[Numpy-discussion] Numpy governance update - was: Updated differences between 1.5.1 to 1.6.1

Bruce Southey bsouthey@gmail....
Tue Feb 14 21:07:11 CST 2012

On Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 6:43 PM, Matthew Brett <matthew.brett@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> On Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 3:58 PM, Travis Oliphant <travis@continuum.io> wrote:
>>>> When we selected the name NumFOCUS just a few weeks ago, we created the list
>>>> for numfocus and then I signed everyone up for that list who was on the
>>>> other one.      I apologize if anyone felt left out.   That is not my
>>>> intention.
>>> My point is that there are two ways go to about this process, one is
>>> open and the other is closed.  In the open version, someone proposes
>>> such a group to the mailing lists.  They ask for expressions of
>>> interest.  The discussion might then move to another mailing list that
>>> is publicly known and widely advertised.  Members of the board are
>>> proposed in public.  There might be some sort of formal or informal
>>> voting process.  The reason to prefer this to the more informal
>>> private negotiations is that a) the community feels a greater
>>> ownership and control of the process and b) it is much harder to
>>> weaken or subvert an organization that explicitly does all its
>>> business in public.
>> Your points are well taken.   However, my point is that this has been discussed on an open mailing list.   Things weren't *as* open as they could have been, perhaps, in terms of board selection.  But, there was opportunity for people to provide input.
> I am on the numpy, scipy, matplotlib, ipython and cython mailing
> lists.  Jarrod and Fernando are friends of mine.  I've been obviously
> concerned about numpy governance for some time.  I didn't know about
> this mailing list, had only a vague idea that some sort of foundation
> was being proposed and I had no idea at all that you'd selected a
> board.  Would you say that was closer to 'open' or closer to 'closed'?
>>>> Perceptions can be damaging.   This is one of the big reasons for the
>>>> organization of the Foundation -- to be a place separate from any commercial
>>>> venture which can direct resources to a vision whose goal is more
>>>> democratically determined.
>>> Are you proposing that the Foundation oversee Numpy governance and
>>> direction?   From your chosen members I'm guessing that the idea is
>>> for the foundation to think about broad strategy rather than - say -
>>> whether missing values should be encoded with masked arrays?
>> No, I am not proposing that.    The Foundation will be focused on higher-level broad strategy sorts of things:  mostly around how to raise money and how to direct that money to projects that have their own development cycles.   I would think the Foundation would be interested in paying for things like issue trackers and continuous integration servers as well.     It will leave NumPy management to this list and the people who have gathered around this watering hole.    Obviously, there will be points of connection, but exactly how this will play-out depends on who shows up to both organizations.
>>>> I think we do have a NumPy steering group if you want to call it that.
>>>> It is currently me, Mark Wiebe, and Charles Harris.    Rolf Gommers, Pauli
>>>> Virtanen, David Cournapeau and Robert Kern also have opinions that carry
>>>> significant weight.    Are there other people that should be on this list?
>>>>  There are other people who also speak up on this list whose opinions will
>>>> be listened to and heard.   In fact, I hope that many more people will come
>>>> to the list and speak out as development increases.
>>> The point I was making was that the concentration of numpy development
>>> hours and talent in your company makes it urgent that the numpy
>>> governance is set out formally, that the interests of the company are
>>> made clear, and that the steering group can be assured of explicit and
>>> public independence from the interests of the company, if and when
>>> that becomes necessary.   In the past, the numpy steering group has
>>> seemed a virtual organization, formed ad-hoc when needed, and with no
>>> formal governance.   I'm saying that I firmly believe that has to
>>> change, to avoid the actual or perceived loss of community ownership.
>> I hear your point.    Thank you for sharing it.    Fortunately, we are having this discussion, and plan to continue to have it as any concerns arise.    I think the situation is actually less concentrated than it used to be when the SciPy steering committee was discussed.  On that note,  I think the SciPy steering committee needs serious revision as well.    But, we've all just been getting along pretty well without too much formalism, so far, so perhaps that is enough for now.
> But a) there have already been serious unresolved disagreements on
> this list (I note no resolution of the masks / NA debate) and b) the
> whole point is to set up structures that can deal with the problems
> before or as they arise.  After the problem arises, it is too late.
> See you,
> Matthew
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Thanks for the links, Matt, as it does put quite a few things into
perspective. I do fully agree with you on this.

The 'masks / NA debate' is a curious issue here. On one hand we are
meant to understand that numpy will be continuing 'as usual'. Yet,
thanks to the link, we know that this new company involves probably
the only person, Mark Wiebe, that understands the NA object that has
been entered into the development branch. It just does not come across
very well when major issue fundamental issues with the NA object have
occurred on the list have been totally ignored by Mark - thanks Chuck!

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'. But the only way you
can change that perception is through actions.


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