[Python-Dev] Discussion overload

Brett Cannon brett at python.org
Sat Jun 18 21:17:03 EDT 2016

Over on the "security SIG" thread, the point has been made that we seem to
be hitting some limits in communication (Steve Dower said written
communication, Guido said mailing lists/newsgroups). Based on the burnout
we are seeing from these centi-threads we need to try and come up with some
solution to this problem, else we are heading towards a bad place sue to
communication burn-out.

For me, I don't think we can give up written communication thanks to how
worldwide we all are and thus make scheduling some monthly video chat very
difficult. What I would like to consider, though, is something like
Discourse where we at least have a chance to have tools available to us to
manage discussions better than through federated email where everyone has
different experiences in terms of delivery rate, ability to filter,
splitting discussions, locking down out-of-control discussions, etc. I
think harmonizing the experience along with better controls could help make
all of this more manageable.

On Fri, Jun 17, 2016, 18:13 Nick Coghlan <ncoghlan at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 16 June 2016 at 19:00, Kevin Ollivier <kevin-lists at theolliviers.com>
> wrote:
> > Hi Guido,
> >
> > From: <gvanrossum at gmail.com> on behalf of Guido van Rossum
> > <guido at python.org>
> > Reply-To: <guido at python.org>
> > Date: Thursday, June 16, 2016 at 5:27 PM
> > To: Kevin Ollivier <kevin-lists at theolliviers.com>
> > Cc: Python Dev <python-dev at python.org>
> > Subject: Re: [Python-Dev] Discussion overload
> >
> > 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.)
> >
> >
> > I fear I did quite a poor job of making my point. :( I've been on open
> > source mailing lists since the late 90s, so I've learned strategies for
> > dealing with mailing list overload. I've got my mail folders, my mail
> rules,
> > etc. Having been on many mailing lists over the years, I've seen many
> > productive discussions and many unproductive ones, and over time you
> start
> > to see patterns. You also see what happens to those communities over
> time.
> This is one of the major reasons we have the option of escalating
> things to the PEP process (and that's currently in train for
> os.urandom), as well as the SIGs for when folks really need to dig
> into topics that risk incurring a relatively low signal-to-noise
> ration on python-dev. It's also why python-ideas was turned into a
> separate list, since folks without the time for more speculative
> discussions and brainstorming can safely ignore it, while remaining
> confident that any ideas considered interesting enough for further
> review will be brought to python-dev's attention.
> But yes, one of the more significant design errors I've made with the
> contextlib API was due to just such a draining pile-on by folks that
> weren't happy the original name wasn't a 100% accurate description of
> the underlying mechanics (even though it was an accurate description
> of the intended use case), and "people yelling at you on project
> communication channels without doing adequate research first" is the
> number one reason we see otherwise happily engaged core developers
> decide to find something else to do with their time.
> The challenge and art in community management in that context is
> balancing telling both old and new list participants "It's OK to ask
> 'Why is this so?', as sometimes the answer is that there isn't a good
> reason and we may want to change it" and "Learn to be a good peer
> manager, and avoid behaving like a micro-managing autocrat that chases
> away experienced contributors".
> Cheers,
> Nick.
> --
> Nick Coghlan   |   ncoghlan at gmail.com   |   Brisbane, Australia
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