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What’s with all the ducks?

What in the world do rubber ducks have to do with programming? And why were they everywhere at GitHub Universe? A lot of you asked, so I’m here to help explain.

What's with all the ducks?

Black eyes.
Orange beak.
Large yellow body.
Rubbery texture…
…often seen floating in baths.

What are we talking about? Rubber ducks, of course. Now the question you might be asking, “Why is everyone obsessed with rubber ducks?” You may have seen our new “What is GitHub?” video making its way around the internet. Outside of the famous comedian, whom you may recognize, you saw a new character floating around (literally). And if you were at GitHub Universe this year or tuned into the livestream, you probably saw lots of physical rubber ducks dispersed throughout.

So, what in the world do rubber ducks have to do with programming? And why were they everywhere? A lot of you asked, so I’m here to help explain.

Rubber ducks + programming 🦆

Our story starts back in 1999, when a book was released, The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt. The story describes a computer programmer who sat a rubber duck down one fine day, and explained his code to the duck—line by line!

The process of speaking the code out loud helped the developer understand the code and gain greater insight into his work. After all, rubber ducks don’t talk back!

The technique stuck. It’s now called rubber duck debugging or rubberducking. Of course, it doesn’t need to be only rubber ducks, but the term stuck and is part of developer lingo. So, in our effort to explain all the things GitHub can do for developers and businesses, we used this same technique, with our own special rubber duck. Our duck takes a journey through all the elements of GitHub that make it the most complete developer platform to build, scale, and deliver secure software.

Your turn 🔮

If rubber duck debugging is new to you, try it out! It doesn’t just work with code, either. If you’re ever stuck, try talking through your problem or challenge out loud, whether it’s to that plant on your desk, a roommate, your family, or even your dog. In the meantime, your code on GitHub is waiting to be explained to your new yellow friend.

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