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PEP 8001 -- Python Governance Voting Process

PEP:8001
Title:Python Governance Voting Process
Author:Brett Cannon <brett at python.org>, Christian Heimes <christian at python.org>, Donald Stufft <donald at stufft.io>, Eric Snow <ericsnowcurrently at gmail.com>, Gregory P. Smith <greg at krypto.org>, Łukasz Langa <lukasz at python.org> Mariatta Wijaya <mariatta at python.org>, Nathaniel J. Smith <njs at pobox.com>, Pablo Galindo Salgado <pablogsal at gmail.com>, Raymond Hettinger <python at rcn.com>, Tal Einat <taleinat at gmail.com>, Tim Peters <tim.peters at gmail.com>, Zachary Ware <zachary.ware at gmail.com>
Status:Accepted
Type:Process
Created:2018-08-24

Abstract

This PEP outlines the process for how the new model of Python governance is selected, in the wake of Guido's retirement. Once the model is chosen by the procedures outlined here, it will be codified in PEP 13.

Motivation and Rationale

Guido's stepping down from the BDFL role left us with a meta-problem of having to choose how we will choose how the Python project should be governed from now on.

This document presents a concrete proposal how this choice can be made. It summarizes discussion and conclusions of the proceedings of a working group at the core sprint in Redmond in September 2018 (names of all attendees are listed as authors). This PEP also summarizes a subsequent thread that took place on discuss.python.org .

The governance situation should be resolved in a timely fashion. Ideally that should happen by the end of the 2018 which unblocks substantial improvements to be merged in time for Python 3.8. At the latest, the governance situation needs to be resolved by PyCon US 2019 to avoid a PR crisis.

Implementation

What are we voting for?

We are voting to choose which governance PEP should be implemented by the Python project. The list of candidate PEPs is listed in PEP 8000 and consists of all PEPs numbered in the 801X range.

To ensure the vote is legitimate, the aforementioned PEPs must not be modified during the voting period.

Who gets to vote?

Every CPython core developer is invited to vote. In the interest of transparency and fairness, we are asking core developers to self-select based on whether the governance situation will affect them directly. In other words, we are recommending for inactive core developers who intend to remain inactive to abstain from voting.

When is the vote?

November 16th, 2018 to November 30th, 2018 is the official governance PEP review period. We discourage the PEP authors from making major substantive changes during this period, although it is expected that minor tweaks may occur, as the result of this discussion period.

The vote will happen in a 2-week-long window from December 1st, 2018 to December 16th, 2018 (Anywhere on Earth).

Where is the vote?

The vote will happen using a "private" poll on the Condorcet Internet Voting Service. Every committer will receive an email with a link allowing them to rank the PEPs in their order of preference.

The election will be supervised by Ernest W. Durbin III, The PSF Director of Infrastructure.

The results of the election, including anonymized ballots, will be made public on December 17th, after the election has closed.

The following settings will be used for the vote in the CIVS system:

Name of the poll: Python governance vote (December 2018)

Description of the poll:

This is the vote to choose how the CPython project will govern
itself, now that Guido has announced his retirement as BDFL. For
full details, see <a
href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-8001/">PEP
8001</a>. Many discussions have occurred under <a
href="https://discuss.python.org/tags/governance">the "governance"
tag</a> on discuss.python.org.
<p>
All votes must be received <b>by the end of December 16th, 2018, <a
href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anywhere_on_Earth">Anywhere on
Earth</a></b>. All CPython core developers are <a
href="https://github.com/python/voters">eligible to vote</a>.
It is asked that inactive core developers <i>who intend to remain
inactive</i> abstain from voting.
<p>
<b>Note: You can only vote once, and all votes are final.</b> Once
you click "Submit ranking", it's too late to change your mind.
<p>
All ballots will be published at the end of voting, but <b>without
any names attached</b>. No-one associated with the Python project or
the PSF will know how you voted, or even whether you voted.
<p>
If you have any questions, you can post in <a
href="https://discuss.python.org/c/committers">the Committers
topic</a>, on <a href="mailto:python-committers@python.org">the
python-committers list</a>, or <a
href="mailto:ewdurbin@gmail.com">contact the vote administrator
directly</a>.
<p>
<h1>Options</h1>
<p>
We're selecting between seven PEPs, each proposing a different
governance model.
<p>
The options below include links to the text of each PEP, as well
as their complete change history. The text of these PEPs was
frozen on December 1, when the vote started. But if you looked at
the PEPs before that, they might have changed. Please take the
time to check the current text of the PEPs if you read an older
draft.
<p>
A "Further discussion" option is also included. It represents the
option of not making a choice at all at this time, and continuing
the discussion instead. Including this option lets us demonstrate
the core team's readiness to move forward.
<p>
If you think a proposal is a particularly bad idea, you can
express that by ranking it below "Further discussion". If you
think all of the proposals are better than further discussion,
then you should rank "Further discussion" last.

Candidates (note: linebreaks are significant here):

<a href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-8010/">PEP 8010: The Technical Leader Governance Model</a> (Warsaw) (<a href="https://github.com/python/peps/commits/master/pep-8010.rst">changelog</a>)
<a href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-8011/">PEP 8011: Python Governance Model Lead by Trio of Pythonistas</a> (Wijaya, Warsaw) (<a href="https://github.com/python/peps/commits/master/pep-8011.rst">changelog</a>)
<a href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-8012/">PEP 8012: The Community Governance Model</a> (Langa) (<a href="https://github.com/python/peps/commits/master/pep-8012.rst">changelog</a>)
<a href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-8013/">PEP 8013: The External Council Governance Model</a> (Dower) (<a href="https://github.com/python/peps/commits/master/pep-8013.rst">changelog</a>)
<a href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-8014/">PEP 8014: The Commons Governance Model</a> (Jansen) (<a href="https://github.com/python/peps/commits/master/pep-8014.rst">changelog</a>)
<a href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-8015/">PEP 8015: Organization of the Python community</a> (Stinner) (<a href="https://github.com/python/peps/commits/master/pep-8015.rst">changelog</a>)
<a href="https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-8016/">PEP 8016: The Steering Council Model</a> (Smith, Stufft) (<a href="https://github.com/python/peps/commits/master/pep-8016.rst">changelog</a>)
Further discussion

Options:

[x] Private
[ ] Make this a test poll: read all votes from a file.
[ ] Do not release results to all voters.
[x] Enable detailed ballot reporting.
    [ ] In detailed ballot report, also reveal the identity of the voter with each ballot.
[ ] Allow voters to write in new choices.
[ ] Present choices on voting page in exactly the given order.
[ ] Allow voters to select “no opinion” for some choices.
[ ] Enforce proportional representation

These options will have the effect of:

  • Making the election "private", or in other words, invite only.
  • The results of the election will be released to all voters.
  • The contents of every ballot will be released to the public, along with a detailed report going over how the winner was elected.
  • The detailed ballots will not include any identifying information and the email addresses of the voters will be thrown away by the CIVS system as soon as the email with their voting link has been sent.
  • Voters will not be able to write in new choices, meaning they will be limited only to the options specified in the election.
  • Voters will not have the ability to change their vote after casting a ballot. [no-changes]
  • The default ordering for each ballot will be randomized to remove any influence that the order of the ballot may have on the election.
  • Voters will have to rank all choices somehow, but may rank multiple choices as equal.

Voting mechanics

The vote will be by ranked ballot. Every voter orders all candidate PEPs from the most preferred to the least preferred. The vote will be tallied and a winner chosen using the Condorcet method.

Note: each voter can only cast a single vote with no ability to revise their vote later. [no-changes] If you are not absolutely sure of your choices, hold off casting your ballot until later in the voting period. Votes cast on the last day of the election are just as valid as the ones cast on the first day.

While the CIVS system does not provide an option for a "Pure" Condorcet election, any Condorcet method will select the "Pure" Condorcet winner if one exists and otherwise only vary if one doesn't exist. The CIVS system differentiates between a Condorcet winner and a non Condorcet winner by stating if the winner was a Condorcet winner, or if it merely wasn't defeated versus any other option. So a winner in the CIVS system will only be accepted if it states it was a Condorcet winner.

In the unlikely case of a tie (or cycle as is possible under the Condorcet method), a new election will be opened, limited to the options involved in the tie or cycle, to select a new winner from amongst the tied options. This new election will be open for a week, and will be repeated until a single winner is determined.

Questions and Answers

Why the Condorcet method?

  1. It allows voters to express preference by ranking PEPs
  2. It is consensus decision-making
  3. In a poll open to only core developers and run using Approval voting, it was the clear preference

Is omitting any candidate PEPs in the ranking allowed?

A vote which omits candidates in the ranking is invalid. This is because such votes are incompatible with the desired properties listed above, namely:

  • Making voters consider alternatives, as well as
  • Doing everything possible to reach a conclusion in a single election.

Why recommend for dormant core developers to not vote?

The choice of the governance model will have far reaching and long-term consequences for Python and its community. We are inviting core developers to assess their skin in the game.

Note: this is not an edict and will not be policed. We trust all members of the core team to act in the best interest of Python.

Why should the vote be private?

When discussing the election system, a number of core developers expressed concerns with the idea of having public ballots, with at least one core developer stating that they were planning on abstaining from voting altogether due to the use of a public ballot. A poll ran on Discourse identified the overwhelming majority of voters prefer private ballots. [private-vote]

A secret ballot is considered by many to be a requirement for a free and fair election, allowing members to vote their true preferences without worry about social pressure or possible fallout for how they may have voted.

Why the use of CIVS?

In the resulting discussion of this PEP, it was determined that core developers wished to have a secret ballot. [private-vote] Unfortunately a secret ballot requires either novel cryptography or a trusted party to anonymize the ballots. Since there is not known to be any existing novel cryptographic systems for Condorcet ballots, the CIVS system was chosen to act as a trusted party.

More information about the security and privacy afforded by CIVS, including how a malicous voter, election supervisor, or CIVS administrator can influence the election can be be found here.

Why cannot voters change their vote?

CIVS does not allow voters to update their vote and as part of its goal to prevent the election supervisor from being able to influence the votes.

Are there any deficiencies in the Condorcet method?

There is no perfect voting method. It has been shown by the Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem that any single-winner ranked voting method which is not dictatorial must be susceptible to so-called "tactical voting". This can lead to people not voting as they truly believe in order to influence the outcome.

The Condorcet method also has the possibility of having cycles (known as the Condorcet paradox). Due to the fact that the Condorcet method chooses a winner based on whether they would win against the other options in a 1-on-1 race, there is a possibility that PEP A > PEP B > PEP C > PEP A (or in terms of the game rock-paper-scissors, imagine a three-player game where someone played rock, another played paper, and the last person played scissors; no one wins that game as everyone is defeated by someone). For one analyzed set of real-world elections with 21 voters or more, a cycle occurred less than 1.5% of the time..

Source: https://github.com/python/peps/blob/master/pep-8001.rst