GitHub: Social coding

Some years ago the GitHub logo included the “social coding” tagline.

What did this mean, and is that still relevant? It certainly is.


With GitHub you can follow developers, by going on their profile and clicking “follow”.

You can also follow a repository, by clicking the “watch” button on a repo.

In both cases the activity will show up in your dashboard.


One big feat of GitHub is the ability to star a repository.

This action will include it in your “starred repositories” list, which allows you to find things you found interesting before.

It’s also one of the most important rating mechanisms, as the more stars a repo has, the more important it is, and the more it will show up in search results.

Major projects can have 50.000 and more stars.

GitHub also has a trending page where it features the repositories that get the most stars in a determined period of time, e.g. today or this week or month.

Getting into those trending lists can cause other network effects like being featured on other sites, just because you have more visibility.


The last important network indicator of a project is the number of forks.

This is key to how GitHub works, as a fork is the base of a Pull Request (PR), a change proposal.

Starting from your repository, a person forks it, makes some changes, then creates a PR to ask you to merge those changes.

Sometimes the person that forks never asks you to merge anything, just because they liked your code and decided to add something on top of it, or they fixed some bug they were experiencing.

A fork clones the files of a GitHub project, but not any of the stars or issues of the original project.

All in all, those are all key indicators of the popularity of a project, and generally along with the date of the latest commit and the involvement of the author in the issues tracker, is social proof, a useful indication of whether or not you should rely on a library or software.

Lessons in this unit:

0: Introduction
1: GitHub issues
2: ▶︎ Social coding
3: Pull requests
4: Project management
5: Comparing changes
6: Webhooks and integrations
7: What happens after pushing
8: DEMO Create a GitHub account
9: DEMO Using GitHub desktop
10: DEMO Using Git in VS Code
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