On September 7, Bitcoin Core developer Vladimir van der Lahn tweeted that they can “ditch the coins” together. He later confirmed to Cointelegraph that he was already taking a break from his duties as the lead developer and one of the Github warehouse managers for the project. One of the factors that drove him to this decision was the Twitter storm that lasted for several days and was caused by the renaming of a variable that specifies a list of characters that cannot be displayed in file names due to the limitations of the operating system.

Source: Bitcoin Github Repository.

How could something seemingly innocuous lead to a storm on Twitter, which in turn led to the temporary departure of a developer who has worked with Bitcoin since 2014?

The variable in question is a parameter that was originally named FILE_CHAR_BLACKLIST. On June 9, Github user TrentZ suggested changing it to a more appropriate name – FILE_CHAR_BLOCKLIST. A notable motive was that some developers might be offended by using the word “black” in the original filename as a way to indicate a negative result, while using the word “white” instead would imply a positive result. At the time there was no agreement on this change, but after a while the discussion stalled.

Talking about the use of black and white cues for bad and good variants, respectively, is not unique to the blockchain community. In April 2020, the British National Center for Cybersecurity announced that it would begin using Allow and Deny in place of what some consider to be controversial language based on color. Likewise, the information technology giant Cisco Systems announced that its security team will use the new naming scheme in their code.

Two days ago, another bitcoin shareholder called Verretor suggested changing another name for this variable, this time changing FILE_CHAR_BLOCKLIST to FILE_CHARS_DISALLOWED. It appears his suggestion was not motivated by positive or negative connotations, but instead he thought the current title was ambiguous:

“The blacklist is controversial. This could mean a block list. Example: The term ‘blocknotify’ in the same file refers to Bitcoin blocks.”
It was around then that all hell broke loose when the discussion that started on Github moved to Twitter. One side of the discussion emphasized the need for the Bitcoin community to be more inclusive, while the other side saw this as a case of apolitical politicization. Another Bitcoin Core developer, Luke Dashjr, explained why all of the previous proposals were controversial, and offered his suggestion:

“This is not about blocking anything, so the block list is technically incorrect. The blacklist also has ambiguity issues.” This list lists which characters should be excluded from file names because the operating system (or our libraries) is not known to support them in filenames. “I think FILE_CHAR_EXCLUDE is good.”
Adam Beck, Head of Blockstream, told Cointelegraph that he finds the situation ridiculous given that the fight arose around a variable shown in the test code:

“It’s a triple paradox that it has a bad reputation. It’s not even a blacklist. This is a list of characters that can’t appear in OS file names. It’s in some test code, so it’s not even in Bitcoin. Binary format.”
Now it appears that a reasonable compromise has been reached. Dashjra’s proposal has never been formalized, so at time of publication we’re left with FILE_CHARS_DISALLOWED.

Source: CoinTelegraph

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