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Why I feel Github is a social network

Posted on 3 mins read

I don’t quite know why I’m writing this but I felt I should. This did come up as a joke in my talk at PyCon, but let’s get on with it. As you know from the title I’m going to explain my view on the status of Github in the developer community, this did not start as a disagreement just I want to say it.

Now you may think that Github is just a file/hosting site sharing site and while the underlying technology (git) is simply that (with a few other things but thats for another time), Github has added a lot on top that makes me think of it as a social media. Let’s start backwards by summarizing and then expanding on that, so a comparison table of ‘standard’ social media features and what I consider the Github equivalent.

Standard Github
Likes Starts
Follows Follows (obviously)
Repost Fork
Discussions/Threads Issues
Private posts Private repositories
Home/Time-line Discover repositories

## Stars

This one is easy. A like on social media shows your appreciation of a post and a star on a repository on Github shows you like it or you think it’s work worth continuing.

Follows

Doesn’t even need explaining

Fork

While a repost or re-tweet or whatever your favorite platform calls it is not exactly the same as a fork because a repost doesn’t edit it at all, and it still appears with their name bigger than yours. A fork could be compared to a “Quote tweet” on Twitter where you can add to the tweet and it is credited to you with the quoted tweets author smaller.

Issues

Again not such a clean comparison, but they are a form of discussion. The problem here is that issues are almost exclusively for issues, not much random discussion can happen here but it’s the closest thing I’ve got. The other option is Github Teams but not everyone uses one and the advantage of social media is that you can start a conversation with everyone.

Private posts

While you can’t start private discussions on public repositories you can make a whole private repository for (you guessed it) private things! Nothing much to add there

Time-line

The main point of social media is to find things you like automagically (also known as sometimes creepy algorithms). Github has this, they call it “Discover repositories”. I admit I havent actually use this but it’s the closest thing I could find in 5 seconds.

I hope you now see why I think of Github as the geekiest social media on earth, and I thank you for reading my random thoughts!