GitHub today announced the availability of templates that repository maintainers can add to forms for new issues and pull requests. The move might sound like a small thing, but it could result in more civil discussion among GitHub users.

GitHub product manager Ben Bleikamp explains the process of turning on the feature in a blog post:

To add an Issue template to a repository create a file called ISSUE_TEMPLATE in the root directory. A file extension is optional, but Markdown files (.md) are supported. Markdown support makes it easy to add things like headings, links, @-mentions, and task lists to your templates.

Pull Request templates follows the same pattern: add a file called PULL_REQUEST_TEMPLATE to the root directory of your repository.

Maintainers can customize the templates so that people who come to GitHub with grievances can provide exactly the kind of information that could lead to improvements or productive conversation, rather than random complaints lacking substance. This is particularly important when it comes to popular open source projects, where anyone can stop by and share thoughts.

The rollout comes a few weeks after some prominent GitHub users complained about issues and other parts of the service in an open letter of sorts called Dear GitHub.

GitHub now has more than 12 million users.