Master, Master

This last week, I renamed the branch on my Github repos from Master to Main.

As I don’t use any kind of gitflow for my repositories and I don’t have to worry about team members, this was a pretty painless exercise. Just one repository has complained which is the Fork I made of the Adafruit_NeoPixel. This has a CI step in it which looks like it rebuilds some documentation. Not quite sure why that has errored but as my fork is mostly experimental it doesn’t really matter. If anyone knows what I need to do to fix that, would be interested to know.

When I was at primary school I had the part in the school play of “Jack and the beanstalk”. I was the magical harp owned by the giant, that Jack stole and my one line was “Master, Master”.

Andy Clark, P3

The reason for this change was twofold, firstly, some I respect suggested the idea and secondly I had spotted that Arduino has also started eradicating slave terminology from their documentation. They’ve changed MISO and MOSI to CIPO (controller in / peripheral out) and COPI (controller out / peripheral in). This follows the Open Source Hardware Association change last year. So I’m a bit behind the curve on this but I do feel it is an important change.

I think it important to make this change for a few reasons:

  • There is a general trend in this direction so to future proof, it is important to follow the new standard. Github, Atlasian, OSHA are all going this way.
  • Although I associate the word “Master” with giants and harps, others find the word offensive or oppressive.
  • The change is fairly painless, as seen in my example just the CI pipeline needs updating. Other things that you may need to changing your projects are scripts and build instructions.
  • Showing willingness to change, shows recognition of other people’s opinions and demonstrates empathy.
  • Not making the change could see you being excluded by people who do think this is an important change.
  • There could be a financial impact of not making the change due to lost customers.

I have seen some arguments for not changing:

“It’s just not important”, interestingly though this argument is rarely followed by examples of what is more important. Yes, it is just a little thing but we should be doing the little things as well as the big things. Most important things can be broken into smaller steps so we can chip away at the issue till it is done. By saying “It’s just not important” what you are often saying is that “it’s not important to me” but often what people hear is “you are not important”. Equally the variation of this phrase “it’s not our top priority” is just an excuse for inaction.

“It’s a lot of work”. Surprisingly this is not an argument you hear often. Perhaps because it’s not actually such a big deal to make the change? Often a bit of find and replace can do the job.

“The word master in this context is from ‘Master Copy'”. My question here is but where does the term ‘Master Copy’ come from, does that have origins either directly or indirectly to things like slave contracts? It also smacks of “your opinion doesn’t count” and for me, a key purpose of this change is to show people that their opinion does count.

“It’s just symbolic”. Yes, it is exactly that, it is symbolic. But symbols are powerful things, they can cause people to rally around a flag or fight for a religion.

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