[Python-ideas] Conduct on python-ideas

Brett Cannon brett at python.org
Mon Aug 13 15:38:44 EDT 2018

I'm starting a new thread on this to make sure it receives appropriate
visibility for everyone on this list. *There are ramifications for those
involved in this whole situation* as outlined at the end of this email.

To review, this mailing list operates under the PSF Community Code of
Conduct: https://www.python.org/psf/codeofconduct/ . That means everyone is
expected to be open, considerate, and respectful. Titus and I have operated
this list such that people who don't follow the CoC get a warning, then a
temporary ban of a month or two, then a year-long ban, then a permanent ban
(and we reserve the right to skip any of these steps as we see fit based on
how bad the infraction was). Since the traffic here can get a bit heavy and
thus we don't read every email, we rely on people reporting things as
appropriate to python-ideas-owner@ if things have gotten out of hand.

And boy did things get out of hand on the "Syntactic sugar to declare
partial functions" thread. Here is what I saw play out (bolding is mine):

Words like 'partial', 'curry', 'lambda', and 'closure' are fine for text
books, published papers, and technical discussion, *but I think they would
(or do in the case of 'lambda') harm Python*.

*That's an extreme overreaction*.

Do you mean to imply that there are people who looked at Python, loved
the language, but decided to use something else because they didn't like
the choice of the keyword "lambda"?

If not, in what way is Python harmed? Would it be faster if the keyword
was "function", or use less memory, or more expressive?

Remember that to millions of programmers in the world, "function" is
just as much an obscure foreign piece of jargon they have to memorise as
"lambda" is to English-speakers.

Extreme? I thought it was a rather benign opinion.* I'm not exactly
frothing at the mouth here. It's not like I'm declaring holy war on Python
for using the word 'lambda'.* I just think it was a mistake (and thatdeath
should come to all non-believers).


You've said that the choice of keyword, "lambda", has caused harm. Given
the chance to clarify what you meant,
*you stood by your comment that thechoice of keyword "lambda" has done
real, significant, non-trivial harm*
to Python (the language, or the community). Presumably you fear the same
thing will happen again if we choose "partial" (otherwise, why raise the

Notice:* I never said "real, significant, non-trivial harm" anywhere* in
this entire discussion. I never said anything close to that. *Stop jamming
bullshit in my mouth* to suit your narrative that I'm "extremely
overreacting". It's not cute.

The way I read this going down is Abe thought something "would harm
Python". "Harm" is a strong word to use, so Steven called it an "extreme
overreaction". Now stating it like a fact is unnecessary, abrasive, and a
bit of hyperbole. Abe thought we he thought and that's fine, but it isn't
universally considered an overreaction; it was an opinion and Abe correctly
stated it as such. Steven could have easily left out the hyperbole and
framing like a statement of fact and still made the same point.

Abe then reacted with more hyperbole as he disagreed with Steven's
statement that he was overreacting. So now we are reacting to hyperbole
with hyperbole.

Steven then reacted by overstating the strength of Abe's initial
intentions. That's a misunderstanding at best, entirely misleading at worst.

At that point Abe crossed a line and basically yelled at Steven to "stop
jamming bullshit in [his] mouth".

So how should have this been handled? First, dropping all hyperbole, not
stating opinions as facts, and not being so abrasive would have probably
stopped all of this from happening. Had Steven just said "I think that's an
overreaction; can you please clarify what harm you think happened?" then he
would have gotten the answer he wanted and Abe would not have taken
offense. Abe replying with his own hyperbole didn't help.

Steven also didn't need to misrepresent what Abe said. Choosing to
re-interpret what level of harm Abe meant was not appropriate (unless
Steven got a bit sloppy and replied from memory instead of going back and
reading the emails he was replying to).

And finally, Abe's response was totally uncalled for. I don't care how out
of line someone on this list is, you don't react like that. You come to
Titus and me and we will handle it. If you need to, step back for an hour
or day before replying if that's what it takes to not react in a rude

I shouldn't be having to explain to adults on how to communicate among
strangers of different cultures, but here we are. I did an entire PyCon US
keynote on why we need to treat open source as a series of kindnesses and
react as such: https://youtu.be/tzFWz5fiVKU?t=49m29s . If we don't treat
everything as a kindness then open source simply doesn't work and people
end up walking way from open source and the Python community.

So,* ramifications from all of this* ...

Steven, stop stating your opinion as fact and being needlessly abrasive.
Your abrasiveness in responses has pushed multiple threads to breaking
points like this before and I know you have the skills to not do that if
you chose to because I've seen it here and on other mailing lists.
Constructive conversations never need anything abrasive in them in order to
get your intentions across. Consider this a warning to scale back the tone
in response to be more respectful.

Abe, you're receiving a warning about how you eventually reacted. In the
future please just step away from the keyboard until you can react
appropriately. The way you responded to Steven is not acceptable as it
isn't respectful to others on this list and there shouldn't be "vigilante
responses"; if you feel someone has violated the CoC then tell us admins
and we will handle it.

-Brett & Titus
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