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    The Internet Engineering Task Force (IEFT) points out that “Master-slave is an oppressive metaphor that will and should never become fully detached from history” as well as “In addition to being inappropriate and arcane, the master-slave metaphor is both technically and historically inaccurate.”

    This isn’t the IEFT. It’s a proposal someone submitted to them which expired last year.

    Also I’m pretty sure the Git “master” is as “master recording” or “master key”.

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      Also I’m pretty sure the Git “master” is as “master recording” or “master key”.

      It comes from BitKeeper master/slave repositories. See @Hecate’s comment here.

      Either way, a “master recording” is so named because it’s duplicated through slave devices, e.g. using a loop bin duplicator for audio cassettes.

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        Either way, a “master recording” is so named because it’s duplicated through slave devices, e.g. using a loop bin duplicator for audio cassettes.

        Does it? I always assumed the use of “master” in industry came from the master mold in potteries and foundries; it was the mold taken from the original (usually clay or stone) model, which was in turn used to create (usually clay or plaster or sand or wax) sacrificial copies. The actual casting molds would then be taken from the sacrificial copy, which would then be recycled.

        The term “master” has quite a long history in recording that’s seemingly pulled from mold-making, long before automated “slave” decks were a thing. Vinyl records were pressed from a steel scribed or etched glass master, for instance. Commercial CDs and DVDs also have a glass master.

        Not that I’ve got an issue a general rename, never have felt like “master” made a lot of sense in VCS terminology.

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      I’ve read through a lot of these kind of discussions in the last week, and one thing that really strikes me is that they consist almost entirely of white people discussing this. This seems a bit odd to me because there are plenty of non-white programmers as well. I’d like to think that these people are more than articulate enough to raise these kind of issues themselves if they have a desire to, but thus far I gave not really seen much of that.

      Quite frankly, I find that the entire thing has more than a bit of a “white saviour” smell to it, and it all comes off as rather patronising. It seems to me that black people are not so fragile that they will recoil at the first sight of the word “master”, in particular when it has no direct relationship to slavery (it’s a common word in quite a few different contexts), but reading between the lines that kind-of seems the assumption.

      For me personally – as a white person from a not particularly diverse part of the world – this is something where I think it’s much wiser to shut up and listen to people with a life experience and perspective very different than mine (i.e. black people from different parts of the world), rather than try and make arguments for them. I think it’s a very unfortunate that in the current climate these voices are not well heard since both the (usually white) people in favour and opposed to this are shouting far too loud.

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        It’s called White guilt. Superficial actions like changing CS terms and taking down statues are easy ways to feel better about oneself while avoiding the actual issue (aka: bike-shedding).

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          I had the same thought: this is something that is easy to have an opinion about and feels achievable. That makes it very attractive to take action on, independent of the actual value it has.

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            It is easier to change the name of a git default branch and put that on your CV as an action demonstrating you are not racist, than it is to engage in politics and seek to change some of the injustices that still remain.

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              Or to put it really on point: it’s easier for GitHub to talk about changing the default branch name on repos created on GitHub from ‘master’ to ‘main’ than it is for them to cut their contract with ICE.

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          It’s not like you can guess someone’s race from a gravatar. Not to mention, one of the liberating features of the Internet is being able to hide your identity and be treated for what you say in stead of what you are. On the flip side that does mean everybody sees everyone as an adolescent white male.

          In any case, there’s a black engineer expressing their thanks in the comment section of the OP.

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            I probably wasn’t too clear about this, but I did not guess anyone’s skin colour; I just looked at their profile pictures, names, etc. For example the author of this post is clearly white, as are the authors of the IETF draft he linked (I did a quick check on this), everyone involved in the Go CL was white, and in the Rubocop discussion everyone was white as well as far as I could tell – certainly the people who were very much in favour of it at the start. There certainly are non-white people participating – anonymously or otherwise – but in general they seem to be very much a minority voice.

            Or, to give an analogy, while I would certainly support something like Black Lives Matter in various ways, I would never speak on the movement’s behalf. It’s simply not my place to do so.

            On the flip side that does mean everybody sees everyone as an adolescent white male.

            Yeah … that’s true and not great. I try not to make assumptions on the kind of person I’m speaking to, but “talking” to just a name is very contrary to human social interaction and it’s easy to have a mental picture that’s similar to yourself and those around you. This is kind of what I was getting at: sharing of different experiences and perspectives is probably by far the most helpful thing and constructive thing that can move this debate (as well as several other things) forward, instead of being locked in the shouting match it is today.

            I have no illusions that this will happen, because far too many people seem far too eager to comment on the matter, and to be honest I’ve been guilty of that as well.

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            If we look back at how visceral the reaction to these types of ideas can be, and especially how that response is so often personally directed, it should be no surprise that someone who feels in any way marginalized or at risk in the software community might be reluctant to speak up.

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              OK, so I think you’re referring to the Reddit Go thread (which was a dumpster fire of “I’m not racist but…” comments; for someone to get so upset about someone else’s internal code base is proof of some underlying issue).

              Here’s some things to think about:

              • “It seems entirely white people discuss this”: There’s a really obvious reason for this. Look at Google’s diversity numbers: their value of hiring vs attrition places the number of black people at Google at 3.7%. And yet the census reports 12.1% in the US are African American. Who do you think is going to be discussing this? They’re not here. They can’t be part of this conversation. Worse, black people leave Google faster than other demographics, so even when they get there they decide they don’t like it more and leave. Why would you work hard for your whole life to get a job at Google and then decide to leave? What is it about the software engineering environment that is toxic? Why bother getting upset and making a noise when you’ve already decided it’s hopeless and given up?
              • “It has a white savior smell”: It is incumbent on the privileged class to show allyship and help build equality for the underprivileged. It is unacceptable to put on blinkers and go “they’ll work it out”, as it ignores the systemic reasons why inequity exists. A big difference about what is happening now is that white people are going out to the streets and showing their allyship. These protests are very similar to those in Ferguson, except in Ferguson it was all black people. Nothing happened. Now that white people have come out, suddenly people start talking about “movements”. You can’t look to black people in CS and say “you overcome all the systemic problems” just like we can’t look to women in CSand say “you overcome all the systemic problems and please suck it up when you get battered with toxic behavior that’s just the way we are lol.” For the privileged class to sit back is for the privileged class to approve of what happens. “White savior” is a weaponized term to say that if you are white, you don’t get to help. Actually, if you are white, you absolutely should be helping.
              • “you should listen rather than make arguments for them”: Again, we are back to who do you listen to? Representation is so horrifically low. The Go thread raised up anyone who identified as black, had the same viewpoint as the mob and held that viewpoint as representative for the whole black community. You can’t just ask someone on the street and say “there you go, he said it”. You have to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. To as many people as you can. Over and over again. I am so glad Google has the Black Googlers Network for exactly that sort of discussion.

              Names mean something. master/slave has clearly had it’s time. whitelist/blacklist (as in the Go thread) is unnecessary, a term that we basically invented, and is easily replaced. Would I change master to main? Probably not. But I’m certainly not going to come and say that attempting to move the needle, even if it doesn’t work or the needle move only a fraction, shouldn’t be attempted.

              Anecdote: Google offers a number of optional diversity training. I went to one that showed this video. I was in tears. It was so foreign to me and so horrific that I was crying at work and had to leave the room. That video is the result of white America doing nothing.

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                I’m not really referring to the Reddit thread as such. Not only is Reddit really anonymous, so much of the time I have no idea who I’m dealing with, Reddit also has its fair share of … unpleasant … people. On Twitter Nate Finch mentioned he banned a whole truckload of people who had never posted in /r/golang before coming in from whatever slimepit subreddit they normally hang out in. Unfortunately, this is how things work on Reddit. There were some interesting good-faith conversations, but also a lot of bad-faith bullshit. I was mostly referring to the actual CL and the (short) discussion on that.

                As for Google diversity, well, Google is just one company from one part of the world. The total numbers of developers in India seems comparable or greater than the number of developers in the US, for example. I’ve also worked with many Brazilian developers over the years, so they also seems to have a healthy IT industry. There are plenty of other countries as well. This is kind of what I meant with the “outside of the Silicon Valley bubble” comment I removed. Besides, just because there are fewer of them doesn’t mean they don’t exist (3.7% is still >4k people) or that I need to argue things in their place.

                It’s one thing to show your allyship, I’m all in favour of that, but it’s quite another thing to argue in their place. I have of course not read absolutely anything that anyone has written on this topic, but in general, by and large, this is what seems to be happening.

                This is something that extends just beyond the racial issue; I’ve also seen people remove references to things like “silly” as ableist, but it’s not entirely clear to me that anyone is actually bothered by this other than the (undoubtedly well-intentioned) people making the change.

                The Go thread raised up anyone who identified as black, had the same viewpoint as the mob and held that viewpoint as representative for the whole black community.

                Yeah, this is a problem: “here’s a black person saying something, therefore [..]”. Aside from the fact that I wouldn’t trust such a post without vetting the account who made it (because, you know, /r/AsABlackMan) a single person commenting doesn’t represent anything other than that single person.

                An initiative from something like the Black Googler Network would probably be much more helpful than some random GitHub PR with little more than “please remove oppressive language” true-ism.

                If you’re telling people who have been used to these terms for years or decades that all of the sudden it’s racist and oppressive without any context or explanation, then it’s really not that strange that at least some people are going to be defensive. I really wish people would spend a lot more thought and care in the messaging on this; there is very little effort spent on actually building empathy for any of this; for the most part it’s just … accusations, true-isms, shouting. You really need to explain where you’re coming from, otherwise people are just going to be confused and defensive.

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                This seems a bit odd to me because there are plenty of non-white programmers as well, especially if you look beyond the Silicon Valley bubble.

                Silicon valley is full of nonwhite programmers. White people are somewhat underrepresented in Silicon Valley compared to their percentage of the American population. And of course most of the world is not America.

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                  I’ve actually never been to the States, much less the Silicon Valley. I just dimly remember reading somewhere that it’s mostly white, but I probably just remembered wrong. I’ll just remove that part since it doesn’t matter for my point and I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about with that 😅

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                    In my previous company in SV (I was a remote engineer abroad, everybody else US based) we had literally 1 person on the team that was born and raised in the US, everybody else was from somewhere else. India and China were dominant, but not the only other countries.

                    Other teams looked pretty much the same. CEO (+founder), VP of Eng and all team leads in Engineering were non US born and almost all non white too.

                    I am now working for a different company with head-quarters in SF and it is a bit different. We still have pretty big mix of backgrounds (I don’t know how to express it better, what I mean is that they are not decedents of white Europeans). We seem to have more people that were born in the US yet are not white.

                    Our European office is more “white” if you will, but still very diverse. At one point we had people from all (inhabited) continents working for us (place of birth), yet we were only ~30 people in total.

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                    Well, it’s full of programmers from Asian countries, to the point where I wouldn’t call their presence diverse. Being a Chinese/Indian/White male isn’t diversity, it’s a little bit more diverse. So while “nonwhite” is accurate, it’s not really the end game. Software engineering is massively underrepresented in women and in Black and Latinx.

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                      So who exactly sets the rules on what is diverse enough? Is it some committee of US Americans or how does that work?

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                        Ah okay so here we see the problem. It’s only diversity when there aren’t enough of them, then it stops counting as diversity once you actually have diversity and the goalposts shift once again.

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                      Quite frankly, I find that the entire thing has more than a bit of a “white saviour” smell to it, and it all comes off as rather patronising. It seems to me that black people are not so fragile that they will recoil at the first sight of the word “master”, in particular when it has no direct relationship to slavery (it’s a common word in quite a few different contexts), but reading between the lines that kind-of seems the assumption.

                      Agreed that black folks are in the main far too sensible to care about this kind of thing.

                      I don’t know that it is really so much about being a ‘white saviour’ (although that may be part of it); rather, I see it more as essentially religious: it is a way for members of a group (in this case, young white people) to perform the rituals which bind the group together and reflect the moral positions the group holds. I don’t mean ‘religious’ here in any derogatory way.

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                        Not sure about this specific issue, but in general there’s so much systemic stuff that it’s a bit much to ask black communities alone to speak up for everything. It’s emotionally exhausting if we don’t shoulder at least some of the burden, at the same time listening to and amplifying existing voices.

                        To be honest I’d never really thought about the ‘master’ name in git before, and think there might be larger issues we need to tackle, but it’s a pretty low effort change to make. Regardless, the naming confused me anyway when I first used git and then just faded into the background. I’ll let black people speak up if they think it’s overboard, however, although I’d imagine there’d be different perspectives on this.

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                          Not sure about this specific issue, but in general there’s so much systemic stuff that it’s a bit much to ask black communities alone to speak up for everything. It’s emotionally exhausting if we don’t shoulder at least some of the burden, at the same time listening to and amplifying existing voices.

                          Yeah, I fully agree. I don’t think they should carry all the burden on this and it’s not just helpful but our responsibility to be supportive both in words and action. But I do think they should have the initiative. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of white folk sitting around the table musing what black folk could perhaps be bothered by. Maybe the conclusions of that might be correct, but maybe they’re not, or maybe things are more nuanced.

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                          Really couldn’t disagree more — one of the big repository hosting services had this discussion just the other week. Much of the agitation came from Black employees, particularly descendants of enslaved Africans brought to America.

                          I agree with you on one count, though: if you’re white and you don’t have any particular investment in this issue, you should probably keep your opinion on it to yourself.

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                            Which discussion in particular are you referring to?

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                              The idea that this is being primarily driven by white people, specifically as a “white savior” exercise. The word “master” does bring up a painful legacy for lots of Black people, and with the context as muddled as it is with “git master,” it makes sense to defer to them on how they perceive it, especially in an industry where they’re so underrepresented.

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                                You mentioned that:

                                one of the big repository hosting services had this discussion just the other week. Much of the agitation came from Black employees

                                So I was wondering if you have a link or something to that discussion? I’d be interested.

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                                  I wish I had something to share — the conversations have been internal and I wouldn’t want to breach confidentiality (any more than I already have). Once we’ve all forgotten about this, if there’s a blog post to share, I’ll thread it here.

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                                    Ah cheers, I didn’t realize it was an internal thing.

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                          I hate discussions like these because I just find every side annoying. One the one hand I don’t think that racism (or “society”) is caused by language, rather language reflects racism (or “society”). There is an argument to be made that spoken language may be connected to racism, but that not “resolved” by renaming.

                          And I know that this is going to look like bothsidesism, but just looking at how self-serious and insistent the comments are below this article, repeating more-or-less the same thing, coming up with gotchas doesn’t help either. Giving another example would just be interpreted as being exactly part of the problem people who are interested in this approach of engaging with racism (as one commenter notes “The highly charged and negative reaction to this is further sad proof of how systemic and institutionalized racism is.”).

                          Ultimately, this ends up nothing more than a distraction, something to easily pour too much energy into, while still feeling that something is being done. Discussions like these usually look like a conversation among two people, speaking two different languages coincidentally consisting of the same words. Neither understands the other, nor do they realize it. What’s needed is a translator.

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                            What is it about “that’s not what master means” and “you’re wasting everyone’s time” that needs translation?

                            And sure, perhaps I’m wasting my time right now too, but at least I choose to do it.

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                              The fact that that has been said, and the discussion continues indicates to me that there might be some misunderstanding. Either that, or one side of the argument is consists of irrational/truth-hating/ill-motivated idiots *. If you ask me, that seems like a too simple excuse to resolve an argument. So I’ll be sticking to “I think there’s more going on”, until conclusive evidence proves the simple stupidity of one side.

                              *: Notice that in some form, both sides of this “argument” could use this, and I’m not taking sides.

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                                I’m reminded of the constant confusion of “its” and “it’s.” It’s been discussed in thread for the 30 years or so I’ve been online and the issue is about education of when to use the right term.

                                This may be perpetual confusion over the right history of the term “master.” Could be many reasons. I think the solution I try to use most is to point to clear discussions and clarification of terms that have confusion about the origin, especially of whether it may be racist or have some offensive origin. I’ve used this with the term “calling a spade a spade” [0] and “tarball” [1] because someone brought up to me whether they were racist terms. I worry about misunderstanding of terms as it’s hard for me to bring up language use with people unless I really know them. People use “powwow” quite a bit and I almost never feel comfortable mentioning it.

                                I also like to keep an open mind because I grew up in a culture that would say “are you out of your cotton picking mind” [2] and I never realized, as a child, its [edited to fix apostrophe] racial origins.

                                So I like discussing this and learning and helping people learn. But I don’t think that useful technical jargon should be changed because people misconstrue racial overtones. If it’s genuine, then let’s change. But if it’s just misunderstood, let’s educate rather than change out of an “over abundance of caution.” My fear is that if we start changing because people don’t or can’t train to understand the true meaning then we’ll be in a constant cycle of changing conventions.

                                [0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_a_spade_a_spade [1] https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/225000/where-the-term-tarball-comes-from [2] https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cotton-picking.html

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                              You can say both sides don’t understand each other but I just cannot agree. It’s not that anyone is misunderstanding what the SJWs (for lack of a better term. What do they want to be called? I’ll call them that instead I just have no better word that I know of) want or why they want it. They just don’t understand nuance at all. They’re the same people that are offended by media where characters use racial slurs because they literally do not understand the difference between something being racist and depicting racist characters. They do not understand or want to understand language, context or nuance.

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                                It’s not that anyone is misunderstanding what the SJWs (for lack of a better term. What do they want to be called? […]) want or why they want it.

                                Part of the problem is that there is no “they”. Just because a lot of people share ideals, doesn’t mean they are some kind of a group. For the most part, it seems like “these people” (for lack of a better term) are individually motivated. Part of the problem when grouping together something so informal, especially without any leaders or representatives, is that we can interpret anyone to be the poster-boy/girl of “the movement”, and who’s to choose? Anti-“SJW” YouTubers have some of Ideas. And if anyone can declare themselves the “representative”, it’s easy to create an image you describe. Kind of the way nobody takes a person seriously calming to be part of “Anonymous”.

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                                Using red for instances where it has not been done and green for when it has been done creates the impression that doing it is good and not doing it is bad which is presumably not what you’re going for. Colour usage matters for perceptual reasons.

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                                  I’m not designing my blog for anyone who cares more about the color of a checkmark than the use of language that makes people feel uncomfortable. Thanks.

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                                    Ah I misinterpreted your position on the issue. My bad!

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                                    I would prefer using green for when it is not done and red for when it is done.

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                                    Do you know how good your sample is? Taken at face value, this list would seem to indicate that the real social power lies with those who advocate for change rather than those who wish terms to remain the same. I say this because almost every single instance on your list resulted in a change.

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                                      And imagine situation where they rename everything once… but actual problems do not disappear. What a nightmare

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                                        Good question. It’s definitely not a representative sample– I’ve added a disclaimer to the post.

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                                        Another one (from 2020) for your collection: https://github.com/psf/black/issues/1363

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                                          Thank you, I’ve added it!

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                                        At work, someone tried to introduce git-flow which has a “develop” branch in addition to “master”. Then everybody forgot about “master” and now “develop” is the default branch everywhere. It works just fine inside our nearly closed ecosystem.

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                                          that sounds like you’re using git-flow wrong, if nobody uses master anymore.

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                                            Yes. I wrote “tried to introduce git-flow”.

                                            We currently consider changing to process to be more like git-flow again. The idea involves release branches from develop and from master. I’m not convinced it is a good idea but we have a weird technical debt to consider: Two submodules which hardcode the path to each other. We need to build software with different versions for one of them. All options we have suck.

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                                              Wow, that sounds like a massive PITA. I recommend git-pray-to-your-deity…

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                                              Not really. It’s not uncommon for teams to have only a subset of members be the ones who throw the frankenstein switch and cut production versions for codebases. No need to be abrasive over a common and effective setup.

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                                                I wasn’t trying to be abrasive, sorry if it came across that way.

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                                              We have a very similar setup at work, actually. All development is done in the development branch, which is merged into master periodically. However, this still always manages to trip me up, I’ll end up doing git push origin master or git rebase master when really I mean development, because I’m so used to the naming convention (muscle memory).

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                                              This is a really good idea and I’ve adapted this in all of my projects. Now, what should I do with my diploma that says “Master of Science”? /s

                                              On a serious note, I don’t see how that would even effect anything. As many have elaborated really well below, this looks more like virtue signaling than real action. Nevertheless, we can also see that this sparks up useless debates and even further opens up the gaps in society, which nobody wants. Let’s work together in other areas to make world a better place and not follow the academic self-sufficient theory that language was any part of the problem.

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                                                I didn’t realize master by itself (without slave) was a problem.

                                                BR, MSc (Master of Science)

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                                                  No, no, you’re a Main of Science from now on.

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                                                    You are right. We should move our attention to the slavery that still exists in the world rather than changing names in science. Great opinions here on Lobsters.

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                                                    Isn’t the metaphor Git uses related to a “golden master” as opposed to the opposite of “slave”?

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                                                      Here’s where the term seems to have originated: https://mail.gnome.org/archives/desktop-devel-list/2019-May/msg00066.html

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                                                        That still doesn’t make it offensive terminology. Slavery has nothing to do with race outside of one particularly nasty instance of slavery in the US.

                                                        1. [Comment from banned user removed]

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                                                            Maybe the etymology of the literal English word “slavery” is related to race, but that’s irrelevant to the point, which is that the concept the word slavery relates to has existed since time immemorial.

                                                            1. [Comment from banned user removed]

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                                                                Blanking your comments harms discussions; please don’t.

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                                                                  Do NOT do this thing with editing your comments after the fact to be blank, ever again. You will be banned if there is even a single additional offense. It is anti-social behavior and has no place here.

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                                                            Interesting, good to know!

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                                                            Just a natural extension of finding opinions violent if those opinions, carried to their logical extreme as public policy, would lead to death.

                                                            If words can be violent by existing, then some words, no matter their origin, use, or typical purpose, must not exist.

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                                                              It’s exactly the same stupid logic as the RuboCop issue and the BBC taking Fawlty Towers off iPlayer because of the use of racial slurs. It’s a complete lack of understanding of context and nuance. Words have meanings only in context. Don’t let them know that Buddhists put swastikas on their temples, they might blow a fuse.

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                                                                I thought I managed to explain exactly that in such a way that anybody would be able to hear it. Was I wrong?

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                                                                  You were. I’ve read through your comment twice and I still don’t understand what you were trying to convey.

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                                                                You make a leap from ‘opinions’ to ‘words’. I think there is a vast difference between those categories. There are certainly opinions whose utterance can be considered an act of violence (“All Frenchmen should be killed”), except in some specific circumstances (quoting, discussion, ridicule, irony, …). On the other hand, the utterance of a single word cannot be considered an act of violence, again excepting certain specific circumstances (someone giving the order ‘Kill!’, someone effecting a known response: ‘Witch!’).

                                                                I find it hard to think of circumstances in which the word ‘master’ would cause violence. Perhaps psychological violence as a ‘trigger’ word, but I would be really interested in seeing some data on the (preferably pre/early-internet, but any at all would be good) ubiquity of that.

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                                                                  whose utterance can be considered an act of violence

                                                                  I feel as though we’ve taken a step in the wrong direction if speaking is violence.

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                                                                    I think most countries laws’ recognize certain illegal speech acts, such as inciting violence. The hirer of a hitman has only engaged in speech acts. Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest? Are such speech acts then not acts of violence themselves?

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                                                                  I think that it’s very hard for words to be violent, although others have different lines. I think this warrants greater discussion before we accept that words can be violent inherently. This is because I am against violence and if words are violent then by nature, I think they would need to be minimized.

                                                                  I consider words violent if they incite someone to commit violence. This can be hard to determine so I like to use US law as a basis as it criminalizes violent speech.

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                                                                  Yep, presumably ultimately derived from the process of audio master and a master cutting lathe, to which other lathes were slaved.

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                                                                  Whether we like it or not it looks like GitHub already decided for us https://mobile.twitter.com/natfriedman/status/1271253144442253312

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                                                                    Daily reminder that GitHub still has a contract with ICE.

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                                                                    Doing this actually works perfectly on GitHub and GitLab, but unfortunately doesn’t work on sourcehut yet, if anyone’s curious. https://todo.sr.ht/~sircmpwn/git.sr.ht/228

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                                                                      I personally don’t see master and think of any non-programming context, but if you were going to change it, why not make it trunk to fit in with the branches concept (and steal a term from subversion) that already fits it instead of using main? main seems like a weird choice for naming it.

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                                                                        I’m gonna start using “canon” after seeing it suggested elsewhere.

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                                                                          If you would do a worldwide poll in the year 2000, how many people would indicate that the term ‘master’ for the ‘main’ branch of a VCS was offensive or an unwelcome reminder of certain things to them?

                                                                          I can equally well believe many people were already offended by it, as I can believe the majority of this opinion was only manufactured in the last decade and actually hardly anyone is bothered by it.

                                                                          I suspect that if no one were to take renaming actions, then this naming issue would disappear and never come back, assuming the actual problem, the systemic daily racism people are currently fighting against, would be resolved.

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                                                                            I propose list of another words:

                                                                            • robot - it comes from the word “robota” which meant corvèe - unpaid non-free labour
                                                                            • git - which mean “idiot” in British slang (and all subprojects like GitHub and GitLab)
                                                                            • CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) - in Polish it literally mean “cunt”
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                                                                              Sometime last year I set out to make my own VCS wrapper like Github and one of the reasons was to rename the default branch “primary”. I eventually found that wasn’t possible without forking git itself (and uh…nah).

                                                                              When I transitioned back to Github from self-hosting my repos a few months ago, I made the default branch changes then. I’ve long disliked existing terminology but figured none of that would ever change.

                                                                              While I enjoy watching America seem to give a shit about my well-being for the first time in…ever (?), I cant help but assume this virtue-signaling is gonna wear off soon.

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                                                                                Hopefully Linus will not find this new trend cool enough to change default Git behaviors. People feeling guilty about using such terms, as well as whitelist/blacklist and the likes should really consult a psychiatrist. It has nothing to do with slavery nor any supremacist philosophy. In addition, regarding slavery, it’s not in any case a monopoly of the whites. Almost all civilizations have at one point or another, enslaved another. White people have been slaves too. Just get to know History.

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                                                                                  Honestly I think whitelist/blacklist is a far stronger candidate for change. Literally a list of things that are good or bad because of their color.

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                                                                                    The question is: does it have something to do with skin color? I mean, light is white and obscurity is black, kids are scared in the dark because humans were once a prey in the animal reign and night was more dangerous. We could rename black with dark, but can we be sure no one would get offended? Dark skin is a thing too.

                                                                                    I’m not informed enough to boldly state that these namings have never offended anyone. But I’m sure these terms are not where the real problems lie. Changing them is just a distraction and won’t solve anything. Going down this road is just falling into the rabbit hole: next we would have to rename anything that could someday someone offend someone (slavery, sexism, minority, parent/child process [I’m pretty sure it can be offensive to some]…).

                                                                                    Suppressing these words won’t change history nor reality. It sounds like Orwell’s Newspeak to me and that’s not a good thing. It sounds like an easy solution to erase real problems.

                                                                                    Are you aware that [company] illegally uses underaged underplayed workers to manufacture x? Here we have something to deal with. Boycott the brand, sue it, act! But who cares as it happens in Asia or Africa, all the focus is on removing words from our vocabulary to hide truths.

                                                                                    People have been enslaved. Females experience sexism everyday. This is/was bad and should never happen/had happened. Real matters still exist today and switching words is in my opinion delusional.

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                                                                                      Going down this road is just falling into the rabbit hole: next we would have to rename anything that could someday someone offend someone

                                                                                      We’ve been ‘going down this road’ for hundreds of years; every single time there’s a tremendous amount of noise generated.

                                                                                      have never offended anyone

                                                                                      There’s nothing in the ‘verse that will avoid offence to every person. That’s not a goal of anyone with a grasp of practicality.

                                                                                      It sounds like Orwell’s Newspeak to me and that’s not a good thing.

                                                                                      Then - and I say this gently - I don’t think you understood the book. The point of newspeak was to make it impossible to express certain ideas. Renaming a concept is not the same as erasing it.

                                                                                      Suppressing these words won’t change history

                                                                                      Not sure why you felt this was necessary to point out.

                                                                                      or reality

                                                                                      This is the crux of the argument; proponents believe it might, opponents insist it won’t.

                                                                                      Personally I think it’s not very likely to change reality, but it’s a low-cost change that could plausibly help, so I don’t see a good reason not to do it.

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                                                                                    Unfortunately I think GitHub will probably change the default for repos created on GitHub or with GitHub’s desktop git tool and that will probably, unfortunately, tip the hand of git’s maintainers towards changing it.

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                                                                                      I sincerely hope they won’t. That wouldn’t change my life either as long as it stays backwards compatible.

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                                                                                    I usually have no „master“ branch, because I use Mercurial which has „default“. Moreover I derive the branch names from semantic versioning, so the first branch is usually v_0, then v_1, v_1.1, v_2 etc. But I would not rename the „master“ branches in Git repositories (if the only reason would be that someone do not like this word).

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                                                                                      I like the idea of proposing a fix that projects can directly take and think that’s the right way.

                                                                                      However, I don’t think main has, as master did too, a semantic problem.

                                                                                      I’d rather just use 0 to indicate it is the first branch. Or maybe root or trunk. I think these are closer to meaning than main.

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                                                                                        In general, if you don’t care, you don’t care. No one is forcing you to make a change to your repos or change your behaviours. There aren’t any git police going around handing out citations for branch naming conventions. There may be a few people who are pushing harder than others, who are out there asking owners and maintainers of code to make changes that they feel might alienate or otherwise upset people. They don’t have any authority, and you don’t have to listen to them. I don’t think anyone is going to turn around and label the maintainers of various repos as racists just because they haven’t bothered to change a legacy term that’s a holdover from previous systems.

                                                                                        You’re not going to get in trouble for not renaming your branches and the general attitude i’m seeing in some places of people feeling like they’re under attack when they have full control over their git repos, configuration and setup of those git repos is frankly a little ridiculous.

                                                                                        The change in and of itself (for some repos), is mostly trivial, you might have to make some tertiary changes around build systems and the like, modify your typing behaviour a little. If your repo is private, or it’s public and no one on your team really cares about the change, then fine, don’t do the change, it’s as simple as that, there are so many repos out there across all the services it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will be in amongst a sea of other repos that similarly haven’t changed. You can have and communicate your opinion on it, you’re absolutely free to do that. You’re even free to shame or look down on others for making the change if that’s what you really want to do.

                                                                                        We’re making the change and I don’t have to justify it or defend it to anyone outside of my team.

                                                                                        At the end of the day, for me, and for the team that I am a part of, the history of the term, it’s etymology, how it’s used in the context or in other similar contexts such as whitelist/blacklist, doesn’t really matter. What really matters at the end of the day is the answer to the question “Does the use of this word, in this context, have the potential to cause anyone of any background to be uncomfortable or have any other negative emotional/psychological effect on that person?”

                                                                                        If the answer is even remotely a Yes, then my team and I need to change it. It’s a no-brainer, I would rather remove the risk over gambling with someone elses well-being and mental health any day. But others may not feel that way, and all the power to them. Do what works for you, do what you feel is right, just try not to trample on anyone who chooses a different path.

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                                                                                          You’re not going to get in trouble for not renaming your branches

                                                                                          Let’s revisit this in two years time. ;-)

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                                                                                          Neat. Another reason to avoid GitHub altogether. Orwell’s as relevant as ever, and this is just… low.

                                                                                          The term “master branch” has a descriptive and apolitical meaning not conveyed by the more generic term “main”. The etymology should make that clear enough to anybody who even bothers to look.

                                                                                          edit: Wow, I’m glad I missed this whole smoldering pile the first time(s?) it came up. Mildly amused to see I’m hardly the first to say “Orwell” and “master recording”. Thanks for the merge, mods. I hope this is the permanent bottom comment.

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                                                                                            May I propose mater to replace master? For people who have trained their muscle memory, this would be an easier replacement, and lends itself to mater->minor/child relationships.

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                                                                                              I that that would be annoying for dyslexic people, or people like myself who tend to read too quickly (I had to read your sentence twice to understand what you meant).

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                                                                                                That’s a dyslexia disaster waiting to happen