The Knights Who Say "Ni"!
Why is this project necessary?
A CLA is necessary to make sure that someone contributing to an open source project legally promises that they are only giving code to the project which they have the right to give. This means that there are no copyrights on the code which prohibits contributing it, nor are there patents making the use of the code illegal. This is really important for open source projects like Python where the non-profit behind the organization -- the Python Software Foundation in Python's case -- do not have the money to pay for a patent license if a mistake is made and patented code is contributed. Basically a CLA means the Python project has some legal ground to stand on when it says it didn't mean to use any code it wasn't meant to have.
But beyond just making sure the PSF is in the legal clear if bad code is given to the Python project, it also helps make sure others who use code from the Python project are also in the clear. If a company wants to use Python code in a commercial fashion, having the Python project's code covered by CLAs means they don't have to worry about being sued as well.
A CLA bot breaks down into essentially three components:
- The server host
- The contribution host
- The CLA records host
In the case of the Python project and this bot, the server host is Heroku, the contribution host is GitHub, and the CLA records host is bugs.python.org (which is an installation of Roundup). But considering the Python project was started back in 1990 and has already changed contribution hosts at least three times, a design goal of this project is to try and abstract the hosting platforms so that when the next change to the Python project's relevant hosting platform occurs it will not require a full rewrite of this project to get CLA enforcement working again.
Lastly, the master branch of this project will always strive to be stable and properly tested. Because there are legal ramifications if this project is unable to perform its duties, it is imperative that it always function properly.
Why wasn't some pre-existing CLA bot used?
There are several other CLA enforcement projects and services available, such as clabot, CLA Enforcer, CLAHub, and CLA Assistant. The issue with all of these project is that they are either unmaintained or they make assumptions about where/how CLAs are stored (e.g., they require using DocuSign). Because of these issues and the fact that this is an important project for Python itself, it was deemed necessary to create our own CLA enforcement bot which the Python project controlled and was able to make sure was maintained.
Is this project useful to anyone besides the Python project?
While this project is, strictly speaking, geared towards the needs of the Python project, the abstraction design goal should make it relatively straight-forward to fork this project and to modify it as necessary for your own needs.
About the project's name
'The Knights Who Say "Ni!"' is a sketch from the film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The knights prevent travelers from passing through their forest without a sacrifice (in the case of the film, they demand a shrubbery). Since Python is actually named after Monty Python, it seemed fitting to have the project named after something originating from Monty Python relating to someone preventing something from occurring without being given something (in the film it's the knights requiring a shrubbery, in real life it's lawyers requiring a signed CLA).
Trusted Users List
Users in the Trusted Users List will not be checked for CLA. This can be useful if the user is a bot or an app.
Running on Heroku
- Create Heroku project
- Set the
GH_AUTH_TOKENenvironment variable to the GitHub oauth token to be used by the bot
- Set up the Heroku project to get the code for the bot
- Trusted users can be added to the
CLA_TRUSTED_USERSenvironment variable as comma-separated list.
Adding to a GitHub repository (Python-specific instructions)
- Add the appropriate labels (
CLA not signed)
- Add the
PSF CLA enforcementteam to the project with
- Add the webhook
- Add the URL
- Add the secret
- Specify events to be
pull requestonly (default is
pushwhich is unnecessary)