[Python-Dev] PEP process entry point and ill fated initiatives

Nick Coghlan ncoghlan at gmail.com
Sat Nov 30 04:39:11 CET 2013

On 30 November 2013 01:25, Kristján Valur Jónsson <kristjan at ccpgames.com> wrote:
> I know that Anatoly himself is a subject of long history here, but I myself
> have felt lessening affinity to the dev community in recent years.  It feels like
> it is increasingly shutting itself in.

Are you sure it isn't just that the focus of development has shifted
to matters that aren't of interest or relevance to you? Many (perhaps
even most) problems in Python don't require changes at the language or
standard library level. We have cycle times measured in months, and
impact times measured in years (especially since core development
switched to Python 3 only mode for feature development). That's not
typically something that is useful in day-to-day development tasks -
it's only ever relevant in strategic terms.

One thing that has changed for me personally, is that I've become far
more blunt about refusing to respect those that explicitly (and
vocally) refuse to respect us, yet seem to want to participate in core
development anyway, and that's directly caused by Anatoly. He's still
the only person who has been proposed for a permanent ban from all
python.org controlled communication channels. That was averted after
he voluntarily stopped annoying people for a while, but now he's back
and I think the matter needs to be reconsidered.

He refuses to sign the CLA that would allow him to contribute
directly, yet still wants people to fix things for him.
He refuses to read design documentation, yet still wants people to
listen to his ideas.
He refuses to care about other people's use cases, yet still wants
people to care about his.

As a case in point, Anatoly recently suggested that more diagrams in
the documentation would be a good thing
(http://bugs.python.org/issue19608). That's not an objectively bad
idea, but producing and maintaining good diagrams is a high overhead
activity, so we generally don't bother. When I suggested drawing some
and sending a patch (I had forgotten about the CLA problem), Anatoly's
response was that he's not a designer. So I countered with a
suggestion that he explore what would be involved in adding the
seqdiag and blockdiag sphinx extensions to our docs build process,
since having those available would drastically lower the barrier to
including and maintaining reasonable diagrams in the documentation,
increasing the chance of such diagrams being included in the future.

"Hey some diagrams would be helpful!" is not a useful contribution,
it's stating the bleeding obvious. Even nominating some *specific*
parts of the guide where a diagram would have helped Anatoly
personally would have been useful. The technical change I suggested
about figuring out what we'd need to change to enable those extensions
would *definitely* have been useful.

Another couple of incidents recently occurred on distutils-sig, where
Anatoly started second guessing the decision to work on PyPI 2 as a
test-driven-development-from-day-one incrementally developed and
released system, rather than trying to update the existing fragile
PyPI code base directly, as well as complaining about the
not-accessible-to-end-users design docs for the proposed end-to-end
security model for PyPI. It would be one thing if he was voicing those
concerns on his own blog (it's a free internet, he can do what he
likes anywhere else). It's a problem when he's doing it on
distutils-sig and the project issue trackers.

This isn't a matter of a naive newcomer that doesn't know any better.
This is someone who has had PSF board members sit down with them at
PyCon US to explain the CLA and why it is the way it is, who has had
core developers offer them direct advice on how to propose suggestions
in a way that is more likely to get people to listen, and when major
issues have occurred in the past, we've even gone hunting for people
to talk to him in his native language to make sure it wasn't a
language barrier that was the root cause of the problem. *None* of it
has resulted in any signficant improvement in his behaviour.

Contributor time and emotional energy are the most precious resources
an open source project has, and Anatoly is recklessly wasteful of
both. We've spent years trying to coach him on being an effective
collaborator and contributor, and it hasn't worked. This isn't a
democracy, and neither is it a place for arbitrary people to get
therapy on their inability to have any empathy for another person's
point of view - in the end, passion for the language isn't enough,
people have to demonstrate an ability to learn and be respectful of
other people's time and energy, and Anatoly has well and truly proven
he doesn't have either of those.

Anatoly has the entire rest of the internet to play in, we shouldn't
have to put up with his disruptions when we're actually trying to get
stuff done.


Nick Coghlan   |   ncoghlan at gmail.com   |   Brisbane, Australia

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