[python-committers] Transfer of power

Barry Warsaw barry at python.org
Thu Jul 12 14:53:18 EDT 2018

On Jul 12, 2018, at 07:57, Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> wrote:
> 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.

Leaving my emotions out of it for now, and with my heartfelt gratitude for everything you’ve done, I am absolutely certain that the community you’ve built is strong enough to carry on.

I’m honored that a some of you think I can fill 1/3 of Guido’s shoes, although in all humility I have my doubts.  Aside from that, it’s important to recognize that we have so many intelligent and compassionate contributors, that much of Python’s ongoing development can essentially carry on unchanged.  Yury, for example worried about replacing Guido’s extensive knowledge across so much of Python, and there’s the concern that Guido’s unique authority as BDFL will be difficult to replicate.  E.g even if you still absolutely hate PEP 572 (which I don’t), it is now unequivocally part of Python.  It’s up to all of us to accept that, move on, and learn to use it tastefully.

I think this change in governance will increase the importance of the BDFL-Delegate.  We have trusted experts in many of the sub-topics of Python, and I have so much more confidence in letting them make the decisions relevant to those sub-topics.  E.g. Nick, and now Paul for packaging, Yury et al for async, etc.  I know that experts and BDFL-Delegates will make the right choices in these sub-topics, with the right intentions, and the best of their abilities.  Even Guido recognizes that we’re all just trying to do our best.

Where the BDFL role is most important is in those holistic decisions about global features, such as PEP 572.  These things impact everyone and every corner of Python, so having a final arbiter(s) that is accepted by the community at large is critical.  I’ve long said that if I had to choose a single person to fill that role, it would be Brett.  He has the right mix of technical and social chops to make thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate decisions, and he has the advantage of being likely more than a decade away from Guido in hopeful retirement plans, unlike perhaps that FLUFL guy. :)

That said, I think a triumvirate would work (Guido’s Unworthy Inherited Delegation Organization).  Mostly, that group would identify and work with Delegates to make the final decisions on such PEPs, and most importantly, confidently back them up, even if those decisions are unpopular.

For PEP 572-level language decisions, the group would be the final arbiters, so it would have to be an odd number.  I agree with Brett that voting and rotation could be problematic due to the tyranny of the majority.  Imagine that PEP 572 were put in front of this group, and after all the kerfuffle, the same decision were made.  Put yourself in that place when you think about the governance of Python-the-language over the next 25 years.  I personally value stability and certainty over popularity for such features.  PEP 572 won’t destroy Python, and I predict most of us will appreciate it being there once in a while.

There’s no rush to decide, and this would make for a fine discussion at the core sprint in September.


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