back to article Complaints mount after GitHub launches new algorithmic feed

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 …

  1. karlkarl Silver badge

    This is the end goal of GitHub. Everything connects, like a social media platform.

    All of these micro-libraries that people drag in as dependencies means you are already hooked / tied to the GitHub way of things.

    Actually, you will even notice that Semantic Versioning (encourages micro-libraries / dependency driven development) was designed by Tom Preston-Werner, the co-founder of GitHub: https://semver.org/

    If you don't like it; you can use something else but do unfortunately expect that someone forks your project, sticks it on GitHub and development continues from there (unless you use a more restrictive license than GPL / BSD, etc).

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Actually, you will even notice that Semantic Versioning (encourages micro-libraries / dependency driven development) was designed by Tom Preston-Werner, the co-founder of GitHub: https://semver.org/

      Er, I don't think so. That's like claiming he designed the wheel. The page itself claims

      This is not a new or revolutionary idea. In fact, you probably do something close to this already. The problem is that “close” isn’t good enough. Without compliance to some sort of formal specification, version numbers are essentially useless for dependency management.

      Huh. I've been publishing software with exactly this semantic meaning since 1999, it was an old idea then.

      A simple example will demonstrate how Semantic Versioning can make dependency hell a thing of the past.

      <Choke> Well, thank goodness that's gone! Nosiree, not seen any of that about here for a long time. Loooong time.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        It's not at all new, and I don't think anyone would claim it. It's just a standard to clarify a few things that a lot of people have already done for a while. For example, we don't get the 2.01 version number format under that standard, but most people had already realized it was annoying and stopped doing that. It's an old concept, and nothing got invented in stating a few suggested rules.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > It's just a standard to clarify a few things

          But you already know that the good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.

          Version number standards are no different, and new ones go in and out of fashion regularly. Remember the odd / even GNU version numbers that were all the rage in the 90s?

          And the thing is, version numbers are mostly meaningless and fail to adequately address real use cases.

          What I usually do is just use dates or an integer that increments, not necessarily monotonically, to quickly determine which version of something I'm looking at, and then use actual feature testing to know what capabilities are available.

          It's not my idea either. I copied it from XMPP's service discovery (XEP-0030) and entity capabilities (XEP-0115) setup. A different but also common approach is JavaScript's, where you just check whether whatever capability you want to use is actually available.

          Some kind of "version" identifier is OK for human consumption, but resolving dependencies off it is kind of dumb.

          1. FatGerman

            For anybody who's ever tried to automate anything, semantic versioning is the work of the devil. You can't easily sort by it because alphabetical sort makes 10.0.0 < 9.9.9 and you can't do an integer comparison because, well, obviously. So how do I find, using, say a simple sort or regexp, what the latest version of a thing is? I have to write a bunch of code to compare semantic versions. What's wrong with simple integers? Why overcomplicate it?

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              You already couldn't do an alphabetical sort if any number went over 9. And the reason that single integers aren't used is because people want to avoid breaking changes but still to get patches, which, when breaking changes are going to happen, means there are multiple branches. This is also the reason dates don't work if there are ever two versions being supported. You separate by . characters and do an integer sort from left to right. It's not that hard to do.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                > You separate by . characters and do an integer sort from left to right. It's not that hard to do.

                It's not hard to do but it doesn't solve the problem either.

                You've probably found libraries where a minor (middle number) version upgrade introduces breaking changes, though that's not supposed to be that way, and you also have no idea whether multiple versions are current (back ports).

                What about builds where features have been patched out (hello Debian)? How do you safely express and communicate that via version numbers?

                As said above, feature discovery / feature testing are a much better option, as you're testing for exactly what you want to know (can I use this feature?) not for a proxy.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      No. Just No. NO "FEEDS". No.

      Programmers just want to program

      That SOCIAL SHIT just gets in the way

      1. sreynolds Silver badge

        Re: No. Just No. NO "FEEDS". No.

        Yeah and those who can't code can just hang around on IRC and ask for others to do their work for them.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    What isn't already?

    "users worried the recommendations were turning GitHub into something distressingly like a social media platform."

    Every online service is now effectively a social media platform, simply because that's how the user base can most conveniently be monetised (via mapping and analysing user preferences and interactions to directly or indirectly drive targeted advertising, as that's where the revenue comes from). The days of anonymous access to free resources are long gone.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: What isn't already?

      Well said. And like every other onlline service that's trying to become a social media platform, GitHub has a mobile app where you can be connected (and monitored) 24/7.

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Flame

    And how many of these vocal complainers are actually paying Github for service?

    A couple of stats from: expandedramblings.com/index.php/github-statistics/

    Number of Github users: 73 million

    Annual Income: $200 million.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      > And how many of these vocal complainers are actually paying Github for service?

      Surely, as they're not paying then, GitHub should *not* give them this new feature and only foist it onto people who've paid for the privilege?

      I've only take a quick scan over mine, and there's nothing in there I could ever imagine being worth inclusion in a personalised feed.

    2. DomDF

      I pay, but I've been ignoring the feed ever since it stopped showing issues and PRs. I'm amazed they could've made it worse.

    3. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Why should they pay ?

      No-one forces such firms to offer membership for free --- though I expect now MS has ownership the aim is to make all such things a subscription service.

      Some cities around the world offer free public transport ( and even in Britain pensioners can use bus passes ) --- the fact it is free to use doesn't mean users should not complain about chewing-gum on the seats, a rancid atmosphere, or missing wheels.

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Why should they pay ?

        Because running a service costs money? You either pay for using that service financially or via something about your usage that's monitizable.

        Some cities around the world offer free public transport

        ..free at the point of use. You pay through taxation. It's a public service provided for the benefit of all. (If people can get out to work/shop they can earn and spend money).

        Github is a private company, they need to pay their staff somehow.

        If you can think of a better way of funding something like Github so it's sustainable and can be provided free of charge without trying to monetize the users then I suspect you'd get a significant usage.

        No one's managed it yet though.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Because running a service costs money? True but the expensive bit is not what the developers want. According to my calculations the average github project should cost less than its worth doing a bank transaction for. The expensive bit is MS trying to parasatise it.

          1. Paul 195
            Facepalm

            "True but the expensive bit is not what the developers want."

            The "expensive bit" is storage, bandwidth, compute, and running a global service with impressively high uptime. Which is exactly what all developers want and use.

            1. Paul 195

              Getting downvotes from people who have calculated that the cost of storing a repo of a few meg in size costs pennies a year. And ignored the cost of keeping it backed up, serving it up over the internet, having redundant availability zones etc. Those pennies start to mount up pretty fast if you are running a real service rather than a hypothetical one.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Because running a service costs money?

          With due respect, that's a remarkably daft answer. It's the provider (now Microsoft, previously Github) choosing to make a service available for "free".

          The reasoning behind this way of doing business is abundantly documented and just a web search away if you need it.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "requesting a feed on stuff that actually mattered – issues, releases, PRs and so on."

    Be careful what you ask for. The sort of people pushing this will read PR as Public Relations.

  5. original_rwg

    Umm...

    Isn't this the Micros~1 way? Buy a service or a product and then "develop" it to the point where is pi$$e$ of the users? I could be mistaken of course :)

    1. DomDF

      Re: Umm...

      Embrace Extend Extinguish

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Umm...

        Embrace Extend Extinguish

        Also known as E3.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Umm...

      That's MicroTurd's SOP and has been for several decades.

      I removed all of my code from GitHub the day after their assimilation into the MS Borg was announced.

  6. msobkow Silver badge

    It is a Microsoft product now.

    It will be "modernized" - and monetized.

    1. ITMA Bronze badge

      Microsoft can't polish a turd - but they sure are skilled at turning good things into turds.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        and THEN putting lipstick onto the non-oinky end of the boar

      2. fajensen

        But can roll a turd in glitter!

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    At the risk of creating some kind of power hungry monster

    I wonder if a cross between torrent and github might be the way to prevent predators screwing things up for everyone else.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At the risk of creating some kind of power hungry monster

      IPFS? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InterPlanetary_File_System

      1. kafkaIncarnate

        Re: At the risk of creating some kind of power hungry monster

        I was curious of the practicality of this, and found this for those curious:

        https://docs.ipfs.io/how-to/host-git-style-repo/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At the risk of creating some kind of power hungry monster

          That sound like exactly what Tom was asking for! Great find!

  8. RobLang

    Discovery suggests I have lots of free time

    When I'm coding, I'm trying to build something, fix something, improve something. When I'm learning new tech, I do so in a targeted way: how is it similar to things I know, how is it different? I'm not just sitting at my desk surfing through packages thinking "oooh, this looks fun, I wonder what this package does" like I would idly watching TV. The feed should be issues, PRs and releases of things I've starred and that's it.

    It's a really weird addition. Not a fan.

    1. FatGerman

      Re: Discovery suggests I have lots of free time

      This was my thought too. I can't remember the last time I went and looked at GitHub in a browser, and I push code to it every day.

      Trouble is, MS will soon realise this and will start adding adverts to your commit messages,

  9. sreynolds Silver badge

    I haven't logged in for a long time....

    The main way I used github is using the command git. Ever since you need to make a mandatory "token" for pushing to the repositories

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    As others already noted

    This has Microsoft fingerprints all over it. I was wondering how long it would be before something like this was foisted on us.

    Our project is also on Sourceforge (in fact it started there), and in comparison I'm finding it much easier to find things there - especially when it comes to looking back over the project's history for a specific entry.

  11. Pinjata

    Pointless space filler atm

    For my part all suggestions are irrelevant and uninteresting but I guess community building might be interesting especially if you want to own the open source market cough cough Microsoft.

  12. Rich 2

    MS does it again….

    Nobody should be surprised by this.

    MS just can’t resist fucking up everything they take over, like Skype and a gazillion other things that were perfectly fine and usable until MS got their claws into them.

    I think MS call it “innovation” - no really, they do :-)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why the noise?

    We've been using versioning for a number of years for our Public open-source release channels and integrating to them for our Private builds coupled to Travis. Works perfectly well, tastes great, less filling.

    I really don't get all the noise, if you're sloppy with source code on any system, it will just be more obvious with the enhancement.

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