[python-committers] Proposal: an explicit, time-limited moratorium on finalizing any governance decisions
njs at pobox.com
Wed Jul 18 22:36:35 EDT 2018
[tl;dr: We need some ground rules, because uncertainty makes it hard
to think straight. But if we get sucked into a complicated meta-debate
about the ground rules then that defeats the purpose. My proposal for
a Minimum Viable Ground Rule: let's all agree not to finalize any
governance decisions before October 1.]
We're in a constitutional crisis, and that's scary. There's no map and
none of us know what to expect. It feels like anything could happen.
You look at the mailing list and see people making big proposals -- is
one of them going to suddenly be adopted? If I look away for a few
days, will I come back and find out that something's been decided?
What are we even talking about? Do I need to jump into that thread
RIGHT NOW? It's scary.
People don't do their best work when scared. When we're scared it's
harder to listen and build up common ground with others -- but that's
exactly what we'll need to do to get through this. And also, like...
being scared sucks. I would prefer to be less scared.
So: can we do anything to make this less scary?
One thing that would help is if we had some ground-rules for how the
decision itself will be made. Knowing what to expect makes things less
scary. There's another thread going on right now trying to do that
(subject "Proposal on how to vote"). But... if you look at that
thread, it turns out deciding on how to vote is itself an important
decision with lots of subtle issues, where we probably want to give
people time to think, brainstorm, critique. Heck, in the end we might
decide a vote isn't even the best approach. So I'm not saying we
shouldn't be having that discussion, we definitely should, but... it's
also giving me a new source of anxiety: that we'll all be so eager to
get *some* certainty here that we'll end up trying to force a decision
prematurely. Kind of a catch-22: the decision about how to make
complex decisions is itself a complex decision, which is what we don't
know how to do yet.
Is there some way to avoid this loop? Can we come up with some ground
rules simple enough that we can agree on them without a big debate?
Well, there's one thing I am pretty sure of: this is a big decision,
there's a lot to think about and talk about, and that we won't regret
taking some time some time to do that. And besides, trying to force it
to happen faster will make people more scared and dig in their heels.
So here's my proposal for an initial, Minimum Viable Ground Rule: we
should set a date and promise that no actual decisions will be
finalized before that. Until then we are just talking and
brainstorming and gradually converging on points of consensus. (And to
be clear, the point of this is to give us breathing room, not set a
deadline -- we shouldn't dawdle, but if we get there and it turns out
we need more time, then that's OK.)
What would be a good date? The core sprint is coming up Sept. 10-14,
and this seems to be a likely topic of conversation there. And then
after the sprint, those who aren't present will need time to catch up
with any discussions that happened at the sprint. So to make things
concrete, I propose: no governance decisions finalized before October
Probably this is what will end up happening anyway, but if we make it
explicit in advance and tell everyone, then at least we'll all know
that it's OK to stop refreshing our email constantly and redirect that
energy in more useful directions.
What do you all think?
Nathaniel J. Smith -- https://vorpus.org
More information about the python-committers