I personally totally agree with the author. Anyone who chooses to be offended by words used in a totally different context is doing exactly that - choosing to be offended.
If we keep going down this path of endless meaningless virtue signalling, where will we stop? Is the term "black hole" racist too? What about blackout? Etc, etc.
No one really cares about these terms and it they do their opinion shouldn't outweigh the time, effort required to fix it, or the opinions of everyone else.
Supporting this kind of asinine shit is essentially letting big corps like Google get away with doing practically nothing while seeming like the good guys. Stop focusing on the surface level shit and start focusing on the real issues.
That has been objected to . A white county commissioner described a slow office as a black hole for paperwork, a black county commissioner said that was racist and it should be called a white hole, and a black judge asked the first commissioner to apologize for his racist remark. Also, "angel food cake" and "devil's food cake" were also declared racist, apparently, in the same incident .
According to Hong-Yee Chiu, an astrophysicist at NASA, the Black Hole of Calcutta was the inspiration for the term black hole referring to regions of space-time resulting from the gravitational collapse of very heavy stars. He recalled hearing physicist Robert Dicke in the early 1960s compare such gravitationally collapsed objects to the prison
Any value judgement of racial significance being attached to those terms is fundamentally a byproduct of the racially charged thinking of the participants.
I want to make this clear; if one thinks something may be racist, one would be well served double checking one's own thinking, and the context behind it first for whether it is the perceiver themselves projecting onto a situation in which none is present. Failure to do so renders one completely blind to the actually extant major sources of systemic racial discrimination that are in dire need of wiping out. Namely things like Euclidean zoning, statistical redlining, demographic segmentation, the lack of humanity in our methods of effectively dealing with discrimination of criminal offenders simply in need of rehabilitation, and those we need to isolate from society at large.
But no, perpetuation of bread and circuses, the politician's fallacy, scratching the surface, and doing nothing to actually change the underlying structure of the mechanisms and operative factors at work in the world is so much easier.
It isn't enough to rage at perceived injustice. You have to grapple with it, run it down, understand it, reckon with it, and figure out how to keep life going without it. This also includes being honest about all the contributing factors and accepting that you might be a factor in it.
And your reduction ad absurdum argument is not convincing at all here. Yes it is possible to take this too far. Some people probably do take it too far. The concepts of light and dark are physical realities as in a black hole being the absence of reflected or emitted light. And they have long been used as metaphors for opposing forces, as in yin and yang or many cultures’ representations of good and evil. I think there is very reasonable argument that analogies to these things can be separated from the concept of white and black as races of people in American.
There is really no reasonable argument that master and slave is a good terminology to use for databases. It’s an overt and completely unnecessary reference to slavery, and not even a particularly apt or useful analogy. There are better words like primary and replica or follower that are easy to use.
Is it not far more demeaning to act like anyone would crumble under the weight of mere words used in a technical context?
Should we drop the term clone because it causes the religious to dwell on evil scientists playing god?
No, it's not far more demeaning. You're really arguing that it's demeaning to be decent and respect other people's feelings and reactions to things?
With that attitude, should I just walk around insulting people for no reason, telling everyone I come across to go fuck themselves? Because it would be far more demeaning to assume that someone can't handle being told to go fuck themselves.
That doesn't mean that it's reasonable to insist that all databases which already use this terminology should potentially break compatibility with prior versions of themselves simply because a handful of other people see the words "master" and "slave" and entirely ignore actual context in order to look "woke" (coming across as superficial and insincere in the process).
It is what it is. Maybe there are more descriptive terms, but "master" and "slave" are descriptive enough.
I personally always wonder where the boundary is for such demand of total conformity. Anyone who's familiar with The French Revolution and The Chinese Cultural Revolution will be cautious, to say the least, because it is so easy to see how much evil was done in the name of righteousness. That said, I find it hard to argue about the framework of this second-international-like movement. After all, you're tone-deaf if you deny that a phrase may be offensive to even one person, right? Moral high ground, well, is a high ground.
I don't get offended by other people's words and I don't expect other people to be offended by my words either. Does that make me a bad person? Should we just get rid of people like me from society? Replace me with more offended people who take everything seriously?
I thought that division and extremism was a problem of our modern society? I guess I must be wrong there too. Opinionated, offended people often tell me that I'm wrong. They say it so aggressively, I guess they must be right.
Usually, when people feel strongly about something, it's a good indication that they're right.
> I don't get offended by other people's words and I don't expect other people to be offended by my words either.
You shouldn't expect other people to feel the same way as you either. You can't decide how offended someone should be, as that's their own reaction to you. It might seem extreme or overboard to you, but how much do you know about them to judge that?
> Does that make me a bad person?
That's not really the question to be asked if we're talking like mature adults, because this isn't anywhere close to as simple as being 'good' or 'bad' (whatever that even means).
Which is all to say, sure... you're fine to be a naturally born careless person, as much as a cop-out that actually is to hand-wave everything away with "it's just who I am," or "I tell it like it is!". It's fine for other people to think you're an asshole for it, and if I were you I'd grab my friends over a drink or something and ask an honest question: "how do I generally come across to you?". Prepare to possibly have your feelings hurt.
And the reason why I say that is because you come across as quite casual and dismissive about people getting aggravated with you when talking about things, and maybe you're not listening to what they're actually saying.
That's a difficult argument. It's totally fine to physically defend yourself if you're being attacked, and what constitutes an attack is obviously perfectly subjective, but we do very much have a common understanding of what it means. Whether someone feels attacked is of importance to themselves, but generally of little importance to how we judge their actions.
The same is true for being offended. While people don't control what they feel, I don't believe it's helpful to reach for complete relativism and say "all feelings are valid, therefore you must act a certain way". It's also not what anybody seems to actually believe. When I trollishly ask them to stop doing something because it offends me, they respond that I'm lying (which I usually am, but they cannot know, they cannot judge that, as you wrote). It seems "do it, because they feel offended" is only the motto when they are sympathetic to the person claiming to be offended. Moral arguments that are based on personal sympathy are pretty problematic.
> "all feelings are valid, therefore you must act a certain way"
Thank you for proving my main post under this topic correct, where I state that people will choose what they hear and respond to that, and not respond to what was actually said. Total failure of communication.
I'm trying to say that while I do believe we should try to understand whether and why someone feels offended or attacked, we shouldn't use them feeling attacked or offended (or claiming to) as a strict guideline for actions, and we should judge their actions and reactions not based on whether they felt offended, but on whether a reasonable person would have felt offended, much like we do for e.g. self-defense.
> Total failure of communication.
That may be a total failure in the way I'm trying to communicate. I didn't mean to suggest that that's what you said, I exaggerated what I understood your position to be to make it obvious why I believe it to be a difficult approach.
When we allow subjective things like feeling offended to be used as general facts, we're going to end up with two opposing parties both claiming offense - if there was no opposition, there would be no issue.
Once we're there, we are back to square one: who is right in being offended? If we then say "well, I like that person, so they are right", we really don't need to talk about the whole thing, because sympathy-based decision making has always been a thing and everybody understands how it works, and very few people would claim any sort of fairness or system (after all, we cannot deduce anything from any previous decision, as the decisions depend on who the parties are, not on the issue itself).
If we instead try to find some general rule, we can just skip the whole "I'm feeling offended" stage and proceed directly to this one, that is, to the claim "this is offensive", which implies "a reasonable person will agree, it's not about my feelings, my tribal membership, my background, my experiences and personal convictions".
There seems to be some inherent conflict in your statements. If you have no opinions, then you take no stand. Why should people take you seriously? I believe that you have strong opinions about people should act and feel (No one should get offended because you do not get offended by a particular statement) and that comes across as very callous.
My view is that discrimination is never OK.
I have 2 questions:
1. Does offence in this case constitute harm?
2. What percentage of the population needs to be offended before it should be taken seriously? 51%? 10%? A single person? Perhaps the majority of people in an affected group?
I’m less sure than you are.
It's even more absurd in these situations, since the ones "offended" are almost always whites who have nothing better to do than to stir up controversy.
This argument seems like it could be used to absolve anyone of guilt for using racist terms. "I'm not racist, that person chose to be offended by my statement".
> No one really cares about these terms
Seemingly people do care about these terms because we're having this discussion. In our white-dominated industry I would bet many don't, but why not make an effort to make the terminology we use more inclusive.
> their opinion shouldn't outweigh the time, effort required to fix it, or the opinions of everyone else
I don't think people are expecting open source maintainers to drop everything to fix these terms. In some cases it will be unfeasible and they could just say that.
Technically, yes. But what matters (should matter) in the end is the intent. (Did I say that to offend or did I say it because I didn’t know better?) What should matter is the intended meaning of words, not the formal appearance of words. After all that’s what language is about. Now, I realize this gets complicated once you consider that a language use that arose from injustice/bias continues to perpetuate that bias. But that is not the case here.
Masters give the orders. Slaves follow the master. Slaves get all the heavy work. Slaves take the beating.
Its tone deaf to ignore this as why it might be offensive to some of your coworkers.
And in any case, the name is vague at best anyway.
Write db, read db, primary, replica, leader, follower, marshal, worker.
All better, more descriptive names for various master/slave relationships.
I'm speculating: you believe it's a problem for African Americans, but e.g. not for Polish Americans, right?
I'm trying to understand your thought process here, because the word slave literally (literally literally, I'm not making this up) stems from Slavic people that were captured by Romans.
I said it is easy to see why it might be offensive. I am in no position to discern that but I also dont give a shit about what term you use, and its dated anyway. Further more, i find it trite to waste energy on these "decisive", and small sound bite sized issues that mean absolutely nothing to the vast majority of people.
Im discussing the use of the term master/slave in the context of a database master slave setup where one database has to take orders from another.
And you think its cute to "speculate" maybe im talking about where the word slave comes from? Opposed to, how it may or may not offend those with a cultural history of 400 years of slavery.
That is extremely disingenuous.
Exactly. There are far bigger fish to fry than whether or not some piece of software uses terms that can be misconstrued to be somehow racist (riddle me this: is BDSM inherently racist because that subculture uses "master" and "slave" terminology?).
We (at least here in the US) are in dire need of widespread reforms throughout our "justice" system, particularly when it comes to police and prisons. We are also facing an ongoing issue of white supremacists infesting our government at all levels. Harassing open-source projects over what words they use is a petty and pointless distraction from these very real issues that have very real and very strong impacts on American minorities.
I can't speak to other countries and their race relations, but my impression from hearing about their attitudes toward immigrants/refugees is that they ain't much better.
I wouldn't conflate the two, they are not connected. After WW2, ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe were forced to migrate to Germany. There obviously was no race-issue, as they were not only the same race, they were the same ethnicity, they spoke the same language. And still they weren't welcome by the local population, as their arrival primarily meant that whatever the locals had would now be shared.
Pretty much all opposition to immigration is economic. Race doesn't play a part in the motivation, it's a secondary thing that comes into play afterwards. If immigration was a (significant, visible) net benefit to every person in the country (it is not, and you'll usually find the anti-immigration opinions with those who stand to lose from immigration, and, unsurprisingly, the pro-immigration stance with those who stand to gain), there would be much, much fewer objections. Consider a headline like "Nigerian billionaire seeks to immigrate and promises to invest in the rust belt and create tens of thousands of jobs in manufacturing". Do you believe Trump-supporters would protest that person's immigration?
This is the reason people think liberalism and social justice is a meme. This exact shit.
Besides - do you know where the word "slave" comes from?
It comes from Slavic word "słowo" which means "word" (it was written differently in proto-Slavic, but whatever). "Słowianie" mean "people who speak words"="Slavic people". In English it's translated as "Slavs".
Słowianie were the original slaves, to the point that Latin used their name for the word "slave" (sclava) which was later adopted by French and English with small changes.
What will you do about it? Invent a new name for all the Slavic languages and people related to that word?
Do you think it's "tone deaf" to use a word for "slave" that comes from name millions of people call themselves? Do you think it warrants change of language? Why not?
Im not talking about where words come from, im talking about where and why it was applied to the master slave database concept when primary/replica or write/read actually conveys far more meaning off the bat.
You're essentializing race and religion. Do you think Larry David gets thrown into a tail-spin any time someone uses the term "grammar nazi"?
Eh, that describes how all humans lived as you travel back in time. That describes all of our ancestry. Kidnapping, rape, immense suffering at the hands of power hierarchies.
Hell, look up where the word "slave" comes from and which group of people it spawned from. Hint: it wasn't black Americans 200 years ago.
Here are a few commits:
Here's the issue where some of the discussion happened:
It seems they weren't released in GA until 6.0.0, which came out in April 2020.
I’ve wondered how this affects actual opinions but can’t talk about it.
I also wonder what other topics I haven’t noticed but others have checked out of and I’m missing their participation.
Nope, no thanks. I'll see myself out.
I know a lot of people dislike anonymity because trolls and bad actors abuse it. However, it also means voices like mine, who strive to operate in good faith, get lost.
It’s not anonymity as Facebook is real people, who I think enjoy not being anonymous with getting internet points from people who enjoy it.
I think the issue is no social contract with me. They aren’t my friends so they don’t care so much about me. Private messenger groups with 20 people who know each other seems fine.
Interestingly, completely anonymous IRC on freenode results in good discussions.
Maybe developers should steer clear of Twitter so they don't get exposed to the problem. The only winning move is not to play, much like with ads. You don't train yourself to ignore ads or to not be influenced by them, you just use an ad blocker.
Edit: closer to two decades - in 2003 LA asked electronics manufacturers not to use the language. Presumably this was first discussed by the community. In the mid aughts, Microsoft was using allowlist/deny list.
So, hardly a recent phenomena, and certainly not every two years. Yes, some projects have been faster or slower to adopt replacements for these terms, which is why you have seen a few discussions in the past few weeks on HN.
The concept of "dictatorship of small minority" implies that the only governing principle should be the vote of the majority. But that is a deeply flawed system, if there wasn't any other rule than "majority wins" then all oppression of minorities becomes valid and all abuse where the perpetrators outnumber the victims.
For a system to be fair there must exist more rules than that, for example "respect bodily autonomy" and "no oppression of minorities" and so on. Many of those rules are more fundamental than the "majority wins" rule and more important to uphold.
If those are not your own views: Sorry for the rant.
No, it does not. "I don't want to live under dictator A" does not imply "I want to enslave A" or "I want to live under dictator B", it only implies that I do not want to live under dictator A.
What offensive language has been communicated in this case?
> What is he really fighting for?
Wasn't that clearly explained in the post?
> The language is outdated and stems from a practice
Outdated? Has the 'practice' you're referring to dissappeared?
> from a practice that is universally shunned.
What to think of people practicing BDSM? Or bioligists describing insect behaviour? Is their language offensive?
> There is work involved in changing the language yet there is no harm in it.
It is harmful when it deflects from the actual problems we have in our society these days. Just because something is immediately actionable doesn't mean it is effective or even helpful.
> People absolutely have the right to be offended.
Of course people may feel offended, they just shouldn't automatically get additional rights by being offended.
> Changing the language would be more welcoming towards people
I agree with that. But I'm dissapointed that people are content with it. IMO it distracts from more pressing issues that need to be addressed.
I will address a few of your points together:
> What offensive language has been communicated in this case?
> Outdated? Has the 'practice' you're referring to dissappeared?
> What to think of people practicing BDSM? Or bioligists describing insect behaviour? Is their language offensive?
I’m referring, obviously, to the language of “slave and master.” The practice of slavery, unfortunately, has not disappeared, but is universally banned and recognized as morally wrong. The use of language based on slavery in computer science was dreampt up long ago, and it’s time to rethink it - just as “mongoloid” used to be the official scientific word to refer to people with mental disabilities. I highly doubt you or the author would defend so vigorously the right to keep using that term in software APIs and documentation. It was a silly idea to use the word in the first place, and there’s simply no good reason to use it now. As for BDSM and language about insect behavior, that’s completely within a different realm, because those topics are not related to the long history of systemic suppression and subjection of an entire class of people
You and other proponents of leaving offensive language intact are blinded by binary thinking - the slippery slope argument. That if one thing is done to address offended people, then something must be done for everyone who is offended, and where does it end? Therefore the slippery slope. That misguided type of thinking supposes that all moral decisions can be made on a set of universally applied rules that will decide what is right and what must be done about it. But the world is gray - not black and white, and no two situations are the same. Judgement is necessary in every situation.
>> What is he really fighting for?
> Wasn't that clearly explained in the post?
Not really. What was clear from the post was that he didn’t want to do it, and he felt he wasn’t wrong for not doing it. That doesn’t explain why he went through the effort of presumably spending hours to write a lengthy blog post about it. The question then, is why is he fighting so hard against making some code and documentation changes?
And on a related note:
>> Changing the language would be more welcoming towards people
> I agree with that. But I'm dissapointed that people are content with it. IMO it distracts from more pressing issues that need to be addressed.
I think that actively fighting against changing the language by spending inordinate amounts of time writing blogs about his refusal to change the language is a huge distraction. Just do it or don’t do it.
>> There is work involved in changing the language yet there is no harm in it.
> It is harmful when it deflects from the actual problems we have in our society these days. Just because something is immediately actionable doesn't mean it is effective or even helpful.
And who has determined that is not an actual problem? Or that this is not effective or helpful? You? The white males who run the world?
>> People absolutely have the right to be offended.
Of course people may feel offended, they just shouldn't automatically get additional rights by being offended.
To which additional rights are you referring?
> You and other proponents of leaving offensive language intact
I was/am actually in favor of removing said language because I want language to be welcoming towards people and people are clearly taking offense.
> And who has determined that is not an actual problem? Or that this is not effective or helpful? You?
No, I am in no way able to determine that. And I really hope it is helpful.
Anyway, I appreciate that you read what I wrote and chose to keep in the conversation.
I really like how ljm put it in this comment:
Neither is computer science, yet here we are.
But people don’t have a right to NOT be offended. That’s the right that’s being asserted here. You should change something so that I am no longer offended. Well, the fact that one is offended is a struggle that’s personal to them.
> there is no harm in it
It is immensely harmful to switch core concepts of a product around and break compatibility.
Are we gonna ask record producers to stop creating “Master records” too? Rename the disk MBR?
Does eliminating racism require deleting history, or understanding and acting on it in the real world?
(note: my comment has already been flagged. this is incredibly disheartening)
The master/slave naming seems clearly outdated to me and this one is a direct reference to slavery. A better word like replica exists so I'm using that instead. This makes a lot of sense.
On the other hand there's efforts to rename white/black list or the "master" branch on git. I've never thought of these as even being related to racism until people started opening issues on Github projects about that. A master branch in this context is just like a vinyl master, or a master class to me. The final finished product and not any kind of reference to slavery. Am I wrong?
On the other hand, I second that "slave" is not a good terminology and trivializes real slavery, while a lot of words like "replica" or "worker" are more descriptive in a software context.
I tend to agree that master has a sufficient breadth of meanings that you often can't/shouldn't eliminate its use.
From the Wiki article : "In medieval wars many Slavs were captured and enslaved, which led to the word slav becoming synonym to "enslaved person
For the same reasons people argue against abusing terminology like "retard" or "gay", you could argue that using the word "slave" affects people's perception of Eastern Europeans.
The easy one is that we don't want to argue about it, much likes tabs vs spaces - the value for us is in having a standard, not necessarily what the standard is.
The other one is that I spend a ton of time convincing developers to be intentional and deliberate in their naming of variables and functions, and these terms just aren't very intentional. I've had to explain them to several ESL developers because it isn't intuitive.
Allowlist and denylist are great alternatives except they don't read well as verbs
We start down that path and we'll end up banning "Paint it black" as a racist song.
The related term is "whitelist," not "redlist." So I can understand why people might believe the pair has racial overtones.
To my mind, thinking that "blacklisting" has racist connotations because we all African people "black" also, is a similar kind of confusion.
Edit: to clarify what I'm trying to say. The fact that "black" is in "blacklist" is a coincidence and nothing to do with racism. Same as the fact that "his" is in "history".
Which is funny in itself. "history" is sexist because it's male, so let's do some affirmative action and make it sexist in the other direction!
Also, there is also debate about the 'redskins'.
I'm sorry, but what? It's not like you're calling the CEOs/managers "masters" and the rank and file devs "slaves". It's literally a term assigned to an inanimate object.
So you want everyone to forget racism exists? (Because it does BTW).
Those terms are fine.
The practical argument to change the terms because you think they're clearer isn't a compelling reason to change the terms. But, also, a practical argument doesn't really mix well with the moral argument. (If "master"/"slave" were better understood than alternatives, but agreed to be offensive, would it be better to use those terms?).
I don't see the argument as to being about which terms are best, though. The contention is 'the terms "master"/"slave" are offensive, and should be changed'.
In terms of "what's wrong": this discussion has enough comments in favour of / against the idea to get a sample of what people are disagreeing about. If I understand correctly: "it's a small change to make, that will reduce the exclusion some people feel", and "the terms aren't used in an offensive way, it's not of substantial worth to change it".
I often find myself getting a headache while reading some of these 'conversations' as I try to get my head around the various perspectives at play. Some of it is truly exhausting, particularly the 'what about the slippery slope' argument that often comes up (in this comment section we have 'what about black hole', 'what about blackout'; in others it's 'what about maestro', etc.). Similarly, it's tiring to repeatedly hear the defence of censoring or erasing history. At the same time, the same is true of those in a hurry to brand others as racists, fascists, or otherwise phobic of something. These all feel like blunt instruments that do more to shut down the conversation rather than encourage it.
There are way more than two sides to this story, it really isn't as black and white as the conversation can make it out to be (on so many levels). And as far as I'm concerned it's a conversation that requires one to take a step back for several moments and seriously consider the things that are currently at stake, and to start healthily unpacking this before jumping to an instinctual response.
For me, the way we discuss this is just as much about compassion and genuine empathy, and adapting to change, as it is anything else. And also for me, if the terms 'master' and 'slave' have served their purpose and need to be changed, so be it. That doesn't upset me at all, but the toxic and hateful drama that often spews from such a decision really does.
How about "robot?" From "Broken Metaphor: The Master-Slave Analogy in Technical Literature" :
> a new term meaning "slave" was entering the English language to describe an autonomous device meant to obey its master: "robot," from the 1923 translation of Karel Cˇapek's 1921 play R.U.R. (the word robot having been derived from a Czech word for slave, "robotnik").
If 'robot' isn't problematic, why is that? Is it because because the word is more decoupled from its origin than 'slave,' or because the origin of the word is less well known? Or is the negative-ness lost in translation?
It makes me want to be less politically correct on purpose just to troll the kinds of people who advocate for this meaningless crap.
Words are not inherently offensive, if not used in an offensive manner. Can we just all please go back to being grownups now?
1) I am personally offended, so you should be offended to.
2) If you are not offended, then because my personal offense is rooted in a just cause, you are bad.
3) Because you are bad, I cannot have a dialog with you. Indeed, I should not even try, because the cause is just.
MLK Jr had wise words on this, noticing the danger of a person convinced of their own righteousness. Much of the non-violence playbook was predicated on the tightrope that is (1) convincing someone to believe strongly in a cause & (2) still act rationally enough to allow for discussion, negotiation, and compromise outcomes.
However, the hecklers will probably end up having their way simply because they do not have better things to do.
So much so that I don't understand why this got flagged (while, for instance, the one on github trying to change this wasn't).
A: "Please change terminology X to Y because X is ethically bad, and Y is clearer anyway."
B: "I disagree about Y being clearer."
A: "You're an evil partisan of ethical-problem-in-question."
I've seen this far too often and I think it's terrible.
I strongly recommend anyone who is advocating a terminology change to either leave out the "and Y is clearer anyway" part, or be willing to discuss that part independently of the ethical part.
It’s ridiculous that Americans appropriate the name of my people to deal with the problems of their own society.
Click on parent a few times to get the full background.
(I found that by searching for "antirez fake news" in comments, btw, I don't remember the conversation from the time it actually took place).
Avoiding the answer makes me believe that your position is essentially "it's an issue if I agree with the people, otherwise it's just provocateurs". That's fine of course, but it's really just "it is whatever I say it is" and all the stuff about feelings, offense and people are just charades because you don't want to say that.
Your premise actually means no feelings matter and it doesn't matter what anybody thinks. It's self-collapsing and reveals the contradiction in what you're proposing.
If you wanted to breed radicalization, this how you'd do it.
What's funny to me, it's these people are against the terminology but not against the concept. Like if you are against the words, why is okay for a Redis node to be a slave and ordered around by a Redis master? Shouldn't all Redis nodes be equal?