Developers Debate Deleting ‘Master’ and ‘Slave’ Code Terminology

For years, some developers have regarded certain programming terminology—most notably ‘master/slave’—as racially problematic. For example, there was a push a few years ago to remove those terms from Python documentation, which led to much heated discussion. Now, with protests against racial discrimination and police brutality sweeping the nation, the debate is coming up again. 

The developer collective behind Go (a programming language that began life within Google) is undergoing a big push to replace usages of whitelist/blacklist and master/slave. “There’s been plenty of discussion on the usage of these terms in tech. I’m not trying to have yet another debate,” read the explanation accompanying the changes, which went live on June 6. “It’s clear that there are people who are hurt by them and who are made to feel unwelcome by their use due not to technical reasons but to their historical and social context. That’s simply enough reason to replace them.”

Not everyone in the comments accompanying the Go team’s note supported the move. “I am all in support of BLM,” one wrote. “But this is basically trying to say that we should eradicate the colours black and white and the words master and slave.”

Google’s Android and Chrome teams have likewise been determined to replace terms such as “blacklist” and “whitelist” within their respective codebases. “‘Blacklist’ and ‘whitelist’ reinforce the notion that black==bad and white==good. That Word Black, by Langston Hughes illustrates this problem in a lighthearted, if somewhat pointed way,” reads a note posted within the chromium Git repositories nine months ago. “These terms can usually be replaced by ‘blocklist’ and ‘allowlist’ without changing their meanings, but particular instances may need other replacements.” (There are also guidelines on gender neutrality.)

According to 9to5Google, “at least one Android Open Source Project developer” has been working on inserting more “inclusive language” into the android codebase. Such efforts have also been underway since last year.

Nat Friedman, CEO of GitHub, claimed in a June 11 Tweet that his team has already been working on the “master” to “main” transition for default branch structure. Again, the comments below that Tweet were mixed, with some complaining that it was more a demonstration of “performative wokeness” than anything useful. (Hat tip to ZDNet for highlighting Friedman’s Tweet, and for pointing out that similar efforts have been underway in pockets of the developer community for years—for example, the Drupal project deciding way back in 2014 to embrace ‘primary/replica’ in place of ‘master/slave.’)

For those developers who want to wipe out problematic terminology for good, there’s a mountain of code to confront. “Instead of referring to ‘slaves,’ Kubernetes uses ‘replicas’ and ‘workers’ and even ‘minions,’” Sinclair Im, a student fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, wrote in a recent Washington Post editorial. “But its code repository still contains more than 200 lines that use ‘slave.’ Because its code must talk to others, even Kubernetes can’t completely avoid the terminology.”

Im suggests that the entire software industry make a collective decision to voluntarily stop using master/slave terminology in software. While the heads of large companies could certainly issue a top-down order preventing the use of those terms, it might prove more difficult to convince independent developers and smaller projects to shift quickly, at least until new terminology is widely adopted. If the conversation threads that erupted when Python made its big change are any indication, this is a topic that many developers will only continue to debate for quite some time to come.  

85 Responses to “Developers Debate Deleting ‘Master’ and ‘Slave’ Code Terminology”

  1. Paul Lucier

    If this were such a problem, then why are there more slaves now than in all of recorded American history combined?
    Enough with the politically “correct” b.s. already!

    • Tirumal Jallepalli

      Are you referring to actual slaves – being too many; like in humans; or are you referring to some other connotation related to programming; pardon my grasp of what you are saying.

      • Jeremey Hustman

        There are at least 21 – 45 million ‘slaves’ today. 1 in 6 missing children are likely victims of ‘sex trafficking’ – an estimated 20.9 million are victims of forced labor, there is an estimated 51 million girls under 18 that were forced into marriages in the name of Islam, what do you suppose they are forced to do? China has probably 3 million Uyghurs in ‘re-education camps’ – It’s a terrible problem but you will never hear about it in the mainstream news or condoned by ‘Democrat’ leaders, they call it ‘culture’.

  2. James Igoe

    It should have been done sooner. What some people assume is political correctness is simply a consideration of one’s speech and the terms we use. There is both meaning and effect in our choices. Our terms of usage define our reality and get incorporated into our reflexive ways of thinking and responding.

    I use gender-neutral terms as often as realistically feasible. There are also terms I frown on, e.g., Scrum, if only because they tend to favor males while excluding women, in the same way, that using a sports metaphor to mixed-gender groups is inappropriate, let alone ineffective communication.

    The choice of words influences our perceptions, and although this instance might seem minor, it adds up. Was the Civil War over states’ rights or slavery? Regardless, does it justify glorifying racists? You can read about them in history books, but leaving their statues up glorifies racism and perpetuates injustice.

    As Orwell, wrote in 1984, “Who controls the past controls the future.”

      • James Igoe

        And which fascist political stance created and uses PC as a pejorative and is against equality, human rights, diplomacy, facts, and science? Look around…

        • You’re attacking an institution, but talking to real people who are probably very much actively FOR equality, human rights, diplomacy, facts, and science. In other words, you’re just using a strawman argument and alienating would-be allies for the sake of posturing and quite likely because you’re secretly afraid of being ostracized yourself for fucking up, so you try to stay one step ahead of people. After all, if you make the rules and call out other people first then you’ll be safe. And tell me, what’s wrong with creating and using PC as a pejorative? Also, there’s a difference between “a consideration of one’s speech and the terms we use” and ostracizing/cancelling/shaming people for using the “wrong” terms when there’s always some new term that’s changing or is now bad. It’s also not even addressing the root of the problem. “Scrum” as a word doesn’t have anything to do with men (as far as I know – and really that’s all that matters – I shouldn’t have to research the deep origins of every damn word that comes out of my mouth to triple check whether someone else could do some intense googling and come at me with some BS about its non-inclusive origins). Using a different word won’t solve our problems. It’ll only push people apart and cultivate resentment. Furthermore, sports are not inherently for men. By thinking to yourself as you talk “oh, sports make people think of men, so I won’t talk about sports b/c there are people who don’t identify that way” is like talking to a girl and mentioning a sport and then pausing and saying – oh, I’m sorry, I know sports and females aren’t really a thing, but ofc they should be. It’s basically reinforcing a non-inclusive mindset. Furthermore, I’m guessing you’re not a member of an underrepresented minority or anything. You’re probably just some white guy who never noticed that real people are adversely affected by policing speech and cancel culture (which is modern ostracism ofc – check the wikipedia page), even when they are far more integrated than you and are trying their hardest to fit in and not offend anyone, even though really the people being offended are not the stakeholders but the people in power making the rules, who often have little experience with real people who deal with true discrimination. How are you gonna be in a conversation with a black person and stop someone if they use the word slave b/c black people have a history of slavery so reminding them of that or w/e upsets them? Wtf that’s insulting af. It’s like saying “oh, sorry, you used to be a slave.” Did you ever once think people just want to be normal and accepted and not treated differently? PC culture is discrimination, not just against people who use “bad” words, but against the groups the people in power want to pander to. It’s disrespectful because it’s forcing an association where there is none and just leads to people thinking of themselves as “separate but equal.” P.S. I’m not white

      • James Igoe

        I’ve worked with enough belligerent, sexist, and intimidating men, blind to their ignorance and hostility. They certainly don’t find me fun, particularly when I don’t tolerate bullying of others or question their anti-female bias.

        I guess we are both lucky, not to work with each other. Someone like you is exactly why I think tech has a problem that it can barely recognize…

    • Joseph Egglestone

      “Using a sports metaphor to mixed-gender groups is inappropriate” – James, June 16 2020

      Wow! Whilst trying to be so enlightened, woke, feminist, and PC you go and make an enormously ridiculous generalisation! Women are prominent in hockey teams, tennis, mixed-martial arts, fencing, football/soccer, and even rugby, where the apparently un-exclusive term ‘scrum’ that you righteously ‘frown upon’ originates.

      If you’re going to be eye-rollingly ‘woke’, trying to virtuously tip-toe around everyone without causing offence, then you might want to go back to the drawing board.

      • James Igoe

        No, women in those sports are exceptions, not the rule. Even men who never seriously played sports often understand them because they played them when they were younger. The choice of terms, the metaphors one uses, and how they are delivered matter, whether people are conscious or not.


        A noted world-class poker player, a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, a woman, came to my employer to give a short talk about decision making and risk. She used a football metaphor based on a well-known (at least to some men) play, to discuss concepts about decision-making, how to assess its quality. I chatted with a few mid-senior women, doctors and researchers, afterward. It was mostly lost on them. The speaker could have chosen a much better metaphor and been much more successful.

      • James Igoe

        And it’s not primarily about avoiding offense, although the anti-PC contingent will describe it that way. You seem to be missing aspects of equality, human welfare, and growth, about fairness, about breaking free of historical structures that are inherently wrong and unfair.

      • James Igoe

        Woke isn’t really my thing. I’m 60, and I’ve thought this way since I started thinking independently, for almost 50 years. Although I might have evolved over time, changed and added elements, but I’ve always been concerned about equality and human welfare.

    • Adam Botchnic

      Correction: Erasing the past.

      Don’t care, there is no tooth fairy, there is no santa claus and there is no first world racial inequality, gender bias and whatever the hell you’re smoking.

  3. So we can no reference a master’s degree? I suppose I can stand ‘magister’ but I expect the university to pay for the reprinting/re-engraving of my degrees.

    And I suppose we need a new designation for ‘JK Master-Slave Flip Flop’ in electronics, too. Oh, and don’t forget, we need to remove ‘black’ from the resistor color code. Probably should remove brown, too.. And white. And yellow. And let’s not forget gray. Someone is sure to find gray offensive. And let’s stop producing electrical wiring in all those colors, too.

    Oh, here’s something: all TV-sets are racist! When you turn them off, the screens all go black. Gotta ban those.

    You know, when you go digging-around in programming languages banning keywords, you end up breaking everything that’s a companion-app to the primary. Like if you ban ‘master’ from git, you need to convince the programmers of GitHub, GitLab, Gitea, Gogs, and a whole slew of similar programs to also ban ‘master’ and adopt the new word, or else the programs won’t talk to each other any more (potentially). And did you know, computers used to only let you have a maximul of two hard drives per controller port, and one was designated the ‘master’ and the other one was the ‘slave’ ? Shocking.

    And while we’re at it, let’s rename a certain plant. It’s currently called Mother-in-law’s Tongue. There must be SOMEBODY out there that finds this offensive.

    • James Igoe

      The name of the degree is not the issue, it is the relationship it describes. Although the terms of degrees signify a hierarchy, it is not racist or gendered per see, nor particularly offensive

      As for banning master as a repo aspect, the .NET world has been using main and branch fr quite some time. I’ve never seen anyone use the terms master or slave in the .NET world, except when referring to drives, and even then, the master drive is usually called the boot drive.

      Really though, why get upset about this?

      • Yorozuya

        The terms master/slave in the context of computing refers to a hierarchy, nothing related with racism. I think that many people got upset because a small group of people, and mostly white people, consider some words offensive, even if nobody in context of computing use in a bad way. What happened if tomorrow another group decide that the word degree is offensive? Should we ban it? The worst thing is that companies like Github did it because is easier than allow access to users from Iran or Syria, and challengue the policies of Trump, that is the real problem.

        • James Igoe

          Maybe the issue isn’t so much about the past, but about the future. If one needs to be fair in hiring, equitable in assessments, free from inappropriate personal bias, then one needs to realize the exclusionary, non-inclusive terms that are frequently used. And it is not just terms used, it is in processes and evaluations we use reflexively.

          How do you feel about taking down confederate-related statues and iconography, or how about renaming military bases. Both are no-brainers to me. just do it.

          I went to middle school, 6th to 8th grade, at a place named after Jonas Salk, the creator of the polio vaccine. In my mind, he’s a hero, even if his history is of a somewhat flawed person. On the other hand, if it was named after a [various miscreants] and the history had glorified [various crimes against humanity], what have I learned?

          Anyway,the point is the terms you use now set the frame for the future.

          • The Dead

            “Anyway,the point is the terms you use now set the frame for the future.”
            You are absolutely right, when the new generation comes in and sees what your generation did to technology and compatibility they will ensure this PC nonsense will never take hold again! Keep doing what you are doing, after all it works for the CCP. :^)

  4. I have to agree. This is getting carried away. Has anyone even thought for a second about the logistics of making such changes? It is almost, if not, insurmountable.

    If someone finds words or phrases J-K Master-Slave Flip Flop, master-slave when referring to a hard drive, code, etc. they need to a). grow up and b). get a thicker skin. There WILL ALWAYS be something or some word, phrase or, whatever that someone finds offensive. We can’t go around changing everything just because of it.

  5. I’m all for more transparency and clarity.
    I never fully understood why they used whitelist and blacklist. why does white mean allow and black means reject? I like the idea of blocklist and allowlist (although harder to remember)

    However, master/slave is a very clear relationship of components that gets muddy when you start using other terms. I never liked the term (didn’t remind me of blacks so much as Jews in Egypt) but not sure what would be a better term that maintains that clarity.

    • I see that it is a complete waist of time trying to blame technical terminology for been racist or not politically correct because it uses master/slave or white/black to define explicitly the state or condition of an output.
      It would be a complete waste of time and effort trying to redefine one single explicit word with a bunch of word that becomes meaningless just because some non technical minded people feel aggravated by such single words.
      Science and Technology cannot waste its time with such nonsense.
      It is as stupid as to complain that North or South or East and West discriminate people because of the geographical location they live in.

    • Poor me. I always thought whitelist meant accepted and blacklist meant crossed out. If you look for offense, you can be sure to find it everywhere. Sickening.

      • Yes you got it you are exactly right you just need to talk a little slowwwer and you will get it and it’ll come to you. Continue on now white is good black is bad, say it with me white is good black is bad, how about we say it this way black is good white is bad.

  6. Pixobit

    Just for those who don’t understand why blacklist/whitelist.

    White – meaning of peace, for example when you fight a match, and throw in the white towel, or white flag for surrender as in peace, etc

    Black – meaning of something bad, for example someone died, or darkness, etc

    These colors have been defined like this because of natural reasons, even ying/yang uses it in this clear meaning.

    Redefining these words is a never ending rabbit hole path that will break a long chain of history and it’s just plain dumb. For any company that gives in to this nonsense, just shows the type of leadership they have…

    I think the real problem here, is associating people with colors. Let’s stop calling black people black, and that already solves a huge number of issues. You can’t remove the bad meaning from the word black, no matter what you do anyways.

    As for master/slave, grow up. Black people weren’t the only slaves, and I bet that those who get hurt the most, are the most spoiled. And last but not least, I think it’s actually insulting to them to say that they can’t make the difference between a technical term and the real meaning.


      Well said! The term “black person” instantly labels them. Why the need for labels? The statement: “That man was wearing a nice hat” tells you everything you need to know… it was a man and it was a nice hat. The color of the wearer’s skin has no bearing on whether the hat was nice or not.

      I always loathed the term “African American”. If you live in the US and are a US citizen, then you are AMERICAN… nothing more. The vast majority of those claiming to be African American have NEVER been to Africa, let alone born there.

      • James Igoe

        People still apply and differentiate on color labels and the best choice of term is African-American. Using the term black is so negatively loaded it immediately biases people against the person. Use of the term African-American levels the perceptual field.

        • You obviously dont talk to black people. A lot of them dont consider themselves African. You should watch your white priviledge and not assume all black people are african.

        • Wow! What you said shows your how privileged and racist you are as a white man. There is nothing wrong with being black or being called a black person. Its highly offensive to assume just because your black your African. Most black people in the US never even been to Africa.There are many other countries/continents with black people in it. Black people arent exclusive to Africa.

          You should watch your white privilege and be careful of you say and stop speaking on a topics you know nothing about. Just because you were given a free pass in life doesnt mean your allowed to tell minorities how they should identify as.

          • James Igoe

            I read and rely on studies for a deeper understanding of the world. Your personal opinion is less important to me than the general truth of something, particularly if my reading is statistically and scientifically validated.

            Are there African-Americans that prefer other terms? Certainly. Could I easily mistake someone’s skin color, when they are mixed Hispanic, white, Asian, or prefer some other categorization? Certainly. I can’t ask each and every person, particularly those I don’t know, for how they would prefer to be described. Living and working in Manhattan, I deal with people from many different countries, and I am certainly aware of some of the complexities surrounding origins.

            When favoring the term African-American, I am referencing studies that show most African-Americans prefer the term over Black, or that in controlled studies, white people are less biased when African-American is used to describe someone as opposed to describing them as Black. Black is heavily loaded from the cultural biases around us.

            I can’t make everyone happy, but try to do my best to be fair and equitable, essentially threading the needle.

          • James Igoe

            Considering what I perceive as racists in this forum, I was wondering I you bothered to criticize anyone else? It would be astounding, even if true, that I am the one worthy of criticism. Considering the level of racism in this country, and seemingly exemplified in this forum, am I the one you should be calling out?

            Also, as mentioned, there are problems with using the term Black, as it unconsciously biases whites against the persons described. Show me a valid study where that isn’t true, or that disproves it, then I’d reconsider.

            Although I at times struggle using the term African-American, say when the person originated from Jamaica or Nigeria, or even South America, it is not me but the lack of easy ways of talking about such things. Dealing with the breadth of peoples that I do, there is no easy way to discuss something, and leaving it to someone else isn’t a solution.

            You could say that I simply avoid thinking about ethnicity and race, but that in itself enables a more insidious form of racism, the kind where bias isn’t even recognized, simply effected. The police do this all the time, in that are they are most likely to claim color-blindness when in fact they are more likely to behave in a racist manner.

          • James Igoe

            In context, my statement is appropriate. The prior comments were contrasting terms, and as mentioned, the idea of color-blindness is a non-starter, an enabler of racism rather than a cure.

            Also, discussing terms this way never comes up in my interactions with people of different backgrounds. If I know someone’s background and/or country of origin, I don’t try to label her, but we might chat about something that interests her. Nor would I describe anyone by a racial/color categorization, except when discussing the idea in the abstract, or when discussing an individual when categorization is part of the discussion.

            Even then, as mentioned, one can’t please everyone. Of the African diaspora in the US, only about 9% of the existing Black population are immigrants or about 1% of the US total population. From this, I assume you are just gutter-sniping since obviously, no term is correct for all people and preferences, and that your criticism by exception is not significant.

          • Jonhas

            Jesus Christ I want you 1000km far away from me, what a f****** psycho lol, take a break bro, relax a bit, do some drugs, party a bit, enjoy life, and don’t know. Only a mega racist would write all that and think black people is a bad term, master/slave refers to race and not hierarchy, and so on. Black people are black, that doesn’t mean they are bad, unless you are the racist that makes this association in your head. Besides, what’s next step? Remove the words master / slave from the dictionary? I’m almost sure you are going to answer yes, and that’s frightening. Maybe you are all your research and the associations you make between then and what you believe are blind you. Not sure you learn much besides how to write in a fancy way during your 50 years of being a genious.

          • James Igoe

            @Jonhas – Any term can be loaded with meaning. The word pig can refer to an animal, but when applied to men or women as a descriptive it simply becomes negative. There is nothing wrong with the word black, or with being Black, or African American, or Afro-Caribbean, etc., but in studies looking at bias, use of the term black as a quality of a person leads white people to question the described person’s competence, as well as to negatively affect the perception of other qualities. The studies I am referring to are relatively recent, so even if the preference is for the term Black, it might come with semantic baggage…

  7. Howard T. Duck

    I’m not hung up on the word “black” anymore because there are no longer any black people in America but only African-Americans. And as far as I can tell slavery is still illegal, is not supported by the vast majority of the world (99.99999%), and we now use the term “human trafficking” instead to direct attention to the modern day slave trade. We use terms that fit our purpose. I can take any term and make it offensive if that is my intent.

    What was in the past is in the past. Embrace both the good and the bad. Improve upon what was good and change the bad for the better. But if the politically correct crowd wants to go back into the past to dredge up past sins again and again and again and utilize trigger words to do so, we’ll never see progress towards a better tomorrow. Forgiveness is what allows us to move forward.

    I haven’t known any African-American software developers, systems professionals, or business clients who took offense at any discussion utilizing the words “Master” or “Slave” in a professional context. I’ve never seen a conference where one of the topics was the hidden racism within systems and the terms we use. As far as I know early developers were not racists intent upon putting words into our vocabulary to keep others down. IT and software is actually a great equalizer. Anyone can make something out of nothing but an idea and succeed. This is why I support STEM initiatives getting into schools where students are at risk of repeating the cycle of poverty and limited opportunities. Anyone can succeed.

    • RobbCV

      I was on more then 50 or more jobs installing head end wireless units, with multiple other peole including Black,Mexican,other. Due to we where all professionals, the Black co workers who where friends, and I used to joke about they could of chose a better label for it, it was a joke to him/they and I,but it was deemed even 25years ago, it wasnt the best label…but it was a JOKE, not taken derogatorily,because these where professional people.

      not softy California Types that need a tissue paper to read the news.

  8. I am a melanated brown completion afro-british man and I say keep the master-slave convention in computing as it’s not really an issue or a big deal, what I want to see is melanated Negros being promoted to board level top Jobs in IT and other works of life and none of this fake pandering to so called black lives that don’t matter, case in point: recent Libya slave trade, or Yemen attrocities or Boko haram kidnapping girls in northern nigeria.

    • James Igoe

      The one time I can agree with anyone is this forum is one aspect of your post, is that I do think that much of the corporate press releases are just messaging without substance, what you call pandering, although the human being behind are likely sincere. Most others posting here are just absurd, griping with no relationship to the actual concept discussed.

  9. James, thank you for caring. I support you 100%.

    True, there are black technologists who have gotten used to master/slave terminology in tech. But they don’t represent all black technologists. They also don’t represent people who were once sex slaves, or the concept of any kind of slave being simply jarring.

    As some people have pointed out, a lot of these problematic terms may not have had problematic origins or intents, butt that doesn’t matter. The fact is they’re still problematic to many people. Not all, but many.

    Additionally, alternatives to master/slave, such as primary/replica, or blocklist/allowlist vs blacklist/whitelist, are actually a lot more descriptive and accurate. Practicality and inclusiveness FTW.

    All of you who think this effort is useless and words are meaningless, it is incredibly hypocritical that you’re so attached to the existing words. It’s like white boys complaining when they see a non-white female protagonist in a video game: “PC alert! Representation doesn’t matter, it’s just a game!” But if representation doesn’t matter, then why the hell do you care that, once in a blue moon, there is a protagonist who doesn’t look like you?

    • James Igoe

      Thank you. I have to wonder who inhabits these forums, conservative trolls, tech people, etc. Even then, I’ve sometimes been surprised by the underlying traditionality and hostility expressed by male peers in technology and software development. I don’t question myself, but I do question the industry.

      • John Doe

        To the inventor of the technology goes the freedom to name it. He who creates gets to name the creative offspring of his intellect. James Igoe creates nothing, achieves nothing, and yet self-appoints himself to the role of chief naming officer for technology.
        Terms are such as master/slave are chosen precisely because they are descriptive of behavior of the underlying technology. Don’t like it? I and others don’t really care.

        • James Igoe

          An inventor has the right name anything, but so do we collectively have the right to name it differently. Language is driven collectively, and usually without a head unless it is somehow legally limited…

  10. Dear God…..

    In Victorian times people put little cloth leggings on their furniture, so the sight of all those salacious table-legs would not cause any unfortunate priapism.

    They also must have thought they were Saving The World. But if they Saved The World in the 1880s, why must we save it again today?

    • James J Igoe

      Wow, what a misguided analogy! Do you think that the history of slavery and emancipation, and the actions of taking down confederate statues, reforming the police, the criminal justice system might better inform your analogy? And who do you think are covering the figurative table legs? Glossing over the history of the confederacy and racist traitors with states’ rights is more similar to Victorian denial.

      Although the terms are minor in importance and effect, it fits in with a larger theme of equality and human welfare, and it seems that just debating the idea hints at the recalcitrance of men in the software industry, a small- and literal-mindedness.

      As I wrote above, “Maybe the issue isn’t so much about the past, but about the future. If one needs to be fair in hiring, equitable in assessments, free from inappropriate personal bias, then one needs to realize the exclusionary, non-inclusive terms that are frequently used. And it is not just terms used, it is in processes and evaluations we use reflexively.”

      Saving the world. Definitely needed, from fascists, from environmental destruction, from the race to the bottom that is modern America.

  11. Kyo Tukana

    Notice how all the people who don’t see a problem with obviously racist terminology are all white males, showing their incapabilities of combatting their own white supremacist tendencies. They don’t care because it doesn’t affect them, and they’ll perpetuate some of the most moronic mental gymnastics and non-points to continue being able to use such reactionary terminology and practices. Whether it is due to laziness or malicious intent to continue the support of the systemic racism that benefits them and clearly exists in our societies, it is wrong nonetheless. Let’s see how they respond when they are replaced with much more intelligent, diverse peoples who can perform their jobs much better.

    • RobbCV

      Maybe those of you that are short sighted ignorant to the rest of the world, and dont see how stupid this argument is, in a WORLD PERSPECTIVE. Maybe those too sensitive should get a job say in a church or somewhere over sensitive people congregate. of ANY COLOR. Theres so many EMBEDED things with Master/Slave in the world, we are not chanign Master Slave Cylinders on Cars, Master/Slave SWITCHES in BUILDINGS, just because of some social history problems. Racist PEOPLE are a problem, not Racist Master Cylinders in Cars, or Master/Slave Radio Antennas, or Master/Slave Switches. The whole world does NOT REVOLVE around ANTI RACISM, we are4 not chaing the whole worlds DEFINITIONS of PARTS and MATERIALS, that have NOTHING to do with RACISM, just to suit a few of you over sensitive people. Sure, there could be better names,but where not chaning the whold world because of it. new Stuff, Easy to change stuff, NEW OK…but get over yourself…RACIST PEOPLE are the PROBLEM, not a few Acronyms in TECH and INFORMATION and every CAR EVER MADE…What are we supposed to call a MASTER CYLINDER, BIG BLACK ROUND THING for the Brakes? come on…

    • James Igoe

      For the most part, I agree with you, but we can’t be certain that all the hostile posters are white men. Regardless of race or gender, many seem to be small-minded, making frivolous arguments, or ranting in tangential ways unrelated to the article and other posters.

      • WageSlave

        Well James, it may be true that most of the IT labor force tends to be white males. It may even be true that owners and managers are pronominally white. However, we all live in the age of ‘The new feudalism’. In the context of the new feudalism, race and sex are irrelevant. The color of your skin is not the defining feature of the master slave relationship. The size of your paycheck relevant to the geographic location is the defining feature. An IT wage slave making under $100 thousand a year is the slave. The CEO making $100 million is the master. The distinction lies in the power to force the redistribution of the productivity created by the underclass. The master slave relationship has not really changed much since the plantation era. The plantations are just called corporations now. The name changed, but the game is the same and the color of your skin or your sex is irrelevant. Masters are equal opportunity exploiters.

        Let’s look at the new plantation owners response to COVIT19’s push to work at home. Working at home means escaping the bondage of the plantation location allowing a migration away from the high price of housing on the plantation. Of course, the master sees this as an opportunity to force a redistribution of productivity in the form of a lower wage for the wage slaves that leave the plantation attempting to capture the lower cost of living in the sticks. The master slave relationship, like it has always been, is the power to force a renegotiation only when it suits the masters interests.

        • James Igoe

          Why a non-sequitur, or is that just you “ranting in tangential ways unrelated to the article and other posters” but on purpose?

          Honest, as you can see from my comments, as opposed to the blather posted irrelevantly in response, I try to avoid overgeneralizations…

          Although I could agree on some level about inequality, once could also argue that is was better in some periods of the last century, and currently better in other places in the world. As well, some countries have a quality-of-life perspective that makes work in their cultures less onerous.

  12. Geeeezzz. If something offends you that much, then look elsewhere period. The media now has me so confused about “words”. In the IT, Science and Engineering worlds, what about these words, intelligent machine, disabled machine, male plugs, female plugs, black box, main frame, mother ship, browsers, inheritance, child process, chain links, link, bottle neck, dongle, black hole, white heat. They are all words only, till you add your own meanings. Duh. That should be first on the list. The meaning of words! Words have many meanings you knee jerkers. A sentence of words have more meanings. A paragraph of sentences have more meanings. A page of words even more meanings. A book of words even more meanings. But words? Go read a book! You “A” holes. Just venting.

  13. Richard Smith

    When I was developing networks back in the 1980’s and ’90’s I hit upon “Host” and “Image (for ‘Mirror Image’)”. There were others that warped this to “Host/Parasite”, “Host/Lamprey”, “Host/Tape (for Tapeworm)”, “Host/Toast” and a variety of other metaphoric terms, but the Host/Mirror fit nicely because of the short number of positions

  14. RobbCV

    Get over it. If people are that sensitive, go to church. The whole world does not and should not have to change every MASTER/SLAVE we have embeded on Wireless Links all over the world that have been installed for the last 20-25years over BLM and PROTESTS and BAD COPS…Black people don’t really give a hoot,about Tech names even if they are in the Tech Industry, if they do,they dont belong in a mind required job position. There real problem,should be the RACIST in the PEOPLE,MANAGEMENT,POLICE. not in industry normals for 50 years of TECH, What about CARS, Change the MASTER cylinder and SLAVE cylinder names???come on, GET REAL, too many people from CALIFORNIA and H1B VISAs are making noise about this garbage. Get routing and coding, and get over it.

  15. James Igoe

    @pt – Actually, I went through some literature, and agree I do have to tweak my algorithm for naming. Obviously, I would refer to someone as they preferred – this is my default – but in the abstract, I would still use African-American predominantly and would use Black when referring to people that of more recent origins, e.g., Jamaica, Nigeria, etc.

    To be honest, in effect, it would matter little, as neither are terms I use in conversation, I generally avoid labeling people, and would only apply it if I was describing a group of people, or needed the property for describing an individual or situation…

      • Christopher Ardia

        Please, I’m black, not african american. I don’t speak African, wasn’t born there, never going to visit. I’m getting sick of this 30 and under, white people’s bullshit.

        • James Igoe

          To clarify, discussing a group of people, one might – if it is necessitated by the topic – describe it as African-American, Black, or even Afro-Caribbean, You as an individual might prefer one or none of those tags. I certainly, as an individual, have no way to divine your preference, and if I did have to talk about someone in the third-person, the best I can do is rely on broad preferences of the group. From my perspective, a survey of preferences for the Black community would be a guidepost, but I don’t currently have one, although you might find it unsatisfying.

  16. Sean D

    This is like an insult to black people. They really need this kind of pandering? I see them as such strong, capable people. Disgusting. All this does is separate people into groups.. the opposite of what they say it’s meant to do. We need wisdom in these times not self righteous nonsense.

  17. Those that oppose these changes are most likely the type to use microaggressions in the workplace and play it off like nothing is wrong with it or it never happened.

  18. John Hite

    Let’s use terms that start with the same letters so we don’t have to rewrite things where master and slave have become part of abbreviations/ acronyms like MISO and MOSI.

    Perhaps manager and subordinate. If you have trouble with suboridinate then I would say you are overly genuflecting and perhaps do not understand the M/S concept. Don’t throw out logic in your yearnings to be PC.

  19. Leonard Ellis

    James Igoe, I applaud your stance and nonviolent responses to the many demeaning, critical, hostile barbs thrown at you. I, too, advocate for removing the racist, dehumanizing terms “slave” and “master/slave” as they give credence to the concept that it is okay to have such a relationship, and it is not. And the terms have nothing to do with politics, this is not a “political correctness” issue, it is a basic human rights issue. Let us eliminate the use of these terms in not only our industry, but in all our communications.

    • Larry Pots

      James Igoe has thrown just as many barbs at people as they have him. You and I must of read two different threads. I am black from Cuba, many of the people who talked to him are also PoC (person of color not African American) which is the proper if you dont know a persons real race, do you call all Asians, Chinese Americans? So far James Igoe dismissed all of them and said he knew better, then went on to explain why they who are living in the skin he is being a white savior for are also wrong.. So yeah I get sick of seeing threads like this with white progressives dismissing PoC for not following their dogma..

    • joseph S hennis

      By your logic we should stop using master/slave to describe ants enslaving other ants, because this gives credence to it “being okay to have such a relationship, when it is not”. Maybe you can explain to the ants why what they are doing is so wrong. I’m sure they will understand. Slavery is a fact of nature. We can’t erase it to make ourselves feel better.

      That being said, I am in favor of naming things in tech more descriptively. I am doubtful that an actual master/slave relationship exists. Just poor, lazy naming practices.

  20. The Dead

    All this is going to is create a bigger divide towards blacks and everyone else. Good job Linus, when the race wars begin this is going to be a perfect example out of many towards why this happened. Not to mention those people will be looking for the types that caused this mess to happen. Why bother being racist when the PC crowd is doing it for them just fine~!

  21. PC Principal

    Really GUYS!?!?!?!

    There is a big difference between

    git branch -M master


    git branch -M main

    One is used by racist homophobes who want to keep minorities down!!!

    – PC Principal

  22. No term is racist unless we are using it with that intention and that context. If someone asks me to don’t call him/her/it black, white, small, heavy, thin etc. then I’ll respect that. But you can’t know which terms do offend which individual.

    Most of these words are properties and they describe exactly what you can observe. If you tell your kid to don’t call the man black, because that’s insulting, you will have a hard time explaining why. Maybe that man is proud to be black and doesn’t feel poor and don’t want our pitty? By saying black is a bad word, we admit that there is something wrong with being black. My wife thinks that black skin is beautiful and I love her chocolate skin and she likes that I’m white.

  23. T kurtashima

    Let’s just remove the first amendment. In fact, why don’t we just scrap the constitution all together and make a new one? And while we’re at it, we should just re write history, burn all books, and eliminate the words white, black, yellow, brown, he, she, her, him, male, female, boy, girl, woman, man, feminine, and masculine from our language. No more black and white movies for sure!! Say goodbye to the game of chess, (unless the colors are changed to magenta and avocado).
    If you look deep enough, you can find fault in just about everything?
    Free speech? What’s that? Just another passing phase, slowing dissipating into a distant memory.
    This has all gone too far and is completely out of control. What ever happened to …. “be kind to each other” ?
    Simple and to the point.

  24. I really don’t understand why this is a big thing for either side… In computing we use lots of metaphors, none of them are used to offend. I think in recent years offense has lost all neuance, for something to be considered offensive these days, it seems that it only need to be possible for it to be taken badly. Intent seems to have been almost entirely erased from the equasion. Master/Slave works as a metaphor in most of the places it’s used in computing. That said Main or Primary/Secondary or Controller/Responder and many others work just as well. Personally, while Master/Slave is still prevailing terminology I’ll continue to use it but I have no strong connection to this metaphor so if the people who don’t like it win out over time I’ll feel no great loss and will happly move on.

    Americans are bonkers, I can’t remember any recent circumstance where I needed to describe any group of people based on the tone of their skin, their country of origin, the country of origin of their ancestors etc. So why anyone would need to know if “black” or “African-American” or “POC” is the current in-vouge terminology is beyond me. If the unlikely circumstance arose that i did need to use one of these terms and I unfortunately picked badly I would hope that people would understand that “offense” is more complex than simly “can this word be taken badly” and intent plays a large role. If I do at some point unintentionally pick a term that does cause offense I would hope that any recipient would understand that like them I’m only human and make mistakes.

    I also read somewhere up in this thread some nonsense about “scrum” being a gendered term because it has it’s roots in sport. So women can’t enjoy sport in your estimation?

  25. Kasper Hauser

    What a waist of time and words.

    Those woke people you will never win with argument. I only want to live in peace. I only want to get rid of them.

    Let’s find or create a woke country or piece of land where the wokeys can rally and live in peace and harmony for the rest of their days.

    And we the nonwokeys could enjoy out life in peace and serenity. What a perspective that is.

  26. Reading through these comments, I realize there is only one racist and he would be the white liberal. I’ve lived in black neighborhoods. I’ve been friends with black people. Dated a black girl. Gone to school with black people. I’ve never once heard them call each other African-American. I’ve never once heard them demand that they be called African-American. It’s only the white liberals that demand this.