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

Antoine Pitrou antoine at python.org
Mon Feb 4 06:19:07 EST 2019

Hi Marc-André,

I find this feedback very interesting :-)

As PG is a sophisticated piece of high-quality software, if that process
works for them, then it may deserve trying on our side as well.



Le 04/02/2019 à 12:03, M.-A. Lemburg a écrit :
> 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:
> https://fosdem.org/2019/schedule/event/postgresql11/
> (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:
> https://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/PostgreSQL_8.4_Development_Plan
> (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
> people.
> The process is described in more detail in this blog post:
> https://blog.2ndquadrant.com/managing-a-postgresql-commitfest/
> (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:
> https://commitfest.postgresql.org/
> 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.
> https://www.postgresql.eu/events/pgdayparis2018/schedule/speaker/1-magnus-hagander/
> 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.
> Thanks,

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