GitHub apologizes for ignoring community concerns

GitHub apologizes for ignoring community concerns
Credit: WIkipedia

An open letter outlines how the code-sharing site intends to make amends to developers

GitHub, under fire by developers for allegedly ignoring requests to improve the code-sharing site, has pledged to fix the issues raised.

Brandon Keepers, GitHub's head of open source, wrote in a letter today that GitHub is sorry, and he acknowledged it has been slow to respond to frustrations.

"We're working hard to fix this. Over the next few weeks, we'll begin releasing a number of improvements to issues, many of which will address the specific concerns raised in the letter," Keepers said. "But we're not going to stop there. We'll continue to focus on issues moving forward by adding new features, responding to feedback, and iterating on the core experience. We've also got a few surprises in store."

More than 450 contributors to open source projects last month had posted a "Dear GitHub" letter on GitHub itself, expressing frustration with its poor response to problems and requests, including a need for custom fields for issues, the lack of a proper voting system for issues, and the need for issues and pull requests to automatically include contribution guideline boilerplate text. "We have no visibility into what has happened with our requests, or whether GitHub is working on them," the letter said.

Keepers acknowledged that issues have not gotten much attention the past few years, which he called a mistake. He stressed that GitHub has not stopped caring about users and their communities. "However, we know we haven't communicated that. So in addition to improving issues, we're also going to kick off a few initiatives that will help give you more insight into what's on our radar. We want to make sharing feedback with GitHub less of a black box experience and we want to hear your ideas and concerns regularly," he said.

Comments at GitHub on Keepers' letter were mostly positive. "Good to see it is at least being acknowledged. Curious to see what the improvements actually will be," one commenter wrote. Many simply posted a thumbs-up emoji.

Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond called the users' concerns legitimate and warned that GitHub cannot ignore them. "I don't see [possible defections to other sites] as an immediate, existential risk yet -- [this is] more like a shot across the bow," he said. But "if enough of the community bolts all at once, the transition could be immediate."

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