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Text copied 15 Jan 2016

Dear GitHub,

Before 2007, the way to participate in Open Source was fragmented. Each project had their own workflow, patches circulated in emails, issues were reported in a myriad ways, and if anyone wanted to contribute they had to figure out every project’s rules.

Free software, since the GNU project started in 1985, and in the many surrounding waves of activity, has been a place for a diversity of practices, programming styles, opinions, time schedules, personalities and tools. And that’s a very good thing. This diversity is the core to Free software’s strength. Social participation is often messy and rightly requires an investment of time and consideration of others.

Then, a handful of people took the challenge to build an awesome platform and as a consequence of their hard work, their platform earned its hegemony.

Handful of people? Right, standing on the backs of the community that produced git (for which I feel truly thankful), the history of alternative version control systems and web platforms, not to mention then all the developers whose contribution to github in the form of entrusting it to manage their code has made it as valuable a commodity as it is today.

Hegemony, indeed. Github represents a cultural hegemony in software development today, and as such is actively displacing and distorting the practices of the very community that helped to create it.

Nowadays doing Open Source is infinitely easier thanks to you, GitHub. You’ve provided the tools and the social conventions to make those days a thing of the past. Your impact in the Open Source movement is unprecedented.

Social conventions? Like enabling a culture of hostile forking rather than collaboration? Check out the story of Natacha Porté and libupskirt / libsoldout and give this thoughtful essay from Aymeric Mansoux a browse.

We want to express our gratitude for all you’ve done and do for Open Source.

And please, may you stop doing it.

GitHub, thank you very much.

As Lily Allen would say, GitHub, fuck you very much.


Michael Murtaugh