[IPython-dev] Our "single mailing list" policy, the future of the IPython-user list...

Fernando Perez fperez.net at gmail.com
Thu Aug 1 14:46:56 EDT 2013

Hi all,

[ deliberately cross-posting to -dev and -user]

over the last few months, you may have noticed comments we've made
about how we are "slowly deprecating" the user list, and questions
have come up regarding that. We're sorry for not having communicated
better the intent of this, so let me recap briefly...

# The What

We are moving to having a single mailing list for IPython *where the
core team participates*, rather than separate -dev and -user lists.

Note that we are NOT closing or removing the user list, and if over
time a self-sustaining community of users helping each other develops
there, that's totally fine.  But the core team is basically 'signing
off' from the -user list.  Some of us may occasionally see something
there and reply to it, but we won't be monitoring it much further.

We're not renaming the lists simply because that would force us to
shut them down and make new ones, messing up our entire history and
subscriber base.  That's too much turmoil for little benefit.

# The Why

1. We want people to think of themselves as members and stakeholders
of a community, not as 'users' vs 'developers'.  Every one of our
developers should be a user (that's what makes IPython good, that we
actually *use it*), and vice-versa, every user of IPython should be a
potential developer when the itch comes up.  So rather than separating
into two distinct groups, we want to think of a single community where
'user' and 'developer' are simply *roles* that everyone can play

2. IPython is a project for programming and computing, so we expect
most of its users to be technically savvy to some extent. Even if they
are beginners, it's not a web browser or word processor. For Chrome,
for example, the gap between a user and a developer is potentially
enormous, whereas for us that gap is naturally much smaller.

3. We were noticing that, simply out of bandwidth limitations, there
was a natural tendency for us to ignore the -user list.  This just
makes that official so core devs don't need to feel guilty about
ignoring that list :)

# Where to ask questions?

- We've noticed that different people tend to prefer different modes
of communication, and that not everyone likes mailing lists. So we've
tried to also make it easy to engage IPython expertise on multiple

1. The -dev list remains active, and the core team will do our best to
help out there.  If you like asking questions via mailing list, just
hop on there.

2. If you want real-time quick help with a question, we have a help
chat room now that's persistent:

This is basically similar to IRC, but with the advantage that we can
have permanent accounts for anyone who is willing to be logged in
frequently (core devs and users who would like to help 'staff it').
For visitors the experience is no worse than IRC-over-the-web, and for
persistent users we have email mentions, searchable history, etc,
without having to manage a bunch of IRC bots.

3. If you prefer web fora, StackOverflow works well and several core
devs post regularly there. Just tag your question with 'ipython':


4. If you're a reddit user, there's an IPython subreddit too:


Hopefully this provides ample means for different kinds of usage
patterns, while allowing the core team to manage our badly
overcommitted bandwidth somewhat sensibly.

# The future of the -user list

As indicated above, it won't be closed.  We'll simply have to see if a
community of users builds around it or not.  If it does, that's great!
 But we (the core dev team) won't be playing an active role there,
besides managing any problems that may arise with spam/abuse.

I hope this clarifies things.  Having put this now in writing, I'd
like to ask that other devs NOT say to users further that we're
"deprecating" the user list, since that may be misinterpreted as
closing it. Instead, if you see  a question linger there that you're
willing to answer, do so with CC to the dev list and post a link to
this message for the explanation.

Finally, I want to stress that while we do our best to engage our
entire community as much as possible, feed from your ideas and
questions and help with all reported problems, we also have to balance
that with our job of moving IPython forward.  So we really hope that
as many of you will pitch in to help one another as possible, so that
the core team can continue improving the project itself.  And keep in
mind that 'core devs' is a term *strictly* defined by the engagement
of the community!  All it takes is enough high-quality contributions
from a new github user for us to nominate you to be a member of the
core team.  There is NO secret cabal of core IPython developers, only
a community of engaged stakeholders, some of whom accept to shoulder a
higher load :)

Thanks for reading this rather long email. Don't hesitate to ask any
questions (in this case, either list is fine :)

Fernando Perez (@fperez_org; http://fperez.org)
fperez.net-at-gmail: mailing lists only (I ignore this when swamped!)
fernando.perez-at-berkeley: contact me here for any direct mail

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