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Discussion on: Git blame should be called git credit

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Thibaut Allender

That's you being negative here, not the person asking you not to be late.

"Don't be late" "I won't". That's affirmative and strong, and if you fuck it up, you really do because the outcome is negative for the other, and the only responsible person is you.

"Be on time" 'I will". If you're not on time then what, "oh, I was not on time" (aka, I wasn't late, I was just not on time). See the difference?

Take responsibility for your actions and stop blaming (pun intended) the person who used an innocent sentence to point something out.

If you take everything personally then you probably need to work on yourself instead of trying to change the world so it revolves better around you (hint: it's not going to happen)

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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset Author

I'm not sure why we shifted the topic to responsibility. Obviously, whatever language we use, the responsibility to do a task still falls on the person who actually does the task. I didn't claim that positive or negative language changes any of that. If I'm late, doesn't matter if someone said pretty please or yelled at me, it's still my fault.

I'm only talking about the difference in how we perceive such differences in languages. I like positive language better. I might assume some things based on the language. But it goes so much deeper than that. How well do I know the person? What was the tone? The context?

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Thibaut Allender

I didn't say you claimed that, but it's interesting to see you assumed someone did.

You cite the framing effect. There's also an example showing negative language works better:

"93% of PhD students registered early when a penalty fee for late registration was emphasized, with only 67% doing so when this was presented as a discount for earlier registration."

So, if I really want someone to be on time, I'll ask that person not to be late. It has to do with the context, but not how well you know the person (btw if you know the person you probably don't need to remind him/her that).

What I mean here is, it's not a one size fits all approach and I disagree when you say positive language is always better.

In the case of git, I couldn't care less to be honest.

The original naming probably came from the fact that, 99% of the time, you run that command to find out who broke your code, and, back the context question, it's probably fine to blame well known co-workers if they broke it. Comme on dit: "Qui aime bien chatie bien" ;-)

Here's another one: imagine stand up comedians dropping sarcasms because "positive language is better". Good luck getting entertained.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I totally agree "be nice" will be better perceived than "don't be an asshole" but the negative form is way unbalanced here. "be nice" vs "don't be silly" makes little different to me.

There's a current trend of making everything sterile and politically correct. Positive only exists because negative does. If you delete negative, you get rid of positive too.

All I know is there are more important battles to fight for.

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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset Author

I'm not picking a battle here to be honest. I'm just talking about this particular word and having a discussion about it^^ As people mentioned in the comment, curious or annotate and neutral words that I quite enjoy in this context.

I'm not advocating we change every single word in our vocabulary. Especially when it's not my native language. I just think that this case was interesting and I thought a different one was more appropriate. It's not politically correct, I don't feel offended to type blame in my terminal. It's just an interesting conversation ;)

I was aware of the fear of punishment making people behave differently. There is also another one involving a nursery.

  • The nursery closed at 5PM.
  • Parents would then pick up their kids around 5PM, some would be late as it sometimes happens.
  • Researchers then added a penalty system. Parents would get a fine if they were late.
  • Now, parents picked up their kids later than before because they thought they could buy more time now. 15 minutes for 5 dollars for example could be seen as ok for most parents. Before, it was just a matter of not making the nursery staff way too long.

These are fascinating examples anyway. How positive/negative language and reward/punishment affects our behaviors. In this case though, it's not important, but it's always interesting to see the language we choose to use, and why 😄

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waynejwerner profile image
Wayne Werner

From a historical perspective, git originally came from Linus Torvalds - I don't know if he's responsible for the blame command, but I am 100% sure that if he is, it was so that he knew who to yell at for screwing up the Linux kernel ;)