Re: Proposal: Replace all references to master/slave in GNOME modules

Am Fr., 26. Apr. 2019 um 18:12 Uhr schrieb <mcatanzaro gnome org>:
I'm a little surprised that nobody has yet mentioned the elephant in
the room. The definition of "git" is not very inclusive:


I really did not want to comment on this thread initially, but I would
like to add a thought to this afterall:

While I think a reasonable effort should be made to keep language
inclusive and especially not explicitly exclusive, I think that we
also must expect a level of tolerance from people joining any
community (especially a multicultural one), just because cultures are
so vastly different, like interpretation of languages is, and one will
inevitably be in a position where certain word choices or
communication threads feel strange to them.
If one approaches a situation not assuming that the other party is
after you or has bad intent, one may learn about how words are used
differently in different contexts and communities. My association with
"git" is primarily the revision control system, "master" is primarily
associated with the pristine branch in a Git repository or a
controlling process/procedure, etc. This is because I learned about
what these words mean in a computer context. If I was reading a
history book on slavery, "master" would of course be charged with a
different meaning in that particular context.
Language is in constant flux, and we, just by using a word, will add a
different meaning to it, eventually displacing whatever connotations
the word had previously, or adding new meaning to it in a new context.
E.g. I would never have thought about "master" being gender-specific
at all, simply because I hadn't yet seen the word used in a context
where it explicitly meant that.
I am not in favor of banning a word just because it has negative
connotations in one context, because it creates a lot of additional
work as well as mental barriers ("what am I allowed to say?") or
derails discussions.
E.g. as a German, I find the word "euthanize" to be a bit strange due
to our history, yet, it is a commonly used word in medical texts and
scientific publications. I know what the word means in this context,
so I am perfectly fine with its usage, because due to that I also know
the intent of the people using the word and that there are no bad
connotations at all.

Another example would be the "weboob" package that we removed from
Debian because of its sexist name(s) and images. There was a really
large discussion about it, as "weboob" as a pure name on its own,
standing for "web outside of browsers" isn't actually considered to be
sexist by everyone. However, the package was eventually (and very
rightfully so) removed because in accumulation, given how upstream
acted and how modules of the software were named and illustrated, it
was beyond any doubt clear that the intention behind the name was
indeed to deliberately be sexist and to explicitly provoke, which is
not something we would want in our community. (Please note that I
simplified the incident a lot here)

Master/slave used in conjunction is somewhat of a gray area, because
here it really is an analogy to slavery, sort of (the master fully
controls the slave which is acting on their behalf, executing any
requested task). Of course, the context is different here as well (IT
vs. history), and nobody should really think the author of code
containing the analogy is supporting slavery, or that the community
makes any statement about slavery. Since this word pair is an
intentional direct analogy to very dark history though, personally I
think that if it can be replaced, it should be.

Please don't ready any of the statements above as an attempt to be
super-objective - I don't think that is possible, and I don't even
think objectivity can be the goal here, as the issue is so deeply tied
to individual opinions and experiences as well as cultural histories
and the languages one knows. That's why IMHO the "right" solution here
is actually ultimately what the community comes up with collectively,
and what feels right for us.


I welcome VSRE emails. See

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