back to article Debian: s/Chairman/Chair/g

The Debian Project is considering replacing all instances of "chairman" with "chair" in its constitution – the blueprint that defines the management of the GNU/Linux distribution. Argentinian Debian developer Margarita Manterola, who is also a member of the Debian Women project, proposed the change this month: The Debian …

  1. ckdizz

    Opposing efforts to emasculate the Debian project, huh. Well, that is a great concern. Maintaining Debian is, after all, a task on par with felling giant redwoods, repairing punctured truck tyres using only your teeth, and ghostbusting.

  2. Number6

    Wrong usage

    The correct term is chairman. When addressing the person occupying the chair, it is either "Mister Chairman" or "Madam Chairman" as appropriate.

    If I have to address the chair then whoever's sitting in it needs to get out. Chairperson is just silly.

    1. ckdizz

      Re: Wrong usage

      Chair is the correct term in the UK parliament select committees, and the Australian Senate and House committees. Chairperson is the correct term in the NZ parliament select committees. They refer to them in all committees in all three countries as Mr Chair or Madam Chair, or usually, in the third person, the Chair.

      Are you concerned that the person sitting in the chair might confuse your address with the actual chair? I'm pretty sure this has happened at some point in at least one movie. But following the literal path, addressing them as Mr Chairman means you actually have to find the guy with the surname Chairman. Or maybe the person who made the chair. Or who lists the chair as an asset in his cost code? Where would you like to stop with the literal approach? It could be the modern day Who's On First, although knowing boardrooms, taking that approach could be just as productive as anything else that happens in there.

      So, in lieu of giving in to a surreal form of literalism, regardless of how hilarious it could be, the correct term is whatever the organisation decides it is. I'm sure organisations across the world are replete with designations that confuse and disorient people such as yourself with a rigid approach to boardroom etiquette, but the easiest and most respectful way to handle these tricky situations is to address people how they want to be addressed, and use the designations the organisation has decided they want to use.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wrong usage

        '..So, in lieu of giving in to a surreal form of literalism, regardless of how hilarious it could be, the correct term is whatever the organisation decides it is. '

        On an 'utterly insignificant little blue green planet'


        MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: Address the chair.

        CROWD MEMBERS: Yes.

        FORD: There isn’t a chair! There’s only a rock!

        MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: Well, call it a chair.

        FORD: Why not call it a rock?

        MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: You - you obviously have no conception of modern business methods…

        FORD: And you have no conception of where the hell you are -

        MARKETING GIRL: Oh look shut up you two, just shut up! I want to table a motion.

        Guy: Boulder a motion you mean…

        FORD: Tha-Thank you I think I’ve made that point! Now listen!

        Someone: Order, Order!

        FORD:Oh God!


        THHGTTG (Fit the Sixth) - D.Adams.

        Oh God! indeed. Apropos the subject of the main article, every time I see this sort of bloody nonsense appear I keep thinking 'we're really still mostly "B" Ark material as a planet' . The people behind this sort of scheiße always remind me of the pigs from Animal Farm, specifically, they're like an army of little 'Squealers', such 'unspecial' little snowflakes themselves..(Aye, right.)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Derek & Clive Option

    s/Chair/Cnut\ in\ charge\ of\ Debian/g

    You'd think they've nothing better to do with their time.

    (typing this on my last surviving Debian box..I've migrated the others to other distributions)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Lop some off the end of one word, you get 'Chair'. Lop some off another, you get 'Ian'. How about it, fans of chopping? It's called balance...

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      Re: Debinane

      Sadly, Ian has already been chopped.

      Pity Systemd can't be chopped.

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    I suppose we should be referred to as being in the hu- race. Yes the whole of -kind.

    1. moiety

      Re: Well...

      the huperson race.

  6. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Seriously? I'm 2016?

    Pretty much any organization I've worked with adopted "Chair" some time back in the 70s or 80s.

    The whole "debate" disappeared about the same time that most of us stopped referring to "coloured people."

    1. PNGuinn

      Re: Seriously? I'm 2016?

      "The whole "debate" disappeared about the same time that most of us stopped referring to "coloured people.""

      Which always makes me angry. I may only be a somewhat pale yuckey beigey pink, but I'm still bloody "coloured" not "white".

      I often think that these political shenanigans with language are designed by the devious to CREATE division and more jobs for the thought police.

      In the meantime I'll continue to use the English I know and use the traditional term, rather than a address a piece of furniture.

      Is that ok Madame Three Legged Stool Man?? Or would you prefer Mr Naughtystep?


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously? I'm 2016?

      They're "people of color" now. Reversing the word order magically makes the racism go away!

  7. Cynical Observer

    This change can be applied by a simple sed command (s/Chairman/Chair/g).

    I'm more concerned that a dev would propose a case sensitive sed command where it should be case intensive. Surely (yes I did just call you....) not all instances of chairman/chair/chairperson would be capitalised? .....

    FWIW - I gave up years ago on the degenderfication of positions - they told me I was being silly when I suggested it should be personholes! I'm now too old to care what the call them.

    Though thinking on it, should we have Personchester where Personcunians live?

    1. Jordan Davenport

      As you can easily check for yourself, all 12 instances of "Chairman" in the Debian Constitution are expressed as proper nouns, and I am sure Ms. Manterola is quite well aware of this; there is no reason to use case-insensitive matching.

      1. Cynical Observer


        That's even worse! Now there's the entire argument of inappropriate capitalisation to deal with....

        Oh the hu-person-ity

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think before this girl pushes for debian to make such changes, she needs to change her last name to Terola. And shouldn't she be part of the Debian Wo(e) project?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ONE Sod Holds Everyone Hostage.

    I'll repost my comment from the AdBlocker thread:


    The majority of the people make it very clear they do not want ads, little is done except creatively finding ways to place more.

    One small-minded person is offended by song lyrics, gets government to ban it across an entire nation.

    (the decisions was quickly reversed, but displays the power of one sod)

    The inmates are running the asylum.


    Everyone is so ashamed of their gender. She is a chairwoman. He is a chairman.

    Well, if he gives in to this, should be chair-male, as he would be NO man!

  10. Suricou Raven

    Be careful when using global replace.

    It can have unforeseen consequences, as certain cdesign propositionists can testify.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The women in tech movement is going well I see

    Focusing on the shit that matters.

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