Mike Gerwitz

Activist for User Freedom

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Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:23:33 -0400
From: Mike Gerwitz <mikegerwitz@gnu.org>
To: tom@github.com, chris@github.com, pj@github.com
Subject: [mikegerwitz@gnu.org: Re: Free GitHub's JavaScript]

Tom/Chris/PJ,

I did not receive a reply from [Name Removed], nor do I know if he has the
authority to speak on these matters. I would appreciate a formal reply from
GitHub that I can forward on to the FSF campaigns team to determine if this
is something we can pursue.

Please note that I wish to help make GitHub more accessible to all members
of the free software community---members that GitHub targets by encouraging
the hosting of free software, while at the same time serving up proprietary
JavaScript.

----- Forwarded message from Mike Gerwitz <mikegerwitz@gnu.org> -----

Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2014 20:47:00 -0400
=46rom: Mike Gerwitz <mikegerwitz@gnu.org>
To: "[Name Removed] (GitHub Staff)" <support@github.com>
Subject: Re: Free GitHub's JavaScript
X-URL: http://mikegerwitz.com
User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

Hey [Name Removed]; thank you for your reply.

On Thu, Apr 03, 2014 at 04:45:02PM -0700, [Name Removed] (GitHub Staff) wrote:
> Thanks for getting in touch with us here. Some of our internal projects
> are specific to running GitHub, and as such will probably remain closed.

Unfortunately, the code that I am referring to---the code that is served to
the client---is not internal; it runs on the user's web browser, just as any
other software. By visiting GitHub's website, users' web browsers download
and execute proprietary JavaScript.

And much of this JavaScript performs fairly trivial tasks---tasks that could
conventionally be done without JavaScript:

  * Updating account/profile data;
  * Sending pull requests;
  * Forking, staring, and watching repositories;
  * Changing repository/organization settings;
  - Creating wiki pages;
  - The issue tracking system; and more.

I would consider the starred ones above to be the most essential features of
the website---it may be lacking, since I use GitHub with JavaScript
disabled---that users should be permitted to do without being required to
surrender their freedoms, especially on a website that should understand at
a deep level the fundamental need for those freedoms (even if GitHub's
philosophy does not coincide).


So my question is this: would GitHub consider:

  (a) Permitting those functions to work without JavaScript enabled; and
  (b) Releasing the JavaScript---including any libraries used to perform
      those tasks---under a free software license of GitHub's choice?

These features would be a great start.

> We do make an effort to open source projects that we create that we think
> would be beneficial to the community, some of which is JavaScript.

And while I and many others do certainly appreciate that---some good free
software projects have come out of GitHub---these are things that are
*essential* to the community. Using GitHub's website with JavaScript enabled
is no different than using any other proprietary software and is therefore
very difficult for free software users to take full advantage of.

The free software community and myself would appreciate a strong
consideration on this topic.

Thank you,

-- 
Mike Gerwitz
Free Software Hacker | GNU Maintainer
http://mikegerwitz.com
FSF Member #5804 | GPG Key ID: 0x8EE30EAB



----- End forwarded message -----

-- 
Mike Gerwitz
Free Software Hacker | GNU Maintainer
http://mikegerwitz.com
FSF Member #5804 | GPG Key ID: 0x8EE30EAB