Last month a group of open source project maintainers confronted GitHub with an open letter of complaints regarding issue management. They were frustrated by a lack of communication from GitHub and a lack of features for managing issues. More than 1700 maintainers of open source projects, including several projects related to WordPress, have signed the letter so far.
GitLab, a competing code hosting service, responded to the letter almost immediately with a new GitLab issue that outlined every concern mentioned in the original “Dear GitHub” letter. The new initiative is focused on “making GitLab the best place for big open source projects.”
GitHub, on the other hand, took roughly a month to reply. The company’s staff forked the letter and drafted a reply containing an apology and a promise to address their concerns:
Dear Open Source Maintainers,
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.
GitHub closed the letter saying that the company would be in touch next week. Although no concrete changes have been announced, GitHub’s reply indicates that the company will be improving its communication and features to better serve open source projects and their communities. Hopefully this public exchange is a turning point for code hosting and collaboration services to prioritize features that open source project maintainers need.