[Python-Dev] PEP 481 - Migrate Some Supporting Repositories to Git and Github

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Sun Nov 30 11:42:00 CET 2014

I have some questions and/or issues with the PEP, but first I'm going to 
add something to Nick's comments:

On Sun, Nov 30, 2014 at 11:12:17AM +1000, Nick Coghlan wrote:

> Beyond that, GitHub is indeed the most expedient option. My two main
> reasons for objecting to taking the expedient path are:
> 1. I strongly believe that the long term sustainability of the overall open
> source community requires the availability and use of open source
> infrastructure. While I admire the ingenuity of the "free-as-in-beer" model
> for proprietary software companies fending off open source competition, I
> still know a proprietary platform play when I see one (and so do venture
> capitalists looking to extract monopoly rents from the industry in the
> future). (So yes, I regret relenting on this principle in previously
> suggesting the interim use of another proprietary hosted service)
> 2. I also feel that this proposal is far too cavalier in not even
> discussing the possibility of helping out the Mercurial team to resolve
> their documentation and usability issues rather than just yelling at them
> "your tool isn't popular enough for us, and we find certain aspects of it
> too hard to use, so we're switching to something else rather than working
> with you to address our concerns". We consider the Mercurial team a
> significant enough part of the Python ecosystem that Matt was one of the
> folks specifically invited to the 2014 language summit to discuss their
> concerns around the Python 3 transition. Yet we'd prefer to switch to
> something else entirely rather than organising a sprint with them at PyCon
> to help ensure that our existing Mercurial based infrastructure is
> approachable for git & GitHub users? (And yes, I consider some of the core
> Mercurial devs to be friends, so this isn't an entirely abstract concern
> for me)

Thanks Nick, I think these are excellent points, particularly the 
second. It would be a gross strawman to say that we should "only" use 
software developed in Python, but we should eat our own dogfood whenever 
practical and we should support and encourage the Python ecosystem, 
including Mercurial.

Particularly since hg and git are neck and neck feature-wise, we should 
resist the tendency to jump on bandwagons. If git were clearly the 
superior product, then maybe there would be an argument for using the 
best tool for the job, but it isn't.

As for the question of using Github hosting, there's another factor 
which has been conspicuous by its absence. Has GitHub's allegedly toxic 
and bullying culture changed since Julie Horvath quit in March? And if 
it has not, do we care?

I'm not a saint, but I do try to choose ethical companies and 
institutions over unethical ones whenever it is possible and practical. 
I'm not looking for a witch-hunt against GitHub, but if the allegations 
made by Horvath earlier this year are true, and I don't believe anyone 
has denied them, then so long as GitHub's internal culture remains 
sexist and hostile to the degree reported, then I do not believe that we 
should use GitHub's services even if we shift some repos to git.

I have serious doubts about GitHub's compatibility with the ideals 
expressed by the PSF. Even if our code of conduct does not explicitly 
forbid it, I think that it goes against the principles that we say we 
aspire to.

Given Horvath's experiences, and the lack of clear evidence that 
anything has changed in GitHub, I would be deeply disappointed if Python 
lent even a smidgeon of legitimacy to their company, and I personally 
will not use their services.

I acknowledge that it's hard to prove a negative, and GitHub may have 
difficulty proving to my satisfaction that they have changed. (My 
experience is that company culture rarely changes unless there is a 
change in management, and even then only slowly.) Particularly given 
GitHub's supposed egalitarian, non-hierarchical, and meritocratic 
structure, that nobody apparently saw anything wrong with the bullying 
of staff and workplace sexism until it became public knowledge suggests 
that it is not just a few bad apples but a problem all through the 


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