Re: inclusive language

Josef Holzmayr


See opinions and comments inline and below.

Am Mi., 15. Juli 2020 um 07:31 Uhr schrieb Trevor Woerner <twoerner@...>:
As most are aware, there are efforts in many open-source/free-software
communities to adjust the language that is used throughout a given project
to be more inclusive.

We discussed this briefly at the most recent YP Technical Team/Engineering
Sync Meeting. Many good points were raised. I'd like to start a discussion on
this topic via email in order to enumerate and keep track of these efforts.

1. As a project we need to decide whether or not to undertake this work. Not
all projects have decided to make any changes. The discussions we had at the
last meeting made it feel as though it was a forgone conclusion by those who
spoke up that we would take on this work. Is that the consensus? Silence
represents agreement?
I explicitly welcome the awareness and think we should go forward with this.

2. Scope Creep. From the dawn of the OE project, there have been "discussions"
around variable/function names. In order to keep this work sane and concise, I
must insist that the scope of this work is "inclusive language" not "PN is too
cryptic for beginners, we should expand it to PACKAGENAME"
Fully agreed.

3. Deprecation Plan. Given the layered nature of the ecosystem, inevitably
there will be not-so-frequently-used layers out there that could stop working
entirely depending on how this work is implemented. Do we continue to support
the "old" language indefinitely? Do we have a flag day where everything
changes at once? Do we give warnings for X releases then have a cut off?
This is the first time where I'll cite Torvalds "WE DO NOT BREAK
USERSPACE!". And any name-shuffling that breaks builds just for the
sake of "inclusion" will have the exact opposite effect: it "excludes"
the users, and we get the not-so-benevolent dictator label. Plus, we
serve a business case. Name-shuffling is fine if we're talking about a
hobbyist project that can break whatever it likes, but for the
industrial use case breaking stuff just for the sake of "we decided
that this name is not cool anymore" is a total no-go in my opinion.

4. What will be affected? Branch names, variable names, function names,
fetchers, patch file names, documentation… Given the fact we build code from
upstream projects, if we currently build from an upstream's master branch and
that upstream project never changes the name of their main branch away from
"master", I don't think there's anything we can do in those cases.
Everything that is newly introduced shall be affected, Whenever
something new gets into the system, we shall take care to make sure
all best naming practises at the time of the introduction are adhered.
But once it is in, it is in.

5. Backports. How far back do we make changes?
Not at all.

6. Terminology. The Linux kernel project has put out some recommendations:
Hopefully not getting into a flamewar now, but I have to point out
that these recommendations are, again, extremely US-centric. For
example, me being German, the term "leader"(FĂĽhrer) is highly loaded.
So who has the right to decide that this is better than "master" which
is the exact opposite of loaded in German ("Meister") , and only
denotes a somewhat high degree of competence at something?

So in a nutshell, I agree with the conclusion Jon draw in - we must go forward and improve, but
not at the very real cost of breaking stuff and making on part of the
users unhappy just to make another group of people happy.

My $.02, you may beat me now.

To start the discussion, can we please get a consensus on item #1? If
positive, can we then work on whether we agree with the list of items (have I
forgotten anything, are there things to add to the list, or things to remove
from the list)? THEN can we please focus on each of the items from the list we

I think that would be a more sane approach rather than trying to do everything
at once.

Best regards,

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