GitHub supports good ways to collaborate with other engineers. Especially, pull requests let you tell others about your changes. Based on a pull request, you can get a review from others or can discuss. When reviewers give you feedback, you can create another commit to apply it. These commits are called follow-up commits.

This is a typical and suggested flow in GitHub. Follow-up commits let reviewers check changes easily after their feedback. Since there are new commits, they don’t need to check all files and can check just those commits. Moreover, follow-up commits don’t change the git history. Although there are several benefits, I don’t think this is a good practice. The problem is that follow-up commits could be like this:

a9bc78a (HEAD -> auto-login) Add a missing annotation
bd29011 Rename a method
c4881fb Fix a typo
e10bd31 Add a auto login feature

It is really important for you to know that the git history consists of git commits, not pull requests. A pull request is just a handy way to discuss and get feedback supported by GitHub. Each commit doesn’t have anything on the pull request.

Once a pull request is merged, follow-up commits will be a part of git history. This makes the git history longer and verbose. Furthermore, it makes hard to find a problem point when you have an issue. Since there is no remaining context on a pull request, it is often hard to know why this commit was made.

To avoid this, I suggest to amend your commit rather than adding follow-up commits. You can amend a commit with --amend.

$ git add .
$ git commit --amend

Technically, --amend doesn’t change the content of a previous commit. It makes a new commit and replaces the previous commit in the git history. When you run git log, you can see the new commit having a different git hash after amending.

$ git add .
$ git log -1 --oneline
a9bc78a (HEAD -> auto-login) Add a auto login feature
$ git commit --amend
$ git log -1 --oneline
7c5fd69 (HEAD -> auto-login) Add a auto login feature

Since amending changes the git history, git push will fail. It doesn’t allow to override the history by default. You can override the history in the remote with --force when you run git push.

$ git push
 ! [rejected]        master -> master (non-fast-forward)
$ git push --force

Then, the git history would be shorter and more concise. Nowadays, GitHub gives a way to keep a simple git history along with follow-up commits. When you merge, you can select Squash and merge instead of Create a merge commit.

squash and merge

It could make the same result but I consider amending a git commit is better because of:

  • No squashing: It is possible to merge without squashing. You need to change it before selecting. Reviewers also don’t know whether you will squash and merge.

  • Wrong commit message: When you select Squash and merge, GitHub asks a new commit message. By default, it contains a title and a message of each commit. Since titles and messages from follow-up commits are not useful, you need to clean up the message manually. If not, a squashed commit could have a wrong or meaningless message.

squash commit messages


The git history is based on git commits. When you get feedback in your pull request, you can make changes with follow-up commits. That makes the git history lengthy and hard to read. I suggest amending your commit instead of making follow-up commits. You can do it with git commit --amend.