ban the term CO2 because of climate change.

                                                        1. 5

                                                          One of the biggest rallying cries of the current movement is “defund the police”. It is not just police brutality but the concept of policing itself which demonstrators are calling into question. I think that context is missing from this discussion.

                                                        2. 53

                                                          With all due respect, mister Perham.

                                                          You might want to consider the other side of the argument, that a lot of people are not from US and more developers in Europe (and elsewhere) are pissed and tired of American politics.

                                                          I would rather see bbatsov spend time with his friends, family and kids than to spend a another minute on this issue. If he wishes to spend this time on OSS, my guess would be that he can find a way more interesting problems to tackle.

                                                          1. 3

                                                            Stepping away from a month might be a good start, because who knows what riles up folks in July? Probably not the police and in that case nobody will care about the name anymore, at least not the degree that they’re willing to maintain a fork over it. If there’s still interest in having a fork next month, then so be it?

                                                            Asking him to spend any time on preparing the rename he isn’t interested in is, however, intruding in his life.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              This is a well articulated comment. I think your advice is reasonable.

                                                            2. 7

                                                              „Police in my country is shit so let’s rename this project (used by people from all around the world).”

                                                              Honestly If I was bbatsov I’d permaban author of the isssue and anyone who upvoted it. They apparently don’t think reasonably. It’s waste of time to discuss with people who think newspeak will fix anything.

                                                              1. 2

                                                                Banning people for a single disgression (if you want to call it that way) is disingenious. There have been similar discussions about naming in projects started by core team members or years-long contributors. And even if you don’t call it disgression but simply “having an opinion” there’s no need to ban them unless they start getting impolite. And when I read the linked issue even the “change the name”-people were maybe upset, but not aggressive or banworthy (for the most part).

                                                              2. 6

                                                                In the issue comments I found repeatedly a proclamation that „All software is political“.

                                                                This is generally not true. There might be some „political“ software, but usually software is simply a tool. It is not good or bad* – it can be used for good or bad or neutral purposes, just depending on who and how is using that software.

                                                                And there is also software or development style that is explicitly apolitical – Sane software manifesto says:

                                                                In order to contribute, it must not be required: … to sign any political, religious or other proclamation or agree with it.

                                                                P.S. Yes, free software has some political undertone, or I would rather say ethical, but it is very strictly defined and there are clear boundaries that prevent bending and misusing this term. Free software can be used by anyone for any purpose.

                                                                *) now I am not talking about code quality, but about the ethical dimension

                                                                1. 13

                                                                  The inception of the Free Software movement was inherently political, and the recuperation of that movement into a more business-friendly Open Source movement was also political. Licensing software using a FLOSS license is a political act.

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    Yet the success of the open-source movement in relation to the failure of the free software movement (at least, according to their goals) is almost 100% due to the FSF’s politics. Companies would rather use open-source software rather than free software because there’s less legal bullshit to go through. Additionally, companies have been less inclined to license their own software with the GNU GPL and have chosen alternative licenses that are more permissive and don’t place so much burden on the author to “give credit where credit is due”.

                                                                    I love the FSF, GNU, and the movement it all stands for. But in my opinion, the world has mostly left that concept of “freely available software that you have total control over” behind. Especially in the current “rental” climate where less software is actually owned by a user.

                                                                    1. 5

                                                                      Companies would rather use open-source software rather than free software because there’s less legal bullshit to go through.

                                                                      You use company adoption as the yardstick for success here but I would counter that it is entirely irrelevant to the political goals of Free Software.

                                                                      (P.S. my use of the word recuperation above was deliberate.)

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        Open source is hardly a success. It’s companies struggling over control of software for their own interest (that very often is not aligned with the interest of the community) or bright people working for free for companies and be happy about the theft of time and energy. Corporate adoption and investments for control is their own metric of success but arguagly one that reflects the wellbeing of the commons.

                                                                        1. 4

                                                                          hardly a success

                                                                          What? This makes very little sense. Most of the software running the Internet is open source. Throw a dart at the list of top 100 tech companies, they’ve probably open sourced major libraries that have gone on to spawn entire industries.

                                                                          The Linux kernel, ffs.

                                                                          I’m confused at your argument. What is it you define as “success?” Adoption? Growth? Longevity? Monetary return?

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            Be useful to people, solve problems in the real world (ideally problems that aren’t created other open source software), make the world a better place.

                                                                        2. 0

                                                                          ‘Free’ and ‘open source’ are synonyms. Companies don’t use open source software instead of free software. Using open source software is using free software. Using free software is using open source software.

                                                                          Copyleft and permissive software licenses are all both free software licenses and open source software licenses.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            No, they are not synonyms. Free software does no need to be gratis, nor does open source software imply that you have the freedom to change and distribute that software - even in exchange for money - like free software gives you. This distinction has been made clear so many times by now that it is surprising to see the claim that these two are synonyms.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              No, they are not synonyms. Free software does no need to be gratis

                                                                              Nor does open source software.

                                                                              nor does open source software imply that you have the freedom to change and distribute that software

                                                                              Yes it absolutely does imply that you have the freedom to change and distribute that software. The Open Source Definition requires:

                                                                              “The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.”

                                                                              This distinction has been made clear so many times by now that it is surprising to see the claim that these two are synonyms.

                                                                              It’s been stated over and over again by everyone from the FSF to the Open Source Initiative that, ignoring some very idiosyncratic edge cases, ‘free software license’ and ‘open source software license’ are synonyms. The cases where the FSF approves and the OSI doesn’t or vice versa is generally because one of the them considers it too vague to be a valid license, such as with the Artistic License v1 or some issues with public domain licenses in Europe. Or to put it another way: if you put the FSF people in charge of evaluating licenses under the OSI definition and the OSI people in charge of evaluating licenses are free or not, they’d come to the reverse conclusions. The requirements for something to be a free software license are virtually identical to the requirements for something to be an open source software license.

                                                                              RMS: The term “open source” software is used by some people to mean more or less the same category as free software. It is not exactly the same class of software: they accept some licences that we consider too restrictive, and there are free software licences they have not accepted. However, the differences in extension of the category are small: nearly all free software is open source, and nearly all open source software is free.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                “The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.”

                                                                                If the original licence says the software can not be used for or distributed by individuals and companies who work in a certain industry - defence is an example which has come up several times, police would be another - that software is not free software.

                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                  Nor would it be open source software.

                                                                                  Have you ever actually read the open source definition?

                                                                                  “The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.”

                                                                                  “The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.”

                                                                                  1. 0

                                                                                    OK, if that clause is part of the open source licence (there are many) the distinction gets less clear. This used to be a problem back in the day when ‘open source’ and ‘free software’ started to be recognised as two possibly distinct licence types. It still is for some licences (e.g. [1], “The license above does not apply to and no license is granted for any Military Use of the Licensed Patents.” but they do seem to be getting more rare.)

                                                                                    [1] https://www.cs.ucdavis.edu/~rogaway/ocb/license2.pdf

                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                      OK, if that clause is part of the open source licence (there are many) the distinction gets less clear.

                                                                                      That clause is a restriction on what constitutes an open source license. It applies to all open source licenses by definition.

                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                        Ah, but that is where the shoe wrings. Open source has become a generic term which is applied to any and all software for which the source is not hidden. The OSI has tried - and, as far as I can see, failed - to rein in the term to only encompass those licences which abide to the directions set forth in their licence, other software should be called ‘source-available’ or similar such constructs.

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          the shoe wrings

                                                                                          I love this translation of “där skon klämmer”, but I think a better English is idiom is “there’s the rub”.

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            It is actually a translation of “daar knelt de schoen”, an idiom which exists in many Germanic languages (the one cited being Dutch), English being one of them. Proverbs citing shoe-related woes have been used for many centuries, Shakespeare and his contemporaries were rather fond of these expressions which can be found scattered around their proze: I feare me theres s shooe wrings her i’th instep, of my yong [sic] Shooemakers making was a way of referring to a pregnant woman in a play from 1540.

                                                                                          2. 1

                                                                                            Open source has a definition and is still being used according to that definition. I have never seen anyone refer to anything that isn’t open source as ‘open source’ without having many comments pointing out the incorrect use of language and then usually an apology.

                                                                          2. 1

                                                                            Most developers who write open source (or free, if you will) software either aren’t very familiar with the politics of Free Software, or explicitly reject it. A well-known example of this is Linus Torvaldus, but there are many more.

                                                                            Many who use the GPL simply want to ensure people contribute code back, nothing more. I think Free Software as a political concept is not particularly common, even among people who contribute to it, and even less common outside of it.

                                                                            1. 2

                                                                              Torvalds doesn’t reject Free Software, he rejects the tivoization clause(s) in GPLv3.

                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                He’s been pretty critical of the concept of Free Software, and sharply critical of Stallman and the FSF, and not just about the GPL3. He’s often said that he mostly sees open source and the GPL has a simple practical matter (“it just works best, and sending back your patches is just basic fairness”), and has also said that he doesn’t really mind that proprietary software exists (which is quite different than the political position of the FSF).

                                                                          3. 17

                                                                            Nothing is apolitical, because nothing can exist outside of the political (social) climate in which it is created or consumed. Calls to keep politics out of X are political, however, because they distill down to a tacit defense and support of the status quo.

                                                                            1. 9

                                                                              This argument has no merit, as you could equally apply it to the choice of condiments you put on a hotdog.

                                                                              1. 5

                                                                                It’s political in a very narrow scope; the one of producing the software. The reverse conclusion that some seem to make is that it is a justification to throw even more politics into software development. It is used as a strong-arming argument that disrespects the intent of the author.

                                                                                1. 8

                                                                                  Calls to keep politics out of X are political, however, because they distill down to a tacit defense and support of the status quo.

                                                                                  You have to be trolling. Some people are just sick of everything being a political discussion.

                                                                                  1. 13

                                                                                    I think the counter here would be that, if you are sick of discussing a political issue, it is likely because the issue does not affect you, which is in some cases due to what might be described as social/cultural/whatever privilege: hungry people don’t often become “sick of” talking about food.

                                                                                    I’m a straight white upper class American male and I both empathize somewhat with your sentiment and do often get tired of every discussion becoming political (hence why I read lobste.rs 100x as often as the orange site) but I must concede some validity to the argument that my position in society is what lets these political discussions be just “boring” to me instead of terrifying and immediately relevant.

                                                                                    1. 13

                                                                                      I think the counter here would be that, if you are sick of discussing a political issue, it is likely because the issue does not affect you

                                                                                      And sometimes, you are powerless to affect it.

                                                                                      Racism exists everywhere in the world, but the form it takes in Bulgaria and elsewhere in the world is unlikely to line up with the American discourse. Imagine how you’d feel if people vehemently demanded you pick a side about the Indian citizenship law, and saw your unwillingness to comply as an indirect endorsement of the other side’s position? Because this is what the internet is like for non-Americans, at the moment.

                                                                                      1. 6

                                                                                        if you are sick of discussing a political issue, it is likely because the issue does not affect you

                                                                                        Bear in mind that even activists and volunteers need to decompress.

                                                                                        One can’t be 24/7 involved in the same thing or you will burn out. Not every conversation can be about the same topic, over and over again.

                                                                                    2. 3

                                                                                      Nothing is apolitical

                                                                                      It’s not true. The action itself can be apolitical at the same time when analyzing the results of the same action can be political. If I stare at a tree because I find it relaxing, it’s not political. But the realization that I’m at the park staring at the tree instead of vandalizing public monuments in a name of some idea, can be political.

                                                                                      It’s similar to mathematics. If I eat an apple because I’m hungry, the action itself is not mathematical. But the number of apples in the area I live in will decrease by 1, so it will be a mathematical result only if you use mathematical reasoning when interpreting the situation.

                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                        Maybe this would help you understand:

                                                                                        … People are different and have various opinions on various topics. But the pure free software ideas are a common interest which leads people from different groups and with different backgrounds to cooperation and shows them the way how to talk each other and eventually build a friendly and respectful community. It is much better than if people from different groups stay in their own bunkers and just bark at each other.

                                                                                        Future of the Free Software Foundation

                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                          If you want to make something political you can, not matter what it is. Eating a peanut butter sandwich can be political. Washing your hair can be political. Walking to your work can be political. Washing your hands can be political.

                                                                                          That does not mean these things are political, only that you choose to make them political. This is a personal choice which does not need to - and often does not - transfer to others who get to make their own choices about what they consider to be political and what not.

                                                                                          That last statement is political, it is the freedom of thought and expression which is one of the pillars most of our societies are built on. Think well before you demolish this pillar, it was built for a good reason.

                                                                                          1. 0

                                                                                            Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, someone came into your supermarket and demanded you change the labels on the white pepper and black pepper (to, say, retted and unretted pepper, or pepperseed spice and peppercorn spice, or any other term that didn’t mention colours) because the words ‘white’ and ‘black’ are racist and political.

                                                                                            You respond ‘no that’s ridiculous, there’s nothing political about white and black pepper’. They respond ‘everything is political’.

                                                                                            Ponder that.

                                                                                            1. 4

                                                                                              You think you’re making a point, but you’re not.

                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                Well, for example, electron recently changed whitelist/blacklist to allowlist/blocklist, and Chromium did the same some time ago.

                                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                                  A blacklist is literally a list of bad things, which are clearly bad because they have the ‘black’ quality.

                                                                                                  Black pepper is a tasty spice.

                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                    Nonsense. Bookkeepers and accountants rejoice when the numbers are ‘in the black’ but shudder to see them go red. Here, black is good, red is bad. Is this a different black from the one used in the blacklist?

                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                      A blacklist is a list of bad things which are bad because the colour black is associated with negativity in our culture, while white is associated with good. That has nothing to do with skin colour. It’s honestly pretty cringe to try to force an association between the word ‘black’ and black people everywhere the word exists. ‘Blacklist’ has nothing to do with black people and black pepper has nothing to do with black people. Black MTG cards have nothing to do with black people. Whitelist has nothing to do with white people, white pepper has nothing to do with white people, white MTG cards have nothing to do with white people.

                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                        white pepper has nothing to do with white people

                                                                                                        No shit.

                                                                                                        It’s honestly pretty cringe to try to force an association between the word ‘black’ and black people everywhere the word exists.

                                                                                                        Sure.

                                                                                                        ’Blacklist’ has nothing to do with black people

                                                                                                        Nothing wrong with disagreeing with the majority of linguists if you’ve got an informed opinion.

                                                                                                        Perhaps demonstrating some familiarity with the relevant literature (or maybe even linked a source for this unfounded claim) would help people be a little more charitable in their reading of your ideas.

                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                          Nothing wrong with disagreeing with the majority of linguists if you’ve got an informed opinion.

                                                                                                          It’s been used in the English language for hundreds of years (as far back as the mid 1600s, if I remember correctly), rarely, though its first popular use was in the 20th century in reference to blacklists of union members. It’s a blacklist in the sense that the list itself is black. A blacklist was originally two words (as with many compound words) and its first usages are in a more poetic sense: a ‘black list’ where ‘black’ is used poetically to mean dark or evil. ‘His black list’ i.e. ‘his evil list’. It is not a list of ‘blacks’, never has been. Its use far predates modern American conceptions of race.

                                                                                                          Now you might respond by saying that using a term that has its popular origins in the suppression of unionism to be ‘problematic’, but etymology is not the same as meaning. Words do not mean precisely what they were coined to mean, and it would be absurd to expect everyone to inspect the etymology of every word they speak to make sure it isn’t associated too closely with whatever topic has fallen under the gaze of the keyboard warriors on Twitter and is now considered ‘problematic’. There are probably heaps and heaps of completely normal terms people use all over the place that have their origin in something that, under close inspect without the proper context, might seem ‘problematic’.

                                                                                                          Should one not use the word bugger? Or hysterical? Are no can do and long time, no see racist? What about uppity or hooligan? Grandfather clause? Call a spade a spade? What about gypsy or Eskimo or American Indian where despite the popular view among white Americans that they’re racist or outdated terms, they’re actually preferred by many of the people they’re meant to describe over Romani (lots of whom aren’t Romani at all) or Inuit or native American?

                                                                                                          Maybe instead of being offended on behalf of others, you just leave it to them to raise issues if they are actually offended? Getting offended by the origins of terms that have been free of offensive connotation for decades or centuries because a couple of keyboard warriors on Twitter decided that the best way to solve an issue like systemically racist police violence in the USA is to police what variables people use on GitHub…

                                                                                                          Perhaps demonstrating some familiarity with the relevant literature (or maybe even linked a source for this unfounded claim) would help people be a little more charitable in their reading of your ideas.

                                                                                                          If you’re going to make such a significant claim you should back it up with sources from the relevant literature. Language is not problematic-by-default. The onus is on you to prove that the term was coined in reference to race if you wish to claim that it is “problematic”. I’m not telling people what to do or calling anyone racist. I’m not making any extraordinary claims. I don’t see why any burden of proof falls on me.

                                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                                            its first popular use was in the 20th century in reference to blacklists of union members

                                                                                                            Says who? (The wikipedia page for an active political controversy is not a source).

                                                                                                            Maybe instead of being offended on behalf of others, you just leave it to them to raise issues if they are actually offended?

                                                                                                            Firstly, I’m not offended by it; secondly, what idea would you have whether it was on someone elses behalf or my own if I were.

                                                                                                            I’m offended by longwinded, unsourced, nonsensical arguments on an otherwise-good-SNR technical forum.

                                                                                                            I don’t see why any burden of proof falls on me.

                                                                                                            You’ve asserted, without evidence, that ‘Blacklist’ has nothing to do with black people, which is sort-of the crux of the discussion. Not only are you raising flat assertions without a source, you’ve the gall to demand anyone who points out this is low-effort do the legwork for you. Generating bullshit is much easier than refuting it, and all that.

                                                                                                            EDIT: Oh. It’s you, but you’ve changed your username again. I’ll update my killfile, as usual.

                                                                                                            For anyone else as uninterested as I am in this inanity, a handy ublock rule is:

                                                                                                            lobste.rs##:xpath(//div[contains(concat(' ', normalize-space(@class), ' '), ' comment ')][.//a[contains(@href,'/u/mrr')]])

                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                              You are a nasty piece of work.

                                                                                                  2. 3

                                                                                                    He is making a point though, even if you choose not to see it. You might not agree with it but that does not imply the point doesn’t exist. In other words, a single person or a group does not get to be the purveyor of truth in an open society which allows freedom of thought and freedom of expression.

                                                                                                2. -2

                                                                                                  Excellent. Now these monsters who support the status quo have no place to hide.

                                                                                              2. 1

                                                                                                I don’t think that an attempt to make a community more welcoming to marginalized groups is dramatic or aggressive. I don’t think forking a project after a maintainer has decided not to address an issue is dramatic or aggressive.

                                                                                                In the original GitHub issue, you posted this:

                                                                                                I wonder how all of you would feel if suddenly a ton of people who haven’t done anything for the project appeared here, told you’re a horrible person and started bullying you into doing what they want…

                                                                                                This is in reference to 4 or 5 comments that expressed disagreement, most of which were couched in “I feel” or “I think.” Up to this point - and please correct me if I’m wrong - the discussion actually seems quite polite. People were passionate because police violence is an important topic, but I didn’t see anyone calling you names or dismissing your efforts even when they disagreed with you. But after you made your post, people came to your defense by characterizing the original issue as “nonsense,” “execrable,” “SJW,” “absurd,” “whining,” “ridiculous,” and so on.

                                                                                                1. 34

                                                                                                  I acknowledge any mistakes on my part and I regret and denounce the negativity invoked in my defence. My initial reaction was directed at some Twitter comments, but I failed to make this clear, which is on me. As noted I wrote this at 7 am having woken up a few minutes earlier. Clearly not my brightest moment. :-)

                                                                                                  1. 14

                                                                                                    After reading the entire thread, you did nothing wrong. I found your replies to be reasonable.

                                                                                                    I would have put a “No” and closed/disabled further discussion in the very beginning. Engaging with this type of person is a waste of time. Pretending as if forking and running a sed command is “doing most of the hard work”.

                                                                                                    Ultimately this seems to be the consequence of writing a successful tool with a big userbase.

                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                      If someone forks it, just sit back and enjoy them fixing all your bugs for you, or giving up at the effort.

                                                                                                      1. 2

                                                                                                        You have done absolutely nothing wrong and have nothing to apologise for.

                                                                                                      2. 17

                                                                                                        What would your response be if that happened to you? If someone opened up an issue with grunt-simple-mocha requesting you change the name because “grunt” is a US slang term for “soldier,” which implies US hegemony and violence against other countries? And a lot of other people supported that?

                                                                                                        1. 6

                                                                                                          I’d take the request seriously. I’d wonder why they were taking it up with me rather than the authors of Grunt. I’d wonder if they opened the PR as a form of harassment/retaliation. But assuming their concerns were legitimate, I’d consider changing the name.

                                                                                                          I’d definitely delete any needlessly dramatic comments that called other contributors SJWs, bullies, aggressive, or censors for expressing concerns about bigotry in an industry which has repeatedly proven itself to be structurally unequal and unwelcoming to large groups of people. But I already do that thrice daily after washing my hands for 20 seconds with soap.

                                                                                                          1. 7

                                                                                                            It was an example of a project whose name might be taken in a bad context. I could have used, for example, your funny-fingers repo as offending someone because that is mocking people with deformed hands. You might think that’s a silly example, but until two weeks ago, there wasn’t an issue with the word “cop”.

                                                                                                          2. 4

                                                                                                            I wonder this, as well. Where do we draw the line?

                                                                                                            Should our industry lean towards plain-English definitions for names when it comes to software?

                                                                                                            Is there demonstrable evidence that “RuboCop” has caused anyone, anywhere, undue distress? Moreso than would be required to rename a highly-used library?

                                                                                                            1. 9

                                                                                                              I think too many people are taking George Orwell’s 1984 more as a manual than a warning.

                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                If I’m not mistaken, it was written more as a polemic; an argument against the dangers of Stalinist government over-reach in 1940s Russia.

                                                                                                          3. 1

                                                                                                            But after you made your post, people came to your defense by characterizing the original issue as “nonsense,” “execrable,” “SJW,” “absurd,” “whining,” “ridiculous,” and so on.

                                                                                                            Which is fine, because the original issue is absurd, ridiculous whining from an SJW concerned, ironically, more with policing the language of others than with doing anything useful.

                                                                                                          4. 0

                                                                                                            Thanks @bbatsov!

                                                                                                            1. 0

                                                                                                              Is it just be, or do these kinds of dramas tend to happen more often around Ruby and Ruby developers? Is there any reason for this? AFAIK Ruby is often used in web development (such as here on lobste.rs), could that background have an influence on the constitution of the “community”?

                                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                                No, I think there are everywhere. There are even voices to boycott Lego, because it didn’t want to pull their Police brick sets.