Github secured its status as a programmer's best friend by combining tools for managing software with collaboration features that create a kind of social network for the code-literate. Its success has seen it pick up a less welcome feature of social platforms: a black market in fake engagement.
An ecosystem of online stores and chat groups openly sell Github stars, which users award to signal interest in a project and can be tallied to rank the most popular. For the bargain price of $6 paid in ether, the crypto token of the Ethereum blockchain, WIRED bought 50 stars for a dormant GitHub project via the straightforwardly branded site BuyGithub.com. The fake endorsements appeared in just hours.
The shady stars for sale are part of a wider black market in online engagement metrics used by coders, investors, and others in tech to highlight promising programmers and startups when deciding who to hire, work for, or invest in.
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