Dismiss stale pull requests when new commits are pushed

Can disabling this feature be a small win for your team?

If you’re using Pull Requests in GitHub, it gives you the option to enable a feature called “Dismiss stale pull requests when new commits are pushed”. If you’ve created a PR, gotten a review, then made a change to the PR, this feature will dismiss the existing review, requiring you to get a new review.

GitLab, and I’m sure every other competing service, has a similar feature as well.

This feature is great if… well… if you don’t trust your team.

One of the clients I’ve been working with had this feature enabled, and nobody, myself included, really thought much of it. For a very long time.

On the other hand, we’ve been suffering from a really long and slow review process as well.

One day it clicked that this feature was contributing to that problem. So I suggested to the team:

“What if we disable this feature? Then we can respond to review comments, and merge our changes much faster, without watiing for another round of review?”

Of course, doing this assumes that you trust your colleagues not to sneak unrelated or harmful changes into a pull request after it’s been reviewed.

On the other hand, if you don’t trust your colleagues, why are you working with them? If they’re truly not worthy of that trust, then they either need to find new jobs, or they need to be trained. This GitHub feature won’t solve either of those problems (and will likely make these problems worse by covering them up).

Now, don’t get me wrong… the pull request review cycle at this client is still way too slow. It’sa huge waste. But it’s now less of a waste. I’ll take a small win like that any day.

Can this be a small win for your team, too?

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