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Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh

Posted on • Originally published at Medium

Respectful Naming Conventions

Originally written on the 16th of June in 2020. I'm moving this post from Medium to here as I'm going to write things here instead of there now. This is a light touch on a heavy topic, but I'm genuinely interested how other engineers are approaching this topic more than a year later. Would love to hear other suggestions or how your codebases have changed or not changed.


This is my first post. I’m not usually a blogger, I’m not after attention and I’m not trying to jump to a new job or career. I’m a regular old software developer, who’s been at it for over 15 years, and I still love what I do every day.

The reason I’m writing this now is that I’m thinking through and processing all the events following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I’m just a software engineer in Australia who is far removed from the whole situation, but I figured there are things I can do in my life to break down barriers no matter how small. After reading about GitHub moving away from naming the main branch in a repository “master” and being a Jenkins user seeing the terms master and slave every day, I figured I could do something along those lines too.

I have a starting point of these 3 things but am looking to crowd source other naming conventions people are using out there

  • Renaming “master” branches to “main”.
  • Renaming whitelist/blacklist to allowlist/denylist.
  • Renaming master/slave in Jenkins to organiser/worker.

I’d like to know what other naming conventions people are using to remove less respectful naming in their systems.


As a footnote, this is the article I read about GitHub changing their naming.

Discussion (2)

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bpsagar profile image
Sagar Chakravarthy

Not specific to code, we could also start using gender neutral terms like:

  • Manpower -> person / human power
  • Man-hours / man-weeks -> person-hours / person-weeks
  • Being conscious about using he / she
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stphnwlsh profile image
Stephen Walsh Author

These are good point but honestly I have only been thinking about what terms in code and tools that could use an adjustment