[python-committers] Learning from PostgreSQL community: How to address the review bottleneck

M.-A. Lemburg mal at egenix.com
Mon Feb 4 06:03:17 EST 2019

I've attended FOSDEM over the weekend, where Jon Conway (one of the
PostgreSQL committers) gave a talk about, among other things, the
PG community and how it is structured:

(the community part starts at around 8 min into the video)

What struck me as interesting is that they have seen and addressed
the review bottleneck problem we're having in Python development
years ago.

They have a core team, which pretty much resembles the steering
committee we've just voted on, with 5 members, and a group of
28 committers. Things are much less formalized than in Python
land, but they are making great progress.

Here's their approach to solve the review bottleneck:

(they started this in 2008)

with what they call "commit fests". This is a process where people
submit patches using timed slots, each author is requested to do
at least one review of another patch of similar complexity and
the authors can fix their patches as part of the review process
to get them to a level where a core dev can than take a look.
Other people can sign up as reviewers as well.

That way the initial load of making sure the patch quality is
appropriate is scaled up a lot and their core devs only have to
deal with patches which already have passed reviews by a few

The process is described in more detail in this blog post:

(with the experience after doing this for 8 years)

To help them with the commit fests, they have a system in place
to manage the patches:


See e.g. https://commitfest.postgresql.org/22/ for the next
upcoming commit fest.

Commit fests are done for one month each, and then leave one
month for things to settle in, get core dev responses. Patches
can be pushed back to the next commit fest in case a core dev
finds them lacking or the author doesn't respond in time.

I also talked to Magnus Hagander, one of the PG core team members,
about their core team.  They have had this since the early 2000s
and interestingly, they are mostly dealing with non-developer
questions. Their approach to decisions such as the PEP process
we have is mostly based on consensus and trust among the committers,
not formalized and thus the core team does not play into this
a lot.


Now, all that said, while there are many similarities between
PostgreSQL and Python in how the communities work, PG does take
a more conservative approach to things - most committers and
core team members have had that status for at least 10 years,
it typically takes several years to gain committer status and
they rarely take on new people.

Still, I think there's a lot we can learn from them and their
experience with solving the review problem.

Marc-Andre Lemburg

Professional Python Services directly from the Experts (#1, Feb 04 2019)
>>> Python Projects, Coaching and Consulting ...  http://www.egenix.com/
>>> Python Database Interfaces ...           http://products.egenix.com/
>>> Plone/Zope Database Interfaces ...           http://zope.egenix.com/

::: We implement business ideas - efficiently in both time and costs :::

   eGenix.com Software, Skills and Services GmbH  Pastor-Loeh-Str.48
    D-40764 Langenfeld, Germany. CEO Dipl.-Math. Marc-Andre Lemburg
           Registered at Amtsgericht Duesseldorf: HRB 46611

More information about the python-committers mailing list