[Python-Dev] How far to go with user-friendliness

Paul Moore p.f.moore at gmail.com
Mon Jul 20 15:23:27 CEST 2015

On 20 July 2015 at 13:34, Ben Finney <ben+python at benfinney.id.au> wrote:
>> Again, I'm sorry to pick on one sentence out of context, but it cut
>> straight to my biggest fear when doing a commit (on any project) -
>> what if, after all the worrying and consideration I put into doing
>> this commit, people disagree with me (or worse still, I made a
>> mistake)? Will I be able to justify what I decided?

Let me rephrase. What I was trying to say was that justifying the
change *to the level needed for the sort of debate we see here* is too
high a barrier.

Michael is the original developer of mock, is the primary maintainer
of it, and apparently had a specific example of the assret misspelling
causing problems. And yet the debate still goes on. At what point does
that debate stop being a request to justify a change, and turn into
unreasonable browbeating over a decision that others don't like?

Even the constructive suggestions of an alternative, less fragile API,
were responded to (with "it doesn't match the design principles of
mock"). And yet there's a tone of "why didn't you think of this
approach" in the thread (and my immediate thought to that is why is
"because I'm not perfect" not an acceptable response - and so obvious
as to not need stating?)

Again, I'm not saying that people shouldn't be aware of the
responsibility of being a core dev, and wield the authority carefully.
But at some point the mailing list commentary stops being a useful
check and turns into a demotivating and paralysing force. It's hard to
keep that balance correct, but I think that presently there's a shift
towards the negative side, which we should recognise and address.

> That seems quite healthy to me. On a collaborative project with effects
> far beyond oneself, yes, any change *should* be able to be justified
> when challenged.

Fair. But equally, on a project supported on a volunteer basis by a
relatively small group with severe time pressure problems, any
challenge should be able to be justified as worth the drain on
resource and energy.

A quick "is the special-casing of one possible mis-spelling worth it?"
question on the tracker is one thing. A week-long, 100-message mailing
list thread is another. Somewhere in the middle (but a lot closer to
the former) is probably ideal.


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