The problem with the flagging system

I’m sure you’ve heard the same story dozens of times by now, and always given the same answer:  “We can’t do anything about this, contact github support.”

Let me add my story to the pile:

I’ve been developing my successful independent video game on GitHub for the past FIVE YEARS, making daily commits.  I have 23 public repositories on GitHub, many of which have been on here for many years.

I also manage issues for my game on GitHub, and have hundreds of open issues in-progress.

Today, I opened a new issue, including a link to a post in my forums that was related to my issue.

I’m pretty sure this is what lead to my account being flagged, but who knows for sure?

I can still view my own account if I log in, but all of my issues are gone.  I can still post new issues, so I have no idea what happened to all of the existing issues.

The issues that were there represent dozens of hours of work, and many thousands of dollars of lost revenue if they are not correctly recovered.  These are issues dilligently reported by end-users, my customers, who paid me money for my game.

Furthermore, my entire development process is stalled until I hear back from GitHub support about this issue.  How many days will this take?  Four days?  But I’m actively developing my game and pushing out weekly updates, which my paying customers expect.  So I can’t simply take “four days off” from work.

I know there is nothing you can do about my particular issue.

But the way this flagging system works absolutely must change.  A 5-year old account with over 5000 logged code commits is very unlikely to be a source of spam.  And even if this account is suddenly a source of spam, surely the single spam message could be flagged and blocked instead of the entire account.

And even if an entire account needs to be flagged/blocked, the user should be sent a automated warning email first.

And even if there’s no time for warning emails, the flagged account should at least be sent an email explaining what happened.  I received NOTHING.  Not a single email.  After 5 years and 5000 commits.  Nothing.

Meanwhile, GitHub is sending me lots of email notifications about everything else that happens with my account.  All issues posted, etc.  But when my account is taken down, I’m not even informed about it.

How did I find out then?  One of my customers emailed me about the problem.

I’m not asking you to solve my particular problem.

I’m asking you help solve this problem in the future, by passing word up the chain to the people who are implementing the flagging system.

If an account is sufficiently old, established, and active, extra steps should be taken before flagging the account, including a warning email, grace period, and hand-processing.


Hi Jason!

Thank you for sharing that story, this definitely doesn’t feel like the usual “help, I’m locked out wtf” posts we get from time to time. I hope you’ve given the same story to the GitHub support team as this does indeed feel like something that could be addressed, and they’d be the one to “pass word up the chain” as you call it.

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Thanks @seveas and thank you @jasonrohrer for sharing your detailed experiences, this is in my opinion one of our biggest pain points and I totally agree that we need to do better. Our user’s safety is always top of mind and there has to be a way for us to be more efficient at both protecting our users and preventing this type of issue from happening.

Support is investigating what happened here and looking at how to improve our flagging mechanism is a priority.

Thanks again for sharing and apologies for the super frustration this caused you.

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