Bro file extension offensive, changed to Br instead

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Google announced Brotli, a new compression algorithm for the Internet in September.

The compression algorithm promises between 20% to 26% higher compression ratios over Zopfli, a compression algorithm that Google introduced in 2013, and came out first in compression tests that Google ran against commonly used compression algorithms on the Internet.

The initial file extension for files compressed with Brotli was Bro but discussion on Mozilla’s bug tracking site suggested that the abbreviation “has a gender problem”.

bro br brotli

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Mozilla’s Patrick McManus was the first to mention this on Bugzilla.

“bro” has a gender problem, even though the dual meaning is unintentional. It comes of misogynistic and unprofessional due to the world it lives in. I received a series of ‘bro’ jokes in response to my posting about this new feature.

Best to avoid it rather than spending time defending an arbitrary nickname.

My interest is only in content-encoding interop.

Not all Mozilla engineers agreed with Patrick’s stance on the issue but Patrick’s stance prevailed and Google engineer Jyrki Alakuijala suggested to use br instead for the file extension after consulting a “feminist friend from North-American culture-sphere” about it.

I have asked a feminist friend from the North American culture-sphere, and she advised against bro. We have found a compromise that satisfies us, so we don’t need to discuss this further. Even if we don’t understand why people are upset from our cultural standpoint, they would be (unnecessarily) upset and this is enough reason not to use it.

Jyrki added on the project’s homepage on Github that the project needed to find a name immediately, and that br carried less risk of backfiring than bro.

While ‘bro’ seems like a good abbreviation from my Nordic/Central European viewpoint, several people from North America expressed concerns. We needed a name now, and ‘br’ carries less risk to backfire at IANA registration. ‘br’ is also one less byte than ‘bro’, and clients need to upload these bytes to the server even when brotli is not supported by the server.

Closing Words

If you ask me, I don’t think that this should have been brought up as an issue. While it does not really matter in the end if the extension is called bro or br or something else, bro should not be offensive to anyone especially since barely anyone will ever come into contact with it in first place. People who are offended by a file extension, or think others might be offended by it, should get their priorities straight as there are bigger fish to fry.

Now You: What’s your take on the issue?


Article Name

Bro file extension offensive, changed to Br instead


Martin Brinkmann


Google changed the Brotli file extension from bro to br because some people could see it as being offensive.

About Martin Brinkmann

Martin Brinkmann is a journalist from Germany who founded Ghacks Technology News Back in 2005. He is passionate about all things tech and knows the Internet and computers like the back of his hand. You can follow Martin on Facebook, Twitter or Google+

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