Github not displaying external contributions anymore

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Git is a very widely used version control system. Version control systems are an absolute crucial tool for collaborating and developing software. Git was developed to be a decentralized such system, meaning that people could easier develop their own versions, collaborate on side ideas, and not rely on a single large central repository.

Github is a Microsoft-owned website which made it easy to start, maintain, and share Git repositories. In fact so easy that in many ways the advantages of decentralization that have been built-in into Git have been nullified. Convenience beats many other advantages, or "worse is better", an often stated adage.

Some organizations and projects, such as Wikimedia, decided to host their own Git instance, and not rely on Microsoft's. Due to the decentralized model of Git that's absolutely possible and encouraged. It is a bit of a hassle, but you don't rely on Microsoft for your project.

Github has become an important "hub" for developers, also because they provide profile pages for developers, showing off their contributions, achievements, etc. Hiring managers will often look at a developer's Github page to assess a candidate.

Microsoft made a change that contributions to projects will only "count" and be reflected on the Github profile of the contributor if they are made through Github (unless they are members of the organization owning the mirrored Git). Contributions through other paths don't count for the profile. Microsoft, worth a trillion dollar, is explaining that it's too "nuanced and difficult" for them to continue to display contributions on your profile which happened outside of Github.

I mean, it is clearly the fault of the community to allow Microsoft to embrace and enclosure this space. Will this change be enough to have developers leave Github? (No) How difficult will it be to get hiring managers to not just reflexively look up a Github profile? (Very) Will there be an outcry that will make Microsoft change their mind? (No) Is this just a move to ensure that they enclose the Open Source workflow even more? (They'll say no, and it might even be true, but they sure won't mind that this is happening)

The lesson we should learn, but won't, is to not allow companies to enclose and control such spaces. But we keep doing that, again and again. It's a pity.

Source: Starring a repository you've contributed to should make it show up on your profile, just like how it was for the past 10+ years


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