Steering Council nomination: David Mertz


(Chris Jerdonek) #1

FYI, I just nominated David Mertz for the steering council because of the interest he expressed in this Python-Dev thread (and after consulting with him).

I’ll let David follow up with a message about himself (his qualifications, interest in serving, etc.).

(David Mertz) #2

I wrote this in reply on python-dev. Other nominations I’ve seen are really impressive people, most of them folks I consider friends. I think there is some value in having an external member, but that’s for voters to decide. This is not formatted in the style if some other nominations; I may return later to copying that structure, modulo all the specific experience differences.

I do not wish to presume too much on the judgement of the core developers. But I thank Steve Dower for his characterizations which pretty much exactly explain why I’ve had those involvements with the Python community and language I have had, and haven’t done other things.

I’ve been part of the Python community since 1998, but really active in it since about 2001. During the early 2000s, I wrote a large number of widely read articles promoting Python, often delving into explaining semi-obscure features and language design issues. Most of these were with in my column Charming Python. I believe that several changes in Python itself—such as making coroutines easier to use and the design of metaclasses and class decorators—were significantly influenced by things I wrote on the topics.

Mostly in the period after writing that column, i.e. during the 2010s, I served as a Director of the PSF; both before and since my time as a Director, I’ve chaired several PSF committees. That likewise felt like a way I could advance Python best, but from more of an organizational or social perspective than a technical one. It is interesting to me that whereas when I started volunteering for the PSF, there was significant overlap between the PSF board and the core-committers, I think there is little or no overlap today. For better or worse, PSF is much more community than technical today. I feel like my own skills and interest remain somewhat at the intersection of those aspects of Python.

I did not choose during that time, nor since, to become a CPython core developer. I’ve certainly contributed to other projects in the Python ecosystem (I’m not sure if those are “related projects” in the sense Steve mentions). Part of that is time commitment needed, but more of it is my personal strategic choices about what I could best do to advance Python in the world. I’ve felt I can do more by writing, speaking, and participating in the PSF, than I would have by working on the CPython code base itself.

In particular, I always felt that I am not nearly as strong of a C developer as are most core developers. In Python itself, yes, but not in C. I am certain that I could have found some small bug to fix or small feature to add, and gotten it accepted. But doing that would have taken me comparatively more effort than it would many others; I felt that effort was better targeted towards educating Python users and teaching the user-level language design choices Python has made.

If the core developers feel that the overwhelming qualification for the Steering Committee is familiarity with the C code base of CPython, then indeed I am not the best candidate for that. If language design issues are more important—and especially if thinking about Python’s place among users and industry are important, then I think I’m a very good candidate for the role. In particular, I believe my judgement about “Is this feature good for Python users?” would be as good as that of most anyone (maybe other than Guido); but I recognize that my judgement about “Is this feature straightforward to implement in CPython?” or “What are the performance implications of this features?” are weaker than those of most core developers. Not to say I have no instinct about those other questions, but I know to defer.

Best, David…

Similar info at

(Brett Cannon) #3

@DavidMertz @cjerdonek do you want me to transfer ownership of the initial post to David so he can update the top post to however he wants?

(David Mertz) #4

No opinion. Do you think it affects the nomination if any bio is in reply versus main post?

(Brett Cannon) #5

Depends on how many replies you end up with. It’s definitely convenient to read just the top post rather than have to scroll through to figure out the total points being made.

(Chris Jerdonek) #6

Either way is fine with me. I’ll let David decide. cc @DavidMertz

(Paul Moore) #7

@DavidMertz Can you confirm who your employer is? As there’s a restriction to 2 council members from any one employer, it’s a fairly important piece of information for voters.

(David Mertz) #8

@pf_moore. I am currently self-employed. But I generally expect to be working as a data scientist with a major financial institution in a month. There’s no concrete offer yet though, so apart from not “jinxing” it, I don’t think I should reveal it either.

That said, I have not seen any other nominee who works at this company, so far. I’ve also spoken with my friend and advocate there who’s helping with the process, and s/he assures me they’d make time in my duties to fulfill the SC role. It is a very pro-Python company.

That does make me wonder about people changing jobs though. I have had no employment conversation with Microsoft, for example. But I see that two nominees work there now. What would happen if those two and me were elected, and I got a job offer from Microsoft (or subsidiary LinkedIn) six months from now?


This is described in PEP 8016 under “conflict of interest” heading:

During a council term, if changing circumstances cause this rule to be broken (for instance, due to a council member changing employment), then one or more council members must resign to remedy the issue, and the resulting vacancies can then be filled as normal.

I think “Filled as normal” means… another election for that vacant seat?

(Nathaniel J. Smith) #10

It’s referring to the Vacancies section:

Whenever there is a vacancy during the regular council term, the council may vote to appoint a replacement to serve out the rest of the term.

(Antoine Pitrou) #11

Edit: question moved to Question for Steering Council candidates