re: Replacing master with main in Github VIEW POST

re: Hi Alexis. I cannot understand why so many people are resisting this change. Scott Tolinski found the rights word on Twitter: ...

I disagree with the change for three main reasons:

  1. Force of habit

Yes, I know it's not the best one, but that's how pretty much everyone that disagrees feels. I've been using master since 2012 when I learned git, and I still use it every day. Deployed projects on Netlify or AWS use master, and those in VPS as well. When switching to main, I will be struggling for a while.

In addition, every online tutorial that wasn't published or updated after this change will be outdated, making it confusing for beginners. Is it master? It it main? They'll have to figure it out. Not just for them, but also for the projects they will be contributing to.

  1. The precedent

Right now, nobody who uses the word master in a git context is referring to slavery. But this will set a precedent if main becomes the standard. People who use master in 5-10 years will be accused of racism, by at least some minority, since everyone else will be using "main" because "master" is viewed as racist. Repositories will have issues demanding to rename the "master" to "main", and arguments will happen. That will also make black folks uncomfortable when contributing to projects with the "master" branch. It will increase a polarization already happening in the tech community.

  1. Is it really worth it?

So after #1 and #2, is worth the change?
If you were to ask black folks what are the problems that they're facing in the industry, I don't think the word "master" in git would come up in their top 10 list. Are we avoiding the long, complicated solutions and doing this just to show we're doing something?

Github still has a contract with ICE and has banned people based on their nationality.

Are we paying attention? Or did they make us happy already?

(please notice I'm not white, I don't live in a first world country and english is not my first language, so that might explain why I'm wrong/wasn't clear on something - no bad intentions here)


Have you already spent more time defending it, than it would take to switch?


Hi Luis.

  1. As you stated yourself "Force of habit" is not a real argument. "We have always done it that way" is killing every healthy discussion at its core.

  2. Just because nobody is referring to slavery while using the term master in the context of git, doesn't make the origin of the word disappear. If you ask me, I will happily do this change if more people will feel more comfortable and welcome.

  3. in my opinion, we should be able to do smaller changes like this while we tackle the big issues in other places.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

The origin of the word? Oh you mean "master craftsman", don't you, or maybe "masters degree"? Oh but you don't, you just assume it means slave master, because you want to.

Hi Janne. Thank you for your comment. But, to be honest, I doubt that the branch name originates from "Master degree". I think it's also unlikely that "Master craftsman" is the real origin.
Bastien Nocera answered the question, why the name has a reference to "master/slave" here: mail.gnome.org/archives/desktop-de...

But it would be really cool if you could provide some proof that it originates from "Master degree". That would shorten this debate for sure.

I honestly don't much care if it's a "master copy" or from Bitkeeper's "master" and "slave" repository -concept, and really the only person who likely knows for sure where it came from is Linus Torvalds. When you say "answered" you mean "speculated".

  1. Master-slave relationships in computing are used to pretty accurately describe exactly what is going on. In case of version control "master" is just a bad name because it's non-descriptive and random, but it wouldn't be the first thing Git has failed at naming in a clear and useful way. Does not mean it is racist.

  2. The word "master" is not purely related to slavery, even though people want to assume that because it fits their narrative. Using master lists, having a master plan, having a blacklist, being a white hat, or wearing a white shirt are all equally racist words, not at all.

Definitions for the word master

  1. I would assume only someone from the U.S., or someone completely ignorant of the world history, could equate slavery as purely a racist issue. I would recommend to more rooted in the modern day reality of economic/wage slavery, and working against that, than the imagined threats of referencing slavery in the relatively recent U.S. history.

Whatever the origin of the word (of which you've only assumed that you know it - not given any proof), it's not a race issue. It's still a bad word that confuses people needlessly and a better name like "default" or e.g. "main" should have always been the right choice. Unfortunately Torvalds makes bad decisions on a regular basis and nobody dares to question him on those because there's some cult of personality thing going on around him.

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