[python-committers] Proposal: an explicit, time-limited moratorium on finalizing any governance decisions

Alex Martelli aleax at google.com
Wed Jul 18 23:31:12 EDT 2018

FWIW, +1.


On Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 7:36 PM Nathaniel Smith <njs at pobox.com> wrote:

> [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
> 1, 2018.
> 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?
> -n
> --
> Nathaniel J. Smith -- https://vorpus.org
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