People freaking out that is considering to delete inactive free-tier repositories [1]... I mean what did you expect? Someone to host all your stuff for free forever?

Github will do exactly the same if that's at any point convenient to them. You are responsible for keeping your projects online/available/backed-up, if you don't have a contract with someone to do it for you.

[1] (so far that seems to be a still just a rumor/leak? No official confirmation afaik.)

@Bubu Wow, I just realized that some of the code for my scientific articles are living on #Gitlab and (of course) have not seen an update for ~3 years! Deletion of repos can hurt science as well! I have no way to update the URL of these repos in those published articles!

@Mehrad @Bubu that was exactly my point here My Snort machine learning preprocessor hasn't seen an update in almost 12 years, yet I still receive emails every now and then from researchers who are using it. My C library for self-organizing maps hasn't been updated in a decade either, yet it gets regularly starred/forked.

Projects that don't receive updates in months/years and yet are still actively used by people years down the line are the norm in academia. By opting (or even considering) aggressive retention policies on open-source projects created by free accounts is basically favouring profitability over their duty of preserving scientific and technological knowledge.

The only good thing here is that, now that we know their intentions, we have plenty of time to move our content somewhere else. Platforms that don't value the content that people create on them deserve to be barren lands.

@blacklight @Mehrad @Bubu

What duty? There's no duty here. They're a company, not a university or museum.

@fossil @Mehrad @Bubu when you are a company that hosts open-source code that other companies and researchers rely on, you have a duty of preserving that content. If you don't, if you decide to arbitrarily remove projects based on your business priorities, then you don't deserve to be in that job.

@blacklight @Mehrad @Bubu

Bullshit. If people have code they want to preserve, and choose to host it on the free tier of a for-profit company, they deserve everything they get.

@fossil @Mehrad @Bubu do you have any idea of how many npm, pip or Go dependencies in widely used projects point to repositories that haven't been updated in more than a year, and are often maintained by a single developer? Can you imagine the cost that taking down those repos overnight would have on a lot of production software?

Do you know how many academic notebooks and libraries are hosted in repos that haven't been updated in a long time? And yet a few years later a Ph.D or a graduate student finds them, uses them and maybe writes a couple of papers on the findings? Can you imagine the negative impact on scientific research that taking down those repos just because they haven't been updated would have?

These are all things that you must take into account if you're a company that hosts open-source code. If you don't take those things into account, and you pick profitability over responsibility for the availability of the content that you host, then you're in the wrong job, period.

And fair enough, those who are in free tiers shouldn't expect to have everything for free. But they shouldn't trust a company that claims the right to delete their hard work on an arbitrary retention basis either. That's why now it's more important than ever to .

@blacklight @Mehrad @Bubu

"These are all things that you must take into account if you're a company that hosts open-source code."

No. No. A thousand times no.

Those are the things that you must take into account before choosing a company to host your code.

A for-profit company has absolutely zero obligation to people that are not paying it anything.

If you want your code to survive forever, pay for hosting.



@fossil @Mehrad @Bubu you can also self-host, like I've been doing for years, not necessarily pay for hosting. But this is not the point.

The point is there are *already* thousands of useful projects on and Github that haven't been updated in a year or more, and yet it's fundamental to preserve them.

Some are used in goddamn deep npm dependency graphs that power big production software, without developers on either side even being aware of that, and shutting down the repos means to break production stuff.

Some of them contain code used in research papers. Once the paper is out they are unlikely to receive many updates. Still, it's fundamental to preserve them, because maybe 10 years down the line the conclusions of that paper become suddenly relevant for a bunch of reasons, and it's crucial to be able to replicate the results - and you can't do it if Gitlab or Github took down the repo because it was inactive.

Or course we can tell people "if you want your code to be preserved forever, then pay for your hosting" (and that would already be unfair, because then the only code that can be preserved is that of people who can either pay for hosting or self-host). But that doesn't answer the question: what are we going to do if Gitlab takes down for inactivity a repo that, although inactive, is crucial either to our infrastructure, to other businesses, or to scientific research? Gitlab can't just shrug it out and say "it's profit baby, I don't care". They have a freaking moral responsibility to ensure that other production code won't break, and that their retention policies won't prevent the next big scientific discovery.

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