Failures when cloning assignments and "flagged" organization

I am using GitHub Classrooms to setup assignments which students clone during class. When we did this in class yesterday, about 1/3 of the 48 students in the class were not able to successfully create their version of the assignment - they got error messages or the screen would hang and make no progress. After retrying dozens of times most of them eventually got it to work. But clearly this was a major stumbling block for something that was supposed to be quick and easy. I hope that the robustness of the assignment creation process is something that github is looking at closely – if this happened for my class of 48 students, I can only imagine the mess for much larger classes. I should also note that the repository used as a template for the assignment was very small - just a single README file, so this shouldn’t have caused excess load on the system.

This was actually the second disaster our class faced this week – on Monday’s lab sessions (~20 students) we did not get errors when cloning, but our organization was “flagged” by Github, causing all the repositories to disappear, including the course website. Fortunately GitHub responded quickly and re-enabled our organization within 30 minutes, but by then the lab session was over.

These two issues make me very concerned about continuing to use GitHub in my courses, and I hope that GitHub is working to ensure similar issues don’t arise in the future! We are becoming dependent on the great resources GitHub provides, but it means problems have a major impact on our ability to teach.

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I had similar issues in the past while students were cloning the assignments and I easily agree that it’s definitely not a nice situation to handle since we all got stuck outright waiting for the service to be up again. Luckily, it didn’t take long to get us back to work.

By contrast, I’ve never got any organization I manage flagged. Given the organization is free and ready almost instantaneously (at least mine), I deem it’s quite crucial to provide sufficiently precise information when the organization is created (talking in general, not specifically about your case) to facilitate later verification as much as possible. However, GitHub usually reacts super fast, as you’ve experienced.

That said, I can tell I have been using GitHub Classroom for two years and I believe that the educational idea they developed and the infrastructure they put in place are simply superb, unmatched. I’ve seen things improving over time in terms of new features added (e.g. roster, deadline) and an increased level of reliability. Also, the possibilities to customize the classroom by means of GitHub API are countless. Importantly, there are already a bunch of scientific works citing GitHub Classroom as a rapidly emerging tool in the field of education.

For all this and the fact that it’s a fully free service, I believe a few seldom glitches are acceptable, also considering that their occurrence is getting much less frequent compared to the first times.

Yes, to be clear I am grateful for what GitHub is providing, especially as a free service. It is fantastic and has changed what many of us are capable of doing in our classes.

But faculty need to be aware that problems can happen and be aware of steps to get around or prevent them. For example, I see now that I did not fill in the details of my class’s organization – perhaps having my official class URL in there would have prevented it from being flagged (I have no idea). If anyone has other tips for avoiding or resolving these types of issues, please share!

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@twood02 then it’s very likely that not providing that piece of information when you created the organization made GitHub a bit wary.

I think that within the creation page there are already disclaimers warning about the possibility that the organization might be flagged in certain circumstances. Perhaps, we could ask to make them clearer (cc @mozzadrella).

I wonder if the flagged organization is the only problem here. I have students right now who can’t create an assignment via GitHub Classroom that other students could create yesterday. But my organization isn’t flagged. What is wrong? It’s like classroom is down, but I can access it fine. I’ve been using GitHub in my classroom for at least 5 years, and GitHub Classroom since it was created (more recently), and I can’t remember having this type of random issue.

Something is definitely broken right now. I’ve got all my students trying to clone their week’s repositories and huge numbers of failures (versus no issues in the past two weeks).

When I try running one of my scripts to scan the repos using the GitHub API, I get back an error in the JSON:

API rate limit exceeded for user ID 743029

So… something about having tons of students trying to exercise GitHub Classroom all at once is triggering a problem, perhaps this rate-limiting thing is the underlying problem, or perhaps it’s a side-effect of something else.

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Relevant link: https://github.com/education/classroom/issues/1537

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What’s strange for me is that it is asynchronous in my class – students are following the assignment link in their own time, and there are only 32 students in the course. Seems like GitHub Classroom can’t deal with so many different students from different organizations? What happened this year that it suddenly just doesn’t work??

EDIT: Saw your link. Good to see they are working on it.

I was fortunate to not have experienced any of these issues.
From the link shared above it seems the problem was solved.
Nevertheless, it would be reassuring if those that ran into issues (@twood02, @umasshokie, @danwallach and probably others) could confirm if the issues are gone next time you post assignments. Thank you! :smiley: