[Haskell-cafe] Committee M.O. Change Proposals

Geoffrey Mainland mainland at apeiron.net
Wed Oct 21 13:27:22 UTC 2015

Apologies for the previous mailer-mangled "draft"...

On 10/21/2015 07:55 AM, Herbert Valerio Riedel wrote:
> Hello,
> On 2015-10-21 at 02:39:57 +0200, Geoffrey Mainland wrote:
> [...]
>> In effect, only those who actively follow the libraries list have had a
>> voice in these decisions. Maybe that is what the community wants. I hope
>> not. How then can people like me (and Henrik and Graham) have a say
>> without committing to actively following the libraries list?
>> We have a method to solve this: elected representatives. Right now the
>> Core Libraries Committee elects its own members; perhaps it is time for
>> that to change.
> [...]
>> Proposal 1: Move to community election of the members of the Core
>> Libraries Committee. Yes, I know this would have its own issues.
> How exactly do public elections of representatives address the problem
> that some people feel left out? Have you considered nominating yourself
> or somebody else you have confidence in for the core libraries
> committee? You'd still have to find somebody to represent your
> interests, regardless of whether the committee is self-elected or
> direct-elected.
> Here's some food for thought regarding language design by voting or its
> indirect form via a directly elected language committee:
> Back in February there was a large-scale survey which resulted (see [2]
> for more details) in a rather unequivocal 4:1 majority *for* going
> through with the otherwise controversial FTP implementation. If the
> community elections would result in a similar spirit, you'd could easily
> end up with a similarly 4:1 pro-change biased committee. Would you
> consider that a well balanced committee formation?

Thanks, all good points.

It is quite possible that direct elections would produce the exact same
committee. I wouldn't see that as a negative outcome at all! At least
that committee would have been put in place by direct election; I would
see that as strengthening their mandate.

I am very much aware of the February survey. I wonder if Proposal 2, had
it been in place at the time, would have increased participation in the

The recent kerfuffle has caught the attention of many people who don't
normally follow the libraries list. Proposal 1 is an attempt to give
them a voice. Yes, they would still need to find a candidate to
represent their interests. If we moved to direct elections, I would
consider running. However, my preference is that Proposal 3 go through
in some form, in which case my main concern would be the Haskell Prime
committee, and unfortunately nominations for that committee have already

>> Proposal 2: After a suitable period of discussion on the libraries list,
>> the Core Libraries Committee will summarize the arguments for and
>> against a proposal and post it, along with a (justified) preliminary
>> decision, to a low-traffic, announce-only email list. After another
>> suitable period of discussion, they will issue a final decision. What is
>> a suitable period of time? Perhaps that depends on the properties of the
>> proposal, such as whether it breaks backwards compatibility.
> That generally sounds like a good compromise, if this actually helps
> reaching the otherwise unreachable parts of the community and have their
> voices heard.

My hope is that a low-volume mailing list would indeed reach a wider

>> Proposal 3: A decision regarding any proposal that significantly affects
>> backwards compatibility is within the purview of the Haskell Prime
>> Committee, not the Core Libraries Committee.
> I don't see how that would change much. The prior Haskell Prime
> Committee has been traditionally self-elected as well. So it's just the
> label of the committee you'd swap out.
> In the recent call of nominations[1] for Haskell Prime, the stated area
> of work for the new nominations was to take care of the *language* part,
> because that's what we are lacking the workforce for.
> Since its creation for the very purpose of watching over the core
> libraries, the core-libraries-committee has been almost exclusively busy
> with evaluating and deciding about changes to the `base` library and
> overseeing their implementation. Transferring this huge workload to the
> new Haskell Prime committee members who have already their hands full
> with revising the language part would IMO just achieve to reduce the
> effectiveness of the upcoming Haskell Prime committee, and therefore
> increase the risk of failure in producing an adequate new Haskell Report
> revision.

My understanding is that much of the work of the core libraries
committee does not "significantly affect backwards compatibility," at
least not to the extent that MRP does. If this is the case, the bulk of
their workload would not be transferred to the new Haskell Prime
committee. Is my understanding incorrect?

The intent of Proposal 3 was to transfer only a small fraction of the
issues that come before the core libraries committee to the Haskell
Prime committee. In any case, we would certainly need to clarify what
"significantly affects backwards compatibility" means.

Perhaps we should consider direct elections for the Haskell Prime
committee as well as changing their mandate to include some subset of
the changes proposed to libraries covered by the Haskell Report. My
understanding of the current state of affairs is that the Haskell Prime
committee is charged with producing a new report, but the core libraries
committee is in charge of the library part of that report. Is that correct?


> Regards,
>   H.V.Riedel
>  [1]: https://mail.haskell.org/pipermail/haskell-prime/2015-September/003936.html
>  [2]: https://mail.haskell.org/pipermail/haskell-cafe/2015-February/118336.html

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