Jake.ch

The Self-Destruction of GitHub

Thursday, April 24, 2014

When I moved out to San Francisco I was infatuated with GitHub. They seemed to really get how to make an amazing product. They also made it really easy to learn Git. I think their product helped me out big time getting started professionally. On top of everything their blog was notable because it felt like someone was writing an honest message directly to me, whether it was explaining an outage or announcing a complex new feature. Then comes March.

I was walking home from the bottom of Potrero Hill when my friend, who I encouraged to join GitHub, messaged me a link. TechCrunch had just broke that Julie Ann Horvath had left GitHub because of bullying. I was very sympathetic, a year earlier I had to leave a startup because of intense bullying. I made a few tweets about how this was unacceptable and how I had faith that GitHub would make things right. The next day, Chris Wanstrath, co-founder and senior indoor-sunglasses advocate, wrote on the company blog that they were going to make things right. Then comes radio silence.

During the radio silence, Adrianne Jeffries, writer at The Verge, contacted me about an article she was doing on the situation. I was happy to share what I could. I work across the street from GitHub. That always felt like a real treat, from my desk I can see where one of my favorite products is made.

Earlier this week GitHub broke their silence. The blog that used to feel like it was personally written for me had this oddly worded piece of legal junk toting that there was “no legal wrongdoing.”1 I tried to have faith that they would, in what used to be typical GitHub fashion, do what was right.

As I said, I was a big fan of GitHub. They made a complex product that was well designed, so of course I admired their designers. I have followed them on Twitter and Dribbble for a while now. Well, the day after GitHub announced that they were legally cleared, I saw this in my Twitter stream:

As a white twenty-something male, most of the time I feel downright scared of speaking publicly about diversity and social problems in tech.

Mark Otto, @mdo, April 21, 2014

Oh no. No no no. Accepting people of all types is not something to be scared of. That is how bullying grows. San Francisco is facing big issues right now, from the lack of women in tech to the tech scene kicking lower income families out of their home. Every time someone asks me what I do in the city it gets harder and harder to say that I work in tech.

All that said, I had apparently missed his earlier tweet:

Shoutout to everyone who knows more than everyone else about a situation in which they had no part in.

Mark Otto, @mdo, April 21, 2014

Similar concerns were expressed by his coworkers:

I wish people would spend time getting to know other people before assuming a single god damn thing about them

Brian Lopez, @brianmario, April 23, 2014

I guess nobody really cares about how we feel, yet these people fight to be the first to speak for us.

Mu-An Chiou, @muanchiou, April 23, 2014

I do not think anyone is trying to speak for GitHub2. It has been four days and GitHub has failed to respond to why they only care about how bullying is technically legal, and nothing about what is morally acceptable.

Once again, a reporter asked me for comment. I was contacted by Katherine Noyes at LinuxInsider. I responded promptly. I was angry. I am angry. Maybe when I cool down I will ask myself how I became the go-to tech pundit for the San Francisco startup scene.

I took my stuff off GitHub last night.

I had some pretty popular projects on there. I had some people using my repositories to build things that I really enjoyed. I wish I could delete my entire account, but my work requires it. My blog will have some broken GitHub links for a while as I transition to Jake.codes.

GitHub is over, but I cannot wait to see the forks.

  1. Did you see Mad Men this week? I imagine, in 1968, Bert Cooper would be legally in the clear for not allowing a black lady to work the front desk because people could see her.

  2. Not even GitHub wants to speak up for GitHub. Turns out.