How to destroy others work using force push - I

24 Feb 2017

last modified: 25-feb-2017 (09:41)

This is part I of two part series about force pushing in git.

Let me start it with a disclaimer


While using git, I often here about the situation where a user commits code and later thinks “Oh! I have pushed the buggy code! I need to undo it but it’s on remote”.

If you are a clever guy (like Linus? kidding!), you will never hard reset your commit (I will write about revering git commits some time later) but let’s assume for this article that you were drunk and you did a reset.

Technically what happens is, you go back to previous commit by removing the last commit in your local branch, but remote still has that commit. See the following commit history diagram

Before RESET

remote: a -> b -> c -> d (your last commit)
local: a -> b -> c -> d (your last commit)


remote: a -> b -> c -> d (your last commit)
local: a -> b -> c (c is your last now)

Assuming that teams are working actively and pushing the code to remote repo. As soon as you delete your commit in local branch, some one commits his/her work to remote. Now the commit history looks like this.


local: a -> b -> c (c is your last now)


remote: a -> b -> c -> d (your last commit, deleted from local) -> e (someone else just committed)

Here comes the last, destructive part. You have deleted your commit locally and you want to push it to remote (to remove it from there). As soon as you type git push and enter, a very strange message pops up.

error: failed to push some refs to '/f/bla/bla/bla'
hint: Updates were rejected because the tip of your current branch is behind
hint: its remote counterpart. Integrate the remote changes (e.g.
hint: 'git pull ...') before pushing again.

To get rid of this message, someone suggested you to force-push your changes and the moment you wrote git push -f and entered, you destroyed the work committed by other guy after your deleted commit.

Apart from destroying other’s work, it creates an extremely confusing and depressing situation. You have matched remote branch’s history with your local branch and everything happened after that (on remote) is disappeared. Someone else clones the branch and finds that the code other developer are talking about is not there and other developers find out that they were synced with remote branch a moment ago but now they are ahead of remote branch.

Although, they have your work in their local repositories and worst, if they commit now, the code written by you will be committed by some other developer in some other commit.

You shouldn’t care about all of this if you are the only person committing to a repo. But still, I discourage using force push and hard reset. If you are in habit of using these destructive commands you can easily apply them in some other busy repo.

I leave the demo for next part where I will show you practically by creating all these scenarios.