The "Good" Fairy

The only imaginary part about this is the fairy:

Matt Bors

This cartoon is from 2015 but nothing has changed, not for the better, anyway.

Recently, one of the founding members of OpenZFS (an important Unix data center file system) changed the "slave" terminology in his project's code to a more accurate one of "dependent". As the clickbait headlines say, "you'll never guess what happened next!"

But this being the Internet, unfortunately, outraged naysayers descended on the pull request, and the comments were quickly closed to non-contributors. I first became aware of this as the moderator of the r/zfs subreddit where the overflow spilled once comments on the PR itself were no longer possible.

Ars Technica, June 11

Similar reactions have met software developers replacing "white-list/black-list" with "allow-list/deny-list" even if the latter are also more descriptive and accurate.

The linguistic association of "white" with "good" and "black" with "evil" is an important tool in maintaining structural racism. People with a vested interest in structural racism are the ones you will see protesting seemingly absurd things like those examples above.

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F