What about creating a regular Scala Community Awards?

I believe having a regular (annual?) award would help achieving the objectives of this community.
The idea is that it must be by the community, for the community, aligned with the code of conduct and designed in a way that promotes and recognizes what makes the community move forward.
Being for the community would mean that it should mainly focus on projects but not forgetting about the individuals that make it happen.
Being by the community would mean that we should come up with some process where everyone is able to participate, indicating what projects one believes to deserve being awarded.
My first thought is that it should have some categories but not too many, so on the spirit of promoting what - at least I believe - is expected from the Scala community, I would expect something like the following:

  • Innovation/Revolution - Projects that lead the pack, propose solutions in unforseen or ahead-of-its-time ways
  • Improvement/Evolution - Projects that support the community, mature, best in class, alive and improving
  • Introduction/Education - Projects that support the growth of the community, helping others to become aware of it and productive with its ecosystem
  • Impact/Integration - Projects that go beyond the community itself, allowing a fruitful integration with the global society it is inserted into

Before elaborating more on this ideas, I’d like to know what are your thoughts, so instead of a monologue, this can be genuinely by the community, from the beginning.

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What a cool idea!

I agree that this should be a community-led initiative. So I don’t want the
Scala Center to step in too much on the community decision-making process,
though we’re happy to help out together some awards and to help out with
coordination! :slight_smile:

It’s not a bad idea, but I recommend proceeding with some caution.

In my experience (I’m active in several groups that do awards of one sort or another, including one where they are quite central), awards within communities have the benefit of saying “this is what we admire” – which is great, and can help bind the community around shared values, but is also inherently political.

On the one hand, the selection process is usually pretty subjective, with the result that there are sometimes hard feelings among the people who don’t win; I’ve seen too many cases where this disappointment, repeated one too many times, drives somebody out of the community from a sense of being unappreciated.

And there’s also the fact that the choice of criteria is, itself, pretty subjective. I like your suggested list, but it’s not an absolute; what those criteria are, and how to interpret them, often engenders some argument. If that’s not managed with some care, it can really damage the community.

(Not to mention the question of who makes the selections. If it’s specific judges, then their subjective opinions can become overly influential. If it’s more democratic, there’s a tendency for things to reduce to a popularity contest that is tangential to the criteria.)

None of which is to say don’t do it – there are often benefits from awards, not least in acknowledging the community’s identity as a whole, which can be a powerful message in and of itself. But go into it with your eyes open, and thinking about how to steer around those political traps…

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@jducoeur Well, we already have one community award that we’ve been giving for years, and it’s been awarded each year at Scala Days. There’s never been a problem with it. I don’t see why we couldn’t expand that award (since most non Scala Days attendees are probably unaware of it)

Yeah, I don’t think I knew that existed. And don’t get me wrong – it isn’t all doom. I’ve just seen enough failure modes to be cautious…

the annual Phil Bagwell Award is publicized not just at Scala Days, but also via https://twitter.com/scala_lang and http://www.scala-lang.org/news/ — the last one was http://www.scala-lang.org/news/2016/10/26/bagwell-award-2016.html

is there more we could be doing to publicize it? adding a section to http://www.scala-lang.org/community/ , perhaps?

@SethTisue, I second what @jducoeur said, “I don’t think I knew that existed”.

I actually had the impression something should exist already given the years of existence of the language and surrounding community.

I even tried googling a bit before creating this topic. I don’t know if google is keeping me in some kind of do-not-promote-scala bubble but the only result I found was this news: http://jsuereth.com/scala/2012/01/10/scala-community-awards.html and some other related to the same and others not related to award or even the language, so I had the feeling it wasn’t something recurrent or at least something the community was paying any real attention to.

On the link to the news you mentioned for instance, there is one paragraph at the end describing the award and a link at the beginning to https://scala.world/ which has absolutely no mention to it, not even a note on the schedule (just double checked with a focussed query and nothing https://www.google.de/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=Eji3WLP3Du6v8weX2qi4CQ#q=site:https://scala.world/+award&*)
The same goes to http://scaladays.org/, which although returns some matches to the “award” keyword, I couldn’t actually see anything regarding that on any of the results.

So please, don’t get me wrong but today I believe the Phil Bagwell Award is basically invisible to many.

If I may do a suggestion, there should be a standalone page about it, talking about its history, the objectives, consolidating information like how many times it has been awarded, to whom, what is the criteria, process and so on.

Sadly, I haven’t been to a Scala Days yet, so although it is publicised as you said, it was not enough to get into my radar and in many others for sure.

Still, I believe it does not overlap with what I’m proposing here, covering one aspect I didn’t in the categories I listed and compatible with the use of the word awards, in the plural.

P.S.: If I’m in any bubble I would expect it to be pro Scala as I work with it since around 2011

@jducoeur, I mostly agree with you in every point, there is always potential for the good and for the bad.

As humans are naturally political animals, we should always keep an eye for the traps as you mentioned.

I’m sure you have a lot to collaborate to the discussion, maybe adding insights from your experience with collaborative systems.

In my opinion, some politics and subjectivity, or even ambiguity is unavoidable. The trick is to find the balance that allows success and for that we would need to define what is success in the first place.

For me, the risk of failure comes from improper expectation management, so when things don’t happen as expected, people get frustrated and sometimes good results are perceived as complete failures.

My idea was originally going towards a democratic process. It might be a wrong expectation from my side, but I feel that Scala (as with some other languages) attracts a whole bunch of very smart people, so if I say something like “Innovation” I really expect people to indicate innovative work, and not some old library that received a minor fix.

Although technology wise Scala has a pretty mature ecosystem, I feel that the community is lacking a bit more of engagement and one of the motivations behind this awards is to change that. A democratic process seams to me the best way to achieve that.

If every step in designing this is done in the open (considering that the idea does move forward) I believe we lower the chances of someone being upset for not winning, unless we manage to repeat the Envelopegate situation that happened in the last Oscars :stuck_out_tongue:

The idea is not really a competition but more of a celebration.

If anyone has some argument to expose against a democratic process, why it would be bad, or why a more formal academy style process would be better please say so, otherwise maybe we could start discussing what would be the success criteria for this idea and what a democratic process would look like to achieve that, hopefully covering the concerns about politics, popularity contest vs actual judgment criteria and so on.

What about the following (draft/first thoughts/non final) success criteria:

  • Having the process defined and implemented during 2017
  • The first winners announced in Scala Days 2018
  • The awards being transmitted live on YouTube and permanently available there afterwards

In principle, I think you’re right. The issue is going to be that more-used and better-known libraries are, quite naturally, going to tend to float to the top – folks tend to vote for what they know. This is probably true in all categories: the playing field isn’t likely to be level, nor as precisely focused on the criteria you intend.

(This is the advantage of models that have a smaller number of judges: you can be much more insistent that the judges actually evaluate all of the nominees, and hold their feet a little bit to the fire on that. The more open the electorate, the harder that is.)

It may well be possible to ameliorate that – if nothing else, emphasizing that if you’re going to vote among the nominees, it behooves you to try to understand all of them to some degree, and using moral suasion to encourage folks to follow the spirit of the thing. (I also suggest being very explicit that “campaigning” is in poor taste.) But keep in mind that the results will probably be imperfect, people being people…

Bagwell award nominations are now open: https://www.scala-lang.org/blog/2019/03/01/phil-bagwell-nominations.html

oh, and I see that Seb took care of this a few days ago

I agree it is not bad idea, but it can be made bad very easily.

It sounds very good.
But when people vote for something which is not used by them it leads shifting from practical value to populism(in its disruptive form).

So I am very sceptical in voting where the price of voice is the time to register in the forum. Of course it works for scala because we use scala every day. But I am not so sure that it will work for other areas.