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Discussion on: Replacing master with main in Github

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donut87 profile image
Christian Baer

I do.

Renaming master to main is a small thing and should not bother you, right? Absolutely!
I'm not bothered by this and I am happy to do whatever I can to make more people feel included or less excluded/repelled.
That being said, change (might it be ever so small), does not come easy for all people. We are stuck in our comfort zones where our habits rule. It's called comfort zone for a reason!
It also triggers people, if you say 'This is a racist term, stop using it.'. People will go in denial saying 'But I am no racist. Ergo this can't be a racist term!'
There are so many layers of psychology involved, I cannot uncover all (Dammit Jim, I'm a software engineer, not a Doctor)

There is one thing that bothers me: The power of github.
Github is a privately owned company with a massive impact. If github decides the new name for the default primary branch will be 'main' then this will be a fact. No discussion in the community, no suggestions, no voting, nothing near to democracy. What if their next decision is not that benevolent? They are the de facto monopolist.
This is why I do not like the process behind the decision, whereas I can agree to the decision itself.

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lietux profile image
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Janne "Lietu" Enberg

The term "master" is a bad one, but claiming it's racist is an idiotic reason to change it. It's non-descriptive and counter-intuitive vs e.g. "default".

Has nothing to do with racism, "master" is not a racist term, and this is not a race issue.

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donut87 profile image
Christian Baer

Thing is, we do not get to decide what counts as racist, as we (the white dudes) are not affected by it. Your argument is invalid, sorry.

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lietux profile image
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Janne "Lietu" Enberg

No, sorry, yours is. You don't get to invalidate me because of my skin color or genitalia.

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donut87 profile image
Christian Baer

Try this one with a PoC and see how this works out...

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lietux profile image
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Janne "Lietu" Enberg

So you're saying they have special rights to disregard people because of their skin color?

No, nobody does.

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donut87 profile image
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Christian Baer

This is a waste of time. If you want to be racist, be...

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lietux profile image
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Janne "Lietu" Enberg

What an incredibly stupid statement and pretty ridiculous of you trying to make me into a racist because I don't think the term "master" in Git is racist.

Grow up.

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xxgozixx profile image
Godstime Osarobo

I just have to say something here. Cause this whole thing is getting quite ridiculous. As a person of African origin(Nigerian - born Austria raised in Ireland) I've never seen master with regards to git as something that is related to slavery. Never. I've always understood it as the master branch. As in the main branch. The way I see it, this change is more of a nice-to-have cause it makes more sense now.
Even with the master-slave strategy which I used when working on Robocode virtual AI robots, I understood the context. This robot controls the other robots and those robots follow the command of that robot, so its called Master-slave. This has nothing to do with human slavery. Robots/Machines/Software/Code don't have emotions. If I wanted to, I could call my computer my slave and there'd be nothing ethically/morally wrong with that. Why? Because it's a machine that has no emotions and it was specifically built to obey the commands I give to it. It's a machine not a human and I understand that difference.
Personally I feel that these small remarks by companies saying "this is making people of colour feel more inclusive in the industry" or that "this shows that we support people of color", actually downplays the real problems that people of color actually face in industry.
Either way I'm happy about the change (although my OCD will now cause me to change all my Github repos from master to main. So a big thanks to

afrodevgirl image
for helping out with that). 'Main' makes more sense but this shouldn't be used as a "See, we support people of color now. So we cool?" card.
This is just my opinion as a black person. I understand that there are other black people that feel differently about this and I respect their views just as I hope they respect mine.
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ino76 profile image
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ino76

Exactly. Main is pretty good word. But the reasoning about slavery in git is just pure laughable and ridiculous.

So this invalid reason make the switch completely 'redundant'. Like we have not many things to learn? And now some crazy devs are clogging our code with some politics/ideology/banCulture dumb shit?

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ino76 profile image
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ino76

I say, change where it matters! Use brain the right way! Be at least reasonably good person at best the best version of yourself. Respect others. Thas it.

And don't add another problems milions of others devs .. like renaming branches on github for no reasons. That doesn't spark joy -___-

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n_develop profile image
Lars Richter

Hi Christian,
thanks for your reply.

First of all: I'm totally aware that the change is not easy for everyone. But I mean it in a technical way. There are software projects out there that have tons of automation scripts, hooks, and whatever that contains the word "master" to reference the master-branch. It's not easy to change the name of the branch in these projects.
And I'm not so much on the "CHANGE IT NOW OR YOU'RE A RACIST" side of this discussion. But I think we can all make more people feel included when we start changing it whenever we can make the change with reasonable effort. So start with your small projects where you do not need to update any automation scripts. There are millions of repositories out there where the change will be easy. Why not do it?

Because it's not comfortable? To be realistic: What will happen?
People will type git checkout master from time to time and will see the error, that master does not exist. And everybody will immediately remember that it is main now. Relearning this will take 5 days, tops. I'm ok with investing a couple of failing "checkouts" to make this change.

It also triggers people, if you say 'This is a racist term, stop using it.'

I can totally see that. But to be clear here: I did not say that. Most of the devs who stand up for this change are saying: "This term makes some people feel excluded/not welcome. I think we should change it."
And yes, there are hardliners on both ends. But let's have a healthy debate.

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donut87 profile image
Christian Baer

And I'm not so much on the "CHANGE IT NOW OR YOU'RE A RACIST" side of this discussion.
You might not be, but consider what message people are receiving. Communication is very hard. See "Friedemann Schulz von Thun" for the problem of sending and receiving messages. I trust, that German is not an issue for you ;-)

Because it's not comfortable?
Exactly. Like I said, it's called comfort zone for a reason. Change always needs energy to overcome inertia. Be that in Physics or in Psychology. We humans are beings of habit and tend to reject suggestions to change. This holds true, especially if the change is forced upon us by some "higher force".

But let's have a healthy debate.
This is what I wished would have happened. Github took this opportunity away by deciding on a new standard without asking. For a company that claims to be community-driven, this was not a smart move.
The goal is noble and right, the methods are questionable and I fear, did not help the cause.

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shanrhyupong profile image
Olyuenhyang

For your information, "Person of Color" is the most patronising and racist term I have ever heard in my life. You're basically practising segregation with this sort of language. "Us" vs "Them". Whites vs non-Whites, and is being White is the norm? Ridiculous.

Come over to Asia/Africa/South America. You're the minority there. Let's see how you like being called an "mzungu", "firanghee", "gora" or "gaijin" or "gringo" all the time for the rest of your life.

The cognitive dissonance is really strong with you, isn't it? Smh.

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donut87 profile image
Christian Baer

Now that you have stated what you do not want, please state what you want instead. So if you are done with shaking your head, please be so kind and tell me what to use instead.

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shanrhyupong profile image
Olyuenhyang

Just don't use that term. Every ethnicity is different. If you want to refer to people who are not White/Caucasian, just use the term "non-White"/"non-Caucasian". That makes more sense than treating the non-White people as homogeneous, one-dimensional beings.

Also, cut out the passive-aggressive nonsense. It is very boring, I assure you. You wish to talk like adults, let's do so. If you cannot, then I don't see any reason to continue engaging with you. There is a time and place for levity, and I am all for that. This is not one of those occasions.