I just finished posting a question about Amazon OpenSearch on repost.aws. The question text contained multiple references to the master nodes that elastic search/open search needs to function properly.

As soon as i pressed the 'post question' button the following warning appeared:

re:Post has detected your post may include a non-inclusive word (master), please review and edit it

This message really pissed me off to be honest and i refused to edit my post. There is nothing offensive about the word master. The word master can be used in many different contexts. For instance I've got a master's degree in Psychology. There are movies out there that have the word 'master' in it like the wish master, the puppet master or Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

In the past i've seen github apologizing for the fact that the master branch is called master and that they will give it a more inclusive name in the future. So it looks like more and more tech companies are starting to see the word master as being non-inclusive.

My question is: Do you think the word master is offensive as well? Why or why not?


2 Answers 2


I just looked through the Amazon OpenSearch documentation and it does appear that they continue to use terms such as "master node", so I do think that it's best that you use the terminology used by the tools or services you are asking about. This will make it easy for others to find relevant questions and answers when searching.

That said, the Wikipedia article on master/slave has a good outline of the concerns and replacements.

While I don't think that the term "master" is inherently offensive, there are more inclusive ways to talk about the master/slave architecture, blacklists and whitelists, grandfathering, and more that should be considered when possible. When you aren't talking about a specific platform, tool, or technology that has standard or well-documented terms, consider using inclusive language. Although I suspect it would be rare to be penalized for using exclusive language, using inclusive language would be more consistent with the Code of Conduct.


If a word like "master" might be seen as offensive depends 100% on the context - I am pretty sure the majority of our community will agree with me on this. However, the dumb bot which asked you to edit the post isn't aware of the context and cannot decide if your specific usage of that word is ok or not, hence it asks you to verify this.

This message really pissed me off

If I get such messages, I don't get angry on them, even if they appear annoying, since they can simply be ignored. The bot was probably provided by Stackexchange in good faith, like a spell checker (and as you know, spell checkers sometime give wrong or unsuitable suggestions). The fact that a software does not work perfect is something we as software engineers have probably observed more than once for our own programs, so don't judge too hard about this bot.

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