GitHub has dropped the word “master” in solidarity with protesters against US police violence and racism. The new name, “main”, will be used only for new repositories; in existing projects, the “master” branch will retain its name.
All new source repositories created on GitHub are now referred to as “master”. This change is in order to avoid references to slave times in America. GitHub has become one of many IT companies and open source projects that have spoken out in recent years in favor of avoiding various terms that could be construed as offensive from the perspective of black developers.
Such changes usually include the rejection of the use of the terms master and slave (“master” and “slave”) in favor of alternatives such as main, default, primary. Also, the well-established concepts of whitelist and blacklist, that is, “blacklist” and “white list”, are replaced with neutral allow list and deny/exclude list.
Following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year, tech companies have shown their support for the protesters and have dropped the terms “master”, “slave”, “blacklist” and “white list”.
Companies and large open-source projects such as Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, Red Hat, MySQL, the Linux kernel, and OpenBSD have agreed to make changes to their technical vocabulary during the summer of 2020. GitHub was one of the first companies to support these changes.