[Python-Dev] Democracy

Guido van Rossum guido@python.org
Wed, 23 Apr 2003 21:14:26 -0400

> On Wed, Apr 23, 2003 at 02:31:53PM -0400, Guido van Rossum wrote:
> > I read this interview in ACM's *Ubiquity* which reminded me of the
> > Python developer community.  Seems we are doing some things right.
> > Maybe we can learn from it in cases where we aren't.
> He seems to be talking more about Governments (and treating
> companies as governments b/c the people can't or don't want to
> leave) and knowledge workers broadly.

Well, he specifically points out that the US government is an
inappropriate model, and suggests instead to use the government of
ancient Athens as a model.  Then he goes on to point out several
properties of that community that I think match our community pretty

(1) Shared communal values, including moral reciprocity; you get
    professional or personal growth in return for your contributions.
    I think many developers contribute and learn something from the
    review of their code by others.

(2) Structure, a body for debate, dialogue, and decision-making.  "The
    organization is the people."  In our case: mailing lists, PEPs,
    SourceForge, CVS.

(3) Specific practices: the right and expectation of *participation*;
    *consequence* or *accountability*: if you decide something, you
    have to do the work; *deliberation*: resist partisanship; *merit*
    as the basis for decisions; and *closure*: debates shouldn't go on
    forever and once a decision is made, everyone is supposed to get
    on board.

I think all those things match our way of working pretty well!

> A better comparison would be Habitat for Humanity (and voluntary
> associations in general).  [...]

Maybe.  I get lots of junk mail asking for contributions from HforH
and frankly I've always thought of them as yet another charity: there
are lots of these, and most of them are so much larger than our
community that comparison is difficult.  IMO these large charities in
general (maybe not HforH, I don't know anything about them because on
principle I never open unsolicited mail) are too much like modern-day
massive governments already: they typically have a leadership who,
like politicians, would do anything to keep or improve their personal
position.  I hope that's not true for the Python developer community.
Certainly my own motivation is the fun I have here and not personal

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)