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Aug 4, 2019

Close Stale Issues and PRs

Warns and then closes issues and PRs that have had no activity for a specified amount of time.

The configuration must be on the default branch and the default values will:

  • Add a label "Stale" on issues and pull requests after 60 days of inactivity and comment on them
  • Close the stale issues and pull requests after 7 days of inactivity
  • If an update/comment occur on stale issues or pull requests, the stale label will be removed and the timer will restart

Recommended permissions

For the execution of this action, it must be able to fetch all issues and pull requests from your repository.
In addition, based on the provided configuration, the action could require more permission(s) (e.g.: add label, remove label, comment, close, etc.).
This can be achieved with the following configuration in the action if the permissions are restricted:

permissions:
  issues: write
  pull-requests: write

You can find more information about the required permissions under the corresponding options that you wish to use.

All options

List of input options

Every argument is optional.

Input Description Default
repo-token PAT for GitHub API authentication ${{ github.token }}
days-before-stale Idle number of days before marking issues/PRs stale 60
days-before-issue-stale Override days-before-stale for issues only
days-before-pr-stale Override days-before-stale for PRs only
days-before-close Idle number of days before closing stale issues/PRs 7
days-before-issue-close Override days-before-close for issues only
days-before-pr-close Override days-before-close for PRs only
stale-issue-message Comment on the staled issues
stale-pr-message Comment on the staled PRs
close-issue-message Comment on the staled issues while closed
close-pr-message Comment on the staled PRs while closed
stale-issue-label Label to apply on staled issues Stale
close-issue-label Label to apply on closed issues
stale-pr-label Label to apply on staled PRs Stale
close-pr-label Label to apply on closed PRs
exempt-issue-labels Labels on issues exempted from stale
exempt-pr-labels Labels on PRs exempted from stale
only-labels Only issues/PRs with ALL these labels are checked
only-issue-labels Override only-labels for issues only
only-pr-labels Override only-labels for PRs only
any-of-labels Only issues/PRs with ANY of these labels are checked
any-of-issue-labels Override any-of-labels for issues only
any-of-pr-labels Override any-of-labels for PRs only
operations-per-run Max number of operations per run 30
remove-stale-when-updated Remove stale label from issues/PRs on updates true
remove-issue-stale-when-updated Remove stale label from issues on updates/comments
remove-pr-stale-when-updated Remove stale label from PRs on updates/comments
labels-to-add-when-unstale Add specified labels from issues/PRs when they become unstale
labels-to-remove-when-unstale Remove specified labels from issues/PRs when they become unstale
debug-only Dry-run false
ascending Order to get issues/PRs false
start-date Skip stale action for issues/PRs created before it
delete-branch Delete branch after closing a stale PR false
exempt-milestones Milestones on issues/PRs exempted from stale
exempt-issue-milestones Override exempt-milestones for issues only
exempt-pr-milestones Override exempt-milestones for PRs only
exempt-all-milestones Exempt all issues/PRs with milestones from stale false
exempt-all-issue-milestones Override exempt-all-milestones for issues only
exempt-all-pr-milestones Override exempt-all-milestones for PRs only
exempt-assignees Assignees on issues/PRs exempted from stale
exempt-issue-assignees Override exempt-assignees for issues only
exempt-pr-assignees Override exempt-assignees for PRs only
exempt-all-assignees Exempt all issues/PRs with assignees from stale false
exempt-all-issue-assignees Override exempt-all-assignees for issues only
exempt-all-pr-assignees Override exempt-all-assignees for PRs only
exempt-draft-pr Skip the stale action for draft PRs false
enable-statistics Display statistics in the logs true
ignore-updates Any update (update/comment) can reset the stale idle time on the issues/PRs false
ignore-issue-updates Override ignore-updates for issues only
ignore-pr-updates Override ignore-updates for PRs only

List of output options

Output Description
staled-issues-prs List of all staled issues and pull requests
closed-issues-prs List of all closed issues and pull requests

Detailed options

repo-token

Personal Access Token (PAT) that allows the stale workflow to authenticate and perform API calls to GitHub.
Under the hood, it uses the @actions/github package.

Default value: ${{ github.token }}

days-before-stale

The idle number of days before marking the issues or the pull requests as stale (by adding a label).
The issues or the pull requests will be marked as stale if the last update (based on GitHub issue field updated_at) is older than the idle number of days.
It means that any updates made, or any comments added to the issues or to the pull requests will restart the counter of days before marking as stale.
However, if you wish to ignore this behaviour so that the creation date (based on GitHub issue field created_at) only matters, you can disable the ignore-updates option.

If set to a negative number like -1, no issues or pull requests will be marked as stale automatically.
In that case, you can still add the stale label manually to mark as stale.

The label used to stale is defined by these two options:

A comment can also be added to notify about the stale and is defined by these two options:

You can fine tune which issues or pull requests should be marked as stale based on the milestones, the assignees, the creation date and the missing/present labels from these options:

Default value: 60

days-before-issue-stale

Useful to override days-before-stale but only for the idle number of days before marking the issues as stale.

Default value: unset

days-before-pr-stale

Useful to override days-before-stale but only for the idle number of days before marking the pull requests as stale.

Default value: unset

days-before-close

The idle number of days before closing the stale issues or the stale pull requests (due to the stale label).
The issues or the pull requests will be closed if the last update (based on GitHub issue field updated_at) is older than the idle number of days.
Since adding the stale label will alter the last update date, we can calculate the number of days from this date.

If set to a negative number like -1, the issues or the pull requests will never be closed automatically.

The label used to stale is defined by these two options:

Default value: 7

days-before-issue-close

Override days-before-close but only for the idle number of days before closing the stale issues.

Default value: unset

days-before-pr-close

Override days-before-close but only for the idle number of days before closing the stale pull requests.

Default value: unset

stale-issue-message

The message that will be added as a comment to the issues when the stale workflow marks it automatically as stale with a label.

You can skip the comment sending by passing an empty string.

Default value: unset
Required Permission: issues: write

stale-pr-message

The message that will be added as a comment to the pull requests when the stale workflow marks it automatically as stale with a label.

You can skip the comment sending by passing an empty string.

Default value: unset
Required Permission: pull-requests: write

close-issue-message

The message that will be added as a comment to the issues when the stale workflow closes it automatically after being stale for too long.

Default value: unset
Required Permission: issues: write

close-pr-message

The message that will be added as a comment to the pull requests when the stale workflow closes it automatically after being stale for too long.

Default value: unset
Required Permission: pull-requests: write

stale-issue-label

The label that will be added to the issues when automatically marked as stale.
If you wish to speedup the stale workflow for the issues, you can add this label manually to mark as stale.

Default value: Stale
Required Permission: issues: write

close-issue-label

The label that will be added to the issues when closed automatically.
It will be automatically removed if the issues are no longer closed nor locked.

Default value: unset
Required Permission: issues: write

stale-pr-label

The label that will be added to the pull requests when automatically marked as stale.
If you wish to speedup the stale workflow for the pull requests, you can add this label manually to mark as stale.

Default value: Stale
Required Permission: pull-requests: write

close-pr-label

The label that will be added to the pull requests when closed automatically.
It will be automatically removed if the pull requests are no longer closed nor locked.

Default value: unset
Required Permission: pull-requests: write

exempt-issue-labels

The label(s) that can exempt to automatically mark as stale the issues.
It can be a comma separated list of labels (e.g: question,bug).

If unset (or an empty string), this option will not alter the stale workflow.

Default value: unset

exempt-pr-labels

The label(s) that can exempt to automatically mark as stale the pull requests.
It can be a comma separated list of labels (e.g: need-help,WIP).

If unset (or an empty string), this option will not alter the stale workflow.

Default value: unset

only-labels

An allow-list of label(s) to only process the issues or the pull requests that contain all these label(s).
It can be a comma separated list of labels (e.g: answered,needs-rebase).

If unset (or an empty string), this option will not alter the stale workflow.

If you wish to only check that the issues or the pull requests contain one of these label(s), use instead any-of-labels.

Default value: unset

only-issue-labels

Override only-labels but only to process the issues that contain all these label(s).

Default value: unset

only-pr-labels

Override only-labels but only to process the pull requests that contain all these label(s).

Default value: unset

any-of-labels

An allow-list of label(s) to only process the issues or the pull requests that contain one of these label(s).
It can be a comma separated list of labels (e.g: answered,needs-rebase).

If unset (or an empty string), this option will not alter the stale workflow.

If you wish to only check that the issues or the pull requests contain all these label(s), use instead only-labels.

Default value: unset

any-of-issue-labels

Override any-of-labels but only to process the issues that contain one of these label(s).

Default value: unset

any-of-pr-labels

Override any-of-labels but only to process the pull requests that contain one of these label(s).

Default value: unset

operations-per-run

Context:
This action performs some API calls to GitHub to fetch or close issues and pull requests, set or update labels, add comments, delete branches, etc.
These operations are made in a very short period of time — because the action is very fast to run — and can be numerous based on your project action configuration and the quantity of issues and pull requests within it.
GitHub has a rate limit and if reached will block these API calls for one hour (or API calls from other actions using the same user (a.k.a.: the github-token from the repo-token option)).
This option helps you to stay within the GitHub rate limits, as you can use this option to limit the number of operations for a single run.

Purpose:
This option aims to limit the number of operations made with the GitHub API to avoid reaching the rate limit.

Based on your project, your GitHub business plan and the date of the cron job you set for this action, you can increase this limit to a higher number. If you are not sure which is the right value for you or if the default value is good enough, you could enable the logs and look at the end of the stale action.
If you reached the limit, you will see a warning message in the logs, telling you that you should increase the number of operations. If you choose not to increase the limit, you might end up with unprocessed issues or pull requests after a stale action run.

When debugging, you can set it to a much higher number like 1000 since there will be fewer operations made with the GitHub API.
Only the actor and the batch of issues (100 per batch) will consume the operations.

Default value: 30

remove-stale-when-updated

Automatically remove the stale label when the issues or the pull requests are updated (based on GitHub issue field updated_at) or commented.

Default value: true
Required Permission: issues: write and pull-requests: write

remove-issue-stale-when-updated

Override remove-stale-when-updated but only to automatically remove the stale label when the issues are updated (based on GitHub issue field updated_at) or commented.

Default value: unset
Required Permission: issues: write

remove-pr-stale-when-updated

Override remove-stale-when-updated but only to automatically remove the stale label when the pull requests are updated (based on GitHub issue field updated_at) or commented.

Default value: unset

labels-to-add-when-unstale

A comma delimited list of labels to add when a stale issue or pull request receives activity and has the stale-issue-label or stale-pr-label removed from it.

Default value: unset

labels-to-remove-when-unstale

A comma delimited list of labels to remove when a stale issue or pull request receives activity and has the stale-issue-label or stale-pr-label removed from it.

Warning: each label results in a unique API call which can drastically consume the limit of operations-per-run.

Default value: unset
Required Permission: pull-requests: write

debug-only

Run the stale workflow as dry-run.
No GitHub API calls that can alter your issues and pull requests will happen.
Useful to debug or when you want to configure the stale workflow safely.

Default value: false

ascending

Change the order used to fetch the issues and pull requests from GitHub:

  • true is for ascending.
  • false is for descending.

It can be useful if your repository is processing so many issues and pull requests that you reach the operations-per-run limit.
Based on the order, you could prefer to focus on the new content or on the old content of your repository.

Default value: false

start-date

The start date is used to ignore the issues and pull requests created before the start date.
Particularly useful when you wish to add this stale workflow on an existing repository and only wish to stale the new issues and pull requests.

If set, the date must be formatted following the ISO 8601 or RFC 2822 standard.

Default value: unset

delete-branch

If set to true, the stale workflow will automatically delete the GitHub branches related to the pull requests automatically closed by the stale workflow.

Default value: false
Required Permission: pull-requests: write

exempt-milestones

A white-list of milestone(s) to only process the issues or the pull requests that does not contain one of these milestone(s).
It can be a comma separated list of milestones (e.g: V1,next).

If unset (or an empty string), this option will not alter the stale workflow.

Default value: unset

exempt-issue-milestones

Override exempt-milestones but only to process the issues that does not contain one of these milestone(s).

Default value: unset

exempt-pr-milestones

Override exempt-milestones but only to process the pull requests that does not contain one of these milestone(s).

Default value: unset

exempt-all-milestones

If set to true, the issues or the pull requests with a milestone will not be marked as stale automatically.

Priority over exempt-milestones.

Default value: false

exempt-all-issue-milestones

Override exempt-all-milestones but only to exempt the issues with a milestone to be marked as stale automatically.

Default value: unset

exempt-all-pr-milestones

Override exempt-all-milestones but only to exempt the pull requests with a milestone to be marked as stale automatically.

Default value: unset

exempt-assignees

An allow-list of assignee(s) to only process the issues or the pull requests that does not contain one of these assignee(s).
It can be a comma separated list of assignees (e.g: marco,polo).

If unset (or an empty string), this option will not alter the stale workflow.

Default value: unset

exempt-issue-assignees

Override exempt-assignees but only to process the issues that does not contain one of these assignee(s).

Default value: unset

exempt-pr-assignees

Override exempt-assignees but only to process the pull requests that does not contain one of these assignee(s).

Default value: unset

exempt-all-assignees

If set to true, the issues or the pull requests with an assignee will not be marked as stale automatically.

Priority over exempt-assignees.

Default value: false

exempt-all-issue-assignees

Override exempt-all-assignees but only to exempt the issues with an assignee to be marked as stale automatically.

Default value: unset

exempt-all-pr-assignees

Override exempt-all-assignees but only to exempt the pull requests with an assignee to be marked as stale automatically.

Default value: unset

exempt-draft-pr

If set to true, the pull requests currently in draft will not be marked as stale automatically.
⚠️ This option consume one operation per pull request to process because we need to fetch the pull request with the GitHub API to know if it's a draft one or not.

Default value: false
Required Permission: pull-requests: read

enable-statistics

Collects and display statistics at the end of the stale workflow logs to get a summary of what happened during the run.
This option is only useful if the debug output secret ACTIONS_STEP_DEBUG is set to true in your repository to display the logs.

Default value: true

ignore-updates

The option days-before-stale will define the number of days before considering the issues or the pull requests as stale.
In most cases, the purpose of this action is to only stale when necessary so if any update occurs or if a comment is added to them, the counter will restart.
Nonetheless, if you don't care about this, and you prefer to stick to this number of days no matter the update, you can enable this option.
Instead of comparing the number of days based on the GitHub issue field updated_at, it will be based on the GitHub issue field created_at.

Default value: false

ignore-issue-updates

Useful to override ignore-updates but only to ignore the updates for the issues.

Default value: unset

ignore-pr-updates

Useful to override ignore-updates but only to ignore the updates for the pull requests.

Default value: unset

Usage

See also action.yml for a comprehensive list of all the options.

Basic:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          stale-issue-message: 'Message to comment on stale issues. If none provided, will not mark issues stale'
          stale-pr-message: 'Message to comment on stale PRs. If none provided, will not mark PRs stale'

Configure stale timeouts:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          stale-issue-message: 'This issue is stale because it has been open 30 days with no activity. Remove stale label or comment or this will be closed in 5 days.'
          days-before-stale: 30
          days-before-close: 5

Configure different stale timeouts but never close a PR:

name: 'Close stale issues and PR'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          stale-issue-message: 'This issue is stale because it has been open 30 days with no activity. Remove stale label or comment or this will be closed in 5 days.'
          stale-pr-message: 'This PR is stale because it has been open 45 days with no activity. Remove stale label or comment or this will be closed in 10 days.'
          close-issue-message: 'This issue was closed because it has been stalled for 5 days with no activity.'
          days-before-stale: 30
          days-before-close: 5
          days-before-pr-close: -1

Configure different stale timeouts:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          stale-issue-message: 'This issue is stale because it has been open 30 days with no activity. Remove stale label or comment or this will be closed in 5 days.'
          stale-pr-message: 'This PR is stale because it has been open 45 days with no activity. Remove stale label or comment or this will be closed in 10 days.'
          close-issue-message: 'This issue was closed because it has been stalled for 5 days with no activity.'
          close-pr-message: 'This PR was closed because it has been stalled for 10 days with no activity.'
          days-before-issue-stale: 30
          days-before-pr-stale: 45
          days-before-issue-close: 5
          days-before-pr-close: 10

Configure labels:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          stale-issue-message: 'Stale issue message'
          stale-pr-message: 'Stale pull request message'
          stale-issue-label: 'no-issue-activity'
          exempt-issue-labels: 'awaiting-approval,work-in-progress'
          stale-pr-label: 'no-pr-activity'
          exempt-pr-labels: 'awaiting-approval,work-in-progress'
          only-labels: 'awaiting-feedback,awaiting-answers'

Configure the stale action to only stale issue/PR created after the 18th april 2020:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          start-date: '2020-04-18T00:00:00Z' # ISO 8601 or RFC 2822

Avoid stale for specific milestones:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          exempt-issue-milestones: 'future,alpha,beta'
          exempt-pr-milestones: 'bugfix,improvement'

Avoid stale for all PR with milestones:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          exempt-all-pr-milestones: true

Check stale for specific labels:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          any-of-labels: 'needs-more-info,needs-demo'
          # You can opt for 'only-labels' instead if your use-case requires all labels
          # to be present in the issue/PR

Avoid stale for specific assignees:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          exempt-issue-assignees: 'marco,polo'
          exempt-pr-assignees: 'marco'

Avoid stale for all PR with assignees:

name: 'Close stale issues and PRs'
on:
  schedule:
    - cron: '30 1 * * *'

jobs:
  stale:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/stale@v4
        with:
          exempt-all-pr-assignees: true

Debugging

Logs:
To see the debug output from this action, you must set the secret ACTIONS_STEP_DEBUG to true in your repository.
There are many logs, so this can be very helpful!

Statistics:
If the logs are enabled, you can also enable the statistics log which will be visible at the end of the logs once all issues were processed.
This is very helpful to have a quick understanding of the whole stale workflow.
Set enable-statistics to true in your workflow configuration file.

Dry-run:
You can run this action in debug only mode (no actions will be taken on your issues and pull requests) by passing debug-only to true as an argument to the action.

More operations:
You can increase the maximum number of operations per run by passing operations-per-run to 1000 for example which will help you to handle more operations in a single stale workflow run.
If the debug-only option is enabled, this is very helpful because the workflow will (almost) never reach the GitHub API rate, and you will be able to deep-dive into the logs.

Job frequency:
You could change the cron job frequency in the stale workflow to run the stale workflow more often.
Usually, this is not very helpful though.

Contributing

We welcome contributions! Please read the contributing file before starting your work.

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