[Numpy-discussion] What is consensus anyway

Matthew Brett matthew.brett@gmail....
Mon Apr 23 14:48:55 CDT 2012


On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:33 PM, Nathaniel Smith <njs@pobox.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 1:04 AM, Charles R Harris
> <charlesr.harris@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Linux is Linus' private tree. Everything that goes in is his decision,
>> everything that stays out is his decision. Of course, he delegates much of
>> the work to people he trusts, but it doesn't even reach the level of a BDFL,
>> it's DFL. As for consensus, it basically comes down to convincing the
>> gatekeepers one level below Linus that your code might be useful. So bad
>> example. Same with TCP/IP, which was basically Kahn and Cerf consulting with
>> a few others and working by request of DARPA. GCC was Richard Stallman (I
>> got one of the first tapes for a $30 donation), Python was Guido. Some of
>> the projects later developed some form of governance but Guido, for
>> instance, can veto anything he dislikes even if he is disinclined to do so.
>> I'm not saying you're wrong about open source, I'm just saying that that
>> each project differs and it is wrong to imply that they follow some common
>> form of governance under the rubric FOSS and that they all seek consensus.
>> And they certainly don't *start* that way. And there are also plenty of
>> projects that fail when the prime mover loses interest or folks get tired of
>> the politics.


> Linux: Technically, everything you say is true. In practice, good luck
> convincing Linus or a subsystem maintainer to accept your patch when
> other people are raising substantive complaints. Here's an email I
> googled up in a few moments, in which Linus yells at people for trying
> to submit a patch to him without making sure that all interested
> parties have agreed:
>  https://lkml.org/lkml/2009/9/14/481
> Stuff regularly sits outside the kernel tree in limbo for *years*
> while people debate different approaches back and forth.

To which I'd add:

"In fact, for [Linus'] decisions to be received as legitimate, they
have to be consistent with the consensus of the opinions of
participating developers as manifest on Linux mailing lists. It is not
unusual for him to back down from a decision under the pressure of
criticism from other developers. His position is based on the
recognition of his fitness by the community of Linux developers and
this type of authority is, therefore, constantly subject to
withdrawal. His role is not that of a boss or a manager in the usual
sense. In the final analysis, the direction of the project springs
from the cumulative synthesis of modifications contributed by
individual developers."

See you,


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