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IT Gender

There have been several terms in IT and computing that have been reconsidered and changed due to their potentially offensive or non-inclusive connotations. Here are some examples:

  • Master/Slave: As mentioned earlier, this terminology, especially in database contexts, has been replaced in many instances with terms like "Primary/Replica" or "Leader/Follower".
  • Blacklist/Whitelist: These terms are being replaced with more neutral terms like "Blocklist/Allowlist" or "Denylist/Permitlist".
  • Dummy Value: The term "dummy" can be considered derogatory. Alternatives like "placeholder value" or "sample value" are used instead.
  • Sanity Check: This term can be seen as insensitive to mental health issues. Alternatives include "Quick Check", "Confidence Check", or "Coherence Check".
  • Kill: Commands or processes in computing that use the term "kill" (e.g., kill command in Unix-like systems) can be seen as violent. Some suggest using terms like "stop", "end", or "terminate", though "kill" is still widely used due to its historical presence.
  • Male/Female Connectors: In electronics, connectors are often referred to as "male" or "female" based on their design. Some people are moving towards terms like "plug" and "socket" or "pin" and "jack" to avoid gendered language.
  • Grandfathered: This term, which means to exempt existing entities from new rules, has racial origins related to voting rights in the U.S. Alternatives include "legacy status" or "exempt from new rules".
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack: This cybersecurity term describes an attack where a malicious actor intercepts communication between two parties. Some suggest using "On-path Attack" or "Person-in-the-Middle Attack" as alternatives.
  • Blind Carbon Copy (BCC): Some argue that the term "blind" in this context can be seen as insensitive. Alternatives like "Private Copy" or simply "BCC" without expanding the acronym are sometimes used.
  • Crippleware: This term was used to describe software that has some of its features disabled until a payment or license is provided. Given the derogatory nature of the term "cripple", alternatives like "Feature-limited", "Demo Version", or "Restricted Version" are preferred.
  • Manned/Unmanned: In the context of space exploration or drones, the terms "manned" and "unmanned" are being replaced with "crewed" and "uncrewed" to avoid gender-specific language.
  • Native Functionality: The term "native" can be seen as problematic when used to describe inherent features or functions of software or hardware. Alternatives like "built-in functionality" or "inherent features" are suggested.
  • First-Class Citizen: In programming, this term is used to describe entities that have all rights and privileges. To avoid potential classist connotations, terms like "First-Class Entity" or "First-Class Object" are used.
  • He/She, Him/Her in Documentation: Many documentation and style guides now recommend using gender-neutral pronouns like "they" and "them" when the gender of the subject is unknown or irrelevant.
  • Chained Promises: In programming, especially with JavaScript promises, the term "chaining" can have negative connotations related to slavery. Some developers prefer terms like "linked promises" or simply "using promises sequentially".
  • Black Hat/White Hat: In cybersecurity, these terms refer to malicious and ethical hackers, respectively. While still widely used, there's some discussion about finding more neutral terminology.
  • Motherboard/Fatherboard: The main circuit board in a computer is commonly called a "motherboard". While "fatherboard" isn't a standard term, the gendered nature of "motherboard" has been discussed. However, alternatives haven't been widely adopted.
  • Suicide Command: In computing, a command that can cause a system to become inoperable is sometimes colloquially referred to as a "suicide command". Given the sensitivity around the topic of suicide, it's recommended to use terms like "destructive command" or "dangerous command".
  • Dead Man's Switch: This term refers to a switch that is automatically operated if the human operator becomes incapacitated. Alternatives like "automatic safety switch" or "life-check switch" can be considered.