Community vote on RFCs

  111634
August 19, 2020 21:27 benjamin.morel@gmail.com (Benjamin Morel)
Hi internals,

The heated debate about attribute syntax made me think once again that it
would be valuable to get feedback in the form of votes from the community,
not just from core developers, on RFCs under discussion.

Understandably, the RFC voting process needs to be restricted to carefully
selected people, mostly core developers. But the fact is, this process is a
bit elitist, and fails to represent the community as a whole. A recent
thread <https://externals.io/message/111552> showed that even very active
contributors to OSS are unlikely to ever get a vote.

A project being nothing without its users, it would be nice to know whether
an important change will make them happy or not.

Therefore, I have in mind to develop (time permitting) an experimental
tool, external to the PHP wiki, that would replicate the voting options of
each RFC, but would allow everyone with a GitHub account to vote on the
same options as the original RFC. While the vote results would not directly
affect the wiki's vote results, I guess that this community feedback could
be taken into consideration by wiki voters and help them make an informed
decision.

To be useful, a link to the community voting site would need to be present
in each RFC, ideally some time before the actual voting starts on the wiki.

If popular enough, this tool could offer some analysis capabilities, such
as "what's the vote results from people having at least 100 commits to the
top 1000 packagist projects in the last year?" to help filter out the noise.

Thoughts?

Kind regards,
Benjamin
  111635
August 19, 2020 21:51 ben@benramsey.com (Ben Ramsey)
> On Aug 19, 2020, at 16:27, Benjamin Morel morel@gmail.com> wrote: > > Hi internals, > > The heated debate about attribute syntax made me think once again that it > would be valuable to get feedback in the form of votes from the community, > not just from core developers, on RFCs under discussion. > > Understandably, the RFC voting process needs to be restricted to carefully > selected people, mostly core developers. But the fact is, this process is a > bit elitist, and fails to represent the community as a whole. A recent > thread <https://externals.io/message/111552> showed that even very active > contributors to OSS are unlikely to ever get a vote. > > A project being nothing without its users, it would be nice to know whether > an important change will make them happy or not. > > Therefore, I have in mind to develop (time permitting) an experimental > tool, external to the PHP wiki, that would replicate the voting options of > each RFC, but would allow everyone with a GitHub account to vote on the > same options as the original RFC. While the vote results would not directly > affect the wiki's vote results, I guess that this community feedback could > be taken into consideration by wiki voters and help them make an informed > decision. > > To be useful, a link to the community voting site would need to be present > in each RFC, ideally some time before the actual voting starts on the wiki. > > If popular enough, this tool could offer some analysis capabilities, such > as "what's the vote results from people having at least 100 commits to the > top 1000 packagist projects in the last year?" to help filter out the noise. > > Thoughts?
I think there’s already a fair amount of community representation on this list, and while there are sometimes criticisms levied at internals, such as “internals doesn’t use PHP” or “internals doesn’t understand what the rest of the PHP community wants,” I think these are false or mistaken. A lot of the folks who have voting privileges and who actively participate in voting on RFCs are already what some might call “at-large” community representatives. Those on this list who have wider community networks often seek feedback on RFCs from their network. None of this is done in a vacuum. It’s all fairly transparent, and if non-voting members want to provide input, they have various ways to do so (e.g., posting here, giving feedback to someone who is active here, etc.). That said, I never want to discourage more involvement from the wider community, but I think something like what you’re proposing needs to be handled carefully. I think it would need to be clear that this is not a binding *vote*. Rather, it’s an informal *poll* to gauge support/interest in something. People who do have RFC voting privileges are not obligated to vote one way or another based on the results of the poll. In the end, it may be best if an informal poll like this is conducted by a third-party who does not have RFC voting privileges (so that they could be considered neutral and unrelated to internals). This way, there’s no confusion over the purpose of the poll, and it is simply information that may be shared with internals but is not officially sanctioned by the PHP project. There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing this right now. :-) Cheers, Ben
  111637
August 19, 2020 22:19 benjamin.morel@gmail.com (Benjamin Morel)
Thank you for your feedback, Ben & Stanislav.

*Ben:*

It’s all fairly transparent, and if non-voting members want to provide
> input, they have various ways to do so (e.g., posting here, giving > feedback to someone who is active here, etc.).
While this is true, I'm afraid the opportunities to provide "lightweight" feedback are fairly limited. For the same reason I hate not being able to just "+1" a message on @internals without having to reply and pollute the thread with just a thumbs up, I feel like someone may just want to give their opinion in a poll, without having to post a "I like XXX syntax" message on @internals. I think it would need to be clear that this is not a
> binding *vote*. Rather, it’s an informal *poll* to gauge > support/interest in something. People who do have RFC voting privileges > are not obligated to vote one way or another based on the results of > the poll.
A *poll *reflects much better what I had in mind, indeed! In the end, it may be best if an informal poll like this is conducted
> by a third-party who does not have RFC voting privileges (so that they > could be considered neutral and unrelated to internals).
I don't have RFC voting privileges, so this condition would be met.
> There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing this right now. :-)
Actually there is: without a link to the poll in the RFC itself, the poll would probably not get enough visibility to be useful. *Stanislav:* If
> somebody wants to voice an opinion, it's always welcome. But let's not > pretend like people who actually maintain PHP core and everybody who > ever used PHP or may be thinking about using it have equal weight here.
The whole idea would be to give people a straightforward way to voice their opinion, without polluting @internals. As stated above, the wording would be very clear that this is just a poll to help actual voters make an informed decision, nothing more. If the poll gives a different result than the RFC, the RFC obviously wins. Please feel welcome to. However, I don't think this should have any
> official role in any PHP governance process, any more than any other > poll on the internet might. That said, my opinion is hearing other > opinions is rarely harmful and frequently useful, so why not.
Again, this would only be useful if linked to from the RFC. Hence I'd need to get some kind of approval on the idea here before venturing into an implementation. - Benjamin
  111639
August 19, 2020 22:33 ben@benramsey.com (Ben Ramsey)
> On Aug 19, 2020, at 17:19, Benjamin Morel morel@gmail.com> wrote: > >> There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing this right now. :-) > > Actually there is: without a link to the poll in the RFC itself, the poll would probably not get enough visibility to be useful.
I don’t think the RFC should include a link to the poll. This makes the poll an official artifact of the PHP project. I do think you should link to the poll in the discussion thread for the RFC on internals. This way, voters can use it as information to inform their decision. RFC authors can also take the information into account to discuss certain topics in an RFC they may have overlooked or left out. Cheers, Ben
  111640
August 19, 2020 22:35 ben@benramsey.com (Ben Ramsey)
> On Aug 19, 2020, at 17:33, Ben Ramsey <ben@benramsey.com> wrote: > >> On Aug 19, 2020, at 17:19, Benjamin Morel morel@gmail.com> wrote: >> >>> There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing this right now. :-) >> >> Actually there is: without a link to the poll in the RFC itself, the poll would probably not get enough visibility to be useful. > > > I don’t think the RFC should include a link to the poll. This makes the poll an official artifact of the PHP project. > > I do think you should link to the poll in the discussion thread for the RFC on internals. This way, voters can use it as information to inform their decision. RFC authors can also take the information into account to discuss certain topics in an RFC they may have overlooked or left out.
To be clear, this kind of feedback needs to take place during the discussion period. A poll that takes place during the voting period can’t have any impact on the direction of the RFC. Cheers, Ben
  111636
August 19, 2020 22:07 smalyshev@gmail.com (Stanislav Malyshev)
Hi!

> Understandably, the RFC voting process needs to be restricted to carefully > selected people, mostly core developers. But the fact is, this process is a > bit elitist, and fails to represent the community as a whole. A recent
PHP development is not a representative democracy. There's no requirement to "represent" anyone, and nobody who doesn't contribute to PHP development in a specific manner has any claim on a vote. If somebody wants to voice an opinion, it's always welcome. But let's not pretend like people who actually maintain PHP core and everybody who ever used PHP or may be thinking about using it have equal weight here. If it is "elitist" that's because there's the "elite" (not the word I would choose but if we must keep with it for a minute) - people who actually implement and maintain stuff. It doesn't mean they don't have to listen to others - on the contrary - but there's no obligation not to be "elitist".
> A project being nothing without its users, it would be nice to know whether > an important change will make them happy or not.
If we could do that, it'd be awesome. I wouldn't mind using the same tool to know the stock prices next year. But prediction is hard, especially about the future. Only thing we can reasonably do is to know the opinion of a tiny minority of the community, randomly self-selected, about whether or not they think they will like something without the experience of actually using it. That's certainly better than nothing, but I wouldn't exaggerate too much about how much better.
> Therefore, I have in mind to develop (time permitting) an experimental > tool, external to the PHP wiki, that would replicate the voting options of > each RFC, but would allow everyone with a GitHub account to vote on the > same options as the original RFC. While the vote results would not directly
Please feel welcome to. However, I don't think this should have any official role in any PHP governance process, any more than any other poll on the internet might. That said, my opinion is hearing other opinions is rarely harmful and frequently useful, so why not. -- Stas Malyshev smalyshev@gmail.com
  111657
August 20, 2020 13:48 kalle@php.net (Kalle Sommer Nielsen)
Den tor. 20. aug. 2020 kl. 01.07 skrev Stanislav Malyshev <smalyshev@gmail.com>:
> Please feel welcome to. However, I don't think this should have any > official role in any PHP governance process, any more than any other > poll on the internet might. That said, my opinion is hearing other > opinions is rarely harmful and frequently useful, so why not.
I very much agree with Stas here. I think it should be up to the individual RFC author to put out feelers for feedback from userland, because going to internals is the final judgement. Regarding the link to the thread in the initial email, while it is not impossible to get voting rights. There is a very high barrier of entry, if you are not involved with the PHP project, then being granted voting rights is absurd and can easily flood the usual Core Developer voting turnout, we had a similar debate about this in the spring of 2019 in regards to the PHP FIG which was heavily disputed. Anyone who is not actively involved with the PHP project, is not someone I can feel safe with granting the right to vote. Should I also gain the right at any PHP based project to vote on whatever democratic process they have because I am a maintainer of PHP? No I shouldn't. If I'm involved with a project in question, then that changes the perspective but it is still up to the project to decide on how to proceed here. -- regards, Kalle Sommer Nielsen kalle@php.net
  111658
August 20, 2020 15:33 larry@garfieldtech.com ("Larry Garfield")
On Thu, Aug 20, 2020, at 8:48 AM, Kalle Sommer Nielsen wrote:
> Den tor. 20. aug. 2020 kl. 01.07 skrev Stanislav Malyshev <smalyshev@gmail.com>: > > Please feel welcome to. However, I don't think this should have any > > official role in any PHP governance process, any more than any other > > poll on the internet might. That said, my opinion is hearing other > > opinions is rarely harmful and frequently useful, so why not. > > I very much agree with Stas here. I think it should be up to the > individual RFC author to put out feelers for feedback from userland, > because going to internals is the final judgement. > > > > Regarding the link to the thread in the initial email, while it is not > impossible to get voting rights. There is a very high barrier of > entry, if you are not involved with the PHP project, then being > granted voting rights is absurd and can easily flood the usual Core > Developer voting turnout, we had a similar debate about this in the > spring of 2019 in regards to the PHP FIG which was heavily disputed. > > Anyone who is not actively involved with the PHP project, is not > someone I can feel safe with granting the right to vote. Should I also > gain the right at any PHP based project to vote on whatever democratic > process they have because I am a maintainer of PHP? No I shouldn't. If > I'm involved with a project in question, then that changes the > perspective but it is still up to the project to decide on how to > proceed here.
I've had very good success with explicitly non-binding polls/surveys in the past with FIG. They can really help to cut through the "a few loud people say X, but we don't know if that's actually the broad position" problem. I'd support such a mechanism being *available* to RFC authors. That would be a better way to "poll the audience" than the current "Go read reddit and see what they said" mechanism. It also can allow for non-binary questions, like gauging opinion on something from 1-10 (or 1-7, or whatever). Specifically: * Some standard recognized way of doing so. That could be as simple as "use a Google form and remember to ask these specific questions" (which is what I did for FIG). * It's optional for RFC authors to use or not. * It's very clearly labeled a survey, not a binding vote. * RFC authors should use it before an actual vote starts. * Voters can give the poll results as much weight as they feel like giving it. I think that could be a useful data gathering tool without rocking the status quo too much. --Larry Garfield
  111661
August 21, 2020 06:03 brendt@stitcher.io (Brent Roose)
Hi Kalle, all

> Anyone who is not actively involved with the PHP project, is not > someone I can feel safe with granting the right to vote.
Just want to point out that there are lots of people eligable to vote who are not actively involved with PHP development at the moment. There has even been a few occasions lately where I tweet about my point of view on an RFC which has been in voting phase for over a week, and suddenly someone replies "Oh that's interesting, I'll vote for that later today". In other words: a tweet from a random userland developer reminded someone to vote. What about people who occasionaly contribute to docs? Are they more eligable to vote than someone like Nicalos Grekas? It's a good thing he got voting rights, but in my mind that should have been a no-brainer. I realise some people might get upset with this point of view, but I don't think that occasionaly contributing to PHP docs makes you a better representative than having actively shaped the PHP landscape over the past decade. How many people have voting rights? Over 200 if I'm not mistaken? How many of those have been activly contributing to PHP for over the past year? I think that's a better question to answer. If half of those people's voting rights get revoked then maybe there's room to allow a few more key community figures to participate?
> I very much agree with Stas here.
I agree too btw. There's no need for official community polls, I feel like the key figures of PHP's core team already do listen to the community. Kind regards Brent
> On 20 Aug 2020, at 15:48, Kalle Sommer Nielsen <kalle@php.net> wrote: > > Den tor. 20. aug. 2020 kl. 01.07 skrev Stanislav Malyshev <smalyshev@gmail.com>: >> Please feel welcome to. However, I don't think this should have any >> official role in any PHP governance process, any more than any other >> poll on the internet might. That said, my opinion is hearing other >> opinions is rarely harmful and frequently useful, so why not. > > I very much agree with Stas here. I think it should be up to the > individual RFC author to put out feelers for feedback from userland, > because going to internals is the final judgement. > > > > Regarding the link to the thread in the initial email, while it is not > impossible to get voting rights. There is a very high barrier of > entry, if you are not involved with the PHP project, then being > granted voting rights is absurd and can easily flood the usual Core > Developer voting turnout, we had a similar debate about this in the > spring of 2019 in regards to the PHP FIG which was heavily disputed. > > Anyone who is not actively involved with the PHP project, is not > someone I can feel safe with granting the right to vote. Should I also > gain the right at any PHP based project to vote on whatever democratic > process they have because I am a maintainer of PHP? No I shouldn't. If > I'm involved with a project in question, then that changes the > perspective but it is still up to the project to decide on how to > proceed here. > > -- > regards, > > Kalle Sommer Nielsen > kalle@php.net > > -- > PHP Internals - PHP Runtime Development Mailing List > To unsubscribe, visit: https://www.php.net/unsub.php >
  111670
August 21, 2020 15:26 kalle@php.net (Kalle Sommer Nielsen)
Den fre. 21. aug. 2020 kl. 09.03 skrev Brent Roose <brendt@stitcher.io>:
> What about people who occasionaly contribute to docs? Are they more eligable to vote than someone like Nicalos Grekas? It's a good thing he got voting rights, but in my mind that should have been a no-brainer. I realise some people might get upset with this point of view, but I don't think that occasionaly contributing to PHP docs makes you a better representative than having actively shaped the PHP landscape over the past decade.
Difference is that people who "occasionally" contribute to docs are involved with the PHP project, they are contributors, not users. So yes they are more eligible to vote because that is the privilege that they earn by being contributors, not users. Sure we have a high barrier of entry, but if we let the floodgates open for any abled soul to begin voting and judging then we would never get anything productive done. The RFC experiment on Github was a mess, sure there was some valuable feedback there but there was a multitude of equal feedback that was useless because it was so open.
> How many people have voting rights? Over 200 if I'm not mistaken? How many of those have been activly contributing to PHP for over the past year? I think that's a better question to answer. If half of those people's voting rights get revoked then maybe there's room to allow a few more key community figures to participate?
There are 1876 VCS accounts and then we have a number of wiki only users who can vote. We have no metrics that can measure such, because a lot of things happen behind the scenes that you see. The discussion that I referenced in my earlier reply that took place last year tried to revoke existing contributors from their right to vote that they have earned by using the amount of commits or something in that direction as a metric to tell if a contributor was "active". Neither do we have a process to clean this, and for most project members that seems fine so it has not changed. What baffles me is that non project contributors really seem interested in taking a stab at this without really being involved in the project in any way. If you want to have the right to vote, then please earn it by being a part of the project. If I want the right to vote on features in userland projects, then I would also earn it like a regular contributor if I wanted it so dearly. It really does not take much effort. There is nothing that stops an RFC author from surveying userland various communities before they seek to have it accepted into PHP proper. Twitter is a decent place to do so. -- regards, Kalle Sommer Nielsen kalle@php.net
  111673
August 21, 2020 19:43 smalyshev@gmail.com (Stanislav Malyshev)
Hi!

> How many people have voting rights? Over 200 if I'm not mistaken? How > many of those have been activly contributing to PHP for over the past > year? I think that's a better question to answer. If half of those > people's voting rights get revoked then maybe there's room to allow a > few more key community figures to participate?
There's no reason to. If these people don't contribute and don't vote - so what? There's no limited pool of votes that needs to be distributed, and as I said before, the reason for getting a vote is not passing some kind of representation quota. If the person contributes substantially, they should have a vote, regardless of how many or few inactive voters are there. If they are not the part of the contributing team, they are free to voice their opinion, which will be listened to, but they won't be a part of the binding vote process. -- Stas Malyshev smalyshev@gmail.com
  111638
August 19, 2020 22:26 paul.crovella@gmail.com (Paul Crovella)
-1

On Wed, Aug 19, 2020 at 2:28 PM Benjamin Morel morel@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Hi internals, > > The heated debate about attribute syntax made me think once again that it > would be valuable to get feedback in the form of votes from the community, > not just from core developers, on RFCs under discussion. > > Understandably, the RFC voting process needs to be restricted to carefully > selected people, mostly core developers. But the fact is, this process is a > bit elitist, and fails to represent the community as a whole. A recent > thread <https://externals.io/message/111552> showed that even very active > contributors to OSS are unlikely to ever get a vote. > > A project being nothing without its users, it would be nice to know whether > an important change will make them happy or not. > > Therefore, I have in mind to develop (time permitting) an experimental > tool, external to the PHP wiki, that would replicate the voting options of > each RFC, but would allow everyone with a GitHub account to vote on the > same options as the original RFC. While the vote results would not directly > affect the wiki's vote results, I guess that this community feedback could > be taken into consideration by wiki voters and help them make an informed > decision. > > To be useful, a link to the community voting site would need to be present > in each RFC, ideally some time before the actual voting starts on the wiki. > > If popular enough, this tool could offer some analysis capabilities, such > as "what's the vote results from people having at least 100 commits to the > top 1000 packagist projects in the last year?" to help filter out the noise. > > Thoughts? > > Kind regards, > Benjamin