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Why Your GitHub Profile Sucks

Posted on 2/3/2021

githubtips

After going through many GitHub profiles, I noticed that most of them are not really appealing. In this article, I will give you some pro-tips to enhance yours.

As of September 2020, GitHub reports having more than 58 million users. In order to stand out from the crowd, your profile should be unique and reflect your own identity.

Here are the reasons why your GitHub profile might be boring.

Reason #1: You Don't Have A Profile Picture

Yes, we're starting with the simplest and the most obvious one, but you must have a profile picture. It can be either a picture or you, an avatar that looks like you, or even just a logo or a background, but it needs to reflect your identity in some way. People should be able to recognize your profile just by looking at your profile picture.

Here's one of the GitHub default profile pictures: GitHub default profile picture

🤮 Not appealing at all...

As you might have seen, my profile picture is a memoji that looks like me. This means that it is (almost) unique, and it reflects my own identity.

My profile picture

I really encourage you finding a profile picture that will make your profile unique too.

Reason #2: Your Profile Is Incomplete

GitHub, such as many other famous social networks, allows you to fill in some information about you. This doesn't mean that you have to share your phone number or your address, but again, you need to have an identity.

What can you put on your profile?

  • A short biography
  • Your work place
  • Where you are from
  • A link to any website
  • Your Twitter username

The more information you fill in, the better.

Now, if you think that some of these points are personal, I totally agree with you, and you don’t necessarily have to fill them all.

Nevertheless, when people are browsing your profile, they must be able to know the main stuff about you. Your profile has to draw out what you are interested in, some of your recent projects, possibly a link to your personal website —  or if you don’t have one, to your LinkedIn profile.

Also, don’t hesitate to include emojis in your biography. This way, your presentation will grab the users’ attention by creating some anchor points. But beware not to overuse them though.

We can consider my case, but also some of other presentations that caught my attention.

Some profile biographies

Your profile is getting on fire, congratulations! 🎉

Reason #3: You Don’t Have A Profile Presentation

Uh? Ludal, we just added a profile presentation in the previous part, what are you saying?

Yes, you're right. However, you might have noticed that the maximal length for your biography is actually quite short: 160 characters.

This is why in July 2020, GitHub secretly released a new feature: profile README.

It allows you to add a fully detailed presentation to your profile page, using the Markdown syntax. This is the perfect place to detail whatever technologies you use, what you are currently working on, additional contact information, etc.

Here's an example of what it can look like:

A profile README example

This tip really gives your profile an incredible boost, making it even more different and personal.

Now, how do you add this to your profile?

In fact, the steps are ridiculously easy: just head over to GitHub, and create a new repository with the same name as your username.

Special repository

As you can see, this small paragraph comes in, saying that you just discovered a special repository. Yee-haw!

Now, you just need to add a file named README.md at the root of this repository and add whatever you want people to know about you — obviously, using the Markdown syntax.

Here are a few (subjective) tips for an awesome profile presentation:

  1. Add emojis, but don't overuse them.
  2. Structure it, with some titles, and why not subtitles.
  3. Add GIFs or images — don't abuse them either.
  4. Add special elements, such as you profile stats or icons.
  5. Stay consistent — for instance, if you decide to include an emoji before a title, do it for every title, or do not.

But what if you're not inspired? Well, there are some great repositories such as this one or this one, which contains some templates made by other people, that you can freely download and reuse. Then you just have to change their content to make them yours.

Don't hesitate to browse several templates and take the parts you like in either of them. Then, simply merge those parts together in order to get your own and unique presentation!

Also, if you're not familiar at all with the Markdown syntax, you can either use this cheatsheet for a full reference, or even use websites such as Profilinator that allow you to generate some dope presentations without having to write a single line of Markdown.

Screenshot of Profilinator

Reason #4: You're Not Interacting With Others

GitHub on its own is kind of a social network, as it allows you to follow people, star other ones' projects, etc.

This is why you must show everyone that you actually exist!

Sheldon running

To do so, you only need to follow users and star projects. As simple as that.

Indeed, star projects you’re interested in. Don’t star thousands of projects just to star them. The same applies for people you will follow.

And as you now have an awesome profile, with (I’m pretty sure) wonderful projects on it, they might follow you back and/or star one (or more) of your projects.

Reason #5: You Don’t Have Any Pinned Projects

Last but not least, here’s another small trick.

You can actually pin up to 6 projects, which will be displayed directly on your profile’s public page.

How to do so? Again, it's trivial. Just head over to your profile’s public page (which is github.com/your-username) and search for the “Pinned” section. From here, just click the “Customize your pins” button on the right side, and select your most relevant projects.

I would personally recommend using an even number of projects to pin, so that they are displayed symmetrically, which is nicer than having a trailing blank.

Here’s the result:

Pinned repositories

Wrapping Up

Now that you have applied all the steps above, here’s how the final result might look like:

Final result

Thanks (and congratulations) for reading me all the way through. You now have a fully customized GitHub profile that really stands out from the crowd, and most importantly, that reflects your own identity. 🎉

Copyright © 2022 Ludovic CHOMBEAU