GitHub 'Account Successor' Is To Invite Others Manage Your Repositories 'If You Cannot'

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There are things that are certain and will definitely happen, no matter what people do to prevent them from happening.

Death is not a pleasant topic to discuss for most people, but in the world where things go round, things are inevitably passed on to the next generation. And that somehow applies to GitHub, as the platform announces what it calls 'Account Successors'.

This feature has been added to user-owned repositories, to allow users to "invite someone to manage your user owned repositories if you are not able to," in GitHub's words. This is in order to maintain ownership continuity in the event of any kind of personal disruption, like death, for example.

"Open source maintainers, you can now invite a trusted user to manage your open source projects in the event that you are unable to do so yourself,” GitHub Senior Product Manager Ben Balter said in an announcement on Twitter. “Help ensure the future of your work (and the work of others) by inviting an account successor today.”

This feature can be found under GitHub Settings, at the Successor Settings menu.

According to GitHub on its dedicated help page, successors cannot log into their predecessors' account, but will have the following permissions:

  1. Archive their predecessors' public repositories.
  2. Transfer their predecessors' public repositories to their own user owned account.
  3. Transfer their predecessors' public repositories to an organization where they can create repositories.

Successors can only manage their predecessors' public repositories after the later presented a death certificate, to then finish waiting for 7 days, or presenting an obituary to then waiting for 21 days.

Initially, successors cannot be set on a per-project or per-organization basis.

This new setting complements GitHub’s Deceased User Policy, in which GitHub will work with the deceased person’s next of kin, a pre-designated successor, or other authorized individual to determine the future of the deceased's account.

GitHub - Account Successor

GitHub started testing this Account Successors feature a week before launching it to the public. According to the public feedback it has received, testers had given the feature positive reviews.

Account Successors isn't a feature GitHub users hope to ever use anytime soon. But if they're active in the community, with owning repositories that are influential for whatever reason, they have lesser things to worry with this particular feature.

Account Successors is introduced in a time where the world is experiencing the novel 'COVID-19' coronavirus pandemic.

For those who work on influential repositories, they want to identify a successor while still feeling healthy, as it is an important precaution to ensure the continuity of the projects.

Under "Successor settings", GitHub users can invite a successor, by typing their username, full name, or email address. If there is a match, their name will appear in the search box. After selecting the successor, users can send the invitation.

"The user you've invited will be listed as 'Pending' until they agree to become your successor, explained GitHub.

While anticipating the worst case scenario, setting up a successor is apparently easy. But still, identifying a trusted individual would prove more difficult for some.