What is GitHub policy about abandoned repositories?

What is the GitHub policy about abandoned repositories on GitHub?

By abandoned repositories I mean a repository that experiences some time of no activity whether from updates of any kind, pulls or forks of any kind, no tickets or wiki updates. In other words no activity at all.

I did find the GitHub Deceased User Policy ( https://help.github.com/en/github/site-policy/github-deceased-user-policy ) which implies that once a repository is created it exists until the owner deletes it or an authorized representative of the owner requests it to be deleted.

I have put this same question up into stackoverflow as posting https://stackoverflow.com/questions/62318763/does-github-delete-repositories-with-no-activity-after-some-length-of-time and there appears to be some interest in an answer there as well.

Thank you.

1 Like

Hi @RichardChambers! Thank you for being here. For account security reasons, we’re unable to alter repository ownership. This policy is in place to protect all account owners from unauthorized takeovers.

The best way to resolve this is to contact any of the owners and ask them to transfer ownership to you.

This help article can guide that account’s current owner through transferring ownership ownership to a different user:


Keep in mind if the repository is public there is no reason why you wouldn’t be able to fork it and request we remove the parent repo via private support at https://github.com/contact.

I hope this helps!

1 Like

Thank you for your reply. It’s not so much that there is a repo I want to takeover so much as if a currently closed source project I work on goes open source, I thought to put it in GitHub and continue working on it for a while.

However I’m not sure that there would be more than me and one or two other people interested in this older point of sale software and we are all elderly.

I just wondered if there was any kind of an abandoned repository policy.

Actually there may be people outside of the US that might be interested in forking it and using it in their own localities despite the age of the software.

1 Like


We definitely do not delete inactive repositories. I can’t predict the future but it would seem a strange policy for us to take up.

It’s certainly quite common for people to fork inactive repositories to restart the project themselves!


Difficult to see, the future is. However what you are saying seems to agree with the Deceased Owner Policy.

So while there does not seem to be a specific policy for this scenario, the general policy of GitHub is to leave repositories up to the management of the owner or the owner’s representatives.

There is no specific Abandoned Repository Policy which makes sense as the criteria for determining whether a repository is abandoned or not could be quite tricky to reliably ascertain without an owner or representative explicitly stating it is abandoned. But then the owner or representative could just delete it themselves.

Thank you both.