[META-SIG] Terminating comatose SIGs

Geoffrey M. Furnish furnish@xdiv.lanl.gov
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 17:12:21 GMT


Thanks for your response.  Unfortunately I am leaving town in three
hours, and will be incommunicado until the second week of January.
Would it be okay to discuss this more then?

The very very short response to this which I can muster now is:
1) Sure, Paul and I could work without a SIG.  But, that would only
cover Paul and me.  It is quite clear that there are multiple plans
being worked on by multiple people, regarding interfacing C++ and
Python.  Having a SIG provides a forum for cross fertilization between 
these projects.  Hopefully a coherent plan will emerge that enough
people will be happy with that we can submit it to you for direct
inclusion in the Python distribution.  And although I have personal
ideas about what I think such an interface should look like, I
certainly want both to see what others are doing, and to have them see 
what I am doing, before such a direct proposal is submitted to you.
I agree that not enough of that has occurred.  But I
think of the sig as a forum to encourage interaction.  The
encouragement for cross fertilization is eliminated if the sig is
eliminated.  In particular, I /cannot/ host a multi-party
multi-project discussion forum through a LANL web page.  I have to get 
lab legal to bless every word that goes on the web, and I don't wish
to go through the effort of trying to push something through them like 
that, since it makes them think they're paying me to work for others.
The arrangement with the PSA is quite different.  The appearance of
participation in an external professional forum is something the lab
lawyerheads can understand.
2) I would suggest a SIG wrapup review/consideration date of 12/99.
3) Regarding your inquiry which I take to have been "Was I blowing
smoke about the supposed chilling effect of shutting down a sig?".
No, I was not blowing smoke.  I mentioned to some people here
yesterday that Guido was planning to shut down the C++ sig for lack of 
traffic, and the reaction was shock and substantive annoyance.  I
repeat what I said before, it is absolutely beyond me how such an action
were it to be taken, could be regarded as good PR.
With specific reference to this comment:
 > Is this really so?  I am proposing to shut down several unused
 > channels.  What's the damage?  I am not excluding your labs from any
 > kind of participation (far from it).
let me just say, you have no earthly idea how hard it is for people in 
defense laboratories to collaborate outside.  There is actually,
believe it or not, serious question about the legality of lab
employees making posts to usenet.  Participation on c.l.p can only be
done with great care, and the potential cost of a screwup is so great
(possible loss of a clearance and termination of employment) that most 
lab employees read usenet, but avoid posting.  
4) I do agree that resources should be reaped when they have served
their purpose, and I certianly don't intend to vanish from the Python
community leaving you with a defunct sig.  I do not view the C++ sig
as having completed its job, or as having disbanded for lack of
interest.  I interpret the low volume as people working hard on their
jobs.  If you measure "interest" by subscriptions instead of by
message volume, for instance, you would see that the sig has seen a
continuing flow of new subscritpions over the fall months.
5) Sure, having a sig requires /some/ resources.  I also run other
mailing lists for other projects, and those I have had to setup and
administer myself.  So, with some basis in personal experience, I
would say that I do not believe the work involved warants shutting
down a forum like the C++ sig just because of a quiet period.  Its not 
like the sig has seen a huge streaming of unsubscriptions as a result
of people getting pissed off because of an unresolvable argument or
something.  I interpret just as I've said: People are busy, they're
still interested, work is being done, when people have things to say,
they'll say 'em.  In view of this analysis, shutting down the sig does 
not seem like the right move to me.

Gotta go, let's take it up again in early Jan.  If you want to send me 
mail early while ideas are fresh in your mind, that's fine, but I
won't be able to respond anymore today, or again until January.


Guido van Rossum writes:
 > Geoff,
 > I understand that you are doing a lot of work on a C++ binding for
 > Python.  I am not criticizing this work -- in fact, I'd like to hear
 > more about it.
 > I believe that Python SIGs use up resources, and that these resources
 > should be warranted.  If no-one appears to be using the resources,
 > they are better recycled.  The list of SIGs as presented on the PSA
 > SIGs web page (http://www.python.org/sigs/) should adequately reflect
 > those SIGs that are actually doing useful work -- lest people
 > subscribe and then find out that there's nothing there.  A bunch of
 > SIGs were established as a forum for a particular project or
 > discussion where the traffic on the SIG's mailing list clearly
 > indicates that the project or discussion is no longer alive, and these
 > should be wrapped up.
 > My message -- I think "flame bait" is too strong a characterization,
 > although it was strongly worded on purpose -- was intended to find out
 > whether there's hope for those comatose SIGs.
 > The traffic on the C++ SIG before yesterday *does* suggest that it is
 > comatose.  Here's a summary of the traffic since July 1st, according
 > to Findmail (http://www.findmail.com/listsaver/c++-sig/):
 > July
 > 	- message from Skip Montanaro about wrapping VTK; no responses
 > 	- apology from someone about inserting old mail to the list
 > August
 > 	- question about examples of how to use the C++ module, and answer
 > September
 > 	- nothing
 > October
 > 	- one spam
 > November
 > 	- question about whether there is any traffic;  an answer, and
 > 	  a response to the answer
 > 	- two spams and a response to one of the spams
 > 	- another question about what's going on
 > This hardly characterizes an active SIG!
 > Now, Geoff writes:
 > > Low traffic on a mailing list does not directly imply lack of
 > > activity or interest.
 > and continues to explain how he and Paul Dubois are working on the
 > project behind the scenes.
 > I think this indicates that perhaps instead of a SIG, what is really
 > needed here is a web page indicating the status of the project.  There
 > are lots of great ongoing projects in the Python world that don't have
 > their own SIG.  They are being carried out by a small enough group of
 > people that they keep in touch via personal email, or perhaps they
 > aren't interested in soliciting comments from a general audience.
 > This seems to be the case for your project.
 > > In my opinion (as the SIG chair), if you were to actually be
 > > participating on the C++ sig, you would conclude that your time was
 > > not being wasted reading voluminous meanderings of people babbling
 > > into their mail tools.  That the volume was acceptable, and the
 > > content rich (modulo spams), and that in the main, when something
 > > comes across that sig, it is worth reading and contains info from
 > > people who have taken the time to make sure that what they have to say
 > > is worth reading.  How you can say that this particular sig should be
 > > killed, is frankly beyond me.
 > I am a subscriber of the C++ SIG, and I have not seen worthwhile
 > discussion since July (an arbitrary cut-off date).  I expect that
 > even if you don't read c.l.p, if you have an announcement to make it
 > is better off there than in the C++-SIG; I would presume that people
 > interested in the results of your work would not bother to subscribe
 > to the SIG mailing list, since it appears to be unused.
 > > In particular, I am /not/ asking for an "extension" as the thread sig
 > > dude did.  The PSA needs to decide whether it is willing to host
 > > technical discussion about binding Python to C++ or not.  I thought
 > > that had been decided.
 > It was decided based on the expectation that the forum would be used.
 > If it isn't used, you can't blame me for trying to do a little bit of
 > garbage collection.
 > > If it is your intent to kill the C++ sig, let's get it over with.  But 
 > > I am saying here and now, for the record, that I consider that to be
 > > an exceedingly ill conceived course of action.  Paul Dubois and I have 
 > > both expended significant effort to condition laborotory policies into 
 > > such a manner that allows laboratory employees to participate in
 > > Python public forums.  If the PSA now turns around and says "well,
 > > you're not blabbering enough into this channel so we'll have to shut
 > > it down", that will have an obvious and undeniable chilling effect on
 > > Python users within the laboratories.  Does that /really/ make sense
 > > to you?
 > Is this really so?  I am proposing to shut down several unused
 > channels.  What's the damage?  I am not excluding your labs from any
 > kind of participation (far from it).
 > > If however, the PSA is willing to host discussion about binding Python 
 > > to C++, then let's let this be the last time this issue has to be
 > > redecided. 
 > No, the idea for SIGs has always been that idle SIGs should be retired
 > (without deleting their archives, of course), lest there be no space
 > for new ones.  It's just that we have been extremely lenient so far.
 > > As the SIG Chair, I certainly consider it one of my responsibilities
 > > to inform the PSA when the SIG has run its course.  In my opinion,
 > > that time has not yet come.
 > I'm not unilaterally deciding that the C++ SIG should be terminated
 > (Ken's actions earlier today were premature and have been reverted).
 > But I do want to know what your plans for the SIG are.
 > --Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)
 > _______________
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