Welcome to the 1990s. ;) It's generally frowned upon to continue using potentially offensive terminology when there are vastly better alternatives available. Reading stuff like "here are the steps I had to take to get my slave running" makes my skin curl. I doubt I'm the only one.

What's wrong with calling the coordinating machine the "testing server", and the various machines that help run tests "testing clients"?


Since the servers receive "jobs" from the testing master server and perform them they don't behave like the normal client-server model describes (at least what I understand/hear of it). Client-server where client makes requests and does stuff and server preforms back-end stuff (ex. games, webserver, chat...)

I personally dislike the "politically correct" phase that has hit the world (or maybe just the United States). There is no connotation nothing against anyone when the term slave is used, just people choose to interpret it that way. Slave is a computer term (as you know) and used in cases like this. "IO slave", master-slave devices and hardware. All kinds of stuff.

Either way I refer to it in my blog posts as such and would be rather annoying to have to change it.

If this is gonna cause the world grief then I can change, but otherwise just to be "politically correct" is more annoying to me. (of course this issue is very opinionated)

First convince all hardware manufacturers and retailers to stop labelling their cords and sockets by the grossly un-PC terms "Male" and "Female".
Then get photographers and graphic artists to remove the clearly racist words "Black" and "White" from their vocabulary.
Next we can get backup, archive and filesystem listings to stop using the horribly discriminatory ageist terms "older" and "newer".

Then, maybe, we can come up with a new pair of words that signifies "the one that gives orders" and "the one that does what it's told". Or maybe in new-speak it should be "committee enabler" and "co-operator". :-/

"server/client" is actually the opposite of the functions "master/slave" describes, and therefore incorrect. And isn't it possible someone would be able to claim the designation "server" is demeaning?

... or, we could just use the words for what they mean. Not for what someone deliberately chooses to read into them.

Back to the 1990s with such artificial revisionist clap-trap.

Very nice examples and right on what I was saying.

A) I'm proudly "PC". Would you rather let racist or sexist language and practices persist around you? Yes, I'm "that guy" who doesn't laugh at homophobic jokes and brings people to task when they dredge that crap up and leave a steaming pile of it in the middle of my life. There's nothing wrong with being against oppression (in any of its forms), oppressive language, or terminology and practices in our community that are hostile or offensive to some other part of it.

B) "Male" and "female" aren't inherently sexist or oppressive terms. "Pimp" and "whore" would be a more appropriate analogy with "master" and "slave", and yes, I'd also be opposed to that if some part of the community wanted to use that terminology. Similarly, "black" and "white" are just colors. They don't inherently invoke a brutal history of enslavement, torture, exploitation and oppression, like "master" and "slave" do.

And if you think "slavery" is ancient history, think again -- the sex trade (young girls sold into slavery) is alive and "well" in many parts of the world. Not to mention prison laborers or conditions for immigrant workers in many places that in lots of ways resembles the slavery used to build the U.S. and the European colonial empires.

Bottom line: Drupal is an international community, and should be inclusive of all its members. Just because a handful of you aren't bothered by this doesn't mean it's right, or that it's okay to dismiss other people who raise these concerns.

Do what you will, I can't force you to rename the software. But, I'd ask you to give this a little more thought before you dismiss it. I certainly won't take "but I've already called them 'slaves' on my blog, and it'd be too inconvenient to rename them now" as an excuse. The drop is always moving, after all. Core's in the process of renaming all of the DB tables to singular, which is going to break just about every module and cause hundreds of hours of work, just for consistency. Changing this would be a drop in the bucket.

I won't bother discussing the technical side of this debate until there's agreement it should be changed at all -- at that point, we can hash out "server/client" vs any other set of terminology we want to use.

That is the issue I run into. One (or more) people read into words or phrases and everyone else must change the wording. If I were to have had a horrible experience in a town called Drupal as a child, perhaps several people, would we rename Drupal?

The words on there own are just words. The thing with words is.....they have context. The context is not history or current events...the context is computers. Computers have no bad history associated with the word.

Now if I were to name my group on groups.drupa.org the KKK that would make sense as that is the context, but if I abbreviate some long phrase in my module KKK is that the end of the world? Considering slave is a very generic term and doesn't even refer to a specific group like KKK does...

To come to these conclusions you must read into the words and bring up more thoughts then are intended. I'm not sure how to address that since everyone will have different memories or views surrounding words and ideas....where does it end?

The reason I don't like this is that it gets taken to the extreme...it never stops. I can't say someone "died" anymore...they're "deceased" or "passed away"...didn't people used to just "die" ??

A politician says something that could, with a very loose interpretation, be seen as racists...well...then everyone is on their case even though an reasonable person knows that isn't at all what he/she meant. It just never stops. Soon I won't even be able to "eat" because there or "obese" (not "fat" mind you) people who take offense to the word "eat". I "take in nourishment"....

I don't know maybe I'm insensitive, maybe not...but things get taken to far.

Looks like LA has already been there, tried that, and gave up amongst very widespread ridicule

"We found 'master/slave' to be the most egregious example of political correctness in 2004," said Paul JJ Payack, president of The Global Language Monitor.

I have actually been in the room and heard vehement objections made to Male/Female designations for hardware. It even made a memo - that was promptly binned. Somebody did manage to believe that the words were "inherently sexist". Their argument is as valid as yours.
I've also heard complaints about satanic machines running "daemons" and although I don't agree, I respect that they had a point - a better one than the purely functional designation of master/slave.
I believe that black/white are just colors, (that's my point) but there are some that choose to read more into it. Fuck that. I don't believe that we need to corrupt the usage of language to water things down because someone may choose to be offended. Is it a "handful" of people that aren't bothered by it, or a handful that are and want to dismiss the rest of the world that are using the words correctly?

Master/Slave terminology exists and is understood in engineering, databases, DNS and English.

Personally, I'm a little uncomfortable with "pimp" as a neologism, but it doesn't stop MTV from throwing it at us. *shrug*

My opinion of the word "slave" is not based on recent history, it's based on an understanding of the English language. It's a word. A label. It means what it is. And, to some people, in some historical contexts something more political. As do many other words.
Although it describes what could be called oppression (those poor deprived boxen) using the word to correctly describe a relationship does not make the user evil and racist.

"You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people’s lack of understanding

There's some good reading in that slashdot master/slave thread

A number of years ago doing tech support I had to explain about the enabled and disabled folders in a Mac OS 7.5 system folder to a guy in a wheelchair who was sure I was making fun of him...


We kept talking about "forking children" and "killing children" and our master process was called the "mother." Finally one of the more ditzy sale women came back and asked us to explain our disturbing terminology. She didn't think that "forking babies" was proper office talk.

  • "man" pages are now called "person" pages.
  • To avoid casting aspersions on our feline friends, the "cat" command is now merely "domestic_quadruped."
  • 6. The "touch" command has been removed from the standard distribution due to its inappropriate use by high-level managers.
  • 1. SHELL COMMANDS To avoid unpleasant, medieval connotations, the "kill" command has been renamed "euthanise."
  • 3. There will no longer be a invidious distinction between "dumb" and "smart" terminals. All terminals are equally valuable.

It's obviously not worth continuing this discussion if it's just the 3 of us, so I'll save my energy for better uses than arguing with you. I'd just like to point out that your latest quoted doomsday scenarios about "PC going too far" are the speculation of one (anonymous) anti-PC slashdot reader, not things that actually happened.

I've got to admit, it's been bugging me on IRC with all this "master/slave" talk thrown around. I've made a few lame jokes in that sort of "this makes me uncomfortable so let's joke about it" kind of way. I can see the point that they are just terms and I'm not terribly "PC" (I still say Indian and black) but "master/slave" just bothers me. I can't put forth any logical reasons why it's worse than "male/female" or "disabled folders" but somehow it is. That's just my gut feeling.

I don't have any better suggestions for names. I just wanted to let dww know he's not the only one.


i'm not really sure where i come down here. i see some truth in both viewpoints.

overall i'd prefer to make the right decision, and not get too stuck on "but we already wrote it this way".

it would certainly be helpful to hear from more people to get more of a consensus opinion...

To clarify: That wasn't my sticking point, just that it needs to be a good reason to bother changing the code/documentation/development blog. Argument is separate.

"Master/slave" is troublesome to me as well. EVERY single time I see it, I have to re-parse the sentence to make sure that I'm understanding the terms in the proper context. For a sentence to have a clear meaning, all its words must contribute to understanding. "Master/slave" makes a negative contribution, because it makes the meaning less clear. I look at those terms and think slavery, then think BDSM, and then *finally* move on to technical connotations. I can only imagine how translators and ESL-readers parse it out.

While we do not always select for greater clarity (after all, "community plumbing" can mean "sewer"), we should do so more often. We should certainly do so in this case.

PS: And by the way, I personally credit political correctness for creating a lot of positive change in the world.

I don't believe in PC, mostly because the minorities constantly use it to get away with anything. So you might be offended by words like slavery, PC actually offends me because of some nasty experiences I had. So lets avoid dragging the entire PC debate in here, you'll never get people to agree on that.

Fact is, there is a pretty large part of the world (mainly the US) where some people would be offended by the master/slave terminology. The existence of this issue is proof of that. Also, there are a lot of people who have a limited understanding of the English language, the intended meaning might get lost in translation.

So even though I don't agree with PC, I vote to change the terminology to avoid needlessly offending people. If a simple terminology change can make everyone happy, lets go for it and let those who feel so strongly about it submit patches and update documentation.

Status:Active» Closed (won't fix)

That is all well and good, but not suitable term has yet been found.

Perhabs we should just cancel this debate since there has been a re-design on workings and the 2.x branch will move towards a "pull" architecture for technical reasons, meaning client/server is actually correct terminology.

All those who seem to have slavery at the for front of there mind can be satisfied that it will be changed in 2.x. The English as second language is only argument I've seen that makes sense. Context is the key to life, without it all words are meaningless.

Due to 2.x change I'm going to mark this as won't fix, no point in changing 1.x code since it will be outdated in ~ less then 2 week.

i'd hate to know what you think of Boba fett's ship "Slave 1" perhaps you think Lucas should change the name of it ppfftt

down with PC!

augh,proudly PC? yiokes!

Flatscan: This issue was decided 3 years ago. Is there some reason you are piling on with this?

Clearly he was searching the web for "Master/Slave" relationships and is non-plussed to find this off-topic page in his search results ;-)

Ok, you just made me nearly choke on my cereal. :P

I agree with the OP. It's a shame that so few understand the power of words.

I have no problem with "master", but "slave" is an unfortunate choice. Putting aside race, slavery still has negative connotations: violence and coercion. It implies somebody or something being forced to do something against its own wishes.

Possible alternatives that don't carry the same negative connotations include agent, worker, delegate, replicant, backup, broker, executor, etc. Not only do these terms lack pejorative connotations, they also have more precise meanings than "slave".

Don't let your opinions of "PC" sway you. This isn't a matter of PC. It's a matter of recognizing that words matter, and selecting the proper words to describe the things you create. Why settle for an inaccurate pejorative when there are more neutral *and* precise terms available?