9

The original question was...

(Title) "Father of Assembly Language"

The C Programming Language was originally developed by Dennis Ritchie who
also co-designed the Unix operating system with which development of the
language was closely intertwined.

Is there a specific individual or research group credited with developing
the assembler and assembly language syntax that we are now familiar with?

Question

I later added:
"This question is not about who created assembly language but rather the person or research group that was primarily responsible for promoting, popularizing, or making commonly accepted the assembly language syntax that we are now familiar with?"

I and others reminded the moderator "wizzwizz4" that "Father" in this non-biological context can refer to either a man or woman, research group [or even a company or corporation] and is non-gender. The moderator refused this explanation and refereed to it as "Gendered".

The moderator removed "This question is not about who created assembly language..." changed the title and meaning to "Who is credited for the creation of Assembly Language?" and locked the question.

It is interesting to note that of nearly 10,000 views, there have been only two comments after the question was locked.

comments

1) - "...I do share his choice of words. Father in this context isn't anything gender related but a general term. It's of a seriously low understanding of [the English] language to mix this up."

the other comment...

2) - "Who is credited with promoting assembly language in the form we currently know it?", then; [is] not necessarily a single person, either." [making a non-gender interpretation undeniable]

Has it gotten to the point moderators will be voted on and chosen by their political or ideological views?

Is Stack Overflow going to provide a political free safe haven for technical subjects to the international community, or are moderators going to be allowed to inject subjects with American political ideology on gun control, abortion, or in this case feminism?

Perhaps a ethics panel of five judges is needed to remove moderators who abuse their privileges with unrelated bias, prejudice, or political views?

This specific topic has been discussed in greater detail on the site wide Stack Exchange forum.

  • @RossRidge Done. – wizzwizz4 May 1 '18 at 15:45
  • 6
    If a poster's primary goal is to get an adequate answer to their question, the poster will not be overly attached to a particular choice of words in the title, as far as the title correctly reflects the meaning of the original question, and as far as the edited text is stylistically neutral. Your persistent clinging to the word "father" , especially after the question had been answered, indicates that your interest in the wording of the question had a non-retrocomputing component. Why should the moderators cater to that interest? – Leo B. May 2 '18 at 3:09
  • 2
    I was not intent on using "Father", the moderator deleted my statement, "I would embrace another choice of words if it conveyed the same thought in as few words." No suggestions were offered. – jwzumwalt May 2 '18 at 20:10
  • 3
    SE sites are not forums. – Renan May 3 '18 at 15:17
  • @Renan yes and no. It's a hybrid. – LateralTerminal May 4 '18 at 17:29
11

This looks like a classic case of miscommunication between a user, the community, and a mod.

  1. The mod didn't do anything wrong. A situation was diffused in the quickest way possible.

  2. The original poster didn't ask the question incorrectly.

A Woman's perspective?

I've discussed this situation at length with my girlfriend who is a fellow lover of retrocomputers last night. She requested that I post this answer here on her behalf as she felt very strongly about this situation.


Who is the final authority on the definition of Father?

jwzumwalt, Chenmunka♦, Ross Ridge, wizzwizz4♦, and LateralTerminal are not the final authority on the definition of "Father," but you know who is? The dictionary!

That's right the dictionary, the thing we used to use to end these silly debates.

merriam-webster defines Father #2 as : forefather (ex: the founding fathers)

what is forefather defined as? Well I'm glad you asked. It has 2 definitions.

1 : ancestor

2 : a person of an earlier period and common heritage

Notice the complete lack of any gender identification by definition? I'm glad you did.

What that's still not enough for you? That's fine Father has more definitions that prove you're mistaken.

merriam-webster defines Father #5 as

a : one that originates or institutes (ex: the father of modern science)

b : source (ex:the sun, the father of warmth and light —Lena M. Whitney)

Do I detect gender neutral language here? Well definitely I do! In fact most of the definitions are gender neutral! Wow! The things we can learn in the dictionary. It's black and white people.


Was this an abuse of mod powers?

No.

wizzwizz4♦ takes their volunteer position here very seriously. If anything his fault was trying to please everyone. When you see that many flags on a question it's his job as a mod to put out that fire. Looking at the comments wizzwizz4♦ he gathered the community didn't like the phrasing. His job was to facilitate peace at the interest of the community.

Who's really at fault here are the ones flagging the question (no offense to commenters) for what is defined as ignorant feminist extremist reasons.

As a strong independent woman who wants equality for all, to abolish objectifying women, etc... this is extremely troubling.

What we have here is a case of users not mods pushing to censoring freedom of speech, pedanticism, and pointless yet harmful political correctness.


Stackexchange rules

The rules stipulate a safe friendly non-hostile environment.

The issue is users are abusing the rules to draw an arbitrary line that they define as sexism.

As mods I urge you all to be vigilant against sexism however realize your power are strong and throughout site growth you may arbitrarily define non-sexism as sexism. That is a deep philosophical issue and an issue of freedom of speech. It also encourages users to attack questions and create noise and spam. It's the users that abusing the system and creating problems around what would be a great question.

I believe our mods should be more vigilant against false flags. Just because there are 25 moderator flags does not 100% guarantee an issue.

Remember this was a hot network question meaning that it could easily attract 25 extremists from other communities on SE. They do not need to represent the voice of RetroSE or SE in general. They don't get to redefine the English language.


Mostly I'm disappointed in the users who flagged the question.

I'm also really disappointed in Chenmunka♦'s answer " Not everyone is fluent enough in English to appreciate all the vagaries of the language."

We should never coddle non native speakers by robbing them the opportunity to learn the nuances of our language at the sake of their feelings. That's the worst possible reason you could possibly give considering you agreed that father was used in a non gender way. If I'm a guest at a Spanish speaking forum I expect to learn the language the way it's used by native speakers my feelings created out of ignorance shouldn't affect the native Spanish users.

  • Not all of those 25 flags were complaining about the question; the vast majority were complaining about the argument. I think you've probably summed up the feelings of most of those who weren't involved in the debacle (though I don't know for sure, since I was involved in it). – wizzwizz4 May 4 '18 at 17:03
  • 3
    On the other hand, pretty much every other dictionary I checked (Cambridge, ODO, OED, Collins—even MW's Learner's Dictionary) say that the word (in this sense) refers to a man. Your dialect may be different in this respect, but for many people "father" (in this sense) refers to a man, and only a man (thus why this all happened). – Laurel May 4 '18 at 21:56
  • 3
    Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive: they describe how language is used, not how it should be used. They evolve as language evolves. The fact that a dictionary regards the male form as gender neutral means only that it did so at the time the dictionary was developed. Current usage is trending away from masculine forms toward neutral plurals ("he said" vs. "they said" when gender is ambiguous). This is not a new trend in English usage, though it has been getting increased attention of late. – fadden May 5 '18 at 17:34
  • @Laurel ODO says "1.2 Be the source or originator of." EX: "a culture which has fathered half the popular music in the world" That's gender neutral. Collins: "7. an originator, founder, or inventor 15. to bring into being; found, originate, or invent 16. to take the responsibility for" That's gender neutral too. Thanks for more sources that prove you're wrong. You should quit while you're ahead. – LateralTerminal May 7 '18 at 13:13
  • @fadden the fact is that it doesn't matter if it's trending away or not. Today when you're reading this comment there's nothing wrong with using father in a gender neutral way. If the dictionary says you can use it in a non gender way then your personal opinion is irrelevant. – LateralTerminal May 7 '18 at 13:19
  • @Laurel Furthermore, those dictionaries mean nothing to those in the states. We typically use Webster's dictionary. But thanks for proving that most of your dictionaries have gender neutral usage of father. People who upvote should check sources. – LateralTerminal May 7 '18 at 13:21
  • @LateralTerminal: Your ODO link says, "1. A man in relation to his child or children", "1.1 A male animal in relation to its offspring", "1.2 literary Ancestors", "1.3 An important male figure in the origin and early history of something", "1.4 A man who provides care and protection". That's "father" as a noun, which is how the question used it ("who is the father of"). It in no way supports your case. Suggesting that ODO is not correct for the USA furthers my point: a dictionary is a reflection of the state of society, not a fixed unchanging reference. – fadden May 7 '18 at 14:30
  • Whether you like or dislike the trend away from masculine-as-neutral, a specific dictionary is at best an indication of "what has been", not "what must be". I agree that "father" as gender-neutral creator has been a popular and accepted form in the past, but that usage is fading, and for valid reasons. It would not surprise me if the dictionary you pull out 20 years from now lacks the masculine-is-neutral definitions, or has them even farther down than they are now. – fadden May 7 '18 at 14:45
  • Personally I don't care about the trend or usage of father @fadden. The point is I'm defending any human's right to use the English language by the dictionary in the way they chose without consequence of being called a sexist if they are not being sexist. I'm defending freedom of speech using logic and facts. Personal thoughts and feelings of yours and mine are irrelevant. – LateralTerminal May 7 '18 at 16:09
  • @LateralTerminal I'm American too and "father" in this sense for me always refers to a man who is the originator of something (which is the definition I was referring to). The point of bringing this up isn't to argue about dictionaries (that's another site) or to call anyone sexist (because we all have to be mindful about this—even me). It's to make sure that everyone feels welcome here. Ultimately, what's most important is how we make others feel (& retrocomputing ;) let's not forget why we're here). – Laurel May 7 '18 at 17:29
  • @Laurel No we don't have to make "everyone" feel welcome if "everyone" means extremists. Because when that happens people will get flagged for saying "whats up guys?" in a chatroom because that's not gender neutral enough... We draw the line somewhere or we draw the line nowhere. (The line we draw is 1. Intent 2. Context. 3. The dictionary.) If at that point it's not sexist or racist then nobody cares about your opinion. Respect the original authors freedom of speech and intent. – LateralTerminal May 7 '18 at 18:35
  • @LateralTerminal I disagree with your line-drawing methodology, and would place the line differently. But I do appreciate your taking a principled stand, and agree with most of what you're saying. – fadden May 7 '18 at 22:05
14

Context

The question received twenty five moderator flags. At least twenty of those were directly related to the controversy caused by this title wording; I haven't had time to count them. This was also a Hot Network Question at the time of the event. (Hello, future people!)

TL;DR

I think I was justified in my actions in this specific case, however I do not want to set a precedent because my main concern with the OP's actions was not the use of "father".

Now for a post history timeline viewed through the lens of heuristics performed by my brain.

Timeline

  1. A question, with title "Father of ASM language" was posted.
  2. A user with edit privileges:

    Changed subject into possibly more appropriate wording and put an image description in.

  3. The edit was reverted by the OP, removing the image description and changing the title from "Who is credited for the creation of Assembly Language?" to "Father of ASM language".
    Iirc the question was on the Hot Network Questions list by this point, so having an unclear title that wasn't a real question was especially problematic.
    This edit made the question worse.
  4. Four minutes later, the OP edited the question title to "Father of Assembly language"; better, but not as good as before the revert.
  5. An trivial edit was suggested that changed the word "Father" to "Creator". It was rejected.
  6. The question had collected a lot of superfluous comments, including:

    +10 Unfortunate choice of words for the title.
    (two similar / reply comments omitted)
    +1 however one would never say that a woman “fathered” her children
    (one omitted)
    +0 Anyway, I am your father.
    +3 redacted ad hominem
    +4 debate about the nature of reproduction
    (two omitted)
    +2 -1 for gendered title

    so Chenmunka removed them from the question. (+n is the number of comment upvotes.) (It keeps going on!)

  7. In an attempt to eliminate the cause of this, I rolled back to Revision 2. This had the side-effect of making the question title into a question and restoring the image alt text (which has an assortment of benefits; the relevant meta question is: Please [Enter Image Description Here]).
  8. By the time I came back to the question, three more rollbacks had occurred. I rolled it back again, accompanied with the comment:

    Please stop rolling this back. If you want to change the title to the (gendered) original, at least keep the image alt-text.

  9. The OP rolled the question back.
  10. The OP posted a comment:

    This is the wrong forum for "grammatical bleeding heart sexism political opinions". Within reason, the OP has the say on Stack Exchange as to the wording expressing their thought. I am not opposed to grammatical correction - just sexism political viewpoints. The title and explanation expresses in the fewest words the thought I wished to convey and is grammatically correct.

  11. The OP added a ranty meta note to the end of the question. A Hot Network Question.
  12. The OP updated this meta note.
  13. The OP made an improvement to the wording of the (actual) question.
    This edit made the question better.
  14. The OP made another edit to this meta note.
  15. The following comment was posted:

    No, the orignal poster doesn't have the final say, especially when they chose to use sexist inflammatory language over a simpler title using plain and clear language. Who has the final authority in an edit war? OP or a moderator? Why edit out inflammatory language? Is that censorship?

  16. The OP revised the meta note yet again, successfully surrounding the useful contribution in two revisions of useless content.
  17. I reverted back to the last known good configuration, locked the post and posted a comment:

    @jwzumwalt I've locked this post. You should post meta comments on Retrocomputing Meta, not edit them into your question.

  18. And here we are!

(Note: If your comment was included here and you wish it to be attributed to you, please post a comment on this answer saying so. I have redacted names to preserve user privacy.)

Meta Note

(In reversion of this meta note, I also removed the following:

This is not a question about who did it first, it is about who made it a common or popular way to program in a manner that would be recognized today.

This occurred because I used the "revert" button, and this was added / edited during the addition of the meta note.)

Here I have replicated the final revision of this note in full:

[ For those offended by the use of "father", the meaning conveys a unique limit to the question. "Father" often is used as non-gender and in this case identifies in the fewest words the person responsible for making something widely accepted, known, commonly understood, or a substantial contributor. Many times the inventor or creator (including ideas or philosophy) is relatively unknown but someone does something that makes it widely known and accepted and is given credit as the Father (they can be man or women). Martin Luther King is considered the Father of the civil rights movement (he certainly energized it) but he was in no way the first to work towards it or invent the ideology. Father can be a noun or verb and in this instance is more a verb than a noun. Mr. Stephen Kitt's answer meets all the requirements and though unintended was by men, Maurice Wilkes, David Wheeler, Douglas McIlroy, and George Mealy; also making a gender interpretation coincidentally correct! I would embrace another choice of words if it conveyed the same thought in as few words. ]

Here I am addressing the final version of the meta note.

For those offended by the use of "father", the meaning conveys a unique limit to the question.

I'm not so sure that is "unique". Plus, the question is clear with the title completely omitted, so it doesn't "convey a [...] limit to the question".

"Father" often is used as non-gender

The tech industry is currently suffering from perceived gender-based discrimination, which is (wrongly) discouraging some people from going into that field. That's being alleviated somewhat now, but there's still a problem. Chenmunka's answer is clearer on this matter.

How a word is "often used" is irrelevant. How it is often interpreted is much more relevant. "Father" is a gendered term, and unlike many aspects of English there are multiple gender-neutral equivalent single words.

and in this case identifies in the fewest words the person responsible for making something widely accepted, known, commonly understood, or a substantial contributor.

There are other words that have this meaning. Plus, it was unclear enough for other people to not get this impression; I don't know where the "fewest words" requirement came from but it's not a useful one in this case.

(Also, your sentence is unclear. I recommend adding an "or" after "known," and perhaps removing the comma.)

Many times the inventor or creator (including ideas or philosophy) is relatively unknown but someone does something that makes it widely known and accepted

Yes, your question body makes this clear.

and is given credit as the Father (they can be man or women).

I haven't seen a woman being described as a "father" of something anywhere.

Martin Luther King is considered the Father of the civil rights movement (he certainly energized it)

Martin Luther King Jr. was... male. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

but he was in no way the first to work towards it or invent the ideology.

Doesn't that contradict what you said above, and in the question body? So... the word "father" is ambiguous.

Father can be a noun or verb and in this instance is more a verb than a noun.

It's a noun.

Mr. Stephen Kitt's answer meets all the requirements and though unintended was by men, Maurice Wilkes, David Wheeler, Douglas McIlroy, and George Mealy;

I'm not sure how this is supporting your assertion of "non-gender".

also making a gender interpretation coincidentally correct!

If you're in a hole... This is showing that the word "father" is gendered. Stephen Kitt's answer isn't necessarily right, yet you've latched onto it because it fits the "father" requirement.

I would embrace another choice of words if it conveyed the same thought in as few words.

Revision 2, which you reverted.

Question

I have noticed some inaccuracies in the question, which I will address:

The original question was...

(Title) "Father of Assembly Language"

No it was not. It was "Father of ASM Language". As trivial edits are discouraged, it was sensible for the editor to improve the whole title (and also add an image alt-text) instead of just changing one thing. The "father" thing was not the only point of contention; it's just the easiest to argue against.

I later added:
"This question is not about who created assembly language but rather the person or research group that was primarily responsible for promoting, popularizing, or making commonly accepted the assembly language syntax that we are now familiar with?"

No... you didn't. You did add:

This is not a question about who first did it, it is about who made it common or popular way to program.

And then changed it to:

This is not a question about who first did it, it is about who made it a common or popular way to program in the manner in which it would recognized today.

However, you also added and edited (respectively) the above-mentioned meta note whilst doing so, which was a net reduction in clarity.

I and others reminded the moderator "wizzwizz4" that "Father" in this non-biological context can refer to either a man or woman, research group [or even a company or corporation] and is non-gender. The moderator refused this explanation and refereed to it as "Gendered".

That's misrepresentation. I was not the only one (or even the main one) claiming that it was gendered, that was not my main objection (and even if you ignore that the others still stand) and I did not "refuse" the explanation. (If I did, I would also be censoring this meta question, deleting your account and setting the Drone Army of Doom™ on you.)

The moderator removed "This question is not about who created assembly language..." changed the title and meaning to "Who is credited for the creation of Assembly Language?" and locked the question.

Correct. (The following is clarification.) For the former, I was reverting to the last on-topic version that was clearest (although I now see that you weren't intending to ask what others interpreted your question as asking). And yes, I did lock the question. Though the question lock will time out; it was primarily a cool-down period, and I couldn't exactly leave it in the state it was pre-revert.

It is interesting to note that of nearly 10,000 views, there have been only two comments after the question was locked.

They're chat messages. Also, there haven't been nearly 10k views since the lock.

1) - "...I do share his choice of words. Father in this context isn't anything gender related but a general term. It's of a seriously low understanding of [the English] language to mix this up."

This quotation makes this message seem a bit more polarised than it really is.

While I do have some issues with @jwzumwalt resoning, I do share his coice of words. Father in this context isn't anything gender related bot a general term. It's of a seriously low understanding of language to mix this up.

In context, this was clearly not a response to the locking, but to the heated debate about language. Post hoc. As I have repeated, the debate was a concern, but the actual use of language wasn't much of a concern in my decision to revert and lock (though I admit I do have a slight bias towards inclusivity when it comes to moderation decision).

2) - "Who is credited with promoting assembly language in the form we currently know it?", then; [is] not necessarily a single person, either." [making a non-gender interpretation undeniable]

I honestly don't see how this "makes a non-gender interpretation undeniable".

Has it gotten to the point moderators will be voted on and chosen by their political or ideological views?

No. I rose to power through the authoritarian regime known as Moderator Pro Tempore, where I was possibly the least qualified candidate out of the three people who volunteered. Mwahaha! (On a serious note, I did prove myself capable over the first few months; it's a pretty hard job when there's work to do, and that workload is (slowly) growing.) But no, I didn't inform anybody of my political or ideological views any time before my appointment, so that can't have been a factor.

Is Stack Overflow going to provide a political free safe haven for technical subjects to the international community,

With any luck, it's going to be politics-free in this sense of the word.

or are moderators going to be allowed to inject subjects with American political ideology on gun control, abortion, or in this case feminism?

I'm not even American. Also, false dichotomy.

Perhaps a ethics panel of five judges is needed to remove moderators who abuse their privileges with unrelated bias, prejudice, or political views?

There is a process whereby Chenmunka and Matt Lacey could hypothetically remove me as a moderator, but I make an effort to act free of "unrelated bias, prejudice and political views" (in fact I pride myself on this).

  • 1
    "The OP added a ranty meta note", please reproduce that remark, I don't think others will agree with your judgment and it explained the scope and intent of my question - which you deleted. My ONLY objection was changing the intent or meaning (Title) of my question which I clarified and you deleted. – jwzumwalt May 1 '18 at 18:39
  • @jwzumwalt It's in the edit history, but I'll reproduce it here. – wizzwizz4 May 1 '18 at 18:41
  • @jwzumwalt "I don't think others will agree" Note that your question has received three upvotes (one from me; although I don't agree with you I think posting the meta question was the right decision) and one downvote. Plus, the comments against the title had more upvotes than the ones for. You make great contributions, but isn't this a bit... well, petty – to participate in a heated argument over? – wizzwizz4 May 1 '18 at 18:49
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    This was my meta statement: I rolled it back because the moderator completely changed the scope of my question - and deleted the explanation. The question was changed for political not technical reasons. Who made assembly language with the current syntax popular, would be sufficient. Or, Who popularized the current assembly language syntax? might be better... – jwzumwalt May 1 '18 at 18:54
  • @jwzumwalt Then why did you revert instead of changing the title to one of those? Those are good suggestions! :-) – wizzwizz4 May 1 '18 at 19:01
  • "I would embrace another choice of words if it conveyed the same thought in as few words." I invited suggestions to convey the same thought, and clearly defined my intent - then it was deleted, the meaning changed and blocked. I was unable to communicate any further. – jwzumwalt May 1 '18 at 19:17
  • @jwzumwalt Edits aren't for communication, and meta is the right place for this sort of thing. I'm sorry that you felt that you as a person were being blocked. However, your intent wasn't that clear. – wizzwizz4 May 1 '18 at 19:25
  • I would also like to point out (my general belief) that there is no shortage of whiners on forums, but unless they provide a suitable alternative - it should be treated as noise. The Meta started with more negative feedback, but momentum has picked up and now there is more positive support for my view point then negative. – jwzumwalt May 1 '18 at 19:27
  • @jwzumwalt To be blunt, at least they tried to provide a suitable alternative. (Two, in fact (as you are probably aware), though one was rejected by others before it was made public.) – wizzwizz4 May 1 '18 at 19:29
  • Included as part of want you call the "Ranty Meta Note" is a missing sentence that said "This question is not about who created assembly language..." – jwzumwalt May 1 '18 at 21:02
  • @jwzumwalt No, that's not part of the meta note. I did remove it by clicking "revert", though; I'll make that more clear. – wizzwizz4 May 1 '18 at 21:14
  • It was the REASON for the meta note and added at the same time; the meta note is describing that sentence - just quoting the meta note makes it out of context. It should be added just before the meta quote as was done in the original post. "This question is not about who created assembly language but rather the person or research group that was primarily responsible for promoting, popularizing, or making commonly accepted the assembly language syntax that we are now familiar with?" – jwzumwalt May 2 '18 at 14:48
  • You've omitted the beginning of the first chat message you quoted, which contained important context... I've tried my hardest not to misrepresent your actions, but this is my reasoning (followed by a rebuttal of some of your meta question) and is subject to bias. However much I tried to reduce said bias. I feel that it would be a misrepresentation to try to rationalise my actions after the fact; I would like to be informed of the flaws in my reasoning so that I might correct them. – wizzwizz4 May 2 '18 at 21:45
9

The title "Father of Assembly Language" was sexist and inflammatory. The title it was replaced with "Who is credited for the creation of Assembly Language?" is neither of these things while expressing the question asked by the post in simpler and clearer language.

The word "father", as used in this context, is not gender neutral. It would be absurd and inappropriate to call a woman the father of anything. This is not a case of where the English language doesn't have gender neutral word to use instead, where a normally masculine word also has a gender neutral meaning like with the pronoun "he". The gender neutral version of father isn't father, it's "parent", or perhaps better in this context "progenitor".

However this problem with the original title is best resolved by using simpler and more straightforward language instead of a metaphor. Adding "Who is" also makes it more clear what the question actually is. Even if the use of the word father were appropriate, the new title is more easily understood and more likely to be found when using search engines.

The edit war and the comments to the question demonstrate the inflammatory nature of the title. Regardless of what you think of the appropriateness of the word father, bjb's edit changing the title should've been the end of it. There was no need for even the appearance of sexism. Instead the original poster decided to make this a point of conflict, repeatedly reverting the post to its original title and accusing others of "political bias". There's nothing wrong with the replacement title, except it wouldn't have allowed the original poster to engage in his little crusade.

  • 5
    +1 - I found myself asking what is the problem with making the question inclusive instead of exclusive? Your answer is full of sound recommendations. – Max Vernon May 1 '18 at 15:24
  • 5
    Well written answer. Seriously what is up with the fragile masculinity here. "Creator" of the Assembly Language, stops you from sleeping at night? Muh delicate male sensitivities. StackExchange keeping it real. – Evan Carroll May 1 '18 at 15:45
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    There is a difference between Create and Father. Martin Luther King did not create the Civil Rights movement. He is considered the Father of it because he is the most notable for making it popular. I was not interested in who Created assembly language. The moderator deleted the sentence where I explained the scope. I was interested in who popularized it in it's current form. (It is unrecognizable from it's original form.) A research group or company that includes women can be the Father of an invention, idea, way of doing something. – jwzumwalt May 1 '18 at 16:56
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    @jwzumwalt The fact that you asked who is "credited with developing the assembler" in the body of the question confirms that new title reflects the intent of the question as originally posted. You could argue that there's some subtle, but important, difference between "creating" and "developing", and while I would say you were splitting hairs no one would've objected if you had insisted the word "developed" be used instead of "created". It's too late to now be arguing now that you meant something else, as the question already has multiple answers made under assumption you meant "developed". – Ross Ridge May 1 '18 at 18:26
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    I'd like to give a woman's perspective (my girlfriend) who says it's not sexist in anyway. OP made it clear that father was non-gender. Just as saying "one step for mankind" is not sexist. To be clear this over-political correctness. Anyone who takes offense is being overly sensitive and has way too much free time. This is pointless. There's a lot of sexism, women being objectified, etc... in the world that needs to be corrected. I wouldn't have done it this way because I think it's dangerous and limits free speech. That being said I DO NOT think wizzwizz4♦ abused his mod powers. – LateralTerminal May 3 '18 at 21:19
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    @LateralTerminal This has nothing to do with political correctness, calling a woman the father of something would be as absurd 100 years ago as it is today. More importantly as I pointed out above, even if were true that the word "father" had a gender neutral meaning like the how word "mankind" does, the replacement title is still a better title. What "father" really means should be a moot point, but the original poster insisted on making it an issue anyways. – Ross Ridge May 3 '18 at 23:40
  • I thought at first this would be a joke answer since it open with the phrase "sexist and inflammatory!" It's a real molehill-mountain scenario. @LateralTerminal has got it spot on – Wilson May 4 '18 at 7:56
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    This answer seems to be based on a misunderstanding of how the english language works. Using parent nouns like "father" or "mother" as indicators of origin is very common in english, "father" in particular is idiomatic when it comes to indicating persons; You wouldn't use it for a single person known to be female, but the sentence "Who is/was the father of X?" when talking about an unknown person or group is just common english. – Cubic May 4 '18 at 11:49
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    @RossRidge it has everything to do with political correctness. The mod may not have intended any political correctness but those commenting and flagging did ex:"-1 for gendered title ". With no offense to you, you show a lack of knowledge of the English language as Cubic has pointed out. We shouldn't coddle those commenting and flagging and starting a big deal out of nothing. Just because people flag something doesn't mean it's bad. – LateralTerminal May 4 '18 at 13:40
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    @RossRidge also you've made it an issue of political correctness with your first statement. "The title "Father of Assembly Language" was sexist and inflammatory." That's way out of line. Those are extremely heavy accusations against someone. You should be ashamed of yourself accusing people of things like that when that's obviously not sexist or inflammatory. I don't think you understand how awful it is to be accused of something like that. Maybe we should flag your answer for moderator review for falsely accusing and attacking your fellow member? – LateralTerminal May 4 '18 at 15:43
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    @LateralTerminal It was the original poster who made it a big deal out of nothing. It was the original poster who made it a "political" issue. This is the only thing I've accused the original poster of, going on a crusade. Stack Exchange has a "Be Nice" policy so in fact coddling people is requirement here. I haven't be able to say what I really think of him, or you for that matter. If you want to waste the moderators time with pointless flags on posts they've undoubtedly already read there's nothing I can do to stop you. – Ross Ridge May 4 '18 at 20:30
  • I am the original poster and I did not make it political... the feminist political organization made it a political issue. The majority of Americans AND women (as with all extremist political organizations) do not agree with the feminist movement. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_movement – jwzumwalt May 7 '18 at 9:06
  • "The title "Father of Assembly Language" was sexist and inflammatory" that's an accusation you've made and a clear violation of "Be Nice" policy. It doesn't matter that it's the only thing you've accused him of. The point is that it's a false accusation and one of the worst things you can be accused of today. It's blatant defamation of character honestly. – LateralTerminal May 7 '18 at 13:30
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    @LateralTerminal No, it's a description of a title, not an accusation made against someone. But if you really think it is a violation of the "Be Nice" rule then you should consider deleting several of your comments and editing your answer to remove similar "accusations" you've made. – Ross Ridge May 7 '18 at 14:22
  • @RossRidge OP didn't make it political. The users false flagging it did. Did you read the timeline made by the mod? – LateralTerminal May 7 '18 at 16:24
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I will allow my fellow moderator to make his own comments on this but here is my take.

When I first came across this question, it had already gathered a long comment trail with arguments for and against the word "Father". Many of these comments, on both sides of the argument, had also attracted flags "Rude or abusive". Also, at the time I came across the question, there was a suggested edit replacing "Father" with "Creator".

Retrocomputing.SE is a site for retrocomputing, not for discussing political correctness. I took the decision that the comment trail was not helpful to the question itself and was likely to degenerate further into mutual abuse. I moved the comments to a chat room.

I also rejected the suggested edit. In English, the verbs "to father" and "to mother" have different meanings - as does "to create". I was happy that the word "Father" could stand as representing the poster's intentions and carried no gender bias. Such semantic nuances are open to question, but that is a matter better suited to ELU.

Wizzwizz4 took the actions he felt best at the time to defuse the continuing argument over gender. He was within his remit and I have no objection to his actions.

To digress slightly: When I was learning programming, I was one of two male students in a group of 20. My, female, teacher, said I would never make it in the business as over 95% of programmers are women and that programming is not something men are naturally good at. I got a job in a company founded and run by a woman, wherein 75% of the staff were women. My point is that only recently has the computing industry seemingly been "taken over" by men. It is not as "male-dominated" as some would have you believe.

StackOverflow grants moderators the privileges to try to keep their site a friendly, welcoming place for all. Not everyone is fluent enough in English to appreciate all the vagaries of the language. We must accommodate them. Moderators are only human and can't please everyone all the time. The actions of moderators are monitored by the staff - and they read these meta posts.

Moderator elections will come when the site graduates. Until then we will continue to do our best.

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    I don't think this is a misunderstanding of language. This is open political activism and bias - it has no place on this forum. There are two issues here; the first is political bias. The second is probably more serious and that is completely changing the meaning of a valid question to justify or fit the political bias. – jwzumwalt May 1 '18 at 13:54
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    @jwzumwalt I am not sure why you keep saying political. I didn't know that using a better word were political. – kiamlaluno May 1 '18 at 22:06
  • The American Feminist Movement originated the idea of removing gender words from the English vocabulary - It IS a political organization. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_movement – jwzumwalt May 2 '18 at 14:38
  • I don't think we should accommodate not fluent users by coddling their feelings. If throughout history we've used terms like "mankind" and "father of" in a non gender way we shouldn't change it just because some non native English speakers may get offended. It's better to be acclimated to a languages nuances than cover them up completely. What's next changing the gender of Spanish words to be non-offensive? should we use libra instead of libro to describe book? Obviously this is not a good example but my point is we shouldn't coddle those learning our language. – LateralTerminal May 3 '18 at 20:42
  • @Chenmunka I'm somewhat fascinated by your classroom anecdote; it would be interesting to set that next to James Damore's manifesto, which insisted the opposite. Have you ever written an article or blog post about your experience? – fadden May 7 '18 at 14:51
  • @fadden I second that. I work for a women owned company too. The most experienced highest payed employees are women. Things aren't always the same as the media portrays it. – LateralTerminal May 8 '18 at 17:13
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Late to the party here.... I was travelling last week for work (covering over 10,000 miles in the process) and so missed this whole event. But from everything I've read here I can't say I'd have acted much differently to wizzwizz4♦.

As a mod it can be very hard sometimes to decide what to do when there's a disagreement between users, with lots of comments and lots of editing going. I don't think there's any reason to believe wizzwizz4♦ is pushing any kind of agenda, and was probably striving to just shut down the back-and-forth quickly and efficiently. As it is, we've ended up in a good place with the question and answer, so the system (while sometimes flawed and laborious) works.

0

Instead of going all political or analytical (dictionary, really?), wouldn't it be simpler to use more accurate words that also happen not to have a gazillion other conflictual meanings?

This is the perfect example: The poster wrote "father" but meant "promoter". Two birds with one stone.

  • Sure we can do that. While were doing that, lets help out the feminist political movement a little more and get rid of "mother" and "father" day and call it parent day... no scrub that, lets call it legal "guardian" day - we don't want to offend any hard working non-biological (LGBT) care givers. That will please the govt because folks will have one less day off work and increase the GNP by 1% too. The whole thing is political and ridiculous. But if we get rid of Father - Mother must go too. And baby, child, young adult, teenager - that's age discrimination. – jwzumwalt May 10 '18 at 2:38
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    @jwzumwalt Woah pull it back a little. This isn't the place to make an argument against that group. You're going to poison your own well and form an army against you. If I were you I'd delete that comment and start-over with context relating just to your right to use father in a non gender way. You've got a good case but don't mess it up getting emotional and connecting lines that don't have to do specifically with your right to use father. SE is politically correct enough for you to get flagged for comments like that. A safe place here to argue that is philosophy.stackexchange.com – LateralTerminal May 10 '18 at 14:29
  • jeancallisti, OP was being accused of being sexist and inflammatory for using father. The fact is if we say it's okay to accuse people of that and flag questions over silly pedantic reasons we are actually creating a hostile environment for those just using the English language by the rules. Is the going to be an example of how users can abuse other users? – LateralTerminal May 10 '18 at 14:37
  • @jwzumwalt Talk to me here chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/77316/meta – LateralTerminal May 10 '18 at 14:57
  • today I learnt that it's silly and pedantic to state that the word "father" is actually making the scale lean more towards one gender than the other -- making it (in effect) 100% sexist. – jeancallisti May 11 '18 at 13:44
  • Today you learnt? Words are not sexist. People can be sexist though in the way they use them. It's about intent of the author @jeancallisti Maybe you should keep learnting – LateralTerminal May 11 '18 at 14:40
  • Sorry that wasn't supposed to be mean I just couldn't help it. @jeancallisti – LateralTerminal May 11 '18 at 15:37
  • Yeah that's usually the problem. – jeancallisti May 11 '18 at 15:45
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    @jeancallisti right my point is it's a people problem not a word problem. We shouldn't control how others use their vocabulary if they aren't being sexist. We shouldn't accuse people of being sexist without proof of intent. – LateralTerminal May 11 '18 at 16:36
  • There is no "proof of intent" here. The word father is male. It makes no sense to use a male word when you mean the same thing, just gender-neutral. And the poor stunt of "yeah but the dictionary says that father is gender-neutral" doesn't change that. It's just that the guy who wrote the dictionary was another clone of the guys trying to say that "father" is gender-neutral in this very thread. It's exhausting. – jeancallisti May 11 '18 at 16:48
  • You don't know what proof of intent means in this context. You need to provide proof of intent that OP was using father in a sexist way. OP's proven his intent to use father in a non sexist way by 1. The dictionary 2. Context had nothing sexist about it 3. He said he didn't mean anything sexist by it. . Therefore the burden of proof is on you @jeancallisti to prove it's sexist or derogatory. You can't prove it because you have no facts just opinions. – LateralTerminal May 17 '18 at 14:47
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    This dictinary argument baffles me. That you would consider that the men who wrote the dictionary gave it some thought, and that you discard that they never ever thought that someone would use the word "father" as gender-neutral rather than "male parent" amazes me. It's a wonderful circle : a man writes the dictionary revolving around his gender, then other men use it as an argument to keep talking in a gender-centered mannered. – jeancallisti May 24 '18 at 9:44

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