If someone forks your repository and commits some changes, what is the accepted way to proceed if you'd like to ask them whether it's alright to pull those changes in?

Can you issue a pull request on the forker's behalf and count on GitHub to alert them somehow? If not -- I notice GitHub doesn't support sending users messages; should you somehow contact the user outside of the site?

edit - By the way, both the question and answer are obviously different from the Q&A linked as "duplicate".

  • 1
    Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you've tried and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer. Also see How to Ask
    – gnat
    Oct 6 '14 at 13:40
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    @gnat - it's a pretty straightforward question and I don't have any way to test this experimentally without knowing the internals of github; also, I'm asking about standard and accepted practices, which I can't "research" any way other than asking
    – Greg
    Oct 6 '14 at 13:42
  • 1. create new github user, fork your own project, make changes, switch to old user, make pull request, switch to new user and see if there's any notification. or... contact github support :)
    – gbjbaanb
    Oct 6 '14 at 13:44
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    @Caleb - Nah, I read the other post. Didn't answer my question; just said it's nice to ask.
    – Greg
    Oct 6 '14 at 14:10
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    @Greg I can't tell whether you're really asking whether you should contact the author (last line of question, answered in the accepted answer in the dupe) or how to contact the author (seems to be answered by your observation that Github doesn't have a built-in messaging system). Perhaps you could clarify what you want to know.
    – Caleb
    Oct 6 '14 at 14:17

If you want to message them via GitHub, why not use Mention Notifications? Open an issue on your own repository and mention the forker in that issue. The issue should be relevant to the stuff you want to pull, so you can discuss the pull request they need to send. Something like "@JohnSmith has already implemented this feature - can you please make a pull request?".

  • Thank you so much! That answered my question completely.
    – Greg
    Oct 6 '14 at 14:40

Did they ask you if it was OK to fork in the first place? No, because it's open source. I'd say you can take their changes as long as you abide by the licencing terms without having to worry whether their (sorry, your) open source project code is open source.

If they didn't want you to take the changes, they wouldn't release them as open source (though, obviously this would mean not starting with your work). So just go for it.

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    To be clear, I'm not worried about the legality of it, just the common decency. Just because the changes are available doesn't necessarily mean they're ready to be merged and on top of that it's just polite to ask.
    – Greg
    Oct 6 '14 at 13:46
  • @Greg: If said project creator did not want arbitrary people to merge in changes, they can configure github to do so. Fork all you want because it can't mess up their branch. Presumably you need credentials to merge back in. Oct 6 '14 at 23:35

In general, I don't bother looking at the network of people who forked my repositories. If they want to commit the changes upstream, they'll send me a PR and we'll start a dialogue in that thread. It gets too cumbersome to track people down and ask them for a PR otherwise.

  • Question: how do you find out who forked your repository? I haven't figured that part out yet...
    – user949300
    Oct 6 '14 at 19:50
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    @user949300 - click the number by the "fork" button in the top-right
    – Greg
    Oct 6 '14 at 19:59

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