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February 15, 2016updated 04 Sep 2016 10:16pm

Change is coming to GitHub as site apologies for ignoring open source community

News: Software hub has promised to tackle complaints around Issues.

By James Nunns

GitHub has apologised to its users after complaints were made claiming that it was ignoring community concerns.

In January over 1,100 maintainers of GitHub projects put their names to an open letter which expressed their frustrations about being ignored by the software hub.

The letter said that they felt there was inadequate support, saying: "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. We have no visibility into what has happened with our requests, or whether GitHub is working on them."

Brandon Keepers, open source lead at GitHub responded saying: "We hear you and we’re sorry. We’ve been slow to respond to your letter and slow to respond to your frustrations."

Issues from the maintainers centred around up voting not being controlled, which led to concerns regarding spam and it also being too easy to ignore contribution guidelines when creating issues and pull requests.

In the response, Keepers said that the software hub would be working hard to deliver a number of improvements to Issues in addition to adding new features, responding to feedback and iterating on the core experience.

Keepers said that not giving Issues much attention had been a mistake but: "We’ve never stopped thinking about or caring about you and your communities. However, we know we haven’t communicated that."

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Feedback to the letter from GitHub has mostly been positive from the community with responses welcoming the acknowledgement of concerns and promise of work to improve the hub.

Problems with GitHub were compounded in late January after it suffered outages caused by power issues in its main data centre.
An extensive report was published by the site which said: "A brief disruption in the systems that supply power to our servers and equipments," was to blame for the incident.

The open source program sharing service has a community of around 12 million users and it was recently found that computer code written by women has a higher approval rating than those written by men.

However, this is only the case if their gender is not identifiable according to research by computer science departments at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and North Carolina State University which analysed nearly 1.4 million users.

The research found that 78.6% of pull requests made by women were accepted compared to 74.6% of those made by men.

However, for those users that are not well known these numbers for women dropped to 71.8% when using a gender neutral profile and 62.5% when their gender is identifiable.

The research said: "Our results suggest that although women on GitHub may be more competent overall, bias against them exists nonetheless."

Pull requests allow users to tell others about changes that have been pushed to a GitHub repository, once a request is send, interested parties can review the changes, discuss potential modifications and push for follow-up commits if necessary.


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