Nominating Pythonistas For Stuff At The Python Software Foundation (PSF)

Translations: ja

Do you know that you can nominate your favorite hardworking person or group for stuff and recognize them for their work at the PSF, and do all this for free? (i.e., free as in free tea)

Acknowledge And Thank Them: Nominating Your Fellow Pythonistas

Before 2014, the Python Software Foundation (PSF) didn't have a formal nomination process or criteria. When they moved to an open membership organization (basically meaning anyone can join as a member of the PSF), they created formal processes for nomination and granting special recognition to members of its community.

I did an Open Space during PyCon US 2024 in Pittsburgh to exactly share my experiences and answer questions on this topic. During the closing of the conference, Deb Nicholson – who is the Executive Director of the PSF – got on stage and pointed out that we've had no Community Service Award (CSA) to present this year due to a lack of nominations. With all the great things everyone is working on in any particular year, it's really difficult to think that no one deserves the CSA; so the only possible thing is that our community just aren't aware enough that they can do such nominations.

What Can You Nominate For?

It's more than just the CSA. You can nominate your fellow Pythonistas for these:

  • PSF Fellow: The PSF Fellow membership is a special membership awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the Python community through their work, including contributions to the development of Python, supporting the infrastructure, organizing events, and other impactful activities. PSF Fellow nominations are handled and decided upon by the PSF Fellow Workgroup. More details can be found on the PSF Fellow Membership page.

  • PSF Community Service Award: This is the CSA. It recognizes individuals or groups that have performed exceptional volunteer service for the Python community. It highlights those who have dedicated significant time and effort to improve the community through various means, such as organizing events, contributing to educational resources, or supporting community initiatives. The decision to award the CSA to an individual or a group is decided by the PSF Board. Details are available on the PSF Community Service Award page.

  • Outstanding PyLady Award: This award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the PyLadies community, which is dedicated to promoting diversity and supporting women and gender minorities in the Python community. It celebrates those who have gone above and beyond in mentoring, organizing events, and fostering an inclusive environment. The decisions on awarding the Outstanding PyLady Award are done by the PyLadies Global Council. You can learn more about this award here.

  • PSF Distinguished Service Award: This is the Foundation's highest award. The Distinguished Service Award is an offer of recognition for sustained exemplary contributions to the Python community. This award is given for actions which carry significant impact that shapes the Python world, whether through contributions of code, efforts in community action, or otherwise. As with the Community Service Award, the intention is to demonstrate that such service to the community does lead to recognition and reward, rather than to provide a direct incentive to contributors. You can learn more about this award here.

These awards and recognitions are excellent ways to highlight and celebrate the invaluable contributions of Pythonistas around the world.

  • PSF Board Directorship: Although a responsibility, not an award, nominating someone for Directorship is still meaningful. The PSF Board of Directors oversees the Foundation's activities and ensures its mission is carried out effectively. Board Directors are elected by the PSF membership and play a crucial role in strategic decision-making and governance. Read more on the PSF Board Elections page.

Why Should You Nominate?

Nominating someone for recognition within the Python Software Foundation (PSF) is not just a formality – it's a powerful way to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work and dedication that Python community members invest in the ecosystem. Recognizing individuals and groups:

  • Promotes Positive Community Spirit: By acknowledging contributions, we foster a culture of appreciation and motivation, which encourages more people to get involved and contribute to the community.
  • Highlights Diverse Contributions: Recognizing the work of different individuals showcases the variety of ways people can contribute, whether through code, community organizing, education, or advocacy.
  • Encourages Continued Involvement: Awarding community members can incentivize them to continue their efforts, knowing that their work is valued and noticed.
  • Builds a Stronger Network: Celebrating achievements helps build stronger connections within the community, facilitating collaboration and support among members.

We're living in the gift economy. Gifts turn the wheels in our world. Open source is a gift. The unpaid labor that people do to support the community around open source is a gift. Welcoming people into our community regardless of age, gender, economic status or education level is a gift. Saying thank you and acknowledging our peers in the community is also a gift that pays them back. Naomi Ceder says this best in her A Time of Gifts keynote.

However, it's crucial to ensure that the recognition process is inclusive and represents the diverse Python global community. Certain groups have been underrepresented in technology and community leadership roles. For example, the communities from my region (the East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia) only had 18 PSF Fellow memberships and 2 CSA recipients (one representing a group), out of around a total of 500 PSF Fellows and around 100 individuals for the CSA. That's just around 4% and 2% of the total recipients. When we consider there are around 8.2 million Python developers or users worldwide and the biggest growth is within my region, that is underrepresentation.

How Do You Nominate?

The process for nominating someone for recognition at the PSF is straightforward:

  1. Identify the Category: Determine which award or recognition is most appropriate for the individual or group you want to nominate. This could be a PSF Fellow, Community Service Award, Board Directorship, or Outstanding PyLady Award.

  2. Prepare the Nomination: Collect information about the nominee, including their contributions to the Python community, specific achievements, and any other relevant details. The nomination should highlight why the nominee deserves the recognition.

  1. Submit the Nomination:
    • For PSF Fellow nominations, you can submit via email. Read more on the PSF Fellow membership page here.
    • For the Community Service Award, details and submission instructions can be found on the PSF Community Service Award page.
    • Nominations for PSF Board Directorship are typically part of the annual election process. More information can be found on the PSF Board Elections page.
    • The Outstanding PyLady Award details can be found here.
    • The PSF Distinguished Service Award details can be found here.

The Need for Better Representation

While the PSF has made significant strides in promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the creation of the D&I Workgroup and granting more grants to the African and Asian communities in 2023, there is still a need for better representation from different communities around the world in terms of acknowledging the work of individuals and groups. Many regions are underrepresented in PSF leadership and recognition programs. This lack of representation can create barriers to entry for new contributors and limit the diversity of ideas and perspectives within the community.

To address this, we need to:

  • Promote Awareness: Increase awareness about the nomination processes and opportunities for recognition among underrepresented groups.
  • Provide Support: Offer resources and support to help individuals from diverse backgrounds navigate the nomination process and engage with the community.
  • Encourage Diverse Nominations: Actively seek out and encourage nominations of individuals from underrepresented regions and backgrounds.
  • Mentorship Programs: Establish mentorship programs to guide and support new contributors from diverse communities in their journey within the Python ecosystem.

By taking these steps, we can ensure that the PSF truly reflects the global and diverse nature of the Python community, fostering an inclusive environment in which all contributions are valued and recognized.

What Can I Do?


First, if you're not a PSF member yet, sign up here. If you've done work for the community that makes you eligible to be a Managing, Contributing or Supporting member, make sure you're recognized as such too.

Next, you can nominate someone! If you've been in your community long enough, I'm sure by the time you're reading this, you'll have the person(s) in mind right now. No one? Are you sure? Well, one example I can give is when I get to a new city or community, I ask a few people who would be the best person to talk to for a newcomer to get involved, and if let's say 75% of them give me the same name, then that person would probably be PSF Fellow material. You can then start by getting to know that person and talking about the work they have done.

Community Service Awards (CSA) have an easier criteria to understand, but still a high hurdle to be accepted. An example is the nomination that I made for the PyCon JP Association (read more here and here, for the charity talks event that they did to raise money for the PSF on the wake of the pandemic, which had disastrous effects on the PSF financially. Another more recent example is the recognition by the board for Leonard Richardson, Lais Cavalho and Raquel Dou to receive the CSA for the software or community that they have built and maintained, which benefited the community at large.

The Distinguished Service Award (DSA) has a much higher hurdle to clear. Since given out in 2012, only 7 people have received it. Sometimes a CSA nomination can lead to a DSA being awarded, but that is up to the PSF Board to decide. You can read on the reasons for the DSA to be awarded here and if you have someone that you think deserves to stand as tall as these other recepients, that please make a nomination. Nominations can be sent confidentially by email to the PSF Board as written here.

You can of course self-nominate, but I personally find this a very difficult thing to do and very boring, so I'm not interested in doing that. It's more fun to write about other people!

Finally, you can help increase awareness of such opportunities to recognize, acknowledge, and elevate your fellow Pythonistas through these nominations: When I'm at PyCon or a Python meetup, I've started to include the amount of nominations I've made in my self-introduction, something like:

Hey, my name is Iqbal. I sometimes help around here, and have nominated xxx people to the PSF Fellow and xxx for the CSA. Would you like to know more about that?

and sometimes I'll be pleasantly surprised that the person I'm talking to will know the person I nominated, and that becomes a great conversation.

If you have someone in mind that should be recognized but you still don't know how to do it, you can just quickly drop me a message through my Mastodon, X or LinkedIn and I'll be happy to help whatever I can.


During my Open Space about PSF Nominations, these are some of the questions we had:

  • Can you self-nominate? - Yes
  • What's the difference between the Community Service Award (CSA) and PSF Fellow? - You can read the official description of what the CSA is for here and the PSF Fellow here. In a nutshell, the CSA celebrates particular acts of service, while the PSF Fellow membership recognizes an individual's comprehensive and distinguished contribution to the Python ecosystems and community.
  • What's the requirement to nominate someone for the PSF Fellow? - There are no hard requirements, but contributions that clearly go beyond your casual organizer or contributor. A good place to get examples are the nomination statements themselves, which are published here for the PSF Fellow nominations.
  • How do these nominations get decided upon? - Anyone can nominate someone, but the nominations are deliberated, accepted or rejected by different groups within the PSF. The PSF Fellow nominations are decided by the PSF Fellow Workgroup, the CSA by the PSF Board while the Outstanding PyLady Award by the PyLadies Global Council.

Thank you to Cheuk for reviewing this post

Directory: 2024 Tagged: pycon psf community

Translations: ja