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Developer feedback helps steer GitHub Public Policy commitments

We asked developers about issues that matter to them in order to inform the work of our Policy Team. In particular, we asked which issues mattered to them and their communities:

  • The ability to innovate and tinker without facing legal risk
  • Government investment in and contribution to open source projects
  • Global collaboration, regardless of where developers live
  • Inclusion, i.e., ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity to become developers
  • Community moderation and healthy online collaboration

More than 38,000 developers answered, giving us important insights.

Remarkable consistency in developer priorities

We found clear patterns, with three clusters in the priority of responses. Whether developers are students, involved in open source, or working in the private sector, they answered the same. Whether they are contributors, maintainers, or not involved in open source, they answered the same. And whether they have less than six months of experience or are decades into their developer careers, developers have the same priorities.

P0: Innovation and global collaboration

Over 25,000 developers marked the ability to innovate and tinker and nearly as many marked global collaboration. These are important issues for GitHub as well: In 2021, we lobbied the U.S. Copyright Office to expand exemptions for developers to Section 1201 of the DMCA and obtained a license from the U.S. government to fully serve developers in Iran, empowering them to collaborate with the global open source community.

P1: Inclusion and healthy online collaboration

Next, nearly 18,000 developers prioritized inclusion and healthy online collaboration. In the past year we expanded our commitment to platform responsibility and healthy online collaboration by expanding our transparency report and increasing its publication cadence, and sponsoring a fellowship at Stanford that supports developers with independent legal advice when they face complicated copyright circumvention claims on our platform.

Inclusion was the sole exception to consistent priorities across demographics, and with good reason. Inclusion was the most prioritized of all policy issues by groups that have been historically under-represented, and continue to be so in developer communities -- over 68% of female respondents and 64% of those responding as non-binary. Inclusion matters, and GitHub is committed to global diversity, inclusion, and belonging as a company. Our policy work reflects this: some recent examples include efforts on immigration reform to benefit developers and on driving get out the vote efforts in 2020.

P2: Government support for open source

Finally, some 9,000 developers prioritized government support for open source. GitHub is committed to supporting open source in our policy activities, and part of that work sees us evangelize open source and its support to governments, like we did with the U.S. government as it considered ways to support Open 5G technologies.

As we continue our fight for developers, the Policy Team wants to hear from you. Check out our repo, follow us on Twitter, or drop us an email.