[core-workflow] We will be moving to GitHub

Nick Coghlan ncoghlan at gmail.com
Fri Jan 1 21:07:19 EST 2016

(Sorry, accidentally hit send while trying to discard a previous draft)

On 2 Jan 2016 11:17, "Nick Coghlan" <ncoghlan at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 2 Jan 2016 07:37, "R. David Murray" <rdmurray at bitdance.com> wrote:
> > Now, the fact that people felt it better to contact Brett privately to
> > advocate for GitHub is indeed interesting, and yes, disappointing.  The
> > interesting question is, why is that?  Perhaps it is what was alluded to
> > earlier, that favoring the "commercial alternative" is seen as "bad" in
> > terms of what we might label as "virtue signalling"?  Which would be
> > weird, because GitLab isn't non-commercial.  So maybe there's some other
> > reason (because GitHub is the big gorilla and people think it is
> > "better" to favor the underdog?), but I wonder if it still comes down to
> > virtue signalling (or, rather, not wanting to signal non-virtue, in this
> > case).

Yep, I think that's a large part of it, as the folks funding GitHub
are quite open about the fact that they consider centralised US
corporate control of the technology industry something to be admired,
rather than deplored (See
for one of the most explicit examples of that genre). GitLab's
business model is different, as it's just a low cost competitor in the
self-hosted VCS market that takes advantage of people's familiarity
with GitHub's UI, rather than aiming to become the de facto standard
for open collaboration infrastructure (with corresponding influence
over the career prospects of individual developers).

The free software movement has been fighting an underdog battle
against that kind of centralised control for 30 years. That hasn't
been a stellar success so far, with the likes of Amazon, Google,
Facebook, Apple and Microsoft v2.0 now making their predecessors like
IBM, Oracle and Microsoft v1.0 look like rank amateurs when it comes
to exerting centralised control over the world's computing
infrastructure. (Tom Watson's apocryphal prediction of a world market
for maybe 5 computers seems likely to come true, it's just that their
names will be AWS, Azure, GCE, Aliyun, and SoftLayer).

That doesn't explain why folks might be reluctant to state a
preference for a proprietary service in public, though. For that, I
think we need to account for the fact that the free software movement
is often it's own worst enemy, as it tends to be *very* focused on
ideological purity, so proprietary dependencies are considered
categorically unacceptable in many circles, rather than as risks to be
mitigated through pragmatic measures.

Trying to explain "We looked the gift horse in the mouth, checked all
its teeth, and are happy we can deal with the risks of accepting the
gift" can be incredibly draining when you have folks yelling at you
that accepting gratis contributions of proprietary software and
services mean you don't care about the future of the open source
community or about software freedom. I stepped over that line myself
back when the GitHub proposal was first put forward, and Guido quite
rightly called me on it - I wasn't properly separating my own long
term objectives from the immediate interests of the CPython core
development community.

Since the pro-GitHub perspective was being suitably represented
already (and was clearly the default choice, with most of the
discussions focusing on "Is there a reason to *not* just use
GitHub?"), why *would* anyone want to risk exposing themselves to that
kind of potential negative response?


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