PHP RFC: RFC Workflow & Voting (2019 update)
This RFC amends and replaces https://wiki.php.net/rfc/voting with the main goals of being clearer, more concise, and with no ambiguities as much as possible.
Specifically, this RFC does that via:
- Redefining and clarifying voting thresholds
- Redefining and clarifying voting workflows
- Redefining and clarifying voting eligibility
Since the original Voting RFC was published back in 2011, it gradually became clear that the language in it is ambiguous, and in some cases - shortsighted. To name some examples:
- The definition of 'who gets a vote' was very fluid
- The definition of which votes require a 2/3 majority and which ones don't was very fluid
- The voting workflow text was very terse - and left elements such as 'canceled votes' unhandled and open for interpretation
- Even the definition of what requires a vote in the first place was not clear
Because of its many shortcomings, this RFC does not attempt to 'fix' the original Voting RFC, but rather rewrite it - factoring in the lessons learned in the last 7.5+ years.
- Changes to PHP: Functionality that is added, changed, deprecated or removed from the PHP language, including any bundled extensions.
- PHP Packaging Decisions: Decisions that deal with support timelines, release timelines or version numbering, but that do not otherwise impact the functionality of PHP or any of its bundled extensions.
- RFC: Request For Comments for a proposed Change to PHP or for a PHP Packaging Decision, published on http://wiki.php.net/rfc/.
- Implementation Decisions: Decisions regarding the technical implementation of PHP or any of its bundled extension, that do not have any impact on end users (with the exception of performance improvement). Explicitly, these do not include added, altered, removed or deprecated functionality.
- PHP: The PHP package in source code or binary form, that are available on the main downloads page at http://www.php.net
- Internals: The PHP Internals mailing list, email@example.com.
- Eligible Voters: People who are eligible to vote per the Eligible Voters section below.
Changes to PHP must be discussed ahead of inclusion on Internals (see RFC Workflow section below), and win a vote by at least a 2/3 (two thirds) majority of Eligible Voters. The rationale for this super-majority requirement is simple - the cost of undoing Changes to PHP (or in the case of removal/deprecation - the cost of doing them) is substantial, and typically requires end users to actively work to change their apps so that they can still run. Since we strive to minimize these occurrences, we must be as certain as possible that we're doing the right thing, and not rely on an incidental simple majority.
PHP Packaging Decisions must also be discussed ahead of time on Internals, and must go through a vote. However, unlike Changes to PHP, these decisions are a matter of preference - preference that can be changed with little or no consequences for future versions. Given their shorter term impact and relative low reversal costs, a simple majority is sufficient (>50.0%, or in the case of multiple choice - the options that wins the most votes).
Implementation Decisions as defined above do not require voting, as they don't have an impact on end users. However, developers are still encouraged to bring implementation decisions up for discussion on Internals, especially ones dealing with more fundamental parts of PHP, or ones which involve substantial refactoring. As far as Implementation Decisions are concerned, the active maintainers of the particular piece of code (as reflected via source control) are the ones who have the jurisdiction to take them.
Please note that Implementation Decisions explicitly do not include such decisions that have an impact on end user functionality, or that degrade performance in a noticeable way. Such decisions are considered Changes to PHP, and must follow the rules above.
One or more people who are an Eligible Voter or that otherwise has access to the PHP Wiki may submit an RFC on http://wiki.php.net/rfc/. The authoring period is unlimited, and an RFC can exist on the PHP Wiki without any discussion for as long as the authors choose.
Author(s) should strive to have the RFCs self explanatory as much as possible, and seriously consider - and address - all possible implications associated with the acceptance of the RFC.
In RFCs dealing with Changes to PHP, the author(s) should designate which version(s) of PHP they intend to implement the changes for. Typically, this would either be the next minor version or the next major version.
RFCs that deal with Changes to PHP must be accompanied with a patch, that demonstrates that the feature can be properly implemented in a reasonable way. The patch may still be modified (or even completely rewritten) even if the RFC is accepted - the goal in having it is both as a proof of concept, as well as a default implementation even if no further work is done by the author(s) or any other volunteers.
As a part of authoring, the Voting Options must be made clear.
For RFCs dealing with Changes to PHP, the voting choice must be a simple 'Support' or 'Oppose' the acceptance of the RFC.
For RFCs dealing with PHP Packaging Decisions, the voting options would depend on the proposal. For a change proposal, the options would similarly be 'Support' or 'Oppose'. In case of choosing between multiple options (e.g., name the next PHP version 6.0 or 7.0) - the RFC should simply list the available options.
Secondary votes are votes about potential options for an RFC that deals with Changes to PHP. While secondary votes are discouraged, they are allowed - e.g., in have a base support/oppose vote for the acceptance of a feature, and then a choice between two flavors of it. Secondary Votes that can have a substantial influence on the acceptance of a feature are strongly discouraged, and should be separated into a different RFC.
Grouping of loosely related topics into one RFC (such as a list of features for deprecation in a given PHP version) is allowed for the sake of simplicity - but would be considered as separate RFCs as far as voting rules are concerned (see Voting Stage below).
Changes to PHP and PHP Packaging Decisions have substantial influence on PHP and its userbase, and it is therefore important to discuss them thoroughly before they are accepted or rejected. When the author(s) believe that the RFC is ready, it must be brought up by the author(s) for discussion on Internals, by sending an email to it with the following subject line (for an imaginary RFC titled 'Foo Bar Baz'):
Subject: [RFC] Foo Bar Baz
The email body itself must include a link to the RFC (http://wiki.php.net/rfc/foobarbaz).
In order to ensure sufficient time for a thorough discussion, a mandatory two week discussion period is required, and the RFC may not move forward to the Voting stage before it passes. If there is still active discussion towards the end of the mandatory 2 week period, the discussion period must be extended by an additional 2 weeks (4 weeks in total). After the initial 4 weeks, if there is still active discussion - it's up to the author(s) to decide whether they'd like to extend the discussion by an additional 2 weeks, or move to the Voting Stage.
Note that in order to ensure predictability - the Discussion Stage may only be increased in 2 week increments.
Once the author(s) believes that no additional extensions will be necessary, and assuming they'd like to move forward with the RFC, they must announce to Internals that the Discussion Stage will end at least 2 days before it does. This can be done under the same discussion thread for the RFC. If discussion resumes after that message is sent, the Discussion Stage should/may be extended per the same rules above.
At any point, the author(s) may decide to pull the RFC back into the Authoring Stage (which will require a new Discussion Stage).
Changes to the RFC
Any change to the RFC (to the proposal itself, not the meta data around it) will automatically extend the discussion period to end at least 1 week after the change was made (if the period was set to end more than 1 week after the change already, no extension is necessary).
Substantial changes to the RFC - such as adding, changing or removing substantial functionality from it - require a restart of the Discussion Period.
If, due to feedback, the author(s) make substantial changes to the RFC (add, alter or remove substantial functionality) - and the Discussion Stage has to end at least 1 week after these changes are made and announced on Internals. This is in order to avoid last minute changes to an RFC with insufficient time
In this stage, Eligible Voters may cast their votes based on the voting options of the RFC.
When the author(s) decide to move to this stage (following the workflow in the Discussion Stage above), they must send an email to Internals with the following subject line (for an imaginary RFC titled 'Foo Bar Baz'):
Subject: [VOTE] Foo Bar Baz
and include a link to the RFC (http://wiki.php.net/rfc/foobarbaz).
For all RFCs, the voting period is 1 week long period, and ends (implicitly) one week after the RFC went to a vote, at midnight UTC.
Note: Eligible Voters are allowed to vote in only a subset of the votes available in a given RFC, if they choose to. For example, in an RFC with a Secondary Vote - a voter may choose to only cast a vote on the secondary vote, and not cast a vote on whether or not to support or oppose the acceptance of the RFC; Or vice versa, and in the same manner with Grouped Votes. The right to vote in each poll is independent of whether or not one voted for other polls, as well as which option was voted for in these other polls.
Post Vote Stage
When the voting time expires - the poll must be closed for further voting. Generally, the author(s) of the RFC should be the ones closing the poll, but if for whatever reason that isn't done - any other person with Wiki access may close the poll at that time.
For RFCs dealing with Changes to PHP - the threshold for acceptance is at least 2/3 (two thirds) of the votes. For secondary votes in such RFCs - the threshold is a simple majority (the option with the highest number of votes wins).
For RFCs dealing with PHP Packaging Decisions - the threshold is a simple majority - the option with the most votes wins.
For Grouped Votes - the threshold would be according to the nature of each change - each one that fits Changes to PHP would require a 2/3 majority, and ones fitting PHP Packaging Decisions would require simple majorities.
If the RFC clears the required majority it is considered Accepted. At that stage, the author(s) should send an email to Internals, with the subject line:
Subject: [RFC ACCEPTED] Foo Bar Baz
At that stage, the author(s) and/or others may proceed to implement the proposed changes/decisions.
Changes to PHP should be implemented in coordination with the respective maintainers of the affected areas in the code. Note that the approval achieved with a vote is for the described feature - and not necessarily any accompanied patch. The final patch may be substantially different than the one in the RFC, as long as it still implements the same approved functionality.
In case an RFC does not reach the required majority it is considered Rejected. At that stage, the author(s) should send an email to Internals, with the subject line:
Subject: [RFC REJECTED] Foo Bar Baz
If the author(s), or others, are still interested in pursuing it - they may do so, but only after a mandatory 6 month Hibernation Period. Once that period is over, the RFC may go back to the Discussion Stage. Making changes to the RFC that will reflect feedback that accumulated during the prior Discussion Stage and Voting Period is highly recommended, but not mandatory.
RFCs that are substantially similar to the rejected RFC (deal with the same topic, and provide a similar proposal) are subjected to the same mandatory 6 month Hibernation Period.
RFCs that targeted the next mini version, and are moved back to the Discussion Stage after a Hibernation Period, may not target that same mini version - but only the one after it. RFCs that target the next major version may still target it after Rejection and resumption of the Discussion Stage.
No Discussion/Voting Periods
Based on global common vacation periods that affect a substantial subset of the participants in the PHP project, authors should avoid having discussion and voting periods take place during August or the second half of December. If for whatever reasons an RFC discussion/voting period slip into August or late December, the RFC must move back to the Authoring stage until September/January respectively - and then go through a renewed Discussion Stage. In addition, RFC author(s) are encouraged to be sensitive to periods with intense conference activities and avoid overlapping with them as much as possible.
Generally, author(s) should only move RFCs that they feel very comfortable with to the Voting Stage. However, there have been cases in the past where author(s) wanted to either withdraw the vote, or make minor changes to the RFC and restart it.
In case of a minor oversight or minor change that the author(s) feel is absolutely necessary, they may request to restart the vote by sending an email to Internals, with the subject line:
Subject: [RESTART VOTE REQUEST] Foo Bar Baz
And explain which changes they intend to make to the RFC. Since there is no way to quantify what constitutes 'minor', if more than 5 Eligible Voters say that they consider the changes to be substantial, the vote may not be restarted. Voters should only do so in good faith. If, however, after 2 days (48 hours) there are fewer than 5 such Eligible Voters, the author(s) may make the changes to the RFC, and restart the poll (discarding all previous votes). During the time when the request is announced, and until it is accepted - the poll must remain open.
If a request to restart is rejected, the author(s) may choose to either conclude the Voting Stage, or Withdraw the vote.
Withdrawing votes is not encouraged, but allowed; The author(s) may announce to Internals that they're withdrawing the vote, at which point the results of the poll are canceled, and the RFC will be considered 'Withdrawn'. Withdrawn RFCs are subject to the exact same rules as Rejected RFCs (see above).
The following people are eligible to cast votes on RFCs:
- People who have contributed to the php-src git repository, and; More than 12 months have passed since their initial contribution, and; Have contributed at least 25 commits, and; Added or modified more than 500 lines of code in the project. As of Sep 14 2017, this is a group of 175 developers, and as of Feb 5 2019, this group grew to 180 developers. See Appendix A below.
- Members of PHP-FIG (as per https://www.php-fig.org/personnel/)
- Major PHP Manual contributors (metrics?)
- Additional groups - PHP-QA?
Grandfathering of Current Voters
To allow for a smooth transition into this new eligibility system, users who have voted in at least 3 php.net polls between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018, and do not otherwise qualify as Eligible Voters under this RFC - will temporarily be considered Eligible Voters. This temporary status will remain in effect for 1 year after the acceptance of this RFC. Such grandfathered voters can retain Eligible Voters status by qualifying into one of the above-mentioned groups during that time.
- Mandatory 'hibernation' after a rejected/withdrawn vote DONE
- Targeted version DONE
- Require a patch for Changes to PHP? DONE
- Partial 'grandfathering' of people currently eligible to vote? DONE
- How do we vote on this one?
- Do we want to exempt additions of functionality into 'namespaced', non core extensions from a vote? E.g. a new oci8_*() function, or a new ext/mysqli method? (only additional functionality, not change/removal/deprecation)
- Do we want to have a minimal Quorum on certain types/all votes?
- Should there be a higher threshold for permanent voting eligibility, and a lower one for time-limited voting eligibility?
- Plenty more, I'm sure...
Proposed Voting Choices