GitHub and Internet Archive: Helping to preserve the Sunlight

Logos for GitHub and Internet Archive side by side.

Question: What do 414 GitHub and GitLab repositories, 88 domain names, 54 servers and 33 Heroku apps have in common?  

Answer: Sunlight Labs!  

Question: Hey, Kat? How are you going to get all this product transferred, worked out, housed, adopted, documented, retired, captured, shut down [cue mad libs] before Labs winds down next month?

Answer: That’s a great question! It involves our amazing open source and open data community, the quick thinking of a developer like Bill Hunt as he sees a logistical tsunami rolling in, and your continued patience and support. :-)

On Sept. 21, I promised our community regular updates on the closure of Sunlight Labs. Here’s how the work is progressing:

  • Partner organizations have committed to protect the foundations of the public civic tech infrastructure Labs built over the years.  
    • GitHub has committed to host the Sunlight Labs repository as an open source community project independent of Sunlight Foundation. It’s been a joy to work with Nadia Eghbal and her team on that arrangement, and I hope you’ll tweet a lot of love to her and her team!
    • Beyond repos, we have loads of content and data we want to preserve. Mark Graham and his team at the extraordinary and audacious Internet Archive are partnering with us over the coming weeks to archive it ALL. From the Wayback Machine for our domains and subdomains, to a special Collection at the Internet Archive for Sunlight’s datasets – they’ll make sure you can still access our information even after Labs is gone. If you think that’s as awesome as I do, put your money where your heart is and donate to them here.  
  • We’re consolidating repositories, adding documentation, standardizing licenses and trying to ensure the open source community can understand and use our projects in the future.  
    • We’ve moved close to 200 repos from our internal GitLab server to GitHub. We’re now scrubbing each of those repos for passwords or any other sensitive information before we make them public. To make this process as efficient as possible, our senior technologist has published an entire repo of tools he’s written for our project migration. Look for more on that process later this week!
    • If you live on GitHub rather than email, we’ve created Photosynthesis — the official repository for the Labs closure. If you know of something you want the Internet Archive to store in its Sunlight collection, or a project that needs special attention, please open an issue on the repo to let us know.
    • I’m reaching out to Labs alumni and other contributors to help beef up our documentation. If you can help us with documentation, please shoot us an email at, open an issue on Photosynthesis or just send a pull request to any repo that needs some love and attention.  

  • We’re still determining the official new homes for existing projects.
    • We’ve received dozens of offers of assistance and interest in projects like Open States, Hall of Justice, Politwoops and Email Congress.  I’ve responded to those who have reached out through and will be keeping interested parties apprised of our progress. Our Board will make the final determination on such decisions, and I will continue to work with our Interim Director John Wonderlich and the Board to facilitate that process.  

Meanwhile, in other news, we’re still heading to Cleveland on Oct. 14-15 for our first ever TransparencyCamp on state and local governance! So many people have reached out over email and twitter to express their solidarity, love and desire for initiatives like Sunlight Labs to live and to continue. TransparencyCamp is the perfect place to dig in and work with a larger community on how we can build new solutions to the problems that need to be solved in our cities and states. Time is running out to register, so do it here and join us as TCampers take over the Cleveland Public Library to brainstorm a more sunlit world.