[Python-Dev] Two small PEP ideas

Barry Warsaw barry at python.org
Fri Sep 3 17:15:51 CEST 2010

On Sep 02, 2010, at 09:08 PM, Raymond Hettinger wrote:

>On Apr 30, 2010, at 12:51 PM, Martin v. Löwis wrote:
>> Without a BDFL, I think we need a committee to make decisions, e.g.
>> by majority vote amongst committers.
>I like Guido's idea.  Just appoint have one of the experienced
>developers who is independent of the proposal and have them be the
>final arbiter. For example, Guido had earlier suggested that I decide
>the fate of the "yield from" proposal because I had experience in the
>topic but was not not personally involved in the proposal.
>Guido has set a good example for others to follow:
>* let a conversation evolve until an outcome is self-evident
>* or kill it early if it has no chance
>* or if discussion teases out all of the meaningful thinking
>   but doesn't reach a clear conclusion, just make a choice
>   based on instinct
>* have biases toward real-world use cases, towards ideas proven in 
>   other languages (category killers),  towards slow rates of language
>   evolution, and think about the long-term.
>It is better to have one experienced developer decide than to have
>a committee.  

I completely agree that it's good we're beginning to give Guido a break so
that he doesn't have to follow every thread, think hard about every PEP and
make every decision.  Having just gone through this as a PEP author with 3149,
I have a couple of thoughts on how we might begin to formalize this process.
Of course, we want to keep it lightweight, but also effective and as always in
the best interest of Python.

One thing that would help would be for Guido to let us know early on when he'd
prefer to delegate the decision.  This goes along with identifying the
ultimate PEP arbiter (UPA? :) as early as possible.  As Raymond says, it
should be someone independent of the proposal, but with the interest, time,
and experience necessary to make an informed decision.  We might even want to
capture the arbiter selection in a PEP header (similar to the new Resolution
header for capturing the final decision reference).

While I agree that we don't want decision by committee, I think we should
consider a preference for paired arbiters.  I have the highest respect for all
the senior developers who would likely make up the pool of PEP deciders, but
it gave me great confidence to have both Benjamin and Georg decide the fate of
PEP 3149.  As someone who might serve a similar role in the future, I would
value a second person to sanity check my own thoughts on the matter and to
identify any holes in my understanding (or <shudder> missed emails :).  I'd
say, let's state a preference (not a requirement) for two arbiters for any PEP
that's not decided by Guido.

We'd talked before about allowing the RM for the target version to make the
decision.  Maybe the RM can serve as that second arbiter when no other obvious
candidate is available.

Raymond, you identified a great set of criteria that the arbiters should use
to guide them to a decision.  I'm willing to write up an informational PEP
that codifies this and any other guidelines we come up with for non-BDFL PEP

Finally a reminder to PEP authors that it is your responsibility to shepherd
your PEP through the process.  Don't be a pest, but do keep an eye on the
release calendar so that you're not scrambling for a snap decision at the last
minute.  18 months can go by quickly. :)

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