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Empathy, and renaming my ‘master’ branch to ‘main’

First posted in Development and Git; updated 25th February 2021

Language is important. I’ve noticed a movement towards renaming the master Git branch as the term is racially charged.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see some push-back from some quarters, but, even if I couldn’t see the problem (I absolutely can), there are zero downsides. Well, unless you count a minute’s worth of configuration a downside!

My position of privilege as a white person means I’m unaware of some issues people of colour face, but when I learn something I didn’t know I’m always glad to make a positive change, big or small.

GitHub are now using main as the default branch name, which I agree is a good alternative to master. Unlike primary, root and default, main starts with the same letters as master, so there’s no need to retrain my m, a, (tab) muscle memory to autocomplete the branch name. So I’m following suit and changing the name of the master branch in all of my Git repositories to main.

Most importantly, I’ll keep talking, reading, listening and seeking to understand other points of view; learning and sharing as I go.


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