This is a full copy from https://stackoverflow.com/questions/62969381/is-it-in-line-with-the-dco-that-a-github-sign-off-needs-and-publishes-full-name


Coming from Stack Overflow where a pseudo name is normal and enough, a github beginner like me does not expect to have to sign-off a git pull request with the full name and kind of full-name-email being published. Going over to github, I simply do not expect more than what Stack Overflow is asking for. I thought the other contributors on github just chose willingly to sign with their full names and respective e-mails, and I was astonished to see my personal mail being published.

The tasks you follow to do the pull request on github (not from the DCO, this was just a helping comment):

You need sign-off your PR with your email address. Below are steps to sign-off a commit. At first, you need configure your git with user name and email: git config --global user.name "FIRST_NAME LAST_NAME" git config --global user.email "[email protected]" Next run git push --force-with-lease origin YOURBRANCHNAME

I have read the DCO Developer Certificate of Origin now in the github version https://github.com/apps/dco and in the original version https://developercertificate.org/.

The github version asks for more than the original DCO, in my opinion.

It requires all commit messages to contain the Signed-off-by line with an email address that matches the commit author.

further below...

Contributors sign-off that they adhere to these requirements by adding a Signed-off-by line to commit messages. This is my commit message

Signed-off-by: Random J Developer [email protected]

Here you could already discuss if "Random J Developer" has to be the full name or just a pseudo name, and also whether the name (or pseudo name respectively) should be part of the mail. The original DCO speaks just generally of the personal information in the sign-off:

I understand and agree that this project and the contribution are public and that a record of the contribution (including all personal information I submit with it, including my sign-off) is maintained indefinitely and may be redistributed consistent with this project or the open source license(s) involved.

In its intro, the github DCO mentions the email that "matches the commit author" as the core of the personal information, and later adds the name in the example. This "matches the commit author" is already a stricter requirement than the original DCO is asking for, thus this requirement could already be questioned. From the original DCO I read the option to put your full name and full name email, but not the need to do so, as the github user name and a mail that includes the github author name would be personal information enough to identify you as well, which is the main requirement. From the github DCO I read the wish that you put your full name, but it is only in the example, not in the text, and I could also go around that now by putting my github username and an email that does not show my full name but includes my github name, and still following the DCO, as I read it.

My final question after this long explanation:

Is the github DCO requirement of full name and an "email address that matches the commit author" in line with the official DCO? Or does it ask too much, and a pseudo name + email using that pseudo name would be already enough? Or as a third option, would a pseudo name + email not using any pseudo or full name already be enough?


To anyone of github reading this. If publishing the full name and respective email is really needed, I simply would like to be informed about this when doing my first pull request, because few people will read the DCO before starting.

1 Answer 1


Some projects such as Linux ask for the DCO to be signed in order to do due diligence, and ultimately to protect downstream users. The DCO does not forbid projects from establishing individual processes, such as requiring that it's clearly the committer who has signed off on the commit and to have a clear means of contact later.

This has nothing to do with GitHub, as far as I can see. Projects on GitHub are not required to have a DCO, and most do not. The DCO integration that's available on GitHub is just a third party app or bot to automate part of this workflow, if a project chooses to use it.

Stack Overflow has it's own standards for contributions, and is not quite as bent on ensuring that downstream users can enjoy the license. However, the terms of service contain somewhat similar terms. Stack Overflow the company also has access to your email address in case they need to contact you.

  • "Projects on GitHub are not required to have a DCO, and most do not." --> Thus it is individual choice of each project, and each project can determine this as strict as it wants? Because the project that I mean simply refers to the DCO of github, which is not that strict. This would support me in my doubts about publishing the full name and full-name-email. The reaction was: "Hiding a contributor's identity defeats the purpose of the DCO". Thus I am right and this strict practice is going too far? Btw, I do not mind if the platform knows my personal details, it is only about the publishing. Jul 18, 2020 at 17:41
  • 4
    @Lorenz The "DCO of GitHub" doesn't exist. What you've linked in your question is a third party application from probot. "This would support me" – no, every project can have you jump through whatever hoops they want to before accepting your contribution. They are not required to accept your PR at all. "Hiding a contributor's identity defeats the purpose" – yes, because a large part of the purpose is traceability. This doesn't so much benefit a maintainer who could keep your data under wraps, but rather benefits downstream users – the wider public.
    – amon
    Jul 18, 2020 at 18:04
  • Good point that THE DCO of github does not exist (you have said this before, I was confused by the official links to github.com/apps/dco and developercertificate.org). That means that a workaround like just using my github username and creating an email with that same username - but without mentioning my full name - would be against that project's conditions, which can be whatever. Then I see that I will have to follow the requirement of every single project. Good to know of course, thank you. Jul 18, 2020 at 18:52
  • 1
    There is a different accepted answer on stackoverflow.com/questions/62969381/…, the two separate community answers are a full match here, both together explain the whole picture well. Jul 18, 2020 at 20:49

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