[Numpy-discussion] What is consensus anyway

Matthew Brett matthew.brett@gmail....
Wed Apr 25 18:08:51 CDT 2012


On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 3:24 PM,  <josef.pktd@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 5:54 PM, Matthew Brett <matthew.brett@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> On Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM, Travis Oliphant <travis@continuum.io> wrote:
>>>> Do you agree that Numpy has not been very successful in recruiting and
>>>> maintaining new developers compared to its large user-base?
>>>> Compared to - say - Sympy?
>>>> Why do you think this is?
>>> I think it's mostly because it's infrastructure that is a means to an end.   I certainly wasn't excited to have to work on NumPy originally, when my main interest was SciPy.    I've come to love the interesting plateau that NumPy lives on.    But, I think it mostly does the job it is supposed to do.     The fact that it is in C is also not very sexy.   It is also rather complicated with a lot of inter-related parts.
>>> I think NumPy could do much, much more --- but getting there is going to be a challenge of execution and education.
>>> You can get to know the code base.  It just takes some time and patience.   You also have to be comfortable with compilers and building software just to tweak the code.
>>>> Would you consider asking that question directly on list and asking
>>>> for the most honest possible answers?
>>> I'm always interested in honest answers and welcome any sincere perspective.
>> Of course, there are potential explanations:
>> 1) Numpy is too low-level for most people
>> 2) The C code is too complicated
>> 3) It's fine already, more or less
>> are some obvious ones. I would say there are the easy answers. But of
>> course, the easy answer may not be the right answer. It may not be
>> easy to get right answer [1].   As you can see from Alan Isaac's reply
>> on this thread, even asking the question can be taken as being in bad
>> faith.  In that situation, I think you'll find it hard to get sincere
>> replies.
> I don't see why this shouldn't be the sincere replies, I think these
> easy answers are also the right answer for most people.

I wasn't saying these replies are not sincere, of course they are factors.

I have heard other people give reasons why they didn't enjoy numpy
development much, but I can't speak for them, only for me.

I have done some numpy development, but very little.

I've done a moderate amount of scipy development.

I have considered doing more numpy development, in particular, I did
want to do some work on the longdouble parts of numpy.

Part of the reason I didn't do this was because, when I raised the
question on the list, it did not seem there was much interest in a
change, or even a real discussion.

Partly from the masked array discussions, but not only, it seemed that
the process of making decisions was not clear, and there seemed to be
as many views about how this was done as there were developers.

I suppose I'd summarize the atmosphere, as I have have felt it, as
being that numpy was owned by someone else, and I wasn't quite sure
who that was, but I was fairly sure it wasn't me.   On the other hand,
in some projects at least - of which Sympy is the most obvious
example, I think it's easy to feel that all of us own Sympy (and I've
only made one commit to Sympy, and that of someone else's idea).

Adding to that, it does seem to me that the atmosphere on this list
get ugly sometimes.  In particular it seems to me that there's a sort
of conformity that starts to emerge in which people feel it is
necessary to praise or criticize people, but not the arguments.   I
suppose that is because there was a long time during which Travis was
not on the list to model what kind of discussion he wanted.  I'm glad
that has changed now.

The reason I keep returning to process, even though it is
'non-technical' - is because it seems to me that the atmosphere that
I'm describing will have the strong effect of discouraging
enthusiastic developers.  It certainly discourages me.  I don't think
open-source software is just developers scratching an itch, I think
it's about community, and the pleasure of working with people you like
and trust, to do something you think is important.

If I've made that harder, then I am sorry, and I'm very happy to hear
why that is, and how I can help.



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