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PEP 8015 -- Organization of the Python community

PEP:8015
Title:Organization of the Python community
Author:Victor Stinner
Status:Rejected
Type:Informational
Created:2018-10-04

Abstract

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 Steering Committee" of 5 members which has limited roles: basically decide how decisions are taken, but don't take decisions.

PEPs are approved by a PEP delegate or by a vote (reserved to core developers, need >= 2/3 majority).

PEP Rejection

PEP 8015 was rejected by a core developer vote described in PEP 8001 on Monday, December 17, 2018.

PEP 8016 and the governance model it describes were chosen instead.

Rationale

This PEP describes the organization of the whole Python development community, from Python users to the Python Steering Committee. 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 BDFL organization to the new Steering Committee 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, most decisions have been taken by the Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Guido van Rossum. 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 Steering Committee 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, see the PEP process section below for the voting method.

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.
  • 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 more 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 Steering Committee 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 on 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).

When enough developers are interested by a specific topic, they can create a new team. Usually, the main action is to ask the Python postmaster to create a new "SIG" mailing list, but the team can choose to use a different communication channel.

Team members are Python contributors and Python core developers. The team is self-organized and 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. The more involved in a team you are, the more decisions power and responsibilities you get.

A team might become allowed to decide on their own PEPs, but only the Python Steering Committee can allow that (and it has the power to revoke it as well). Such a 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, but also (and this is more important) what changes should not be made. 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 merges a change, they become responsible for regressions and for the maintenance of that modified code.

Core developers are 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 reserved to core developers, is public, and is open for 1 week. Usually the core developer who proposes the promotion has to describe the work and skills of the candidate in the description of the vote. A contributor is only promoted if two thirds (>= 2/3) of votes approve ("+1") the promotion. Only "+1" and "-1" votes are accounted; other votes (ex: null, "-0", "+0.5") 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 Steering Committee

The Python Steering Committee is made of the most trusted core 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.

The Python Steering Committee is composed of 5 members. They are elected for 3 years and 1/3 is replaced every year (first year: 1, second year: 2, third year: 2). This way, a member will stay for one full Python release and the committee composition will be updated frequently. A committee member can be a candidate for the seat they are leaving. There are no term limits.

Committee members must be Python core developers. It is important that the members of the committee reflect the diversity of Python' users and contributors. A small step to ensure that is to enforce that only 2 members (strictly less than 50% of the 5 members) can work for the same employer (same company or subsidiaries of the same company).

The size of 5 members has been chosen for the members diversity and to ensure that the committee can continue to work even if a member becomes unavailable for an unknown duration.

Python Steering Committee Roles

Python Steering Committee 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 committee elects a PEP delegate (previously known as "BDFL-delegate"): a core developer who will take the final decision for the specific PEP. The committee select the PEP delegate who can be proposed by the Python team where the PEP is discussed.
  • The committee can organize a vote on on the PEP, see PEP process for the vote organization. The committee decides when the vote is organized. A vote is preferred for changes affecting all Python users, like language changes.

The committee 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.

Election of Python Steering Committee Members

The vote is organized by the Steering Committee. It is announced 3 weeks in advance: candidates have to apply during this period. The vote is reserved to core developers and is open for 1 week. To avoid self-censorship, the vote uses secret ballots: avoid the risk of hostility from someone who may get more power (if they get elected).

The vote uses the Schulze/Beatpath/CSSD variant of the Condorcet method using an online service like Condorcet Internet Voting Service (CIVS). This voting method reduces the risk of tie. It also produces a ranking of all candidates, needed for the creation of the committee.

In case of tie, a new vote is organized immediately between candidates involved in the tie using the same voting method and also during 1 week. If the second vote leads to a tie again, the current Steering Committee is responsible to select the elected member(s).

If a committee member steps down, a new vote is organized to replace them.

If the situation of a committee member changes in a way that no longer satisfies the committee constraint (ex: they move to the same company as two other committee members), they have to resign. If the employer of a member is acquired by the employer of two other members, the member with the mandate ending earlier has to resign once the acquisition completes.

Election Creating the Python Steering Committee Members

To bootstrap the process, 5 members are elected at the committee creation. The vote follows the same rules than regular committee votes, except that the election needs 5 members, and the vote is organized by the PSF Board.

In a council election, if 3 of the top 5 vote-getters work for the same employer, then whichever of them ranked lowest is disqualified and the 6th-ranking candidate moves up into 5th place; this is repeated until a valid council is formed.

In case of tie, a second vote is organized immediately between candidates involved in the tie and following candidates to fill the remaining seats. The vote follows the same rules as the regular committee vote. If the second vote still result in a tie, the PSF Board is responsible to elect members and decide their position in the vote result.

The order in the vote result must be unique for elected members: #1 and #2 are elected for 3 years, #2 and #3 for 2 years, and #5 for 1 year.

Example of vote result with a tie:

  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E, F
  • G
  • ...

The first 4 candidates (A, B, C and D) are elected immediately. If E works for the same employer than two other elected member, F is also elected. Otherwise, a second vote is organized for the 5th seat between E and F.

Special Case: Steering Committee Members And PEPs

A committee member can be a PEP delegate.

A committee member can propose a PEP, but cannot be the PEP delegate of their own PEP.

When the committee decides that a PEP must be voted, committee members can vote as they are also core developers, but they don't have more power than other core developer.

PSF Code of Conduct Workgroup

Charter

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 & python.org 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.

Special Case: Ban a core developer

As any other member of the Python community, the PSF Code of Conduct Workgroup can ban a core developer for a limited amount of time. In this case, the core developer immediately loses their core developer status. Core developers are expected to be exemplary when it comes to the Code of Conduct.

In general, a ban is only the last resort action when all other options have been exhausted.

At the end of the ban, the developer is allowed to contribute again as a regular contributor.

If the developer changes their behavior, another core developer can organize a new vote to propose the developer for promotion to core developer. The vote follows the same process than for any other Python contributor.

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 motivate 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 Steering Committee decides that a PEP needs a wider approval, a vote is organized.

The vote is reserved to core developers, is public, is announced 1 week in advance, and is open for 1 week. The PEP can still be updated during the 1 week notice, but must not be modified during the vote. Such vote happens on the mailing list where the PEP has been discussed. The committee decides when the vote is organized. The PEP must have been discussed for a reasonable amount of time before it is put to vote.

A PEP is only approved if two thirds (>= 2/3) of votes approve ("+1") the PEP. Only "+1" and "-1" votes are accounted; other votes (ex: null, "-0", "+0.5") are ignored.

A PEP can only be approved or rejected by a vote, not be deferred.

Lack of Decision

If a discussion fails to reach a consensus, if the Python Steering Committee fail to choose a PEP delegate, 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.

Change this PEP

The first version of this PEP has been written after Guido van Rossum decided to resign from his role of BDFL in July 2018. Before this PEP, the roles of Python community members have never been formalized. It is difficult to design a perfect organization at the first attempt. This PEP can be updated in the future to adjust the organization, specify how to handle corner cases and fix mistakes.

Any change to this PEP must be validated by a vote. The vote is announced 3 weeks in advance, is reserved to core developers, happens in public on the python-committers mailing list, and is open for 1 week. The proposed PEP change can still be updated during the 3 weeks notice, but must not be modified during the vote.

The change is only approved if four fifths (>= 4/5) of votes approve ("+1") the change. Only "+1" and "-1" votes are accounted; other votes (ex: null, "-0", "+0.5") are ignored.

Annex: Summary on votes

Vote Notice Open Ballot Method
Promote contributor none 1 week public >= 2/3 majority
PEP 1 week 1 week public >= 2/3 majority
Change this PEP 3 weeks 1 week public >= 4/5 majority
Steering Committee 3 weeks 1 week private Condorcet (Schulze/Beatpath/CSSD)

All these votes are reserved to core developers.

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: packaging.python.org
  • 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 is 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
  • Example of members: Julien Palard, INADA Naoki, Raymond Hettinger.

The team also manages documentation translations.

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

Security Team

The security@python.org 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.

Type Hints Team

Note: There is a backport for Python 3.6 and older, see typing on PyPI.

Version History

History of this PEP:

  • Version 7: Adjust the Steering Committee
    • The Steering Committee is now made of 5 people instead of 3.
    • There are no term limits (instead of a limit of 2 mandates: 6 years in total).
    • A committee member can now be a PEP delegate.
  • Version 6: Adjust votes
    • Specify the Condorcet method: use Schulze/Beatpath/CSSD variant to elect Python Steering Committee members. Specify how to deal with tie and the constraint on the employers.
    • Vote on promoting a contributor and on PEPs now requires >= 2/3 rather than 50%+1.
    • Vote on changing this PEP now requires >= 4/5 rather than 50%+1.
    • Explain how to deal with a company acquisition.
  • Version 5: Election of Python Steering Committee Members uses secret ballots
  • Version 4:
    • Adjust votes: open for 1 week instead of 1 month, and announced in advance.
    • Rename the "Python Core Board" to the "Python Steering Committee";
    • Clarify that this committee doesn't approve PEPs and that committee members cannot cumulate more than 2 mandates;
    • Add the "Type Hints" team to the annex.
  • Version 3: Add "Special Case: Ban a core developer" and "How to update this PEP" sections.
  • Version 2: Rename the "Python board" to the "Python Core Board", to avoid confusion with the PSF Board.
  • Version 1: First version posted to python-committers and discuss.python.org.
Source: https://github.com/python/peps/blob/master/pep-8015.rst