[Python-ideas] Proposal: Moratorium on Python language changes

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Sat Oct 24 07:30:36 CEST 2009

geremy condra writes:

 > Didn't say it was a democracy. Assumed that it would still involve
 > some input from its user base. Is that wrong?

Your phrase "popularly supported" is ambiguous.  If you mean "attracts
widespread support in the form of description of varied and plausible
use cases" for new syntax and built-ins, or something like that, I'm
sure the answer is "yes".  The question posed by the moratorium
proposal is, "When?"

It seems to me that what Guido is heading for here is very similar to
the "punctuated equilibrium" concept (associated with the evolutionary
biologist Stephen Jay Gould, the wikipedia article is pretty good, and
fairly short).  The basic idea is that long periods of relative
stability are "punctuated" by periods of rapid evolution.  In biology,
the "bleeding edge" involves literal deaths, and Nature doesn't
hesitate to waste large percentages of a population over the "stable"
period as well as decimating it during the rapid evolution phases.

In software, it may make sense to have the stable periods be *much*
more stable, since artificial systems are more fragile than natural
ones.  C, because it occupies an "ecological niche" as a high-level
assembly language, has been quite static since its original
definition, even when it evolves.  Python need not be, since its niche
is very different.  But it makes sense to propose to compress the
evolution into short periods with many changes, and have very stable
periods of "moratorium" between.  Whether it will work well or not,
we'll have to try it to see.  But it's not just Guido's intuition that
says it will work to the advantage of Python.

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