A few days ago I received an email from [email protected]:
From: "[REDACTED] (GitHub Staff)" Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2018 21:55:06 +0000 (UTC)Subject: Re: A note from GitHub regarding your usernameHi Joël,I work on GitHub's Support team and I'm contacting you about your GitHubaccount, 'malware'. I'm so sorry about this, but for technical reasons we needto remove the username 'malware' from being available.We'd like to ask you to change your username by following these steps:help.github.com
I’ll save you the trouble: malware doesn’t have any public activity. It doesn’t have much activity at all, to be honest: I log in and poke around a bit once in a while, but really it’s an account name that I picked up not long ago with the intent of working on some new open source stuff that wasn’t tied to my usual jperras handle.
The reason behind the second account isn’t anything nefarious or special: I simply liked the idea of being able to publish code in various states of readiness without stressing about how it might look on my “professional” online persona.
Well, that particular cat is out of the bag now.
But why? Why was I now being asked to change the name of the account?
Is it because there wasn’t enough activity on the account and they thought it was being squatted?3 The phrasing of the request seems to rule this out:
for technical reasons we need to remove the username ‘malware’ from being available.
but it’s possible.
Is it because the word malware has negative connotations in the world of software? Am I a victim of a programmer version of a clbuttic filter?
If this is some form of security-related censorship, where is the line drawn? If I worked in infosec and had a repository or a user named malware-research or malware-examples, would that also trigger a support email that required them to change the relevant entity names to mal-zz-ware-examples?
What about anyone with the word hacker in their username?
I sent a hasty reply, of which I have transcribed the salient portion: