Bug 272826: Ubuntero

Rikki Endsley

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Sep 24, 2008 GMT
Rikki Kite

Normally the Ubuntu Women mailing list is a quiet one, but it saw some action overnight. In fact, the overnight activity is the only action in the Ubuntu Women archives this month. The discussion reminds me of a topic I brought up in June about using the terms guys, girls, gals, he, she, and they.

To see the full topic thread, it's best to visit the Launchpad: https://bugs.launchpad.net/launchpad/+bug/272826

If, however, you don't want to read through the 28+ comments in the past 12 hours, here's my summary of the discussion:

Some folks are bugged by the term "Ubuntero," which led to Ubuntu bug report 272826:

The term "Ubuntero", which is presumably of Spanish derivation, is only applicable for male contributors. A female contributor should be called an Ubuntera, which is impossible currently as a contributor is not asked his or her sex.

I suggest introducing a question about a participant's sex in the profile, or substituting "Ubuntista" which is applicable for a man or a woman.

According to the Ubuntu Community page, Ubunteros (aka Ubuntites) are Ubuntu activists. This Ubuntero name has been used for the past few years, but now there is discussion about changing it to Ubuntista, or another gender-neutral word.

Another suggestion is to allow female members to use "Ubuntera," but that doesn't sit well with some community members – male and female – who don't think announcing one's sex is the answer, either. Sarah Hobbs wrote, "Honestly, I have more of a problem having to declare a gender, or use a full name, than being called a made-up word, with possible male-overtones."

Leigh Honeywell offered insight into the issue of gender-neutral language, and recommended Douglas Hofstadter's "Person Paper on Purity in Language" and "The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing," by Casey Miller and Kate Swift. She later clarified that "... 'non-sexist writing' is the technical term for wanting to do the Right Thing when it comes to gender in writing, not any sort of accusation that there was sexism involved in the selection of this name in the first place."

Miia Ranta suggested that changing the term now would cause a public outcry that "... would by far surpass the loudness of the wails of the people annoyed by the current term." She agreed that it would have been better to come up with a gender-neutral name a few years ago. "Unfortunately the current scientific research hasn't given us the ways for time travel," she added.

Colin Watson points out that the topic was discussed in the past. "The gender issue came up, but basically this was Mark's call and we ended up deciding not to go down the rabbit-hole of asking for people's gender (which I agree is problematic for all kinds of reasons)," he wrote. He refers to a December 11, 2005 IRC discussion about changing "Ubuntite" to "Ubuntero."

Clytie Siddall favors the term "Ubuntista" and wrote, "Having to declare your gender is not only uncomfortable in some situations, it can be actually dangerous."

Mark Shuttleworth commented on the bug, saying, "Ubuntero wasn't supposed to be gender-specific, but for many people it will feel that way, and it seems silly to keep ourselves in a position where we have to explain that all the time."

Matthew East says that the "Ubuntero" status is useful because it indicates that an individual has signed the code of conduct in Launchpad. "I agree that it is inapplicable to Launchpad members who do not participate in Ubuntu, and therefore it could probably be implemented in a different way, although I can't immediately think of a good one," he says.

Melissa Draper argued that identifying oneself as female online could be an optional field. "For those of us who are (and please pardon the revolting terminology) 'thick-skinned' enough to put up with the crap it entails, it might help to at least reinforce that there are females in the midsts and make them less of a novelty when one is 'found'," she wrote. Melissa pointed to an article by Whitney Butts, "OMG Girlz Don't Exist on teh Intarweb!!!," in which the author discusses her adventures as a female in a World of Warcraft IRC channel.

Of course, there's no global solution, as Myriam Schweingruber points out. "I don't care if I'm called an Ubuntero or Ubuntista at all, got used to been called 'un pharmacien' in French where the official female counterpart simply doesn't exist. Of course the -o/-a endings are relevant to Spanish, Italian or whatever Latin based language, but what about Japanese? The -o ending is female and the -a ending is male," she says.

It's only 9:30am where I am, so I suspect we haven't heard the end of this overnight/early morning discussion. This might call for another cup o' Joe. (Or should I say "Jane"?)


  • comment removed

    L-Geek42, I removed your comment because it was off-topic and a personal attack on another poster. When I started this blog, I outlined some expectations, including the following:
    "We'll do our best to set a professional, inclusive, positive tone on this blog, and we assume readers who contribute or comment on blog entries will do the same. Constructive feedback is welcome, but remember that we do want to encourage discussion while also making new people feel welcome and encouraging everyone to get involved in open source."

  • Why

    Just to close this discussion.. The reason this irritates me so much is because every time a woman with a defective esteem gland starts spewing this bile it makes those of us out here doing real work look like morons.

    I've spent decades out here actually doing the work. I code, I admin, I work as hard as my male coworkers and none of them has ever had a problem with me. I've never been discriminated against, or granted any exception for being a woman. This "bias" they see is a product of the feminism goggles strapped firmly onto their frontal lobes by Women's Studies classes and too many episodes of Oprah.

    I don't need to yell about my gender to get noticed. My work stands for itself. I don't need to make an issue of any of these things to get work or a date. I do fine on both fronts without any help from feminism.

    If these "women", and I use that term lightly, would stop stupid crap like this and just do work that's the equal of the men in the industry there would be no problems. But the more they caw about this crap the less our hardworking male counterparts take women in our industry seriously - and who can blame them?
  • Wow

    Wow.. beaten up by a girl. Classy.

    It's a statistical fact that the moment a woman starts losing a fight with a man based on logic and reason the odds of her abandoning rational discourse and instead resorting to insulting his manhood approach zero. You just proved this without a doubt - just by posting under an assumed male name.

    By the way - you assumed I'm male. I am not. But you are right in that I did get beat up by a girl once. Junior High can really suck.

    No one has a problem with women in programming. Unlike the "ubuntero" crowd I (and all logical and non-sexist people) don't care what genitals a programmer has. I have a problem with people who continuously waste productive time bickering over ridiculous gender jealousy nonsense.

    Once again, GROW UP. Leave your gender politics at home. Get back to work, write some code, do something PRODUCTIVE. The very fact that this discussion is even occurring in a community that has (until recently) been completely focused quality and engineering excellence shows just how far the putrid infection of political correctness has spread.

    As I said in my first post. If that community wishes to waste the time of otherwise productive people by bickering over unrelated gender issues, then it should be terminated immediately and with prejudice.

    Cut of the gangrenous limb and save the body.
  • A problem?

    Wow, somebody’s got a problem with women in programming. Beaten up by a girl, lately?

    I should note that I participated in the discussion... the consensus in the end seemed to be, if we can come up with a better term than “Ubuntero,” and the community likes and accepts it, then we’re good. It’s just a fun side-thing, it doesn’t really take resources away from the “fight against Microsoft” or whatever.
  • Fail Again

    BTW - Bug #1 is not how many women use Linux. Only in an estrogen-poisoned mind could such a perversion exist as a cannon of thought.

    Bug #1 is Microsoft.

    Drop your agenda and get back to work.
  • Fail

    We already have nice things. But feminism in all it's forms, along with political correctness threaten to destroy them all - so that someone doesn't get their "feeling hurt".

    Grow up. Stop bickering about what your called and get back to work.

    "Bite Me" - Bart Simpson

  • dividing instead of uniting

    This is ridiculous. I wrote about this group in the past. They do more for DIVIDING open source and linux than they do for uniting it.

  • Oh dear....

    @Ubuntu Testosterone: to paraphrase Lisa Simpson, you are why we can't have nice things.

    For the record, the participants in the U-W project, which is more than just a mailing list, do write code, contribute, give constructive feedback, report bugs, write documentation. A cursory read of the list archives or the website (say, this page: http://wiki.ubuntu-women.org/Profiles ) would have told you that, though.

    The only "political" agenda of U-W is one that we should all be able to get behind - solving bug #1 by getting more women using Ubuntu and participating in the Open Source community.

    I'm not sure how you expect any of us to leave our genitals at home though. That sounds pretty painful unless you're King Missile ( http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=byDiILrNbM4 ) :p
  • Ridiculous

    If this is the kind of thing the Ubuntu women mailing list spends its time on then it should be immediately disbanded. Write some code ladies, contribute, give constructive feedback, but leave your genitals, and your political agenda at home.
comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More