Github Needs a Better Way to “Bookmark” Projects

Update: Github now has a way to just “star” a repository, without following it: github.com/blog/1204-notifications-stars

I often get excited about new projects quite early, often after seeing them being mentioned on Hacker news or by seeing my friends’ activity on Github. These projects are frequently in the “promising, but not yet stable” category and even though I often don’t want to – or have the time to – get involved that early, I at least want to keep an eye on the project as it develops.

Github has always had functionality to do this with its concept of “watching” a project, but the problem is that this scales very poorly. If you watch more than a handful of active projects, your news feed will quickly become a raging torrent – making it hard to see updates from less active projects and your Github friends.

I wish Github had a notification system that at least separated the two use cases of wanting to “bookmark” a repository vs tracking everything that happens to a repository that I want to watch closely. What I suggest is the following:

  • What is now called “watch” should be called “monitor” – or something else that clearly implies that this will automatically put everything that happens to that repository in your news feed.
  • Having “watch” mean that you are added on a list of interested users the repository owner can send a message to when a new version is released or there are other news about the project.

In this way, it will be easier to “bookmark” repositories on Github and only get the “big” updates for these projects.

Another idea would be to make which notifications to receive configurable on a project to project (well, repository to repository) basis, so that you could, e.g. only see new tags or new issues for a given project.

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