PSA and reminder:

The terms "blacklist" and "whitelist" are racially charged. Please use "blocklist" and "allowlist" instead.

Yes, the terms are old. Yes they're not directly based on race. But they _are_ based in the systemic idea that "white == good; black == bad". Just because something is traditional doesn't mean it's acceptable.

It took me a while to see just how insidious little things like this are, too. It's ok to take some time to understand. Just please switch terms while you do.

Still a few responses trickling in, but now that nearly all of them are variations of "shut up, you're wrong", I'm gonna post a link and go back to working on my own projects for a while. I strongly encourage everyone, on every side of this "debate", to read it through, and actively consider the lived reality of those involved.

What you do from there is your business.

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@danhunsaker I don’t really know yet about the racially charged part, but I’ll accept your ~modification anyway as it’s more understandable.
@danhunsaker permit-list/deny-list seems better, and has actual use in the industry already

@kaniini Also valid, though I feel there are nuances to "permit" versus "allow" and especially "block" versus "deny", which may make, say, "instance blocklist" more accurate than "instance denylist".

Still, permit/deny seems like a solid alternative, yes.


Here's to considered currency over prescriptivism, thanks.



I've said already that those aren't the only acceptable terms, and that I opted out of an exhaustive list for simplicity. The point is "avoid these; here are some alternatives". With some "address common responses" to minimize how overwhelmed I might get responding to the same questions repeatedly.

Missed one, apparently.


@danhunsaker I've used "denylist", is "blocklist" better? May not matter that much. I prefer ACLs that are comprehensive instead of two separate allow/deny lists anyway.

@cj Deny works, too, AFAIK. I thought about listing multiple alternatives, but opted instead to keep the message simple.

@danhunsaker I am down to try this but I feel like I'd get more traction on "allowlist" if it were the same syllable count as "whitelist". Oh well.

@danhunsaker i wish people converged on denylist rather than blocklist as the replacement term but it seems that ship has sailed.

@vladsotirov To be fair, I was thinking specifically in terms of instance level lists when I wrote that, and for simplicity's sake, opted to leave out other safe(r) alternates. Permit/deny are also fine, AFAIK, but personally, I think they fit other contexts better, is all. 💜

@danhunsaker where does blocklist fit better than denylist? my preference is only linguistic: denylist seems closer to the concept it's supposed to express than blocklist, but I probably just don't know enough

@vladsotirov If I'm blocking an instance, I'm not denying them access to me, but also denying myself access to them. This two-way denial isn't quite the same as a regular one-way denial, so it usually gets a different term, to help clarify that it denies both ways - a block.

To be fair, the specific behavior of a given list will do more, in that approach, to determine the appropriate name for that specific list. My recommendations aren't set in stone, so use responsibly. 💜

@danhunsaker I think the black/white analogy refers to day (light/white) and night (darkness/black), not skin colours. Night and darkness has been a source of fear in times, where artificial light was virtually absent.

@stefan While possible, the original conscious intent of those who coined the terms isn't in question. The "white is good; black is bad" mindset is extended to race subconsciously, as a side effect of how human brains work, applying unconnected concepts to each other based on perceived similarities.

Ultimately, there's no technical reason to use those terms over others (many are saying "permit/deny" might be better alternatives than I proposed).

@danhunsaker What sources do you have the show these terms are racially charged? I'm quite interested in this.

@someone You mean that "black" for "bad" and "white" for "good" are used throughout English? And that this concept is problematic?

@danhunsaker I don't see how. Using "black" and "white" doesn't necessarily associate itself with race. It could easily be I'm associating those colors with the day and night cycle. Either way, our modern usage of blacklist and whitelist has absolutely no implications for race. What's ultimately more harmful is trying to purposely bring race into something that's a non-issue.

@someone Sure would be nice if that was the case, here.

But hey, you're convinced otherwise. I won't waste any more of your time.

@danhunsaker Thanks! I try to be conscious of these things but somehow this one totally slipped by me!

@danhunsaker Light is reassuring darkness are freighting.
That's why black and white are connoted, and that's ok.

«Black people» are not really black, and «white people» are not white either.

«People of the world, relax»


Only when we project race onto everything which hints at darkness.

@danhunsaker Is this avoidance of words meant to prevent idiots from confusing completely unrelated concepts? One would have to be pretty dense to use figures of speech as a justification for racism. If one is that dense and that desperate to justify ones racism, one will just find some other stupid justification for it. To me, this kind of thing seems more like a virtue signalling competition more than something that will make the world a better place.



Hit the nail on the head there lad. Virtue signalling... it's the new fidget spinner.

Unfortunately it has a longer life expectancy than, say, Pokémon Go, but it's a fashion statement with about as much depth.

Virtue signalling and Pokémon Go both feed on reward-motivated behaviors, i.e. the anticipation of reward increases the level of dopamine in the brain, but virtue signalling rewards are slightly more sophisticated than collecting gifs.

@Petros Best to avoid color altogether. ("red" has been used to refer to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, for example...)

Words that are descriptive of what's actually going on - allow/block, permit/deny, admit/refuse, and similar - are not only safer, but clearer about intent.


I respect your perspective, even if I do not share it at all.

@danhunsaker The people that say "shut up, you're wrong" are often the ones most insulated from modern day racism. Yes, they are technically right in that "blacklist" isn't inherently racist. But it is weaponizable by racists. I can think of 1 example from my Uni days where a bunch of whites put together a "blacklist" of people they didn't want at a party. It was a pun b/c it was a list of black people. And they used that humor to defuse any resistance others had as a reaction to their racism.

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