[pydotorg-www] project plan

Steve Holden steve at holdenweb.com
Thu Apr 22 04:04:08 CEST 2010

Jesse Noller wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 9:08 PM,  <skip at pobox.com> wrote:
>>    Michael> Just because they are tools that *we* as programmers are
>>    Michael> familiar with (and not all programmers are by any stretch of
>>    Michael> the imagination) is no reason to make it so complex.
>> But change for the (apparent) sake of change seems wrong to me.  I have yet
>> to see a concrete proposal for what you would use to replace the current
>> technology or who the potential users of the current technology are who have
>> been unable to surmount the current barriers.
> There is no proposal because Rich is evaluating the requirements of
> such a tool Skip. We are discussing the various use cases, users,
> consumers and creators. A proposal and project plan will be developed.
> We are only in the discussion/requirements planning phase.
>>    Michael> There is also no conceptual reason that we couldn't come up
>>    Michael> with a system that allows both ways of working (a through the
>>    Michael> web system that generates patches for example) - but insisting
>>    Michael> we stick with the current system because we are familiar with
>>    Michael> it and have no reason to change is not good.
>> That would seem to fall into the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"
>> category.
> We've always been at war with Eurasia.
>> I suspect that the initial impetus for this effort was that the website
>> content needs significant rework.  For the time being at least I think it
>> would be best to focus on the new/revised content and structure and leave
>> the tools as-is.  I'll grant that the current tools used to maintain the
>> website aren't for everyone, but they work for the people who currently
>> twiddle the bits and they will get the job done without requiring a big
>> investment in developing new tools or adapting other off-the-shelf tools to
>> handle our specific needs.  The last time the site was redesigned Tim
>> Parking spent a large amount of time developing a new tool set, then a
>> couple years later Andrew Kuchling reworked them to get them to the state
>> they are in today.
> Just because things "sorta work" right now, for "a select subset of
> the technologically elite" (of which, all of us discussing us are part
> of) does not mean the system is Good or Complete. The goal, as I
> understand (and have been encouraging on the PSF list and elsewhere)
> is to examine the current state of tools, and content and not only do
> a redesign of the look and feel of the site itself, but also improve
> the tool chain to reduce the friction of contribution.
> As a piece of anecdotal evidence - I speak to people *daily*, in which
> the conversation goes like this:
> Them: "Man, I found a bug in the docs/python lib/site"
> Me: "Please file a bug, better yet, file a patch! Especially the docs,
> they're easy to fix!"
> Them: <rummaging>
> Them: I have to do *what* to change a line in the docs?! Check out
> code? Do a diff? Screw that!! I have other things to do that *pay me*.
> Me: Please file a bug at least!
> Them: Why bother? It's going to take forever for it to get fixed. You
> deal with it.
> Daily. I have these conversations *daily*. It is a firm, and total
> belief of mine that almost anyone using, documenting, testing with, or
> writing tools for/in python today can become an active contributor to
> Python as a whole - no matter how insignificant the contribution is.
> In order to help that belief though; I'm firmly in the camp which is
> asking we modernize the tool chain - offer a web-based
> comment/feedback tool ala the Django Book, a CMS for the
> less-programming-inclined to add content (and correct it, or even to
> auto-submit patches). Using mercurial for patch/code management, etc.
> This is not a matter of killing the contributors that have gotten us
> this far; it's about bringing in more people by lowering the barrier,
> friction, and time it takes to become a *contributing* member.
> As I understand the current undertaking which spurred this discussion
> - this is a requirements and feedback gathering project, which will
> beget RFPs/Proposals which the PSF itself will fund or guide the
> development of. I don't think having modern tools, a modern look and
> feel, cleaner layout and organization is bad in any way.

I understand Skip's desire to bring some existing content up to date
without waiting for the "grand plan", but surely if what he says is true
then the only thing stopping it happening is the difficulty of making it
happen? I'm certainly not saying that we can't edit the current content.
In fact I'd be happy to see it edited.

I believe that there are large pools of untapped resources, which would
include the people you quote above. I also believe there are high
barriers to entry, some of which are social and some of which are
technical. I think that lowering the technical barriers might also allow
us to loosen some of the social barriers. "Empowerment" is what's
needed. People like Skip need to know that they can just go and edit the
site as they want, without asking for permission.

The ability to revert undesired changes would clearly be valuable, but
in Skip's case is unlikely to be required.

Steve Holden           +1 571 484 6266   +1 800 494 3119
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