[Twisted-Python] the Foundation Litmus Test

Glyph Lefkowitz glyph at divmod.com
Tue Aug 3 02:49:14 EDT 2004

On Aug 3, 2004, at 10:50 AM, Tim Stebbing wrote:

> My last email was possibly taken out of context, I was suggesting that 
> I didn't oppose you going off and doing these things, some of which I 
> didn't think where bad ideas, but you cant expect any help for free, 
> Noone else is interested, or seems to see a need.

This is almost, but not entirely how I feel about the issue.

I do see a need for the Twisted foundation.  I am the progenitor of the 
project, but I am not the principal author any more.  I can barely keep 
up with the fantastic team, and larger community, that has grown up 
around the project.  To my great relief, I receive very few personal 
messages about the framework, which must mean that the world at large 
(correctly) identifies the community at large with the maintenance of 
the project and not me personally.

I have no interest in holding a large body of other peoples' work 
hostage, either on purpose or by accident.  I want the Twisted 
community to flourish and for the framework to become a standard in the 
software development industry.  After all, I wrote Twisted in the first 
place as just _one_ layer of infrastructure for a multi-decade-long 
project; the whole point is to offload the maintenance so that I can 
work my way up the tiers of abstraction to the singularity lurking just 
around the bend.

However, a foundation is a lot of work, and a lot of that work falls 
necessarily upon me as both the original author and principal copyright 
holder.  You can think of this overhead as a litmus test.

I promise you this: I am never going to take the first step to start a 
foundation.  I have lots of other things to do; even if I weren't 
monumentally busy with work, I have a beautiful woman who lives with me 
that I see far too little of.  I have thousands of hobby projects I 
could be working on.  I have lots of friends who could use my volunteer 
assistance, both on their companies and on their charitable projects.

I also have about ten years of sleep to catch up on.

So, if I am going to spend time on the Twisted project, I am going to 
do what I do best, which is to implement the huge laundry list of 
features that remain.  I am not going to file legal paperwork to fill 
some ambiguous, long-term goals that are never going to be personally 
important to me.

So here is the litmus test - a challenge, if you like - for the 
maturity of the Twisted community.  If you are interested in a Twisted 
foundation to hold the copyrights, finance development, accept 
donations, etc., take responsibility for organizing a group to do this, 
and come to me with a proposal.  Be organized enough so that I don't 
have to do a lot of the work, and be prepared to compensate my company 
for the time that I do have to spend.  Normally I don't do consulting, 
but I will persuade my co-workers and management to give me the time to 
do this, since I do think it is a worthy cause, if at least the 
proto-foundation will cover the nominal costs.

Until a sufficiently large group of people in the community and in 
funded organizations (for- or non-profit) see a real need for such a 
foundation, I don't think that the community is mature enough to get 
any benefit from one.  Furthermore I think that the organizational 
overhead that a foundation would impose would actually be a *detriment* 
to the community until the community itself is sufficiently organized 
to be able to muster the infrastructure which surrounds a successful 

Such infrastructure includes both organized, knowledgeable, 
self-motivated volunteers who are aware of the legal and technical 
requirements to get started, and enough money to keep the foundation 
alive and functioning for a good long while.  A dead foundation holding 
the copyrights is almost as bad as a dead corporation.

Such an organization would find the initial expenditure for my services 
(and those of the other principal Twisted contributors, which I'm sure 
you'll need for one reason or another) to be a pittance.

Good luck on organizing one, but I don't think the community is quite 
there yet - I would estimate one more year before we reach critical 
mass.   If we make it by then, keep in mind that four years is doing 
VERY VERY well.  Most projects which don't immediately as foundations 
don't reach this point for about ten years.
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