Governance model


The purpose of this document is to formalize the governance process used by the napari project, to clarify how decisions are made and how the various elements of our community interact.

This is a consensus-based community project. Anyone with an interest in the project can join the community, contribute to the project design, and participate in the decision making process. This document describes how that participation takes place, how to find consensus, and how deadlocks are resolved.

Roles and responsibilities

The community

The napari community consists of anyone using or working with the project in any way.


A community member can become a contributor by interacting directly with the project in concrete ways, such as:

among other possibilities. Any community member can become a contributor, and all are encouraged to do so. By contributing to the project, community members can directly help to shape its future.

Contributors are encouraged to read the contributing guide.

Core developers

Core developers are community members that have demonstrated continued commitment to the project through ongoing contributions. They have shown they can be trusted to maintain napari with care. Becoming a core developer allows contributors to merge approved pull requests, cast votes for and against merging a pull-request, and be involved in deciding major changes to the API, and thereby more easily carry on with their project related activities. Core developers appear as organization members on the napari GitHub organization and are on our @napari/core-devs GitHub team. Core developers are expected to review code contributions while adhering to the core developer guide. New core developers can be nominated by any existing core developer, and for details on that process see our core developer guide.

Steering Council

The Steering Council (SC) members are core developers who have additional responsibilities to ensure the smooth running of the project. SC members are expected to participate in strategic planning, approve changes to the governance model, and make decisions about funding granted to the project itself. (Funding to community members is theirs to pursue and manage). The purpose of the SC is to ensure smooth progress from the big-picture perspective. Changes that impact the full project require analysis informed by long experience with both the project and the larger ecosystem. When the core developer community (including the SC members) fails to reach such a consensus in a reasonable timeframe, the SC is the entity that resolves the issue.

Members of the steering council also have the “owner” role within the napari GitHub organization and are ultimately responsible for managing the napari GitHub account, the @napari_imaging twitter account, the napari website, and other similar napari owned resources.

The steering council is currently fixed in size to three members. This number may be increased in the future, but will always be an odd number to ensure a simple majority vote outcome is always possible. The initial steering council of napari consists of

The SC membership is revisited every January. SC members who do not actively engage with the SC duties are expected to resign. New members are added by nomination by a core developer. Nominees should have demonstrated long-term, continued commitment to the project and its mission and values. A nomination will result in discussion that cannot take more than a month and then admission to the SC by consensus. During that time deadlocked votes of the SC will be postponed until the new member has joined and another vote can be held.

The napari steering council may be contacted at Or via the @napari/steering-council GitHub team.

Decision making process

Decisions about the future of the project are made through discussion with all members of the community. All non-sensitive project management discussion takes place on the issue tracker and project zulip community chat channel. Occasionally, sensitive discussion may occur on a private core developer mailing list or private chat channel.

Decisions should be made in accordance with the mission and values of the napari project.

napari uses a “consensus seeking” process for making decisions. The group tries to find a resolution that has no open objections among core developers. Core developers are expected to distinguish between fundamental objections to a proposal and minor perceived flaws that they can live with, and not hold up the decision-making process for the latter. If no option can be found without objections, the decision is escalated to the SC, which will itself use consensus seeking to come to a resolution. In the unlikely event that there is still a deadlock, the proposal will move forward if it has the support of a simple majority of the SC.

Decisions (in addition to adding core developers and SC membership as above) are made according to the following rules:

  • Minor documentation changes, such as typo fixes, or addition / correction of a sentence, require approval by a core developer and no disagreement or requested changes by a core developer on the issue or pull request page (lazy consensus). Core developers are expected to give “reasonable time” to others to give their opinion on the pull request if they’re not confident others would agree.

  • Code changes and major documentation changes require agreement by one core developer and no disagreement or requested changes by a core developer on the issue or pull-request page (lazy consensus). For all changes of this type, core developers are expected to give “reasonable time” after approval and before merging for others to weigh in on the pull request in its final state.

  • Changes to the API principles require a dedicated issue on our issue tracker and follow the decision-making process outlined above.

  • Changes to this governance model or our mission, vision, and values require a dedicated issue on our issue tracker and follow the decision-making process outlined above, unless there is unanimous agreement from core developers on the change in which case it can move forward faster.

If an objection is raised on a lazy consensus, the proposer can appeal to the community and core developers and the change can be approved or rejected by escalating to the SC.