[Idle-dev] [Python-Dev] IRC culture (was: Removing IDLE from the standard library)

R. David Murray rdmurray at bitdance.com
Mon Jul 12 14:42:25 CEST 2010

On Sun, 11 Jul 2010 23:51:35 +0100, Mark Lawrence <breamoreboy at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
> I have been attempting to fill this hole and have been faced with
> animosity from people who "hang out" on the python-dev IRC channel.  I
> thought it was a complete and utter waste of space, so I don't intend
> going back.  I would like things fixed, not a cosy little "who's round
> is it next" mentality from the triage team.  IMHO if they spent more

It was clear from a message you sent to me, that I didn't see until
after your visit to the channel, that you don't have any experience
on IRC.  IRC is its own unique medium, with its own mores, conventions,
and culture.  That you perceived hostility was probably due to the nature
of the medium and its communication via short sentences and intertwined
conversations.  And yes, the IRC channel is our "office water cooler"
where we come to chat with each other about things unrelated to our coding
work, as well as serious talk about the coding and bug triage work (some
of which takes place *while* we're chatting about things like the World
Cup Final).  It's a community, and we hang out there because we find it
fun to do so.  We often tease each other mercilessly, and an outsider
would probably wonder what the heck was going on if they didn't stick
around long enough to get the flavor of the community.  But we also do
a lot of good communicating about bugs and code, helping each other to
improve the quality of Python.

I thought the conversation when you arrived was mostly positive, and we
were trying to share our (somewhat disjointed, as we admitted) wisdom
about what works best when doing triage.  Antoine did lead off with a
specific criticism, which was unfortunate and doubtless set a bad tone for
you, and his mini-rant could have been more politely phrased given that
you were a newcomer.  But I use the term "mini-rant" descriptively...that
is part of the IRC style of communication, for better or worse.

As several people have pointed out, currently there is a dearth of good
documentation about the Python workflow.  I think Jesse's sprint effort
is going to help improve this, and I know Brett Cannon really wants
to have time to work the docs over thoroughly.  But in the meantime,
what we have is "institutional knowledge" locked up in people's heads.
The python-dev mailing list is one way to get access to that knowledge,
as is the tracker-discuss list for triage in particular...and the
IRC channel is a great way to get access to that knowledge (like, for
example, the fact that maintainers.rst is not out of date :), if you
are comfortable with IRC style communication.

If you don't find the IRC channel a useful place, there's no reason
for you to hang out there.  We were offering you the opportunity to
experience the camaraderie and mutual help that we find there, and I'm
very sorry that you instead found the experience offputting.  It is not
an exclusive club (far from it) and you would be welcome to return.

As I also said to you in a private message, the non-exclusivity goes
both ways...there is no *formal* "triage team", and only some of us
who do triage work hang out on IRC, and only some of us who hang out
on #python-dev do triage work.  Further, many of the people who chat
regularly on the IRC channel are committers, which is one of the reasons
why it can be a rich resource while doing triage.  Often enough, bugs
get closed that way.[*]

R. David Murray                                      www.bitdance.com

But, to be honest, I remember that Arfrever asked about committing the
patch for a particular bug on at least three different days before
someone finally had the time to do it.  It was very appropriate for
that bugfix to go in before the release, and he was very patient, and it
did get done.

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