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Developers send angry letter to GitHub

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(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/ronstik)

GitHub, the world’s most popular code repository, has been sent an open letter from over 1200 angry developers who have been left frustrated by the website’s management and support channels.

Posted on GitHub itself, the letter starts by praising the repository for its achievements and how the team has “done so much to grow the open source community and make it really accessible to users.” However, the letter quickly changes in tone and the writer begins to lay-out some of the core issues he, and many others, have with GitHub.

“Those of us who run some of the most popular projects on GitHub feel completely ignored by you. We’ve gone through the only support channel that you have given us either to receive an empty response or even no response at all,” he wrote. “We have no visibility into what has happened with our requests, or whether GitHub is working on them. Since our own work is usually done in the open and everyone has input into the process, it seems strange for us to be in the dark about one of our most important project dependencies.”

Many developers on GitHub use the repository to store open source code, and GitHub is responsible for a lot of the community’s growth. When GitHub promotes being open and visible when it comes to code, many developers want to know why their issues aren’t handled in the same respect.

Other key complaints noted within the letter include:

  • Issues are often filed missing crucial information like reproduction steps or version tested. The developers have instead asked for issues to gain custom fields, along with a mechanism for ensuring they are filled out in every issue.
  • Issues often accumulate content-less “+1” comments which serve only to spam the maintainers and any others subscribed to the issue. While +1s serve as a means for maintainers to know how widespread an issue is, the current system could be replaced with a voting system for better efficiency.
  • Issues and pull requests are often created without any adherence to the contribution guidelines.

Both large and small developers have signed the letter – attracting 1,299 signatures as of writing. Such talent includes; Adam Bradley, the maintainer of Ionic; Ben Briggs, the maintainer of PostCSS; Cătălin Mariș from HTML5 Boilerplate; jQuery’s Dave Methvin; and Wesley Cho from UI Bootstrap.

In a statement, GitHub wrote: “Open source is critically important to GitHub and we take this feedback very seriously. We are working on several of the initiatives discussed, and will look for proactive ways to engage with open source maintainers to continue to make GitHub a great experience for their communities.”

For their part, the signatories agreed: “If GitHub were open source itself, we would be implementing these things ourselves as a community – we’re very good at that!”

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