[python-committers] Transfer of power

Nathaniel Smith njs at pobox.com
Sat Jul 14 00:42:31 EDT 2018

On Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 8:22 PM, Tim Peters <tim.peters at gmail.com> wrote:
> [Nathaniel Smith <njs at pobox.com>]
>> That's not really true -- life expectancy *at birth* was ~35 years,
>> but mostly because so many people died as infants/children. If you
>> survived long enough to get nominated for a judgeship, then by that
>> point your life expectancy wasn't too different from what we're used
>> to today:
>> https://passionforthepast.blogspot.com/2011/08/average-life-expectancy-myth.html
> But that's just anecdotal, [...]

Yeah, it's an off-topic digression anyway so I was simplifying and
didn't spend much time looking for the perfect link. Looking a bit it
seems like in ~1790 a 20-year old white male in the US could expect to
live another ~45 years, and today that's up to ~55 years, and then the
numbers get closer together as the ages increase. Which is about what
I had in mind for "not too different".

>> But I think there are a lot of differences between a 21st-century
>> F/OSS project and an 18th-century federal government, so probably not
>> the most relevant model in any case. And of course it's always
>> tempting to start inventing neat rules and procedures, but IME those
>> details are actually the least important part of project governance
>> (compared to things like, having a healthy discussion culture, tools
>> for building consensus, etc. -- by the time you're voting on something
>> you've already failed). So debating the pros and cons of term limits
>> seems a bit premature to me right now :-).
> The subject "Transfer of power" is a pretty good clue that building tools
> (etc) isn't the primary topic of this thread ;-)  We're looking to fill the
> void left by an Absolute Dictator for Life stepping down.  It's important to
> get that part right too, because "by the time you're voting on something
> you're already failed" is a thing that will happen, and repeatedly.  Guido
> has been the last, best resort in such cases.

Well, sure, we can try to come up with something to slot into the
space Guido is leaving, while keeping everything else the same, that's
one option. But I doubt it's the best one. Guido is, quite literally,

> The US Supreme Court is the closest thing to a dictatorial institution the
> US has (lifetime appointments, answerable to nobody, and against which there
> is no appeal), so it's a natural model to consider when replacing a
> dictator.

Yeah, I get why it comes to mind for USians here, but there are also,
like... lots of actual open-source projects that have transitioned
from a BDFL model to something else, and they're probably even more
natural models ;-).


Nathaniel J. Smith -- https://vorpus.org

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