back to article 'Chinese wall'? Who uses 'Chinese wall'? Well, IBM did, and it actually means 'firewall'

The results are in for an IBM initiative launched last June to find and replace internal outdated and biased IT terminology. A GitHub post from Dale Davis Jones, vice president and Distinguished Engineer at IBM Global Technical Services, reveals which terms will be switched out. The changed terms include: old term new …

  1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    I’m the ginger bread man, n you cant catch me

    It does make sense to have analogous terms which are offensive to nobody, though thats quite ‘a tall order’

    Oh shit did I just upset someone tall?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I’m the ginger bread man, n you cant catch me

      No but some red heads would like a word...

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: I’m the ginger bread man, n you cant catch me

        And some not so tall persons would like to cut you off at the knees.

        1. HildyJ Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: I’m the ginger bread man, n you cant catch me

          Knees are specieist!

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Knees are specieist!

            As, indeed, are bollocks.

  2. Jay 2

    I've been aware of "Chinese walls" being used in financial institutions where one part of a company can't (or isn't supposed to) talk to another part due to conflict of interest/insider dealing/etc, which I guess would cover the ethical wall thing. But I've never heard it being used in reference to a firewall.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      IBM have their own terms and abbreviations. For example, AMD for them is for "air moving device". There is a joke that all those abbreviations are there for driving the Russians crazy. Quite an old joke, obviously.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And RIF means over 40 and your job has been replaced by a couple of cheap script followers in a 3rd world country.

        ps. before you leave can you write the script ?

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          > And RIF means

          Isn't that "RIP"?...

          /s

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Having worked in Poughkeepsie in the early 90s, AMDs and fans are different. I dimly recall with AMDs the airflow is perpendicular to the rotation of the device, unlike fans. So there you go !

    2. General Purpose Bronze badge

      I don't think anyone's saying the IT firewall used to be called a "Chinese wall". Many organisations need to respect confidentiality and not, for example, let the team working on ClientA's project know what the team for ClientB knows. Seems IBM used to use "Chinese wall" for that.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Chinese Wall

        Is this related to the (what, 2 decades old?) analogy by Prof John Searle about the Chinese Room? He was talking about AI but I can sort of see an analogy to an process / department that does stuff without full knowledge of the relevance of their actions outside the room. Like homomorphic encryption ...?

        1. General Purpose Bronze badge

          Re: Chinese Wall

          No, it's much older than that. When the need for great big walls became clear, naming them after the Great Wall of China stuck quite easlily.

          1. John H Woods Silver badge

            "No, it's much older than that."

            Hmm, and you know what's much older than even that? Great big fortified walls that English speakers already knew about: built hundreds of years before even the oldest parts of the GWoC and known about for at least a thousand.

            So I suspect "Chinese" has got to mean something additional to "Great Big" in this context. I'm not sure the GWoC impinged much on Anglophone consciousness before the 1980s, so I'd be interested to know if you can dig out an earlier metaphorical usage.

            1. General Purpose Bronze badge

              Re: "No, it's much older than that."

              The GWoC was being used to make historical, political and societal points well back into the 19th century, perhaps most famously by Marx (e.g. in 1850) but by others too. It variously represented a country being closed and mysterious, or a barrier between barbarism and civilisation, or a line between nomadism and pastoralism, or a resistance to capitalism and progress – the list goes on. By the 1930s when "Chinese walls" came into use in the US following the financial crash, the GWoC was well-known world wide, far more so than Offa's Dyke or Hadrian's Wall (are you overestimating American interest in those?), and a frequent member of any updated list of the seven wonders of the world.

              Indeed, the first moon landing was about 200 years after one early claim that the GWoC is visible from space, by which time the claim had been repeated so often it was simply a well-known fact that could then be used as a metaphor for monumental human achievement. That was still only slowly being debunked by the 1980s.

              1. John H Woods Silver badge

                Re: "No, it's much older than that."

                "... historical, political and societal points ... closed and mysterious ... between barbarism and civilisation ... between nomadism and pastoralism ... capitalism and progress – the list goes on."

                It does rather, and with every item you reinforce my point that the use of the adjective means more than "Great Big" especially as the one item obviously missing from that list is its sheer size :-D

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "No, it's much older than that."

              It's a symbolic wall, like the painted screens that are used to divide rooms in traditional Chinese architecture. People had heard about these. It's a wall that is respected by mutual consent, rather than because it is too solid to get through. The team working on a contract for company X will not discuss their project with the team working on a contract for company Y (a competitor of company X). They may meet in the halls or have lunch, but everyone agrees that a wall exists with respect to information regarding the two projects. No person will work on both.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_wall

              1. John H Woods Silver badge

                Re: "No, it's much older than that."

                This makes more sense to me - the "Chinese" adjective was about the cultural significance of the divide, not mass or implied physical impenetrability.

            3. JBowler

              Re: "No, it's much older than that."

              I think you get one of the El Reg BS awards for that.

              Offa's dyke was not a wall and it was build around 700*AD* (like, when Offa was around). The chinese fortification was started 700*BC*, got joined together over time and, does actually consist of stone work; like a wall, as opposed to a fence, or a dyke or, indeed, a ha-ha.

              IRC from the time when the UK government embraced the term (a time when BoJo was a Murdoch hack in amour of Lady Ratchett) the term was coined because the walls in question were paper thin; as in the sub-dividers sometimes used in Chinese buildings where you can hear every word from the other side but you just don't listen. Honest.

              1. General Purpose Bronze badge

                Re: "No, it's much older than that."

                Just trying to guess what "Great big fortified walls that English speakers already knew about" might have meant.

              2. TRT Silver badge

                Re: "No, it's much older than that."

                Is that where the term "Chinese Whispers" could have originated then?

  3. David Nash

    Seems like it just means "big wall", which is a fair enough analogy, isn't it?

    1. sbt Silver badge
      Coat

      Fair enough

      Not sure why it's offensive; effective walls are Chinese = good, yes?

      When they came for the Chinese walls, I said nothing, because I'm not Chinese.

      When they came for the Damascus steel, I said nothing, because I'm not Damascian.

      When they came for the French toast, I opened a café.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Chinese Walls are good"

        I think this is one of those Mandela-effect things: that's the only reason I can see for Trump supporters posing thereupon with "Walls Work!" posters. I mean, they might just be as thick as said wall: after all, they are there supporting a literally communist country's tourist industry whilst failing to read the few paragraphs of information on the tourist posters. Which explain clearly that the idea thot the GWoC was particularly effective as a defensive structure is not quite completely true (although, unlike the persistent falsehood that it is 'visible from space', also not entirely false).

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    WTF?

    What?

    "grandfathered" also had to go as they considered it gendered and racist.

    Gendered, sure, but racist? Everybody has a couple of grandfathers.

    1. gerdesj Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: What?

      I am a grandfather. What the hell do I call myself now?

      (Won't someone think of the grandchildren?)

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: What?

        > I am a grandfather. What the hell do I call myself now?

        "Person with descendants having descendants"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What?

          >> I am a grandfather. What the hell do I call myself now?

          > "Person with descendants having descendants"

          Sorry - Descendants discriminates against those adopted or gained from social bonding partnerships. Probably best not mentioning any form of ownership, relationship or descendance as this could imply an unintended hierarchy or age discrimination.

          "Person Known to Another Being" is acceptable, possibly.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What?

            How dare you be offensive to me who has no friends?

      2. JWLong Bronze badge

        Re: What?

        "I am a grandfather. What the hell do I call myself now?"

        How about "Old Fart".

        Disclaimer: The above statement is meant to disparage everyone all the time because it can. And, it's just plain fun to do.

        Signed: Old Fart

        Any bets on moderator deletion of this politically incorrect comment, then they can blacklist me.

        Like I'm going to care anytime soon.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: What?

        "I am a grandfather. What the hell do I call myself now?"

        You call yourself "me". Your grandkids call you whatever the eldest amongst them decided your name is. (That's how it works in my family, anyway. I'm "grandad", my father was Granpa,and my grandad was either Granpa or Pop. A simple "hey you" also works. We're pretty informal around here.)

    2. sbt Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Racist?

      I wondered the same thing when this last came up. TIL the concept of the 'grandfather clause' has origins in the United States that seem pretty racist:

      From late 19th-century legislation and constitutional amendments passed by a number of U.S. Southern states, which created new literacy and property restrictions on voting, but exempted those whose grandfathers had the right to vote before the Civil War. The intent and effect of such rules was to prevent poor and illiterate African American former slaves and their descendants from voting, but without denying poor and illiterate whites the right to vote.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Racist?

        So , the term for actual grandfathers has to be scrapped because it was used metaphorically once?

        1. sbt Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: The term for actual grandfathers...

          ...isn't being scrapped. They seem to be acknowledging the origins of using 'grandfathering' to mean an exemption for pre-existing situations/clients/privileges, as in the original grandfather clause.

          Context matters; this appears to be too close to the bone.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: What?

      >Everybody has a couple of grandfathers.

      Maybe an overestimate in certain US southern states

    4. jake Silver badge

      Re: What?

      I guess I better get rid of the Grandfather Clock that stands in my hall ... It's a Master Clock that makes sure a dozen or so slave clocks dotted around the place stay on time.(Acquired in an auction from an about to be demolished hospital. Lovely piece of furniture, built in the 1930s.)

  5. IGotOut Silver badge

    Aha! Now I fully understand IBM corporate structure

    Manager = Master

    Worker = Slave

    All makes sense now.

  6. JacobZ
    Coat

    Grandfather should have been grandfathered in

    I'll get my coat.

  7. TrevorH

    Having been a white hat hacker, I think I find being called "offensive" more offensive than any negative correlation of the existing name. Besides an "offensive security researcher" sounds more like someone trying to do damage than not. Perhaps a "defensive security researcher" would be better.

    Also, from what I remember the terms white hat and black hat don't have racial origins at all, they come from the old Hollywood westerns where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. Both sides were almost always white men.

    1. Jim Mitchell Silver badge

      "Also, from what I remember the terms white hat and black hat don't have racial origins at all, they come from the old Hollywood westerns where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. "

      White == good, black == bad has been a thing for millennia in Western culture.

      1. robn
        Pirate

        We could switch from black/white to the "Chinese" version, where the good/bad colours are red (i.e. blood, life) and white (i.e. bleached bones, death)

      2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        "White == good, black == bad has been a thing for millennia in Western culture."

        No, it's Victorian at the earliest. It is unquestionably racist in its origins.

    2. iron Silver badge

      "offensive security researcher" sounds more like a red team member or a grey hat than a white hat to me. I think it will be more likely to set off alarms when people try to report security issues.

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        If I were a security researcher, I would be offended if someone called me "offensive."

    3. ThatOne Silver badge

      > Having been a white hat hacker

      You make a living hacking hats of white color?... I guess they won't let you anywhere near Ascot on racing days...

      Seriously now, I thought exactly the same thing, an "offensive security researcher" is a security researcher who is somehow offensive: Constantly cussing, or running around without pants, or whatever. I'd rather stick with "penetration tester" (even if some people think it's pr0n related).

      Also the "gray hats", what are we supposed to call those? "Gray" isn't yet considered offensive (AFAIK), but without the black/white hats on both ends, their name becomes totally incomprehensible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Also the "gray hats", what are we supposed to call those?"

        Gandalf.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Gandalf made serial terminators. Can't use that, it'll frighten the children.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Researchers running around without pants, doing penetration testing?

        Sounds like Uni to me ... BAN THE INTELLECTUALS!!!!

    4. jake Silver badge

      I don't just find it offensive in that context, I find it fucking stupid.

      It's not "black and white", per se, it's light and dark. Think about a small group of proto-humans a couple million years ago. Fearing the dark of night, because that's when the nocturnal predators hunted. The light of day brought relative safety. In other words "dark == bad, light == better" is embedded in our very genetics.

      And let's not forget that those first early humans were undoubtedly dark skinned. The entire concept of black vs white being a racist thing is laughable.

      1. TRT Silver badge
        Joke

        Indeed, I believe these early hominids also used to use a fire pit near the front of the cave, in the cave mouth, which would dissuade many predators from venturing into the interior where the young were no doubt sleeping behind this wall of fire. Hence the term Fire-Wall.

  8. 45RPM Silver badge

    By and large, I have no problem with evolution of the language to make it less prejudiced (and, hopefully, clearer too). Plug and Socket are much clearer and more sensible than male and female, for example. White box and Black box made no sense anyway since it doesn’t matter what colour it is, I can’t see into it unless it’s transparent. But Ethical Wall? That really does strike me as comedy nonsense of the highest order. What’s ethical about a firewall? Ethics have nothing to do with it.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Except that you can have a cable with a male connector and one end and a female connector at the other that both go into what I would describe as sockets, recessed and chassis mounted ports for a cable.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Also means the dear users who manage to wedge a USB plug into a ethernet socket are just being pro LGBTQI2*

      2. 45RPM Silver badge

        It doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of a cable or attached to a box - a socket is still a socket. It doesn’t stop being a socket just because it’s on the end of an extension lead, if if it’s just a one socket extension lead…

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          For a mains socket I agree, but there are plenty of other connectors where the physical socket can contain either male or female electrical contacts.

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Agreed. In which case the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ are doubly pointless. Such connectors though, in every case I can think of, are interchangeable - i.e. there’s no concept of needing a particular type of plug for a given socket. They do both duties. So we can just call them Connector - and everyone can be happy.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              No - the pins (on the male end) of an XLR clearly go into the female end, but the physical socket is defined by a ring on the male, and a solid plug on the female....

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Well, one does get those keyed bi-directional connectors which are half pins, half holes... anyway, the whole terminology did give rise to those fantastic port adaptors which converted sockets to pins and pins to sockets... gender benders they were known as. That'll be right out nowadays! I've still got a little line of them on the shelf in office - stencilled with the manufacturer designation too. Wonder if that offends any visitors? Maybe I should get rid of them into a box? Barely see a parallel or serial socket in use now.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      "What’s ethical about a firewall? Ethics have nothing to do with it."

      No, firewalls have nothing to do with it. A chinese wall is not a firewall, it's an imaginary ethical barrier between teams working for competing clients.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good luck playing chess or draughts then.

    At least they got it written down in black and whi....... Oh bugger.

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "I have no problem with evolution of the language to make it less prejudiced"

    Language itself can not be "prejudiced". The problem is people using language in certain ways that demonstrate their prejudice. This is clearly shown by some words being perceived as legitimately usable by certain people but not by others.

    There is a great danger that language will be progressively purged of useful words and meanings because some influential people assume that users of those words are automatically "demonstrating prejudice", whereas in most cases the user is entirely innocent of any such intent. Indeed we should ask whether the self appointed language police are themselves demonstrating prejudice.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: "I have no problem with evolution of the language to make it less prejudiced"

      Language can be, and often is, prejudiced.

      The language we speak at least partly defines how we view things, even down to things you wouldn't have thought would be affected, like colour vision.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I have no problem with evolution of the language to make it less prejudiced"

        However, increasingly it seems that language is having prejuidice imposed on it by people who want to use this as a means of exerting power over others by deeming existing forms of language as "unacceptable" and by extension labelling anyone using that language as "unacceptable" as well.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "However, increasingly it seems ..."

          A means of exerting power, eh? A quick look around the Western World shows that those really holding power aren't really champions of social justice. The idea that there is some left-leaning illuminati behind everything is just the 'cultural marxism' trope, itself verging on a conspiracy theory, which far too many people seem to have forgotten was originally invented from whole cloth by the Nazis. In fact this is such a prevalent view, there even seems to be a determined effort to misremember the Nazis as socialists of some kind.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: "I have no problem with evolution of the language to make it less prejudiced"

      > language will be progressively purged of useful words and meanings because some influential people assume that users of those words are automatically "demonstrating prejudice"

      No, language will be purged because it's way easier to ban the name of a problem than fix the problem itself. If you can't name a problem , it officially disappears: You can't possibly be accused of XYZ discrimination if there officially is no XYZ (gender, skin color, age, whatever)...

      Not to mention some people are desperately looking for something to be offended about, because it validates them, gives them a meaning in life. They will always find something new to be offended about (like this post for instance...).

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: "I have no problem with evolution of the language to make it less prejudiced"

        No, language will be purged because it's way easier to ban the name of a problem than fix the problem itself. If you can't name a problem , it officially disappears

        Doubleplus good duckspeak.

    3. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "I have no problem with evolution of the language to make it less prejudiced"

      Indeed we should ask whether the self appointed language police are themselves demonstrating prejudice.

      And to put the icing on the cake, those wokes just about never belong to the group that is supposed to be a victim of that prejudice. The worst protestors against "black" somehow always are melanin deficient.

  11. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Flame

    Red Team?

    Here we go again.

    Some things are ok (allow, deny convey the same meaning generally as whitelist and blacklist and have been in use for many years) but a lot of this is utter madness.

    So when will the chess associations get involved? "White moves first..."

    I have noted elsewhere that the term master / slave in the context of electronics (including device drivers) has a very specific meaning that is not particularly well conveyed by any other 'suggestion' I have seen. In this context it is utilitarian and has no 'racial / socio-economic' connotations at all.

    Are the old westerns going to get colourised so that the good guys (in white hats) and the bad guys (in black hats) get some other colour? Can't do blue hats (offensive to smurfs, surely) and can't do red hat (IBM will fling a sueball).

    Dear woke idiots: Get a life.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Red Team?

      Are the old westerns going to get colourised so that the good guys (in white hats) and the bad guys (in black hats) get some other colour?

      I was going to suggest copying pool and making them stripes and spots but someone would complain it discriminated against people with acne.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Red Team?

      >master / slave in the context of electronics (including device drivers) has a very specific meaning

      Commissar / prole - then nobody is offended

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Red Team?

      Yes, heaven forbid that we should make some small adjustments in how we use language, at no cost to ourselves, to avoid perpetuating outdated attitudes.

      Yours,

      A Woke Idiot

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Red Team?

        "at no cost to ourselves"

        No cost, eh? Are YOU volunteering to pay for the reprinting and distribution of all the textbooks containing the words that must be sanitized/purified by this hyper politically correct insanity? Just to appease a small handful of hand-wringing namby-pambys who find insult around every bush, even (or especially!) if it's not there.

        Here's a little story, written in common UNIX terminology:

        gawk, grep, unzip, touch, strip, init, uncompress, finger, find, route, whereis, which, mount, fsck, nice, more, yes, umount, head, expand, renice, restore, touch, whereis, which, route, mount, more, yes, umount, ping, make clean, sleep

        Presumably you are planning on making this kind of thing impossible, right? No? Then what's the fucking point?

        What a fucking waste of time. The mind absolutely boggles.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Red Team?

        "A Woke Idiot"

        Well, there is nothing to add...

      3. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

        Re: Red Team?

        And not a very brave woke idiot, posting anonymously. Intent is the problem, not language.

    4. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: Red Team?

      Given all this, it does seem a little odd that they have no objection to "red team", as the team colours originated in (or were certainly popularised by) the US military, which used red to represent the the enemy (definitely not the USSR, a pure coincidence), and blue to represent themselves (definitely not related to their own flag).

      (And then you have the rather bizarre scenario that the US Republican Party is red (when, from the perspective of commonly used meanings of political colours, it should probably really be blue).)

  12. John Savard Silver badge

    Ethical wall

    A firewall is for filtering data going in or out of a network. I remember the term "Chinese wall" being used in news stories related to IBM, but it referred to the wall between the people who read the BIOS listing to figure out what it did and the people who were writing a BIOS to do the same thing on your PC clone, so that's probably what the term "ethical wall" is for.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Ethical wall

      Firewall isn't even the right name for a firewall.

      A firewall is between you and the engine in case of a fire.

      It stops all fire - it doesn't let approved fire in and all fire out

    2. HereIAmJH

      Re: Ethical wall

      Chinese wall goes back a long time, and probably didn't originate with IBM. The term likely referenced the Great Wall of China and is used in business to denote a segregation of information with-in the company. Often for regulatory purposes.

      The case you are talking about, at least the second half, I have always heard called a Clean Room Implementation. Although I guess they could work in parallel. You get the requirements (headers, API definition) and write your own implementation. There have been a number of JVMs built this way. Clean Room's purpose is to negate lawsuits, but doesn't always work.

  13. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Discrimination

    There's another word that has been hijacked by taking one of the many contextual meanings and suggesting it means only that.

    One can find discriminating diners; is that offensive to crappy food (or more to the point the people who put it together).

    Then there are the discriminating opera lovers (who may find Puccini somewhat gauche - another word that can have some people in a rage),

    I am not suggesting that illegal discrimination (choosing something based on a view of a particular person's <skin colour / lifestyle choice here> for whatever reason) should be the norm; what I would like is for these people (who seem to have far too much time on their hands) to understand the nuance of language.

    When I choose a software tool I discriminate based on features and price, and that is as it should be.

  14. rdhma

    My employer has banned the word 'Native', it must be replaced with 'Default'.

    Posted in my...err.... default language.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Would it still be your "native" language if you were an immigrant who learned another language at birth?

      1. rdhma

        No, then it would be in a 'second' language. I would still have a native language, it would just be a different one.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          >No, then it would be in a 'second' language. I would still have a native language, it would just be a different one.

          Yes, that was the point. If 'native' was being used as the default language it might not be 'native' to everyone. But don't see how anyone could object to 'native' resolution = the resolution the screen was born with

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            > don't see how anyone could object to 'native' resolution = the resolution the screen was born with

            Derogatory to screens with immigrant resolutions?

    2. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
      Devil

      Replacement words

      In emacs when deleting a chunk of text*, one gets the perversely rewarding result '240** characters killed'

      * The last time I used it, anyway,

      ** Your number may vary.

    3. jake Silver badge

      What the fuck is wrong with "native"? I am a native (of Northern California), you are a native (of somewhere), in fact every man, woman and child on this muddy rock are native to somewhere.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        It's derogatory to people created in a lab vat (or from sewn-together corpse pieces).

  15. DS999 Silver badge

    Is "Chinese Wall" actually offensive?

    Whether used as a firewall or in the financial world sense of completely separating parts of the business, it is used in the sense of a "really big and hopefully impossible wall to pass". Donald Trump's wet dream, basically. It is quite obvious it came from the Great Wall of China, not because Chinese people themselves are a wall or some type of obstacle in this sense.

    I would imagine that the Chinese people are rightly proud of the Great Wall of China, which was an engineering marvel when built and still is even when measured against modern technology. Are any Chinese people offended by the "Chinese wall" reference as used by IBM or investment banks?

    I guess their remit was to eliminate anything that represents a particular race, nationality, sexual orientation etc. and not worry about letting the people running this effort make any value judgments about whether something should or should not be offensive to those referenced by the a particular word/phrase. I'm struggling to think of a positive phrase (think "German engineering") that might be used in software and wondering if it would have been eliminated as well.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Is "Chinese Wall" actually offensive?

      I think it's the 'nod and wink' nature of Chinese walls, at least in finance

      So a 'Chinese wall' has come to mean a lie.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Is "Chinese Wall" actually offensive?

        The Chinese cake?

        Actually, I LOVE all the cakes that you can get from that bakery in Chinatown in London on Lisle Street. Oh no... I'm remembering them now... bugger. Want CAKE!!!!

        Just checked... seems to have gone now. Sods. It was a marvellous experience there. And the eat-in bit... the staff were enjoyably rude; kept hurrying you up to get out of the place, it was a great laugh.

    2. IanRS

      Re: Is "Chinese Wall" actually offensive?

      A Chinese wall is not big and impossible to pass. Quite the opposite in fact. It comes from the use of paper screens which everybody then pretends are impossible to go through, and usually refers to artificial divisions to keep information about two areas separated. e.g. A company doing work for two clients who are competitors which each other.

      On the basis that it refers to a purely language based construct with no physical presence that stops you from doing something I am surprised it is not praised rather than rejected by reformists of woke or SJW flavours.

  16. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Does this mean that Trump.....

    ... should start calling it the firevirus?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does this mean that Trump.....

      No it doesn't.

      T**** should just STFU!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Does this mean that Trump.....

        Nah. He should keep babbling. It'll split the Republican party quite nicely.

        Not that the Democrats are all that wonderful ... lesser of two evils, though

  17. mark l 2 Silver badge

    'Apple, GitHub, and OpenZFS have also tweaked their internal language policies following 2020's Black Lives Matter protests'

    While I agree that some terminology could be changed so as not to cause offence, I doubt even one of the people who took part in the BLM protest were doing so because of the IT terms such as Master/Slave or White/Black hats.

    And if they were protesting against such things they REALLY have their priorities out of whack.

  18. Norman Nescio

    Aaargh! Ambiguity

    And yet again, someone uses the ambiguous term 'blocklist' to replace 'blacklist'. Is it a list of blocks (like in a file), or a list of things to be blocked? It is not obviously the latter. I would prefer the use of 'allowlist' for 'whitelist' and 'denylist' for 'blacklist'. If you are looking to make a usage change, I would have thought people would want to use a term that is phonetically very distinct from the less-preferred term; and 'blocklist' sounds, and looks, very similar to blacklist. Perhaps some think that this similarity is an advantage?

    I really hope we can generally agree on a set of neutral technical terms so that everyone who wishes to can contribute to IT without fear or favour - it seems to be the decent thing to do.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Aaargh! Ambiguity

      Or we could just continue using whitelist and blacklist, as neither is racist when used in this context, regardless of who is whining about it.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Aaargh! Ambiguity

        If everywhere in your field the word 'black' is used to mean a negative outcome and 'white' is used for a positive outcome = it's a problem.

        Replace them with white = Catholic and black = protestant or white = christian / black = Jewish everywhere and see if seems 'ok'

  19. jake Silver badge

    People need to think this through.

    Presumably, IBM's new rules force them to not translate their documentation into any language that mandates grammatical gender. That's roughly a quarter of all human languages. They will also no longer be doing business in any country that uses such languages. That would include most of Europe.

    Or, more likely, none of the above will happen, because IBM is run by a bunch of hypocrites looking to score brownie points with North American hand-wringer and namby-pamby loudmouths, who seem to get off on being offended on the behalf of others and enjoy forcing everybody else to march in lock-step with their self-imposed offendedness.

    Only English will be singled out for this mistreatment, and only English speakers will be harassed for using the language as she is spoke.. What do you call harassing someone based purely on the language he speaks?

    Giving in to crybabys throwing a tantrum only reinforces the notion that tantrums work. It's basic animal training, innit. Well done, IBM, well done. Fucking idiots.

    1. DarkwavePunk

      Re: People need to think this through.

      "Only English will be singled out for this mistreatment"

      And to rub salt into the wounds it will only be the American usage of "English". A lot of people will be scratching their heads and wondering what the hell is going on. Given English is - in most of the world - the default business/IT language, how is someone for whom English isn't their native tongue going to adapt to these changes?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: People need to think this through.

        Given English is - in most of the world - the default business/IT language, how is someone for whom English isn't their native tongue going to adapt to these changes?

        If and when applicable, I will pay these changes lip service. If clear and unambiguous communication is necessary and English prevents it because of these changes, I will try to find another language I have in common with whoever I am communicating with and switch to that. With colleagues there is a good chance that other language will be Dutch (yup, my mother tongue), with others it might be German. If necessary, I can fall back on French, Spanish, Portugese and Italian, though it may have to be in writing as I will need a dictionary.

  20. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    FAIL

    Engineering terminology

    In engineering, precise terminology matters a great deal. Wishy washy (because something can apparently be taken as offensive when taken out of context) stuff doesn't cut it when a precise description is required.

    That is the reason we have accepted names for many things as those names convey a great deal of information.

    If you are going to propose new names you need to show why these new names are just as effective as the ones currently in common use.

    In control theory, we talk of servo control of a feedback system (servo has the same root as slave, incidentally). Try suggesting a name that is both widely used and also precisely describes what is being done.

    In SPI, we refer to master / slave because that identifies very precisely how it operates.

    I am old enough to remember that we used to refer to frequency in terms of cycles per second; this was renamed to Hertz (abbreviated Hz) in 1960 and took about 15 years to catch on widely not because anyone objected to Mr Hertz being honoured by have a unit named after him but because it takes time to collectively agree that a new term is universally understood.

    Even if you could come up with new names for these (among the name and alphabet soup that pervades engineering) it would take several years for it to catch on and in the meantime there would be wide confusion over the new terms.

    Spelling matters as well, incidentally; it is not elitist to expect correct spelling.

    The last thing I need in design is confusion over what a particular term implies.

    Some terms are appropriate and have been in use for decades (hosts.allow and hosts.deny were names used in IRIX systems back in the 90s for instance and can, in many cases, replace blacklist and whitelist, but not all).

    You want us to use different terms? Then propose them with a full explanation of why they can convey the same very precise meaning as the existing terms rather than sitting around and just being offended on other people's behalf.

    1. Norman Nescio

      Re: Engineering terminology

      In control theory, we talk of servo control of a feedback system (servo has the same root as slave, incidentally).

      As it is the concept of slavery that is objectionable, then it follows that servo is suspect, and also robot, which comes from the Czech word robota*, meaning serfdom, villeinage, or corvée with an original etymological root from a word meaning slave/slavery. Adoption of alternative forms might take a while.

      Finding useful and usable neutral terms to use that are also sufficiently precise and nuanced is a challenge. You only need to look at the history of nomenclature in chemistry to see how long change takes to embed.

      *Famously brought into English via Karel Čapek's play Rossum's Universal Robots (R.U.R.) (Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "white hat hacker" = "offensive security researcher", "master (when paired with slave)" = "controller, leader...", "slave" = "worker, child, follower..."

    Come on guys... you're not helping!

  22. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

    Oh please, spear us all the woke bovine excrement!

    The West is becoming a bunch of weak pansies placating the useless attention-whores!

    All the while the Chinese are eating our lunch because they could care less about hurting some small loud mouthed minorities feelings!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's true they know how to bring their ethnic minorities to heel...

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