iliana destroyer of worlds

A tale of 132 e's

(Updates moved to follow-up post: “the [E]nd of eeeee”.)

A few weeks ago my most popular repository on GitHub was crowbar, a Rust crate that I’m particularly proud of. It wasn’t necessarily good, but it did something interesting. It has 168 stars.

It was overtaken by a repository named by the maximum number of e’s.

It cannot be cloned.

Cloning into 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee'...
fatal: remote error: 
   is not a valid repository name
  Email support@github.com for help

“Why?”

“Why?” is the most frequently-asked question about this repository. Here is as good of an answer as you’ll get:

At some point I wanted a GitHub organization named by 32 a’s. This was taken, so I tried with “e”. Now I had an otherwise useless organization.

A few weeks later I noticed I owned this organization. I then did the most chaotic neutral thing I could and created the longest possible repository name.

That’s the whole story.

I created it as an empty repository, as I like to make the first commit myself. This was when I learned I couldn’t push to this repository via git. I couldn’t fork it because it was empty, so I had to delete it and recreate it with a README.md.

I then posted about it on the fediverse and some folks had fun — five of the first six pull requests are my friends.

The unstoppable e98e

Some folks found it again around November 16ish and provided extremely valuable community contributions.

Friday evening (December 7), it started receiving an incredible amount of attention from an unknown source. PR #53 proposed a number of programs that infinitely printed “e”, and once that was merged dozens of others managed to help turn the repo into a Dadaist Rosetta Code.

Around that time, it hit GitHub’s trending page. I’m writing this early Monday morning and it’s been there for at least 36 hours, and at the top for 24. It was wonderful to watch it overtake Microsoft’s announcement that it would move Edge to the Chromium engine.

Apparently we broke GitHub’s daily trending repositories email, too.

It’s okay to not understand

It wasn’t too long after we hit trending for a significant amount of negative feedback to be hurled our way.

Some of it was perhaps defensible, alarmed that the “best” (?!) repo on GitHub that day was an absurd celebration of obnoxiously long repository names. Of course, GitHub’s trending page is merely a discovery tool, not a daily awards show, and like any computer-generated list of “what’s popular” should be read critically.

Someone asked “what it is supposed to represent that an employee of a large company is making such a garbage repository” as if my employment at a massive dystopian megacorporation quickly taking over the world has anything to do with this.

Another user told me to go fuck myself after spreading their shitty attempts at humor over dozens of issues. They remain blocked by the e30e organization. We unilaterally added a code of conduct shortly after that incident, which brought the sorts of trolls you’d expect out to play too.

A tweet called the repository a “waste of public resources”, which may be a mistranslation, but is otherwise a gross misunderstanding of GitHub’s business model.

Many more people looked at our repository and didn’t understand. Instead of walking away, they clicked the issues tab and opened an issue asking what the hell we were doing.

Our industry teaches a lot of people that there is nothing they cannot learn, and we have a critical mass of arrogant people in tech and on GitHub. It’s incredibly toxic and I never want to maintain a real repository this large on GitHub, paid or not.

I see the double-digit number of pull requests on the repository, roll my eyes, and wonder if I should just throw in the towel and archive the project.

But without fail, every time I think that, there’s an absolutely beautiful pull request waiting.

Conway's Game of Life ticker spitting out lowercase e's

(Updates moved to follow-up post: “the [E]nd of eeeee”.)