I have for some time been wondering about the usefulness of this
mailing list. It seems to have produced staggeringly few results
This is not a critisism of any individual, but of the process. It is
proof in my mind of how effective the benevolent dictator model is,
and how ineffective a language run by committee would be.
This "committee" never seems to be capable of reaching a consensus on
anything. A number of issues dont seem to provoke any responses. As
a result, many things seem to die a slow and lingering death. Often
there is lots of interesting discussion, but still precious few
In the pre python-dev days, the process seemed easier - we mailed
Guido directly, and he either stated "yea" or "nay" - maybe we didnt
get the response we hoped for, but at least we got a response. Now,
we have the result that even if Guido does enter into a thread, the
noise seems to drown out any hope of getting anything done. Guido
seems to be faced with the dilemma of asserting his dictatorship in
the face of many dissenting opinions from many people he respects, or
putting it in the too hard basket. I fear the latter is the easiest
option. At the end of this mail I list some of the major threads over
the last few months, and can't see a single thread that has resulted
in a CVS checkin, and only one that has resulted in agreement. This,
to my mind at least, is proof that things are really not working.
I long for the "good old days" - take the replacement of "ni" with
built-in functionality, for example. I posit that if this was
discussed on python-dev, it would have caused a huge flood of mail,
and nothing remotely resembling a consensus. Instead, Guido simply
wrote an essay and implemented some code that he personally liked. No
debate, no discussion. Still an excellent result. Maybe not a
perfect result, but a result nonetheless.
However, Guido's time is becoming increasingly limited. So should we
consider moving to a "benevolent lieutenent" model, in conjunction
with re-ramping up the SIGS? This would provide 2 ways to get things
* A new SIG. Take relative imports, for example. If we really do
need a change in this fairly fundamental area, a SIG would be
justified ("import-sig"). The responsibility of the SIG is to form a
consensus (and code that reflects it), and report back to Guido (and
the main newsgroup) with the result of this. It worked well for RE,
and allowed those of us not particularly interested to keep out of the
debate. If the SIG can not form consensus, then tough - it dies - and
should not be mourned. Presumably Guido would keep a watchful eye
over the SIG, providing direction where necessary, but in general stay
out of the day to day traffic. New SIGs seem to have stopped since
this list creation, and it seems that issues that should be discussed
in new SIGS are now discussed here.
* Guido could delegate some of his authority to a single individual
responsible for a certain limited area - a benevolent lieutenent. We
may have a lieutentant responsible for different areas, and could only
exercise their authority with small, trivial changes. Eg, the "getopt
helper" thread - if a lieutenant was given authority for the "standard
library", they could simply make a yea or nay decision, and present it
to Guido. Presumably Guido trusts this person he delegated to enough
that the majority of the lieutenant's recommendations would be
accepted. Presumably there would be a small number of lieutentants,
and they would then become the new "python-dev" - say up to 5 people.
This list then discusses high level strategies and seek direction from
each other when things get murky. This select group of people may not
(indeed, probably would not) include me, but I would have no problem
with that - I would prefer to see results achieved than have my own
ego stroked by being included in a select, but ineffective group.
In parting, I repeat this is not a direct critisism, simply an
observation of the last few months. I am on this list, so I am
definately as guilty as any one else - which is "not at all" - ie, no
one is guilty, I simply see it as endemic to a committee with people
of diverse backgrounds, skills and opinions.
Long live the dictator! :-)
Recent threads, and my take on the results:
* getopt helper?
Too much noise regarding semantic changes.
* Alternative Approach to Relative Imports
* Relative package imports
* Path hacking
* Towards a Python based import scheme
Too much noise - no one could really agree on the semantics.
Implementation thrown in the ring, and promptly forgotten.
* Corporate installations
Very young, but no result at all.
* Embedding Python when using different calling conventions
Quite young, but no result as yet, and I have no reason to believe
there will be.
* Catching "return" and "return expr" at compile time
Seemed to be blessed - yay! Dont believe I have seen a check-in yet.
* More Python command-line features
Seemed general agreement, but nothing happened?
* Tackling circular dependencies in 2.0?
Lots of noise, but no results other than "GC may be there in 2.0"
* Buffer interface in abstract.c
Determined it could break - no solution proposed. Lots of noise
regarding if is is a good idea at all!
* mmapfile module
* Quick-and-dirty weak references
* Portable "spawn" module for core?
* Fake threads
Seemed to spawn stackless Python, but in the face of Guido being "at
best, lukewarm" about this issue, I would again have to conclude "no
result". An authorative "no" in this area may have saved lots of
effort and heartache.
* add Expat to 1.6
* I'd like list.pop to accept an optional second argument giving a