ANN: renaming of master branch to "main" for core

John jbt at
Thu Mar 18 15:57:06 UTC 2021

I don't want to be cause us to dwell on this matter too long. However, it
occurs to me I'm a little closer to this issue than many on this list as I
live in The South, by which I mean the former CSA. And not on the
at one point my state had roughly one third of its population enslaved,
and I
know people who can tell you the names of their ancestors who were enslaved
and point out the specific places. That history feels more recent and
here than anywhere else I've lived. So I feel it could be useful to add my

I like the change, but wouldn't criticize a project which didn't bother.
way I see it...

1) In my opinion "main" does a better job of describing what the branch
2) There's a significant number of projects using this terminology.

1) It involves a small amount of work that could otherwise be skipped.
2) There will be a significant number of projects keeping "master".

It may not be a big deal, but it will be fine, folks. We can relax about it.

You may note I didn't invoke any social arguments. In my view, the worst
immoral actions come from treating people like things (e.g. farm
It does not immediately follow that we should treat things like people.
A git
branch is an unfeeling, unthinking, soulless *thing* which doesn't have
intrinsic value the way a person does, and has no human rights as it's
not a
human. For similar reasons I do not object to the term "robot" when applied
to autonomous or semi-autonomous machinery.

I might feel differently if this was important to people around me. I
have not
heard that. In fact, I find the argument made here very unsurprising:

In short: don't make a silly, token symbolic change in lieu of real,
functional changes that would actually help people. In particular:

"We’re going to change the branch name to be more inclusive of
minorities but
we’re going to carry on selling software to ICE."
"Yet at these same companies the majority of each grad scheme cohort
tend to
be from basically the same five colleges/universities. Are HBCUs one of

I don't believe these specific criticisms apply to the LO project. I'm not
aware of a way in which LO supports or enables the US policing
apparatus. And
I doubt someone with a degree from CMU or MIT would be treated much better
than one with a degree from Morehouse. But, importantly, if there *was* a
significant, functional change LO could make to be more inclusive and
supportive of marginalized people, I think we could discuss it and it would
be taken seriously.

I'm not saying symbolism has no power at all. But symbols mean what people
think they mean, and context matters. And a git master branch feel so
far off
the radar as to be near-innocuous. Compare that to a symbolic change that
some people around me do care about and discuss in a serious tone: a bell
monument on top of Stone Mountain.

I can drive to Stone Mountain in less than an hour, so don't feel bad if
you're less familiar. It's essentially The South's Mount Rushmore. The
cut into the mountain depicts CSA officials (generals and the
president). The
history is part of the context. It was carved by white supremicists. The
symbolism was important when the modern Klu Klux Klan was formed at a
there. The symbolism was important when Martin Luther King mentioned it in
"I Have a Dream":

"But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia."

Today Stone Mountain and the surrounding area is owned by the state
of Georgia, and is a park many visit. One may hike to the top or take a
car. And one can't hide from the symbolism while there. Adding a bell,
as an
intentional reference to MLK and his speech, to the top would actually mean
something to people, in a way renaming LibreOffice's baseline branch never
will. And so it should be viewed with a different level of importance.

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