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. For a full list of core developers see our About Us page.

Steering council

The Steering Council (SC) members are primarily 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 SC 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 SC will be no less than three members and no more than five members, with a strong preference for an odd number to ensure a simple majority vote outcome is always possible, and a preference for five members to ensure a diversity of voices. All deadlocked votes of the SC will be postponed until there is an odd number of members and another vote can be held. A majority of the SC will not be employed by the same entity. One seat on the SC is reserved for a member elected by the Institutional and Funding Partner Advisory Council, as detailed below. This member need not be an existing core developer.

The SC membership, including the Institutional and Funding Partner (IFP) seat, is revisited every January. SC members who do not actively engage with the SC duties are expected to resign. New members for vacant spots 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 IFP seat is elected by the IFP Advisory Council.

The SC may be contacted at Or via the @napari/steering-council GitHub team. For a list of the current SC see our About Us page.

Institutional and funding partners

The SC is the primary leadership body for napari. No outside institution, individual or legal entity has the ability to own or control the project other than by participating in napari as contributors, core developers, and SC members. However, because institutions can be an important source of funding and contributions for the project, it is important to formally acknowledge institutional participation in the project. We call institutions recognized in this way Institutional and Funding Partners (IFPs).

Institutions become eligible to become an IFP by employing individuals who actively contribute to napari as part of their official duties, or by committing significant funding to napari, as determined by the SC. Once an institution becomes eligible to become an IFP, the SC must nominate and approve the institution as an IFP. At that time one individual from the IFP is expected to become the IFP Representative and serve on the IFP Advisory Council. The role of the IFP Advisory Council is to provide input on project directions and plans, and to elect one IFP Representative to hold the IFP seat on the SC.

The IFP Advisory Council is expected to self-organize according to rules agreed to by the existing IFPs. This document does not prescribe how IFPs should elect their representative on the SC, though the IFP Advisory Council should describe this process openly. IFPs are expected to work together and with the napari community in good faith towards a common goal of improving napari for the broader scientific computing community.

If at some point an existing IFP is no longer contributing any employees or funding, then a one-year grace period commences. If during this one-year period they do not contribute any employees or funding, then at the end of the period their status as an IFP will lapse, and resuming it will require going through the normal process for new IFPs. If the IFP Representative on the SC is from an organization that loses its status as an Institutional Partner, that person will cease being a member of the SC and the remaining IFP Advisory Council members may choose a new Representative at their earliest convenience.

IFP benefits are:

  • Acknowledgement on the napari website, including homepage, and in talks.

  • Ability to acknowledge their contribution to napari on their own websites and in talks.

  • Ability to provide input to the project through their Institutional Partner Representative.

  • Ability to influence the project through the election of the Institutional and Funding Partner seat on the SC.

For a full list of current IFPs and their Representatives see our About Us page.

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.