* block trolls from interacting with an organization, short of filing a support ticket
* install pre-receive hooks without using the pull request infrastructure
* set up status checks (the PR equivalent of pre-receive hooks) for pull requests that require force pushes, allowing some external check to replace git's usual fast-forward check
* have status checks apply to individual commits, not trees, so that you have style or copyright or whatever checks on each commit
* disable pull requests
* enforce rules for creation of new branches or tags
I admit that none of these features are dealbreakers, but they all have legitimate use cases, and they'd all be trivial if you were using a regular UNIX-based git server.
On the other hand, the usable interface of GitHub wouldn't be available to you if you were using a regular UNIX-based git server, and that is a dealbreaker. :)
That would be one hell of an open source project: a github like UI + ticketing system but federated rather than hosted by a central authority with some kind of single sign-on mechanism.
I've only read about it, not played with it, so don't know how close it comes to what you are envisioning.
GitHub being centralized is a feature, not a bug. You don't have issues that exist in some people's repositories and not others. You don't have a question of who has the authoritative repository; either GitHub does, or GitHub doesn't and there's a note saying it's not authoritative. You can support things like have cross-site forks, but it's actively good for UX to have a single authoritative server for the current state of the project. (And you certainly don't want to require cross-site forks, since that would make it far more burdensome to submit a single patch.)
I think I was a bit too terse. I didn't mean to suggest that someone who wanted to do everything (SCM, bug tracking) distributed use Fossil instead of git. The idea was to use git for the code, and Fossil for the bug tracking and wiki.
There's potentially a way to build a system that federates all of this, and then toss GitLab on top for the UI. A good standard would be whether a newcomer could submit a PR with only one more click (for the OAuth screen) than they would need on GitHub.
That way future interaction would hide the fact that the systems are in fact separate.
You can't submit patches. Submitting/accepting a patch is something that straight up cannot be done on GitHub. Unless you use a sidechannel like sending a message containing a link to a patch that you threw up on some host somewhere (in which case, have fun rooting out that information on a case-by-case basis), the only way to ever get any changes upstream is via pull request. Mildly obnoxious, but then you get hit with this zinger:
You can't submit a pull request if your branch isn't already hosted on GitHub.
So if you want to make a one line fix, there need to exist no fewer than 3 copies of the repo: the upstream, your local copy that you made when you cloned it, and then some third copy that you have to spin up and maintain through GitHub. This is nuts.
It is true that the inability to submit a PR without a local clone is annoying. For the use case you describe, a one-line fix, note that GitHub has a web-based editor (that will create a fork if necessary), so you can skip the local branch entirely.
Someone could probably toss together a web service that does the equivalent of a `git clone --depth 1` behind the scenes and then applies your patch.
> For the use case you describe, a one-line fix, note that GitHub has a web-based editor (that will create a fork if necessary), so you can skip the local branch entirely.
And you've just optimized out the wrong thing.
Person A: "The thing I don't like about going to that place is that I have to spin around three times, go outside, scratch the belly of the cook across the street for ten seconds, and then I come back and place my order and my food shows up."
Person B: "When you go there, you can just do the spinning thing and scratch the other cook's belly and then go home. You don't have to go there to eat."
> I'm not quite understanding what the workflow you desire is
It's easy. Look at how most open source projects work literally anywhere, outside of GitHub and its clones. Look at how Mozilla works. Look at how Chromium works. Look at how the patch-based workflow that LKML uses works—using Git, no less. Look at virtually every open source project that existed before GitHub showed up worked for decades.
My objection is this:
> third copy that you have to spin up(1) and maintain(2) through GitHub(3)
This is how it should be: I have a file containing my changes (a patch) that I can send to you (the maintainer). That's it. That's all that needs to happen.
To really belabor the point, here's a comparison of the two processes: I clone it. I change it. I create a patch. I send it in. (Replace the first step with `git pull` if this isn't your first contribution and you still have the repo around from last time.)
Here's how it works on GitHub: I clone it. I change it. I dick around in the GitHub UI to fork it and wait. I add that new fork to my remotes. I push it. I file a PR. I dick around in the GitHub UI some more to get rid of the zombie repo, but only after my changes have been merged. (Replace the first step with `git pull` if this isn't your first contribution and you still have the repo around from last time. Skip the last step and step 3 if you think you might ever contribute again and would like to minimize the hoop-jumping you have to go through for your next contribution. Omit step 4 if both of the preceding conditions were true.)
Astute readers will point out that you can completely skip the remotes step if when you make your original clone, you do so from your personal fork, rather than from directly upstream. These astute readers are not as astute as they think. Notice how much of "the GitHub way" requires knowing all the things that you would possibly want to do far before you actually want to do it. At the very least, it requires that you preemptively create a fork for every project whose source you pull down, on the off chance that you might want to contribute to the project some day. (Of course, nobody does this and ends up just messing with their remotes instead, but they're no less happy to show up and point out that it can be done, while generally ignoring its unreasonable requirement of premonition and offer no response.)
> What happens if it doesn't apply cleanly? Should it be rejected, or should it give you an option to fix it up, or?
The question is weird. Just do what Git does. It already supports patches. There's no design decision to make here.
This is why there's a problem with characterizations of the sort you'll find below—you get people who've never even used Git or any other sane VCS outside of GitHub that come along and try to tell you about how things work. They'll say that GitHub is Git with some extra features. No. GitHub is a crippled implementation of Git with some proprietary value-add to halfway work around the stuff that it screws up.
And let's be clear. I know why it screws those things up. It's for the same reason Facebook makes all the moves that they do to aggressively silo themselves. By both deprioritizing support for patches and disallowing off-GitHub pull requests, and by championing a more convoluted workflow, they end up not only with the upstream hosting their repo there, but also with virtually every contributor hosting there, too.
The weird thing is that with Facebook, you run into a vocal minority whose response to that behavior is to say, "fuck that, and fuck them", and the FLOSS crowd generally shares membership with that group. Meanwhile, GitHub—whose userbase is largely made up of only that type of crowd—seems to deal with far less criticism over it.
Unable to attract as many contributors? The cold reality is that most open source projects aren't really TRYING to attract contributors. Small-time hobbyists often don't want to play with others in their personal project sandboxes, and big-time projects with high profile usually put up high barriers to contribution.
Unable to attract as many end-users, or as much public mindshare? Now this makes more sense. Many of the high-profile moves to GitHub are really about P.R., and signaling friendless to the developer community (e.g. Microsoft's recent image re-branding efforts). Not having a GitHub presence DOES make you less visible and more isolated from developers today.
Either way, I would argue that GitHub is really just a sort of Facebook or Twitter-like presence for software organizations. A way to draw attention, publicity, or mindshare from the public... but often merely a hosting mirror, and not even the primary toolset through which the software is actually developed.
This being the case, who cares if GitHub is dominant? Or SourceForge ten years ago, or whatever the next popular thing might be ten years from now? In most cases, it's effectively about as consequential as having to shift your focus from MySpace to Facebook when the audience moves.
This is an interesting expression by the grandparent. I've never heard this term before, but I've definitely felt like I've been "punished socially" in some way on the Internet by not having Facebook. The most common example are the large number of apps that I can't use because they require a Facebook account to get started. (I had an FB account in the early days when it was still edu only, but ended it a few years back)
Git being distributed means that you can host your project on as many different places as you want. And making the workflow to accept pull requests for Github, Gitlab, or other providers really isn't very difficult. They are all just remotes.
News flash: the number of people using the "D" in "DVCS" is so tiny that it might as well not be there. Central server with central authoritative repository, where all developers push and pull and synchronize, is how people use git in the real world, and it's time to stop pretending that any distributed features will ever be used.
(which is to say, if github disappeared tomorrow, everyone using it would find a way to transition to yet another central server with central authoritative repo that everyone uses)
Git doesn't do remote propagation all by itself, so if you're thinking "distributed" like DNS, then yeah of course devs don't do that. Of course we "rely" on a central repository. But if github goes down for good, we change our remotes and the migration is painless.
What else would you want? Propagation would be neat but is completely unnecessary (which is why it hasn't been done). But if the remote loses all my data, well, I and every other dev have a copy locally and we can start working from a fresh remote.
Github repositories are "authoritative" by convention. These things are a feature when you work in a team. In some of my personal projects, it's not the Github repository that's authoritative but my local repository. I really don't understand what you're trying to get at, honestly... git is popular because it covers all those use cases.
Git is about everyone having a full copy of a repo so they can go through the entire history and branch and commit freely. To actually move a project forward amongst several devs there will inevitably have to be synchronization using push/pull so there's no way to escape that.
That being said, I will agree with you that most remotes exist on personal computers and not server and we tend to be focused on more centralized servers. I think that is a remnant of the Subversion mentality and is slowly getting better.
But, the distributed features of git are alive and well. Maybe not as alive and well as we'd all like. But, alive and well.
But the whole reason why git exists at all is to support development of the Linux kernel. I don't think you can brush it off so easily.
Look here for an example of what real distributed development looks like with git:
The problem with Sourceforge is that we now have a thousand unmaintained projects only available there as an archive and are risking to lose them if we're not careful. It seems easier to build a github-to-new_thing service as long as github cooperates (web api throttling).
If git is to be the dominant tool, it should support a wiki, tickets, code review and more complete distribution. Kinda like Fossil++. I hope git-appraisal or at least the idea gets more popular.
I'd say there is a large amount of projects between these two extremes, and Github makes it relatively easy to get contributors "accidentally", by making it trivially easy to contribute. And a small percentage of those will probably stick around.
For small contributions (e.g. bugs due to different configuration of my system that are trivial to recognize and catch, errors in the documentation, properly describing a bug or crash I see) GitHub is really quick. With other projects, figuring out how to get post access to the bug tracker and how to check that the bug hasn't been reported yet, or reading up on where and how to submit code changes probably takes more time then dealing with the issue itself, and I'm not going to bother.
Not saying that other places can't be similarly quick (I'd say Bitbucket and GitLab probably are), but many projects hosted on their own infrastructure are worse about that.
> This being the case, who cares if GitHub is dominant? Or SourceForge, or whatever the next popular thing might be.
For one, I do, and for two - why was sourceforge changing their business model to shady predation a problem? It was not because they were a website on the Internet - there are millions of URLs of clickjackers or other malware you could visit and harm your computer with, but you rarely see them.
The problem was that a ton of open source software had mindshare on sourceforge, that remains a problem to this day, and it took years to move most projects away from that hostile environment. Plenty of very useful free software remains hosted on sourceforge, and there are plenty of reasons - developer inertia, community loss from switching, legacy systems in place that aren't portable, lack of interest in learning new tools, and many more - but the reasons matter less than the result - that we have thousands of projects staying on a website known to infect people with malware.
Most of that software remains as portable as anything on gitub - often even moreso, because sourceforge offered many fewer developement ecosystem features than github now does - but has no switched for whatever reason. We can go after the individual projects and heckle them until we can get them off sourceforge, but that is a ton of effort and mental energy we could have better used making good software.
Which is fundamentally why the decision between github and any open source alternative is so important. This is not a question of benevolence, or even time - Github, Inc is a private company hosting a proprietary website that has 11 million accounts and 29 million source repositories today. Any action they take can destroy either trust in the platform (why exactly do you trust a proprietary web service, again?) or its usability for whatever purpose you depend on it for, and since it is proprietary there is no recourse. You just have to repeat the sourceforge hell and somehow move off of it as a hosting platform - except you might have drunk the koolaid, and now have your issues, releases, build service, wiki, and website all bound to the github platform. If moving just the source control, release hosting, and a forum from Sourceforge was bad, trying to get away from Github would be much, much worse.
But all these migrating projects should know better. They were already betrayed once by proprietary software they depended on, but are taking familiarity and mindshare over the security to never have that happen again. At least with gitlab, when Gitlab Inc jumps the shark, you - or anyone else could spin up the lifeboat to easily and seamlessly save your community with. And that collateral alone means Gitlab Inc. is much less likely to betray you for profit.
It is not a question of if. Unless Github open sources itself, and that is impossibly unlikely considering how huge their code base must be now and how many football fields of lawyers they would need to prune their internal code, a proprietary software project must eventually act against your interests because you are not in control of it, no matter the intention of the creator.
If you are going to have to bite the transition bullet, you might as well only have to do it once. Considering the parity between github and gitlab, I have never met anyone who would literally refuse to contribute to a project because its not on github, you just miss casual eyes that are more common there because the platform has captured more userbase.
But that userbase control is so dangerous, and we should all care enough to try to correct for it when we can, if it doesn't negatively impact us much. And honestly, a project like Python would have been perfect for it - they won't see a dearth of developer interest just because they are using the second most popular source control web service out there.
Being open source doesn't mean that won't happen. A lot of open source projects have acted against their users' best interests. A good example is Firefox with the whole "Pocket integration" controversy. Another example is Wikipedia, with its editorial policies that drove away editors. You can fork Firefox, and you can host your own Wikipedia mirror with exactly the same software setup, and in fact a lot of people have done so, but mantaining your own fork/mirror of a project on this scale is a lot of work. Unless you have unlimited free time (you don't) open source doesn't inherently remedy the issue that other people will do things that you do not agree with, and that may cause problems to you.
Platform choice is ultimately an economical decision. Github has significant incentives not to "go rogue", i.e. they don't want to shoot themselves in the foot. They currently provide very significant value to the community, and are in a very comfortable position, but that could change really fast if they take the Source forge route.
While the more code that gets open sourced the merrier, I personally don't believe open sourcing Github would, at this point, bring a lot into the table, especially since gitlab is so fully featured already. Their secret sauce isn't really the software, but the service they provide.
It's not a remedy. It's just a lifeline. Some of us do take Icecat or Iceweasel. With proprietary software, you have no recourse at all. Wouldn't you prefer some safety net to none at all?
This has happened before. Gnome 2 and 3 schismed, and Gnome 3 became more user friendly and configurable to bring back its users. Libva and FFMPEG split because FFMPEG was very contributor unfriendly, and then it started merging all the libva changes so contributing to libva got your changes in everywhere. Open and Libre office forked because of Oracle changes, and now Libreoffice is pretty much the only name left in town, and is more successful for it. It happens all the time in branches and private forks and message boards before it even reaches end users.
But that is the difference between MS Office and Libreoffice. When a problem is huge to the OpenOffice community, they fork and start LibreOffice, and when its substancial enough the community overrides the original developers and takes over when terrible decisions are made. If Microsoft fucks up their office (and the early ribbon was a great example of that) you are stuck, and have no power. When the version you like goes end of life, you either sit on decaying software or forfeit your preferences because Microsoft has complete control.
If Gitlab jumped the shark, you would not be spinning up your own gitlab clone to maintain yourself - the gitlab community would fork away from Gitlab Inc and create Librelab, and mindshare would drive products to it because its a seamless transition. And that is more unlikely to happen with Gitlab in the first place because the power of the user can keep the company in check from making extremely user hostile moves like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, etc can do with impunity because users are trapped and they hold all the keys to the castle.
> Their secret sauce isn't really the software, but the service they provide.
The services are the problem. Its the same problem with Facebook - Google+ is feature equivalent, but it was dead in the water to start and its free clones like StatusNet (albeit thats more twitter) are completely dead because they aren't just personal software, they are platforms. And platforms with mindshare and the users are insurmountable.
Its not about the wiki, or issue tracker, or pages. Those are replaceable - painfully, but doable. But replacing the community of developers is not a solvable problem, because they are already on github. You have already lost. And that gives github overwhelming and dominant power in how you conduct and host free software now, with no recourse.
Some of these replies are pivoting to talk instead about the fate of abandoned projects on SourceForge. That's a great discussion, but is a DIFFERENT discussion. The parent comment talked about consequences that reduce engagement with active projects. By definition that becomes irrelevant when the projects are inactive and long abandoned.
Anyway, nothing in this lengthy post is really all that compelling. Developers didn't shift from SourceForge to GitHub because SourceForce became shady. The timeline was the other way around, SourceForce became shady because everyone left. That initial shift happened because tastes changed, people legitimately preferred what GitHub was doing interface-wise... and once a critical mass has moved, it pulls everyone else who wants the social advantages of being in the popular destination.
If GitHub turned evil (or worse yet... "uncool"), then I just don't see the migration pain you're talking about. Pushing a git repo to a new remote is trivial. Learning a new issue tracker ticket system takes about 10 minutes (they all work basically the same), and SOMEONE will write a script to automatically migrate GitHub issues to the new thing. Wiki content? Sheesh... it's just Markdown.
The biggest risk is that you've used your GitHub URL as your exclusive web presence, rather than spending $10/yr on a real domain name. But if you've made that mistake, then you'll probably make the same mistake with ANY solution that isn't self-hosted.
By all means, host your own personal open source projects wherever you like. But telling everyone else to stop doing what everyone else is doing, on the basis of some Richard Stallman-esque principles that don't hold water, seems like a waste of time and energy.
If those pages were to disappear or if the decision was made to become less benign then the damage would be substantial and it would take many years to heal the rift.
The web never really recovered from Yahoo's bad stewardship of Geocities (untold backlinks broke, including many from Wikipedia causing those links to point to nothing which led to articles becoming unsourced, or -worse- being changed by bots to point to linkfarms instead).
If github turned evil the migration pain would make the Geocities demise look like a veritable walk in the park.
I can use GitHub as a remote and take advantage of the social and UX aspects they offer, and if GitHub vanishes (or has downtime), I can continue utilizing my git repo with all the distributed features it had before. I can (and have) continue to work while GitHub is down, I can export any of the additional data (issues, wiki, etc) that GitHub offers and store them just like I store all my backups, etc.
Centralized hosting solutions can offer value, even to distributed tools.
Where GitHub ends up conflicting with distributed workflows is when build pipelines or other systems are set up to rely on GitHub (Go dependencies, I'm looking at you). In cases like this, the user is making a choice to pin that piece of their infrastructure to a centralized service. And that's not always a bad call! If the value provided outweighs the harm done when the centralized service goes down or has other issues, it can be a good choice. It's up to the person designing their infrastructure to balance the risks and benefits, as with anything else.
Specifically speaking to GitHub's lack of incentive to invest in extending distributed git features: that seems counter to actual events. They recently worked to develop their large file storage, and rather than release a closed source / centralized system, they released an open source extension that ties in with core git (https://git-lfs.github.com/)
Yes, you can still use the basic git features, and github doesn't break them. The problem is that instead of turning Git into a Fossil++, we're relying solely on Github's tooling around git. Yes, it's easier to have a centralized location that doesn't require synchronization for tickets and reviews, but when you have to move off github, you cannot really export all the history properly without losing some details, so I firmly believe we have to make more of the git story distributed. Those features can be used by github in a friendly web interface, but like the git push and fetch model, it should exist in git itself. That way, it really won't matter where users make contributions, and it will solve the Phabricator vs github dilemma for big projects, plus allow for full archiving and porting of the data. Once your tickets and diff reviews are part of the git repository, you get features that enhance the user experience. I believe git-appraisal is using git's notes feature, and that's a good way to avoid extending the data model.
If you're arguing that open source and self-hosted alternatives get better at the UX and communal aspects that GitHub has been excelling at, I'm all for it. But lets not sell short that the reason people are flocking to GitHub is because what it offers has value, value which is worth using a hosted centralized service for them.
It serves no value for the project because they use a different system for version control, code review and ticketing, yet someone had to go setup a Github mirror because.... people expect to see you on Github?
You could try one of the self-hostable free software alternatives listed here:
I know, tracking, federation, etc... but it's much nicer only having a couple logins (google, fb, twitter, github) for most sites I access regularly.
Having one key to rule them all, so to speak is far easier than having to sign into every project's own issue tracker. I understand the risks (ie: sourceforge), but have some level of trust in GH's founders.
and my comment was more about the fact that github is just git (which is completely open) with some extra features. like the other comments have said, it's not really a big risk.
* figure out if you can use git-request-pull or git-send-email
* sign up for a mailing list (which, depending on the mailing list software the project uses, can take anywhere between a few seconds and annoyingly large amounts of minutes)
* optionally figure out how to not receive the whole traffic of the ML or set up custom email filters
* figure out if you have to CC the people responsible for the area of the code you're going to send a patch for (which might be written down in a wiki, some CONTRIBUTING file or somewhere else)
* figure out if the project wants an extra cover letter for the patch series or not (and optionally search the man pages for how to write one).
With GitHub, I just use [hub](https://hub.github.com/) or an Emacs package or plugins for other editors to
* fork the repository
* (without additional tools, I now have to add my newly created remote)
* push to my own remote
* create the pull request after reading CONTRIBUTING<tab>
which so far has been the exact same workflow for every project I've seen (ymmv of course).
- I would already be following the mailing list and/or the bug tracker,
- I would already have read the relevant guidelines before starting to work on the tree, and
- I would already have figured out to whom should I refer my patch.
And no lock-in to git itself. The project can use git, hg, cvs, svn, darcs, rcs, sccs, whatever. I can, after obtaining the tree, create diffs to orig files and be done with it.
If I was going to contribute to a project on github (which I did a few times), the above-mentioned are still relevant, if one wants to contribute to a projects, they should be familiar with it. Also, I would have to know how things work the github way. And because the github way is so mechanical, it becomes hard to enforce project rules.
Then, the github web interface is score oriented: Commit numbers, release numbers, source tree layout in the face, source language statistics, search that can take me to other projects, profiles with contribution numbers, many other irrelevant stuff. It makes one want to "score", and "show off". It distracts from the actual goal of one's contribution: sharing.
Also, for anybody not already aware (I didn't know this for a long time): GitHub repo wikis are themselves git repos that use Gollum
Of course, you have issues and discussions that are tried to Github's platform, but we don't have any universally accepted format for it except email anyway.
I have seen instances where they have been cowards, regarding DMCA's and acquiescing to threats, but that is a minor sin. I don't expect every organization to fight every fight worth fighting.
now does this mean that Python will completely switch away from Mercurial? this was one of the major projects still using hg
what does this mean for mercurial's global adoption vs git?
also, i don't understand why the free software aspect of gitlab wasn't an important argument in the decision... that seems like a key element of the difference between the two platforms.
Mozilla, Octave, and Hedgewars are a few remaining projects that still use hg. For them, I will continue to improve, promote, and use Mercurial.
Their reasoning for using Github have nothing to do with the technical merits of git or hg or with the freedom of the software or platform. They want more contributions and they figure using the popular platform is the way to obtain them.
1. Gitlab themselves admit that Gitlab.com is bad. Making a cloud-based software development platform is hard, and Github has some of the best engineers working on scaling the service. Gitlab doesn't have nearly as many resources.
2. The community is thin. Almost all of the largest projects on Gitlab.com are Gitlab. Gitlab CE is maintained by only a handful of people. Go through the list of top contributors on Gitlab.com and you'll find that they have almost zero "personal projects" hosted there. If the developers of the service don't even use it, why should I?
3. The UX of Gitlab is honestly quite poor. At best, it's a clone of Github's UI. At worst, it has way too much scrolling thanks to inconveniently placed whitespace, poor performance, a confusing information architecture, and oodles of low-contrast text. I personally find getting around Gitlab to be tiring and confusing. Here's an easy example: from the Contributors tab of a project , how can I see more about a contributor? You just can't. There's lots of little papercuts like this scattered across Gitlab. Not to say Github is without papercuts, but it certainly has far fewer.
What I don't understand right now is why they aren't trying to copy GitHub as much as possible ... when it makes sense of course. I've been studying both GitHub and GitLab's design in detail, because I want to incorporate my technology into their branches and commits page, and I've found the user experience between both quite striking.
When I get some time this week, I would like to submit an issue with GitLab to let them know in more detail what I think they can do better, but here is just a synopsis:
- I still can't put my finger on it, but there is something off about the font.
- Avatars with 50% border radius is a bad design choice in my opinion. The problem with creating circular avatars is they hide too much of the image and they create a focal point towards the center of the image. If your avatar doesn't have a natural center focus, it will look bad and create unnecessary eye strain, since your mind will naturally try to fill in cropped areas. Keep it simple and use a simple border radius of 8 or less.
- Avatars on the commits page are too small. I'm not sure if this design decision was the result of the Gitorious acquisition, but Gitorious had this problem as well. Using small avatars has its place, but not on the commits page since this page is designed to help you better understand who did what quickly.
- How the commit message is revealed in the commits page is too jarring. If you click on the ellipses at
you'll better understand. The problem with GitLab's implementation is the strong focal point is the avatar and when you click on the ellipsis, your eyes will get dragged down with it when the message is revealed. Just copy GitHub and use a bigger avatar and have the commits message reveal below the strong focal point (avatar)
- The calendar icon on the commits page is visually too strong and should be removed.
- The clipboard and other elements on the commits rows creates an unnatural balance/flow. If you look at GitHub's commits page, the clipboard, commit sha and browse tree icon are equally balanced in size and weight, which creates a natural horizontal flow. You can sweep from left to right and it won't create any unnecessary jarring effect.
This is just some of the things that I've thought about when I was looking at the commits page and I really don't understand why they aren't copying GitHub's UI in a lot of places. The amount of money that GitHub is investing in their UI vs GitLab's is quite significant, and it should be obvious that GitHub is way more capable of producing a better user experience, so why not copy it?
GitHub does that too, of course. But they are also basically a social networking website for individuals and organizations in the software industry. Prominent companies put code on GitHub because that's how you maintain a public presence in the developer community today. Even though the GitHub repos are more often than not mirrors, with the code actually being developed with internally-hosted repos and tooling.
So as far public destinations for open source code, GitHub has that market pretty sewn up for now. However, there's lots of competition in the "charging money for private services" market. Atlassian is a giant in the enterprise world, and I'm sure GitLab is doing well too. GitHub sells private services too, of course. Lots of people argue that Bitbucket's tooling is better, and even the paid version of GitLab is insanely cheaper... but GitHub does have an advantage in being able to leverage everyone's familiarity with it.
I think Gitlab's current user base is for developers/startups who want VC backups for their private codebases. I'd probably use Gitlab if I were developing a private project that I didn't plan on releasing.
Github, by design, is friendly towards people who want their code to be open to the world and encourage exploration of interesting projects. It's a great for sharing research code, and many big companies (Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla, Disney, Pixar) already put their stuff there. It's highly unlikely these big fishes will move to Gitlab anytime soon.
Gitlab is the first piece of open source I've seen in probably a decade where I haven't a single bad word to say for it, their attention to detail is superb, starting with the installation process. I'm usually by default a critic of pretty much anything I encounter (aka. "typical HN comment author") but I find myself advocating Gitlab constantly
Seriously, I like the idea. It will give visibility for who contribute and might bring some new contributors.