Leaving GitHub

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After more than a decade of open source development on GitHub (my account dates back to January of 2011), I’m parting ways with the service in favor of a self-hosted solution using Gitea. All of my private repositories have been deleted and the public ones archived. This should help ensure that existing code dependencies will remain intact, while making it clear that new development will not be taking place on GitHub.

I think most would agree that GitHub was a social network of sorts from its outset. This by itself was not an issue. Social networks back then (and other “big web” sites in general) were more focused providing user value in order to encourage platform adoption. Over time, as these platforms attained monopolies in their respective domains, user value took a back seat to attaining business goals. This phenomenon, coined as enshittification by Cory Doctorow, is described as follows:

Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die. I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a “two sided market”, where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.

Unfortunately, while still providing user value, GitHub has advanced significantly on the enshittification curve. There have been many examples of this over the past several years, such as:

In short, I can no longer say that the motivations of this platform align with my goals for continued FOSS development. I remember coming to this same conclusion when I quit Facebook many years ago. What was initially a useful site for keeping in contact with your friends and family devolved into a platform for advertisement and manipulation. In this light, keeping my repositories on GitHub has all the appeal of storing my personal photo albums on Facebook.

I fully expect that as a part of this departure, my projects will see diminished exposure to new users and contributors. This, again, is similar to the decrease in content impressions one experiences upon leaving Facebook. Fortunately, I don’t really care about software development as a popularity contest anymore. The way I look at it now is that the applications I develop are designed with myself as the primary user. These applications also just happen to be open source to make them more reusable for others that choose to do so. I’m no longer interested in intentionally increasing the user base or hunting for GitHub stars. Amusingly, I’ve never noticed any correlation between the projects that were popular and the projects that I actually enjoyed working on.

If you are interested in contributing to my projects, please see the new contributing guide for details.