Complaints mount after GitHub launches new algorithmic feed

GitHub algorithm seeks to improve discovery. Developers disagree.


GitHub has introduced a new feed into the dashboard of users and it doesn't appear to have gone down well with the code shack's regulars.

As soon as the new feed arrived, replete with all kinds of exciting suggestions for developers to look at, the complaints began rolling in as users worried the recommendations were turning GitHub into something distressingly like a social media platform.

GitHub is part of our livelihood, and the gamification of it could lead to extra stress we could do without

"I do not need to see recommendations, nor activity of people I don't follow," said one user. "Don't fix what's not broken."

Others were blunter, stating: "I don't want algorithmic feed" and requesting a feed on stuff that actually mattered – issues, releases, PRs and so on.

GitHub pushed out a new beta version of its Home Feed earlier this week, with the avowed intention of developers reaching a wider audience and building communities. The plan is to make discovery easier and help users "find new repositories or users to follow based on your interests."

Not everyone agrees. Another developer pointed out: "Most developers and consumers prefer open-source tools to increase data privacy and transparency.

"An algorithmic feed might translate to collecting more data, and it doesn't align with the open-source community."

"For many of us," said another, "GitHub is part of our livelihood, and the gamification of it could lead to extra stress we could do without.

"There are other platforms well-placed for promotion and dissemination of our work - please consider deferring to those, instead of making it a compulsory part of this site."

As if to demonstrate the levels of discontent around GitHub's new feature, a Chrome extension quickly showed up to disable the social feed by removing the "For You" section on the GitHub dashboard.

Not all users were upset by the appearance of the new feed, and GitHub staff popped up to promise that there would be an option to make one's profile private and opt out of pretty much everything via a single setting. It will, however, take until late April before this option is likely to appear, they said.

Which prompted the obvious question: "Why is this opt-out instead of opt-in?"

Why indeed. The Register put the question to GitHub and will update should the Microsoft-owned biz respond. We note GitHub's had a run of outages this month so we might be able to forgive them for being a little preoccupied. ®

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