Stepping back a bit from python.org

The fact that you hadn't noticed is a testament to the number of people working behind the scenes at various facets of python.org. For some years I've been part of a number of teams who sit behind things like the webmaster@python.org address or planet.python.org. Or the python-list@python.org mailing list (mirrored to the comp.lang.python newsgroup). Plus a bunch of other lists including python-uk, python-win32, python-announce, core-mentorship, python-checkins, speed and a couple I can't even remember right now! Plus I'm an admin on the python.org website.

I took on those roles because I felt they were ways I could contribute to the community without too much commitment of time. Like most people, I have a full-time job (not Python-related) and some serious commitments outside work. And I rarely have the concentrated spell of time available to me which I need to do, say, core development work for Python. But most of those roles only require answering or dealing with the occasional email, sorting out the odd admin task, or approving a github PR. I can do each thing usually within a few minutes of receiving the email, even if I'm at work. So I felt that I could help the Python community without disrupting my life.

And I could. I stepped up to those roles at different times, but I've been helping out in that way for between 3 and about 10 years. As have other people, obviously. Sometimes because I or others have put out a call for help; sometimes, they've just volunteered spontaneously. In most of those roles I've been part of a small team which doesn't require much intervention or coordination.

But recently several things have happened more or less at once: a heavier workload in my dayjob; a move to a greater out-of-work commitment; some complications with one particular of those python.org responsibilities which required a much greater input of time and thought. And I realised: you don't have to do this. I'd done that thing where I felt responsible for helping out a community to such a great extent that I'd over-extended myself.

I'd intended to scale back gradually what I was doing on python.org, but once I started, it became easier to just step back from everything. In all but about two cases I was part of a (small) team so I was able to let them know I was stepping down and leave the situation in good hands. In a couple of cases I had to reach out to someone else who was or had been involved to ask them to take over a certain task.

What surprised me, although it shouldn't have, was the effect on my Inbox. Suddenly, I was getting no emails for hours on end. I actually thought there was a problem with the mailserver at first; it was such an unfamiliar sensation. I think the fact that I found it a relief was a clear sign that I'd made the right choice.

Let me be clear about this: I stepped back because I needed to, not because of any sour grapes or misgivings about python.org activities. Or any personal clashes with anyone. Or any other reason other than: I felt I'd done my stint. Cursum consummavi and all that. As I said at the beginning: the fact that you had no idea I had stepped down, nor that I had even stepped up in the first place is a testament to the unsung work which goes on in every community, the Python community no less than others.

So... first, let me thank every person working behind the scenes in the Python community just to oil the wheels to make everything work which people take for granted. And secondly, let me invite any of you to offer your services on whatever basis suits you to help out in some way.

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