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

Kristján Valur Jónsson kristjan at ccpgames.com
Sat Nov 30 15:40:14 CET 2013

Thanks for this long explanation, Nick.
For someone that is not a compulsive reader of python-dev it certainly helps by putting things in perspective.
I think the problem you describe is a singular one that needs to be dealt with using singular methods.
My own personal complaints, have other causes, I hope,  and I see now that bringing the two up as being somehow related is both incorrect and unwise.
I'm sorry for stirring things up, I'll try to show more restraint in the future :)


-----Original Message-----
From: Nick Coghlan [mailto:ncoghlan at gmail.com] 
Sent: 30. nóvember 2013 03:39
To: Kristján Valur Jónsson
Cc: Antoine Pitrou; python-dev at python.org
Subject: Re: [Python-Dev] PEP process entry point and ill fated initiatives

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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