Do you think it's time we changed the terminology Master/Slave to Primary/Secondary?

Yes, Primary/Secondary is the right way


No, Master/Slave feels correct


46 votes ยท Closed

There is this recent controversy doing rounds on the internet. So, I am asking this here - Do you think it's offensive to call something master-slave? How about changing it to something more civilized Primary-Secondary?

Emil Moe's photo

Do you have an example? Just because it's the word 'slave' and someone might find it abusive isn't a reason for me. Then for me it's just following a sad trend where people try to be overly political correct.

The definition of slave is as follow:

Simple Definition of slave

: someone who is legally owned by another person and is forced to work for that person without pay

: a person who is strongly influenced and controlled by something

I don't think master/slave essentially means the same as primary/secondary. The first indicates clearly that the slave is dependent on the master, where the secondary can be a substitute in the case that the primary isn't existing.

If you want to change terminology because it feels political incorrect (I still disagree it's a reason), I think parent/child or root/node are more suitable, but again, people would probably put a different meaning into this terms.

Jason Knight's photo

Primary and Secondary makes them sound like equals -- something the master/slave relationship does NOT imply. Master/Slave is much like server/client. It implies far more meaning.

When I think P/S I think things like having multiple PATA connectors on a motherboard... while there are multiple units, they are equal in functionality and task. It's a whole different meaning from master/slave where one is giving orders and the other follows them. That said I just made a bad example as two drives on that cable are called master and slave, and they do NOT have that relationship -- unless you understand that data is often relayed by the master in that configuration, which is why you can't jumper to slave without a master on the cable.

Even just mentioning "it might be offensive" is utter and complete namby-pamby limp-wristed tofu eating prius driving special in the same way some Olympics are special bull. EXACTLY the type of thing that utterly and completely pisses me off about today's "politically correct" asshattery where you can't even say that your finances are in the black, , refer to electrical plugs by gender type, or even mention the idea of putting Hookers on a Wankel without some dipshit thinking you're being foul mouthed, insulting, racist, or sexist. Trust me, I'm going to be insulting, I'll be insulting -- like by calling people "namby-pamby limp-wristed tofu eating prius driving special in the same way some Olympics are special"

Hence why I no longer use niggard hand in selecting my vocabulary.

romain's photo

Leader / follower is a good alternative.

Hassan Selim's photo

Third option: Doesn't matter. words mean what we want them to mean.

This is my response to any suggestions to changing commonly used words.

DJ's photo

When I first encountered the terminology, it was bothersome. Like, just like everyone says, it's arbitrary words that mean what we say they mean. So there is no reason for them specifically remain as "master/slave". But it obviously reflects the culture of people largely involved in the origin the terms. Reflected,not by the recent (previous 500 years) history of Western Culture, but reflected in that it didn't seem odd/bothersome/problematic to begin with.

Instead of complaining about everyone who thinks the way things are is wrong or at the least questionable, it seems fitting to understand why people feel that way. This is an industry and world built on change, but a good deal of you seem bent on NOT changing.