There have been many discussions over the years on whether or not Hello Dolly should be unbundled with WordPress. Seven years ago, it was argued that the lyrics are copyrighted and could potentially violate the GPL license.

The latest issue with Hello Dolly is that some lyrics that appear in users dashboards with the plugin activated can be degrading to women without context.

Two examples are:

  • Find her an empty lap, fellas
  • Find her a vacant knee, fellas

Joe McGill has created a trac ticket proposing that those two lines be removed. “The Hello Dolly plugin has been bundled in WordPress for many years, being a simple example of how to build a plugin for WordPress while also adding a bit of whimsy to admin,” he said.

“However, there are several passages of text from this song which are inappropriate to display without any context to people using WordPress—particularly as the WordPress project seeks to promote inclusivity for all.”

The discussion within the ticket suggests creating a black list or replacing the lyrics with less offensive versions. In many of the Google search results for Hello Dolly lyrics by Jerry Herman, shows that the lyrics inside the plugin and those in the song are different.

The lyrics say, “Find me a vacant knee, fellas.” In a video on YouTube of Hello Dolly featuring Sarah Gardner singing the lyrics, she clearly says “Find her an empty lap, fellas.” In a YouTube video of Louis Armstrong singing Hello Dolly live, he says “Find her an empty lap, fellas.”

Putting aside the debate of which version of the lyrics are used, displaying the text above without context can and is seen as degrading women. At a time when WordPress and its community are doing what it can to be more inclusive, changing or removing the lyrics seems like an easy win.



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