[Numpy-discussion] Numpy governance update

Matthew Brett matthew.brett@gmail....
Wed Feb 15 14:01:50 CST 2012


Hi,

Thanks for these interesting and specific questions.

On Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 11:33 AM, Eric Firing <efiring@hawaii.edu> wrote:
> On 02/15/2012 08:50 AM, Matthew Brett wrote:
>> Hi,
>>
>> On Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 5:51 AM, Alan G Isaac<alan.isaac@gmail.com>  wrote:
>>> On 2/14/2012 10:07 PM, Bruce Southey wrote:
>>>> The one thing that gets over looked here is that there is a huge
>>>> diversity of users with very different skill levels. But very few
>>>> people have an understanding of the core code. (In fact the other
>>>> thread about type-casting suggests that it is extremely few people.)
>>>> So in all of this, I do not yet see 'community'.
>>>
>>>
>>> As an active user and long-time list member
>>> who has never even looked at the core code,
>>> I perhaps presumptuously urge a moderation
>>> of rhetoric. I object to the idea that users
>>> like myself do not form part of the "community".
>>>
>>> This list has 1400 subscribers, and the fact that
>>> most of us are quiet most of the time does not mean we
>>> are not interested or attentive to the discussions,
>>> including discussions of governance.
>>>
>>> It looks to me like this will be great for NumPy.
>>> People who would otherwise not be able to spend much
>>> time on NumPy will be spending a lot of time improving
>>> the code and adding features. In my view, this will help
>>> NumPy advance which will enlarge the user community, which will
>>> slowly but inevitably enlarge the contributor community.
>>> I'm pretty excited about Travis's bold efforts to find
>>> ways to allow him and others to spend more time on NumPy.
>>> I wish him the best of luck.
>>
>> I think it is important to stick to the thread topic here, which is
>> 'Governance'.
>
> Do you have in mind a model of how this might work?  (I suspect you have
> already answered a question like that in some earlier thread; sorry.)  A
> comparable project that is doing it right?

The example that had come up previously was the book by Karl Fogel:

http://producingoss.com/en/social-infrastructure.html
http://producingoss.com/en/consensus-democracy.html

In particular, the section "When Consensus Cannot Be Reached, Vote" in
the second page.

Here's an example of a voting policy:

http://www.apache.org/foundation/voting.html

Debian is a famous example:

http://www.debian.org/devel/constitution

Obviously some open-source projects do not have much of a formal
governance structure, but I think in our case a) we have already run
into problems with big decisions and b) we have now reached a
situation where there is serious potential for actual or perceived
problems with conflicts of interest.

> "Governance" implies enforcement power, doesn't it?  Where, how, and by
> whom would the power be exercised?

The governance that I had in mind is more to do with review and
constraint of power.  Thus, I believe we need a set of rules to govern
how we deal with serious disputes, such as the masked array NA debate,
or, previously the ABI breakage discussion at numpy 1.5.0.

To go to a specific use-case.  Let us imagine that Continuum think of
an excellent feature they want in Numpy but that many others think
would make the underlying array object too complicated.  How would the
desires of Continuum be weighed against the desires of other members
of the community?

>> It's not about whether it is good or bad that Travis has re-engaged in
>> Numpy and is funding development in Numpy through his company.   I'm
>> personally very glad to see Travis back on the list and engaged again,
>> but that's really not what the thread is about.
>>
>> The thread is about whether we need explicit Numpy governance,
>> especially in the situation where one new company will surely dominate
>> numpy development in the short term at least.
>>
>> I would say - for the benefit of Continuum Analytics and for the Numpy
>> community, there should be explicit governance, that takes this
>> relationship into account.
>
> Please elaborate; are you saying that Continuum Analytics must develop
> numpy as decided by some outside body?

No - of course not.   Here's the discussion from Karl Fogel's book:

http://producingoss.com/en/contracting.html

I'm proposing Governance not as some council that contracts work, but
as a committee set up with formal rules that can resolve disputes and
rule changes as they arise.  This committee needs to be able to do
this to make sure that the interests of the community (developers of
numpy outside Continuum) are being represented.

Best,

Matthew


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