[Python-ideas] Rename python-dev?

Russell Keith-Magee russell at keith-magee.com
Fri Jul 10 04:53:02 CEST 2015

On Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 3:11 AM, Ryan Gonzalez <rymg19 at gmail.com> wrote:

> This is a crazy idea that popped into my head recently.
> What if python-dev were to be renamed to something like python-internals?
> (Yeah, that's a bad name, but my naming skills suck...) Basically,
> something that gets across the idea that it's for development of Python,
> not in Python.
> Python-dev would visibly disappear, but mails sent to python-dev would be
> redirected to the new name.
> BTW, in reality, it's not an uncommon mistake. I know of a few mailing
> lists built for development *with* a tool that end in -dev, such as
> asmjit-dev.

You can't solve a social problem with technology, and I have evidence to
back up this specific case.

Django has a -dev and -users mailing list (following Python's example). We
have exactly the same problem of people posting "how do I" questions to
-dev, and the same recurring theme of posts that claim "if we just rename
the group, the problem will go away".

Our mailing lists are on Google Groups, so we have the option of setting a
public name for the group that is different to the mail alias. About a year
ago, we changed the name of the group from "Django Developers" to "Django
developers (Contributions to Django itself)". When you sign up for the
mailing list, you see that title, and confirm that this is the group you
want to sign up for.

Less than 2 days after the rename took effect, we had our first -dev post
that should have been posted to -users. Since then, the rate of incorrectly
addressed posts hasn't significantly changed from before the name change.

We have a similar problem with the DSF contact page:


The top of that page has a series of instructions indicating that the
contact form is for the legal and fundraising arm of the project, and
suggests several places to post inquiries about technical matters. And yet,
we get 2-3 contact requests a week for technical assistance.

The same is also true of the page to create new tickets on the Django bug


Despite the notices, we still get security reports and requests for help
lodged as tickets.

The moral of the story: evidence shows that no matter what the name, or the
instructions given, people will get it wrong. Yes, these posts are annoying
- but it's a teachable moment for people you are hoping to incorporate into
your community. The best option (IMHO) is to politely redirect their
question to -users, possibly with a link to a wiki page or documentation
entry that describes the sources of help that are available for newcomers.

It's also worth taking the time to work out what funnel has led people to
post to the "wrong place". *Something* has led them to believe that posting
to -dev is the right solution to their problem - how can the website or
other resources be changed to alter that perception? Some deeper analytics
on the path people have taken to get to the -dev signup page might help

Russ Magee %-)
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