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PEP 8015 -- Organization of the Python community

Title:Organization of the Python community
Author:Victor Stinner


This PEP formalizes the current organization of the Python community and proposes 3 main changes:

  • Formalize the existing concept of "Python teams";
  • Give more autonomy to Python teams;
  • Replace the BDFL (Guido van Rossum) with a new "Python Core Board" of 3 members which have limited roles. Their key role is mostly to decide how a PEP is approved (or rejected or deferred).

Note: the "BDFL-delegate" role is renamed to "PEP delegate".


This PEP describes the organization of the whole Python development community, from Python users to the Python Core Board. Describing all groups and all roles in the same document helps to make the organization more consistent.

The number of governance changes is minimized to get a smooth transition from the old to the new organization.

One key design of the organization is to avoid decision bottlenecks. Discussions and decisions are distributed into Python teams where experts in each topic can be found. The expectation is smoother discussions on PEPs: fewer people with better knowledge of the topic.

Previously, almost all decisions have been taken by the Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL). The growing popularity of Python increased the pressure on a single person. The proposed organization distributes decisions and responsibilities to reduce the pressure and avoid wearing any individual down.

To keep most of the decision power within the hands of the community, the Python Core Board has very limited roles. The idea is to reduce the risk that a group of people or companies "takes over" the Python project through just a couple individuals. The project must remain autonomous and open to everybody.

The most sensitives PEPs are decided by democracy: a vote reserved to core developers, a PEP is only approved if the number of "+1" exceed the number of "-1" (see the PEP process section below for the vote details).

Common Guidelines

  • The Python community is open to everyone.
  • Members must respect the Python Community Code of Conduct which ensures that discussions remain constructive and that everybody feels welcomed.
  • Python is and will remain an autonomous project. It cannot be owned by a company.
  • People with decisions power should reflect the diversity of its users and contributors.

Community Organization

Right now, there are different group of people involved in the Python project. The more involved you are, the most decisions power you get. It is important that the people acceding to the deepest group are the most trusted ones.

This PEP formalizes the following groups:

  • Python Users
  • Python Contributors
  • Python Teams Members
  • Python Core Developers
  • Python Core Board Members
  • PSF Code of Conduct Workgroup

Python Users

This is the largest group: anyone who uses Python.

Python Contributors

Once a Python user sends an email to a Python mailing list, comments the Python bug tracker, proposes or reviews a Python change, they become a Python contributor.

Python Teams

Python became too big to work as an unique team anymore, people naturally have grouped themselves as teams to work more closely on specific topics, sometimes called "Special Interest Group" (SIG).

Team members are Python contributors and Python core developers. The team is responsible to select who can join the team and how.

Team members can get the bug triage permission on the team bug tracker component. Working in a team is a nice way to learn more to maybe later become a core developer.

A team might become allowed to decide on their own PEPs, but only the Core board can allow that (and the board has the power to revoke it as well). Such case is exceptional, currently a single team has such permission: the Packaging team.

See Annex: Examples of Python Teams.

Python Core Developers

One restricted definition of a core developer is the ability to merge a change (anywhere in the code) and have the bug triage permission (on all bug tracker components).

Core developers are developers who are proven to have the required skills to decide if a change can be approved or must be rejected. Python has a long history, big constraints on backward compatibility, high quality standards (ex: changes require new tests). For these reasons, becoming a core can take several months or longer.

Becoming a core developer means more responsibilities. For example, if a developer approves a change, they become indirectly responsible for regressions and for the maintenance of that modified code.

Core developers are also expected to be exemplary when it comes to the Code of Conduct. They are encouraged to mentor contributors.

Promote a contributor as core developer

Once an existing core developer considers that a contributor is ready to join the core group, to become a core developer, that core developer asks the contributor if they would like to become a core developer. If the contributor is interested in such new responsibilities, a vote is organized.

The vote is public and organized on the python-committers mailing list for 1 month. Usually the core developer who proposes the promotion has to describe the work and skills of the candidate in the email opening the vote.

A contributor is only promoted if the number of "+1" exceed the number of "-1". Other votes (null, "+0" and "-0") are ignored.

If the candidate is promoted, usually they get a mentor for 1 month to help them to handle new responsibilities. If the candidate is not promoted, a new vote can be organized later, when the candidate gets the missing skills, for example 6 months later.

Python Core Board

The Python Core Board is made of the most trusted developers since it has the most decision power. The roles of this group are strictly limited to ensure that Python keeps its autonomy and remains open.

Board members are elected for 3 years, a third of it is refreshed every year. This way, a member will stay for one full Python release but the board composition will be updated frequently.

Election of Python Core Board members

The Python Core Board is composed of 3 people. They are elected for three year terms, and each year a member is replaced. A board member can be candidate for the seat they are leaving. Candidates have 2 weeks to apply, and a vote is open for 1 month. The vote uses the Condorcet method. Votes are private during the vote, but become public when the vote completes.

Board members must be Python core developers. It is important that the members of the board reflect the diversity of Python' users and contributors. A small step to ensure that is to enforce that two members cannot work for the same company (or subsidiaries of the same company). In addition, to encourage more people to get involved, a core developer can only be a board member twice (up to 6 years total).

To bootstrap the process, 3 members will be elected at the board creation. The first members will stay for 1, 2 or 3 years (3 years for the candidate with most votes, 1 year for the candidate with least votes).

If a board member steps down, a new vote is organized to replaced them. If the situation of a board member changes in a way that no longer satisfies the board constraint (eg: they move to the same company as another board members), they have to resign.

Python Core Board roles

Board roles:

  • Decide how a PEP is approved (or rejected or deferred).
  • Grant or revoke permissions to a Python team. For example, allow a team to give the bug triage permission (on the team component) to a contributor.

To decide how a PEP is approved (or rejected or deferred), there are two options:

  • The board elects a PEP delegate (previously known as "BDFL-delegate"): a core developer who will take the final decision for the specific PEP. The Python team of the PEP or the board select the PEP delegate.
  • If the board decides that the PEP is too risky (like language changes), a vote is organized (see PEP process for details on the vote). The board decides when the vote is opened.

The board keeps the "vision" and consistency of Python. It also makes sure that important features reach completion. Their ability to pick PEP delegates is meant to help them to achieve that goal.

Special Case: Board Members And PEPs

A Python Core board member cannot be a PEP delegate.

A Python Core board member can offer a PEP, but cannot decide how their own PEP is approved.

PEP process

There are 2 main roles on PEPs:

  • PEP Authors
  • PEP Delegate

PEP Authors do their best to write high quality PEP.

The PEP delegate is responsible to help the authors to enhance their PEP and is the one taking the final decision (accept, reject or defer the PEP). They can also help to guide the discussion.

If no decision is taken, the authors can propose again the PEP later (ex: one year later), if possible with new data to motive the change. A PEP Delegate can also choose to mark a PEP as "Deferred" to not reject the PEP and encourage to reopen the discussion later.

PEPs specific to a Python team are discussed on the team mailing list. PEPs impacting all Python developers (like language changes) must be discussed on the python-dev mailing list.

Vote on a PEP

When the Python Core board decides that a PEP needs a wider approval, a vote will be open for 1 month to all core developers. Such vote will happen on the mailing list where the PEP has been discussed. The PEP must have been discussed for a reasonable amount of time before it is put to vote.

A PEP is only approved if the number of "+1" exceed the number of "-1". Other votes (null, "+0" and "-0") are ignored.

Lack of decision

If a discussion fails to reach a consensus, if the board fail to choose a PEP delegate for a PEP, or if a PEP delegate fails to take a decision, the obvious risk is that Python fails to evolve.

That's fine. Sometimes, doing nothing is the wisest choice.

PSF Code of Conduct Workgroup

The workgroup's purpose is to foster a diverse and inclusive Python community by enforcing the PSF code of conduct, along with providing guidance and recommendations to the Python community on codes of conduct, that supports the PSF mission of “ongoing development of Python-related technology and educational resources”.

We work toward this common goal in three ways:

  • Review, revise, and advise on policies relating to the PSF code of conducts and other communities that the PSF supports. This includes any #python chat community & email list under PSF jurisdiction.
  • Create a standard set of codes of conduct and supporting documents for multiple channels of interaction such as, but not limited to, conferences, mailing lists, slack/IRC, code repositories, and more.
  • Develop training materials and other processes to support Python community organizers in implementing and enforcing the code of conduct.

The organization of this workgroup is defined by the ConductWG Charter.

Annex: Examples of Python Teams

Below are examples of some Python teams (the list will not be kept up to date in this PEP).

Packaging team

The packaging team runs its own PEP category and can approve (or reject) their own PEPs.

  • Website:
  • Mailing list: distutils-sig
  • Bug tracker component: Distutils
  • Example of members: Paul Moore, Nick Coghlan, Donald Stuff
  • Stdlib module: distutils
  • Current PEP delegate: Paul Moore

IDLE team

IDLE is a special case in the Python standard library: it's a whole application, not just a module. For this reason, it has been decided that the code will be the same in all Python stable branches (whereas the stdlib diverges in newer stable branches).

  • Bug tracker component: IDLE
  • Example of members: Terry Reedy, Cheryl Sabella, Serhiy Storchaka
  • Stdlib module: idlelib

Mentorship team

Becoming a core developer is long and slow process. Mentorship an an efficient way to train contributors as future core developers and build a trust relationship.

Note: The group is not responsible to promote core developers.

Documentation team

  • Mailing list: doc-sig
  • Bug tracker component: Documentation
  • GitHub tag: type-doc

The team also manages documentation translations.

See also the Mentorship team which maintains the "Devguide".

Security team

The mailing list is invite-only: only members of the "Python Security Response Team" (PSRT) can read emails and reply; whereas security-sig is public.

Note: This team rarely proposed PEPs.

Performance team

Usually PEPs involving performance impact everybody and so are discussed on the python-dev mailing list, rather than the speed mailing list.

Asynchronous programming team

PEP only modifying asyncio and contextvars can be discussed on the async-sig mailing list, whereas changes impacting the Python language must be discussed on python-dev.