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GitHub Responds to 'Dear GitHub' letter

| by Alex Blewitt Follow 4 Followers on Feb 12, 2016. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

In response to last month's "Dear GitHub" letter, (covered by InfoQ previosuly), GitHub staffer Brandon Keepers has sprung into action, and in less than a month, added a pull request which says:

We hear you and we're sorry. We've been slow to respond to your letter and slow to respond to your 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. 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.

Issues haven't gotten much attention from GitHub these past few years and that was a mistake, but we've never stopped thinking about or caring about you and your 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.

We'll be in touch next week. Sorry it's taken so long, and thank you for everything.

Quite why it's taken GitHub just under a month to respond to say "We're looking at it" is unknown, but perhaps co-incidentally an article appeared six days ago on a Business Insider article commenting on the recent set of changes in GitHub's staff. Indeed, there's very little change since GitHub's initial response to InfoQ from January:

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

It remains to be seen what changes, if any, are announced next week, or why GitHub chose to announce this information via a pull request instead of a public announcement on their blog.

Ironically, their comment wasn't represented as an issue in GitHub's issue tracker system, which is the primary target of the complaints, but by a pull request instead. Perhaps that says everything that's necessary about issues on GitHub.

Update 18 Feb: GitHub have leapt into action and created a New Issue template, which can be pre-filled from the contents of a file in ISSUE_TEMPLATE.md (or in a .github/ISSUE_TEMPLATE.md file, if the top-level isn't desirable). Since they have done this work, they have also enabled a template for pull requests, in a file called PULL_REQUEST_TEMPLATE.md instead. Since these are stored in the repository, any forks will automatically pick up the new templates as well, although whether sites hosted elsewhere (such as the Apache or Eclipse foundations) will want to contribute a hosting-specific fragment in their repository remains to be seen.

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