[python-committers] And Now for Something Completely Different

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Fri Jul 20 12:55:54 EDT 2018

On Fri, Jul 20, 2018 at 09:59:39AM +0200, Antoine Pitrou wrote:
> Le 20/07/2018 à 01:47, Victor Stinner a écrit :
> > 
> > What is the image sent to contributors if we create a subgroup inside
> > core developpers called "council"? What if we elect a new BDFL *for
> > life*? Does it mean that even core developers judgment are no longer
> > trusted, only the council decision matters? What about people outside
> > in the insider group of cores... regular contributors? Will anyone
> > still listen to them?
> That's a very good point, I think.  Creating intimidating structures may
> not help attract new contributors.  A BDFL is intimidating.  Depending
> on its name and powers, a council or collegial body can be intimidating
> too (I'd recommend against naming it "Council of Elders", which IMHO
> sends the wrong message).

Perhaps we could call it the Pythonic Inquisition, whose three weapons 
are experience, intelligence, the PEP process, and a fanatical 
dedication to backwards compatibility, and absolutely no braces.


Please be explicit: what message do you think it sends which is the 
wrong message?

I think that the messages sent include:

- there is someone in charge;

- this is a meritocracy;

- you too could get into the council, someday;

- but you aren't in it yet;

- trust and responsibility comes in degrees;

- and must be earned, not just granted to random people on the
  Internet because they ask for core developer rights;

- the evolution of the language is driven by reasoned argument,
  not popularity contests.

We've had a BDFL for a quarter of a century, and Python has done pretty 
well, possibly by far the most popular programming language not driven 
by a corporate owner or patron (and more popular than many languages 
which do have corporate owners). Of course it is impossible to prove a 
negative, we cannot dismiss the possibility that Guido-as-BDFL has been 
"sending the wrong message" for two decades, scaring off contributors 
and acting as a drag on Python's success. But I doubt it, and I doubt 
that a new BDFL or Council or Triumvirate would do so either.


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