[Python-Dev] Discussion overload

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Thu Jun 16 20:27:51 EDT 2016

Hi Kevin,

I often feel the same way. Are you using GMail? It combines related
messages in threads and lets you mute threads. I often use this feature so
I can manage my inbox. (I presume other mailers have the same features, but
I don't know if all of them do.) There are also many people who read the
list on a website, e.g. gmane. (Though I think that sometimes the delays
incurred there add to the noise -- e.g. when a decision is reached on the
list sometimes people keep responding to earlier threads.)

--Guido (don't get me started on top-posting :-)

On Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 12:22 PM, Kevin Ollivier <
kevin-lists at theolliviers.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
> Recent joiner here, I signed up after PyCon made me want to get more
> involved and have been lurking. I woke up this morning again to about 30
> new messages in my inbox, almost all of which revolve around the os.urandom
> blocking discussion. There are just about hourly new posts showing up on
> this topic.
> There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Discussion of issues is
> certainly good, but so far since joining this list I am seeing too much
> discussion happening too fast, and as someone who has been involved in open
> source for approaching two decades now, frankly, that is not really a good
> sign. The discussions are somewhat overlapping as so many people write back
> so quickly, there are multiple sub-discussions happening at once, and
> really at this point I'm not sure how much new each message is really
> adding, if anything at all. It seems to me the main solutions to this
> problem have all been identified, as have the tradeoffs of each. The
> discussion is now mostly at a point where people are just repeatedly
> debating (or promoting) the merits of their preferred solution and
> tradeoff. It is even spawning more abstract sub-discsussions about things
> like project compatibility policies. This discussion has really taken on a
> life of its own.
> For someone like me, a new joiner, seeing this makes me feel like wanting
> to simply unsubscribe. I've been on mailing lists where issues get debated
> endlessly, and at some point what inevitably happens is that the project
> starts to lose members who feel that even just trying to follow the
> discussions is eating up too much of their time. It really can suck the
> energy right out of a community. I don't want to see that happen to Python.
> I had a blast at PyCon, my first, and I really came away feeling more than
> ever that the community you have here is really special. The one problem I
> felt concerned about though, was that the core dev community risked a sense
> of paralysis caused by having too many cooks in the kitchen and too much
> worry about the potential unseen ramifications of changing things. That
> creates a sort of paralysis and difficulty achieving consensus on anything
> that, eventually, causes projects to slowly decline and be disrupted by a
> more agile alternative.
> Please consider taking a step back from this issue. Take a deep breath,
> and consider responding more slowly and letting people's points stew in
> your head for a day or two first. (Including this one pls. :) Python will
> not implode if you don't get that email out right away. If I understand
> what I've read of this torrent of messages correctly, we don't even know if
> there's a single real world use case where a user of os.urandom is hitting
> the same problem CPython did, so we don't even know if the blocking at
> startup issue is actually even happening in any real world Python code out
> there. It's clearly far from a rampant problem, in any case. Stop and think
> about that for a second. This is, in practice, potentially a complete
> non-issue. Fixing it in any number of ways may potentially change things
> for no one at all. You could even introduce a real problem while trying to
> fix a hypothetical one. There are more than enough real problems to deal
> with, so why push hypothetical problems to t
>  he top of your priority list?
> It's too easy to get caught up in the abstract nature of problems and to
> lose sight of the real people and code behind them, or sometimes, the lack
> thereof. Be practical, be pragmatic. Before you hit that reply button,
> think - in a practical sense, of all the things I could be doing right now,
> is this discussion the place where my involvement could generate the
> greatest positive impact for the project? Is this the biggest and most
> substantial problem the project should be focusing on right now? Projects
> and developers who know how to manage focus go on to achieve the greatest
> things, in my experience.
> Having been critical, I will end with a compliment. :) It is nice to see
> that with only a couple small exceptions, this discussion has remained very
> civil and respectful, which should be expected, but I know from experience
> that far too often these discussions start to take a nasty tone as people
> get frustrated. This is one of the things I really do love about the Python
> community, and it's one reason I want to see both the product and community
> grow and succeed even more. That, in fact, is why I'm choosing to write
> this message first rather than simply unsubscribe.
> Kevin
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--Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)
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