[Python-Dev] Official citation for Python

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Tue Sep 11 08:45:09 EDT 2018

On Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 11:16:08AM +0200, Chris Barker wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 3:48 AM, Steven D'Aprano <steve at pearwood.info>
> wrote:
> > > That is about reproducible results, which is really a different thing
> > than
> > > the usual citations.
> >
> > I don't think it is. I think you are seeing a distinction that is not
> > there.
> no need for us to agree on that, but there are still multiple reasons /
> ways you might want to cite Python, and what you would want to cite would
> be different.

I think this thread is about *academic* citations. I know the feature 
request I linked to earlier is, because I opened it and that's what I 
intended :-)

Informal citations can include as much or as little information as you 
care to give. It could be as little as "use Python" or it could be a 
link to a specific branch or tag in a repo, complete with detailed 
instructions on building the environment up to and including the OS and 
processor type. But those sorts of detailed build instructions aren't 
really a *citation*, they are more along the lines of the 
experimental design ("First, compile Linux using gcc ...").

There's a metric ton of information on the web about citing software, 
there are existing standards, and I really think you are 
over-complicating this. See, for example:




Its not our job to tell academics how to cite, they already have a 
number of standardised templates that they use, but it is our job to 
tell them what information to fill into the template.

> Lets say one were to write an article about how different computer
> languages express functional programming concepts -- you may want to cite
> Python, but you are not trying to identify a specific version for
> reproducible results.

I don't think we need to lose any sleep over how random bloggers and 
Redditors informally cite Python. I think the focus here is on academic 
citations, which have rather precise and standard requirements. No need 
to expand the scope of this problem to arbitrary mentions of Python.

Besides, if we have a sys.cite() function that provides the relevant 
information, bloggers etc will soon learn to pick and choose the bits 
they care about from it, even if they don't give a proper academic style 

Of course it is possible that I've completely misunderstood Jackie's 
request. If so, hopefully she will speak up soon.

> And see Wes Turner's note -- it is highly unlikely that a single citation
> to a standard document or something will be enough for reproducibility
> anyway.

The academic community seems to think that it is. We don't have to tell 
them that they're wrong.


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