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The GitHub Black Market That Helps Coders Cheat the Popularity Contest

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The line between smart strategy and cheating can be blurry.

There is evidence that, now that life online is central to just about every area of human endeavor, online cheating occurs in even niche communities.

Credit: Anna Efetova/Getty Images

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 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.

From Wired
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