re: How software can be racist (and what you can do to stop it) VIEW POST


Excellent article, Glenn, thank you!

I have a particular interest in this space. In 2016, I was the editor for the race section of the Responsible Communication Style Guide, which is meant for technologists who want to use precise and less harmful vocabulary that negatively impacts (or propagates stereotypes of) marginalized groups.

Other resources include:

When exploring "master/slave" terminology in MySQL earlier this year, I learned from a program participant that the earliest mention found of "master/slave" in an engineering context was in 1904.

It's incredibly important that we continue to analyze the language we use for tech terms as language evolves; in 2020, we don't use the same terms in the same context that people who lived in the 19th century do. And as devs we're already accustomed to paradigm shifts in programming languages. New concepts are introduced and with them, new labels. Updating our language is a reflection of this understanding as well as respectful of our fellow humans, since all the code we write is meant to impact real people in some fashion.


Thank you for the engineering context paper. I'll look that one out.
Often the social problems are with mis-use of terms as euphemisms for the local cultural bias ("what school did you go to?" - Saint X means they're Catholic, hence not employed here...). It's often these little 'hints' that quickly build to the misplaced biases of sexism and racism (and the others).


The communication guide looks awesome! I'm going to have to dig into that some more. Word choice is important and I'm glad some people have put real thought into it and put together a resource like this.

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