Jupyter Governance Constraints

Hi all,

As we have been working through the governance work, one thing that has come up repeatedly is how unique Jupyter is. While there are lots of things we have in common with other open source projects, there are unique aspects that need to inform our governance model.

One way we are seeking to understand this uniqueness is by developing a mission, vision, and values for the project. This work began at our in-person contributor meeting in Wash DC last spring. Some really exciting things are emerging from this, and our hope is to share more on this soon.

Another aspect of Jupyter’s uniqueness that we have been talking about are the constraints that feed into our governance model. These constraints are meant to be descriptive, rather than prescriptive. With all that said, here are the constraints we have identified:

  • Jupyter has a very broad scope of technical products including networking, servers, protocols, document management, user interfaces, tools for many programming languages, etc.
  • Jupyter serves a diverse set of usage cases, including education (formal and informal), scientific research, journalism, enterprise data science and machine learning, digital humanities, etc.
  • Jupyter consists of multiple (over 100) GitHub repositories, organized into mutiple (~6) GitHub organizations. These GitHub orgs act as a sort of topical divisions within the project. Contributors move across these different repos/orgs freely based on their interests and priorities, but often focus on a few repos/orgs.
  • Jupyter has significant amounts of organizational, operational, community, and governance work.
  • Jupyter is part of the NumFOCUS Foundation, which acts as an umbrella 501c1 non-profit.
  • Jupyter has a few dozen core contributors and leaders, surrounded by a larger group of occasional contributors (~500 of them). A number of contributors have jobs that allow them to contribute on work time.
  • Today, different Jupyter GitHub orgs/repos are mostly autonomous and self govern.
  • Jupyter has multiple stakeholders with widely different levels of resources, scope and interests, from individual contributors and small teams to large universities and companies. These multiple stakeholders are treated as peers, with no single stakeholder having more formal power than the others. Stakeholders have traditionally funded their own staff to work on Jupyter.
  • All Jupyter software is released under the terms of the Revised BSD license. Contributors maintain copyright over their contributions, and no formal contributor agreement is required.

We would love to hear your thoughts on these and other constraints that need to inform our governance model.

On behalf of everyone helping out with our governance work, Brian