GitHub developers express anger at lack of support, bug fix issues

Developers say they feel "ignored" by inadequate support provided by the code repository. [Updated]
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

[Update 17.16GMT: GitHub statement]

Developers working on projects hosted by GitHub have expressed their frustration at being "ignored" and forced to endure a lack of support by the website.


In an open letter sent to the popular code repository, over 1000 developers agree they are frustrated by the website's management and support channels, which are meant to provide a key part of maintaining the open-source community.

The letter at first praises GitHub for working towards the growth of the open source community and making it "really accessible to users," but quickly launches into the ways the code repository is allegedly letting down its developers -- many of whom are working on refining code, updating systems and improving both the security and functionality of open-source software freely available to the general public.

"Many of us are frustrated," the letter states. "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."

A lack of visibility into how developer requests are handed -- and whether GitHub is working on them at all -- is a prominent complaint within the open letter, which reads:

"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."

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.

At the time of writing, the open letter has attracted 1,147 signatures.

Adam Bradley, the maintainer of Ionic, the maintainer of PostCSS Ben Briggs, Cătălin Mariș from HTML5 Boilerplate, jQuery's Dave Methvin and Wesley Cho from UI Bootstrap are among those which have signed the plea for things to change.

While GitHub hosts over 30 million open-source projects, code dumps and files, the website is not open-source itself. The idea of GitHub becoming so may be far-fetched, but if the website wants to keep developers happy enough to continue contributing to projects without financial reward, these complaints must, at least, be responded to.

The letter states:

"If GitHub were open source itself, we would be implementing these things ourselves as a community -- we're very good at that!"

Speaking to ZDNet, a GitHub spokesperson said:

"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."

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