GitHub Now Lets You Block Troublesome Users From Public Repositories

GitHub is a git repository service widely used to host open source software projects. The beauty of open source projects on GitHub is that people can collaborate to edit and improve the code. Trouble is, with multiple people working on the same project, it can get a bit chaotic and one uncooperative coder can ruin it for everybody. This is why GitHub is now letting project owners of public repositories block abusive users.

The new feature allows organisations to block users on GitHub, preventing them from opening or commenting on issues, pull requests, fork repositories and making changes to wiki pages. As a means to make project owners accountable for blocking users, all records of blocked activity will be available in a project’s audit log.

Despite building in the audit log safeguard for blocking users, I can see how this feature could become problematic. Will it limit freedom in the development of open source software on GitHub?

On one hand, disputes can often occur in this space with different people valuing conflicting approaches to software development, which can cause a lot of headaches and roadblocks. On the other hand, banning somebody from forking a repository seems a bit extreme given that it wouldn’t affect the original project. There also needs to be more transparency when project owners do block users so the feature doesn’t become abused itself.

The feature is still very new so we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.

What do you think about GitHub’s block feature? Let us know in the comments.

[Via GitHub blog]

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