If we knew that the terms and phrases we commonly use - such as sanity check or grandfathered - had the effect of normalizing and perpetuating historical systemic biases, would we still use them?
There is probably no other human endeavor that involves the volume of communication paired with creation of new terminology than software development. If one cares about their project's reach and wants to maximize their ability to attract and retain collaborators, developers, users, or sponsors, then they need to be mindful of the names and language they use. The language that one uses has the power to welcome others in, as well as push them away.
The inclusive language movement recognizes and has many examples and arguments supporting the fact that often terminology (in current use) either does a poor job of conveying purpose/meaning or is highly dependent on cultural context to interpret.
This article presents a growing list of inclusive language resources. Some of the resources here are concerned more with the principles of inclusive language whereas others are more concerned with the practice and, in particular, identifying some of the more egregious terms in current use (e.g. master/slave) and proposing suitable replacement terms.
|Resource name||Inclusive Naming Initiative|
|Authors||Open Source Collaboration|
|Focus||Project Productivity and Sustainability|
The Inclusive Naming Initiative is perhaps the foremost source for inclusive naming, using open source collaboration to fill in gaps across the scientific software field and provide support in removing and replacing harmful language. It was also the main focus of another BSSw.io article, which can be found here.
|Resource name||Conscious Language in your Open Source Projects|
This GitHub repository on Conscious Language in your Open Source Projects contains helpful documents relating to the process of removing problematic language from software. It includes best practices and recommendations, as well as frequently asked questions to serve as a guide.
|Resource name||Software Developer Diversity and Inclusion|
Created by the Linux Foundation, the Software Developer Diversity and Inclusion project is still in its early stages. It provides a great opportunity to get in at a ground level and support the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in software development efforts first-hand.
|Resource name||The Open Source Way|
The Open Source Way is a guidebook that encourages open source community management and best practices. Although not directly related to inclusive naming, the broadness of authors/contributors and general guidance can serve as a great resource when moving into naming initiatives.
|Article title||Terminology, Power and Oppressive Language|
|Authors||Mallory Knodel and Niels ten Oever|
The Terminology, Power and Oppressive Language article focuses on the problematic naming conventions found in software terminology and offers clear and concise alternatives.
|Resource name||Google developer documentation style guide|
|Focus||Inclusivity, Software documentation|
The Google's developer documentation style guide is a wonderful resource for guidance for all types of writing principles, including their subsection regarding inclusive documentation. This portion of the guide encourages developers to handle inclusivity through various lenses, including considering gendered terms and ableist language.
|Resource name||Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN)|
|Focus||Writing for public consumption|
The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) aim is to make it easier for the public to read, understand, and use government communications. Many of the same principles apply to software project communications.
|Resource name||Microsoft's Bias Free Communication|
Microsoft technology reaches every part of the globe, so it's critical that all their communications are inclusive and diverse. Microsoft has several, short, focused blog posts on the topic you can find from this article.
|Resource name||Say This, Not That: A Guide for Inclusive Language|
An article from The Diversity Movement for some simple dos and don'ts in common language usage.
|Resource name||Effectively naming software thingies|
Effectively naming software thingies is an in-depth article focused on the naming of various components in software projects. It includes issues such as having similar named objects which can be easily confused. It might be worth a look for more resources regarding naming to improve distinguishability for neurodiverse people (e.g. dyslexia).
|Resource name||8 Resources to Use to Ensure You're Using Inclusive Language|
|Focus||Resource of resources|
The short article, titled 8 Resources to Use to Ensure You're Using Inclusive Language contains pointers to a number of resources for inclusive language.
|Resource name||These 7 Online Tools Check Your Writing For Empathy And Inclusivity|
The article titled These 7 Online Tools Check Your Writing For Empathy And Inclusivity lists many tools. The user can cut-n-paste text into a window and get suggestions for improving inclusive language similar to a grammar or spell checker.
|Resource name||Microsoft Office can help you write with inclusive language — here’s how|
|Focus||Office 365 Features for inclusive writing|
The article titled Microsoft Office can help you write with inclusive language — here’s how explains how to access and use some features of Office 365 that support inclusive language.
|Resource name||Inclusive Lint|
Inclusive Lint is a linter-like tool for checking text files for inclusive language.
|Resource name||NATO Gender-Inclusive Language Manual|
The article NATO Gender-Inclusive Language Manual is in the format of a long PDF file but the guidance snippets are short and sweet. There is a lot of motivation and images that support various of the principles and language recommendations.
|Resource name||Inclusive Language And Design In Tech|
The Inclusive Language And Design In Tech article provides motivation for why inclusive language is needed in technology products - including the design of products themselves, and not just in the communication about technology products.
|Resource name||INCITS Inclusive Terminology Guidelines|
The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) recently published a set of principles for inclusive language as well as lists of commonly used terms and phrases that may present barriers to inclusion. For term or phrase, examples of use are given along with proposed replacement terms and rationale for replacement.
|Resource name||IETF Terminology, Power and Inclusive Language|
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has published this resource to recommend language used in Request For Comment (RFC) communications.
|Resource name||Panel Discussion: Words Matter: Inclusive Language in Software, Open Source, & the Enterprise|
This panel discussion video includes experiences and guidance from commercial and government sector.