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Inclusive Naming Guidelines

Inclusive Naming Guidelines

This article contains guidelines to make your feature or variable naming more inclusive. Feel free to share, copy, edit, etc.

Be mindful of your choice of words and use them to support an inclusive work environment. Avoid using language that is:

Below are lists of words to try to avoid due to their racist, prejudiced, or otherwise harmfully exclusive history and associations. If you see these, please consider updating them and referencing this page for justification.

In many cases, the terms here connote or denote meaning that serves no purpose in the context it is being used. Therefore these terms are simply not efficient in communicating it’s intended meaning.

Never Use

term reason alternatives
whitelist see blacklist allowlist
blacklist Relies on the (racist) connotation that black = bad to communicate its intended technical meaning of a list of disallowed entities. denylist, blocklist
master It is important to acknowledge the centuries of enslavement of African Americans when using the term. I’m doubtful that using this term as a feature or variable name can also adequately convey the necessary cultural deference so as not to erase such serious part of our history. controller, manager, director, conductor, orchestrater/or, owner, main
slave see master worker, agent, soldier, unit, pawn

Avoid

term reason alternatives
hang avoid when usage might have militaristic or racist meaning frozen
destroy, kill, dead violent language stop, stopped, halt, end, shutdown
blind unperceptive, isolated, independent, disconnected, lacking visibility/vision
poor weak, bad
chairman, manpower, man in the middle, etc male-gendered language reinforces male primacy chairperson, power, middleperson

For longer and more official looking resources to share with your colleagues, please see Inclusive Naming project’s word replacement list or Microsoft’s “Bias-Free Communication” blog post.