[python-committers] Transfer of power

Brett Cannon brett at python.org
Thu Jul 12 12:48:47 EDT 2018

On Thu, 12 Jul 2018 at 07:58 Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> wrote:

> Now that PEP 572 is done, I don't ever want to have to fight so hard for a
> PEP and find that so many people despise my decisions.
> I would like to remove myself entirely from the decision process. I'll
> still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I'll still be
> available to mentor people -- possibly more available. But I'm basically
> giving myself a permanent vacation from being BDFL, and you all will be on
> your own.

Like Christian, I was hoping we had a couple more years of your direct
guidance, but I understand how the PEP 572 situation accelerated things. :(

> After all that's eventually going to happen regardless -- there's still
> that bus lurking around the corner, and I'm not getting younger... (I'll
> spare you the list of medical issues.)
> I am not going to appoint a successor.
> So what are you all going to do? Create a democracy? Anarchy? A
> dictatorship? A federation?
> I'm not worried about the day to day decisions in the issue tracker or on
> GitHub. Very rarely I get asked for an opinion, and usually it's not
> actually important. So this can just be dealt with as it has always been.
> The decisions that most matter are probably
> - How are PEPs decided
> - How are new core devs inducted
> We may be able to write up processes for these things as PEPs (maybe those
> PEPs will form a kind of constitution). But here's the catch. I'm going to
> try and let you all (the current committers) figure it out for yourselves.

At this point I've seen proposed:

- Christian's proposal for a triumvirate (and thanks for the vote of
confidence, Christian, to be on said cabal/committee :)
- Victor's proposal of voting for every PEP
- Do essentially a literary review of how other projects handle this

For me, I think a key asset that Guido has provided for us as a BDFL is
consistency in design/taste. Design by committee through voting does not
appeal to me at all as that can too easily lead to shifts in preferences
and not have the nice cohesion we have with the language's overall design,
especially considering that there will always be subjective choices to make
(someone has to eventually choose the colour of the shed). People,
including me, have also pointed out that by having Guido to look up to you
we have had a very consistent view of how the community should behave and
that too has been an asset. IOW I don't like Victor's proposal. ;)

What that means is I think we should either have another BDFL or go with
Christian's triumvirate suggestion in the name of general consistency and
guidance (and I personally don't like the four-person suggestion simply
because you can't break ties).

There's also no objective way to choose any of this unfortunately, so I
suspect this is going to be based on gut feel of what we think will work
for a couple of decades (using the word "experiment" with our design
governance model scares me since we are not talking about little decisions
here like whether to backport a fix). If people still want to put into the
time to research other approaches I can understand that I will personally
listen with an open mind, but based on my personal reflections on this
topic over the years in preparation of having to eventually deal with this
inevitability, my choice is dictator or triumvirate.

> Note that there's still the CoC -- if you don't like that document your
> only option might be to leave this group voluntarily. Perhaps there are
> issues to decide like when should someone be kicked out (this could be
> banning people from python-dev or python-ideas too, since those are also
> covered by the CoC).

I joined the PSF's CoC committee in hopes of coming up with a proposal by
the end of the year for fleshing out details of enforcement, etc., so my
hope is this will eventually get resolved.


> Finally. A reminder that the archives of this list are public (
> https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-committers/) although membership
> is closed (limited to core devs).
> I'll still be here, but I'm trying to let you all figure something out for
> yourselves. I'm tired, and need a very long break.
> --
> --Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)
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