[Python-Dev] PyPI comments and ratings, *really*?

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Fri Nov 13 08:07:05 CET 2009

On Fri, 13 Nov 2009 10:54:50 am Ben Finney wrote:
> "Martin v. Löwis" <martin at v.loewis.de> writes:
> > PyPI is not just (and perhaps not even primarily) there for the
> > package authors, but for the package users (and not surprisingly,
> > it's primarily the package authors who ask for banning the user
> > opinions).
> No-one here is asking for “banning the user opinions”. 

That's EXACTLY what people have asked for: the ability to ban user 
comments. Sure, some of them say they want to "opt-out", or "disable 
comments", but that's just a polite way of saying the same thing. Some 
of them -- 44% of the people who have responded to the poll as of a 
minute ago -- want to prohibit *all* comments, even for packages whose 
authors wants to receive comments. WTF? The original poster (Ludvig 
Ericson) started this thread insisting that there were only two 
acceptable options: prohibit all comments on PyPI, or make it opt-in.

I quote:

"As I see it, there are only two ways to fix these misguided steps of  
development: throw them out, or make them opt-in settings."

> As already 
> pointed out, users are not mute; there are plenty of places for them
> to have a voice.

Ben, you've been talking recently about the dangers of fragmenting the 
Python community into multiple forums, but that's what you're arguing 
for on PyPI.

I'm a user, I'm interested in a package, so I look for it on PyPI. I 
want to know what others think about it, before I commit to downloading 
it, installing it and seeing if it meets my needs. Instead of looking 
in the One Obvious place, the PyPI page, you want me to go off looking 
for blogs, mailing lists, or other forums, which might not even exist.

Part of the value of a centralised place for comments on a package is 
that I can see whether other users agree with the comment or not. If I 
see a comment "This doesn't even work", and ten other comments 
saying "No, this is great, but you need to transmogrify the phlogiston 
first to get it to work", I've learned something useful. But if I 
stumble across a single blog that says "This doesn't work", I've 
actually been given negative knowledge: I've learned something that 
just isn't so.

What *actual* problem are we trying to solve here? Is there a problem 
with spam on PyPI? No. Is there a problem with the comments being 
wildly biased, either for or against? Apparently not. Is there a 
problem with people using the comment system as a help forum? No. So 
what's the problem we're trying to solve?

> I understand the mood here to be, not that user feedback is not
> wanted, but rather that PyPI in particular should be a place for
> *objective* data about a package.

Who is responsible for gather this "objective" data? How do we decide 
what is objective and what isn't? People can't even agree on the 
validity of benchmarks!

This is open source. The power of the bazaar, remember? I'm amazed at 
how many people are not just disinterested in, but actively hostile, to 
even *useful* comments from users. That's fine. If you, the package 
author, don't care about comments from users, don't read them. But 
they're not there for *your* benefit, they're there for the benefit of 
other users.

Steven D'Aprano

More information about the Python-Dev mailing list