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Re: Suggestion to change the name "Subversion"

From: Ryan Schmidt <subversion-2012c_at_ryandesign.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2013 01:37:19 -0500

On Aug 11, 2013, at 20:24, Bill George wrote:

> I know it is standard practice in programming to use common words in the English language for specific software terminology or naming. However, this has often caused confusions.
>
> If you go through the story of Goldman Sachs programmer Serge Aleynikov who was accused & convicted of "stealing" open source software code, the link below, you will see that one of the factors that affected the case was that to the FBI investigator who was a software layman, the word "subversion repository" had a negative connotation to it. He assumed it was the verb form of the word 'Subvert'. In the story below, Agent McSwain of the FBI, who took the investigation of Aleynikov, had no idea about version control of code, let alone SVN. Later Aleynikov was found innocent and released from incarceration.
>
> Hence this is my strong suggestion : next release, please consider altering the name subversion to something else. At least "Sub-version". This is to prevent confusion to non-technical people who could mistake the meaning of the name and associate it to negative activity like hacking or stealing. Just a thought and suggestion that could have far reaching implications. Please consider this.
>
> Thank you,
> BG
>
> Link to the story:
> http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2013/09/michael-lewis-goldman-sachs-programmer
>
> Quote from the story: The Web site Serge had used (which has the word “subversion” in its name) as well as the location of its server (Germany) McSwain clearly found highly suspicious.

All I can say is it's very silly and sad that law enforcement still doesn't understand computers. And that the Subversion project has been using that name since 2000, and it's a trivial task for anyone to find out what it is and that it is not nefarious. I don't think the Subversion project should be asked to give up the good reputation it's built on its name, just because someone somewhere doesn't understand what it is and can't be bothered to take two seconds to find out.

Should the "GIMP" change its name because (when not referring to the software) that can be a derogatory term? Should "git" change its name because (when not referring to the software) that term can be used as an insult? No. Each project was undoubtedly aware of the usual meaning of the word they chose as their name and decided to repurpose it.
Received on 2013-08-12 08:38:08 CEST

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