Here's an overview of the mail and news resources for Python. A complete listing of python.org's mailing lists is also available.
Mailing lists for users speaking languages other than English are listed in the Non-English Python Resources guide, which includes mailing lists, translated and original non-English documentation, and other resources.
The comp.lang.python newsgroup is a high-volume Usenet open newsgroup for general discussions and questions about Python.
Pretty much anything Python-related is fair game for discussion, and the group is even fairly tolerant of off-topic digressions; there have been entertaining discussions of topics such as floating point, good software design, and other programming languages such as Lisp and Forth.
Most discussion on comp.lang.python is about developing with Python, not about development of the Python interpreter itself. Some of the core developers still read the list, but most of them don't. Occasionally comp.lang.python suggestions have resulted in an enhancement proposal being written, leading to a new Python feature. If you find a bug in Python, don't send it to comp.lang.python; file a bug report in the bug tracker.
The newsgroup is available as a mailing list, python-list, for users who don't have Usenet access or prefer to receive messages as e-mail. Items posted on the Usenet group appear on the mailing list, and vice versa. Due to the mysteries of Usenet, the order in which items show up may vary.
Rudeness and personal attacks, even in reaction to blatant flamebait, are strongly frowned upon. People may strongly disagree on an issue, but usually discussion remains civil. In case of an actual flamebait posting, you can ignore it, quietly plonk the offending poster in your killfile or mail filters, or write a sharp but still-polite response, but at all costs resist the urge to flame back. Generally comp.lang.python is a high-signal, low-noise group. It's also a high-traffic group, currently running at around 200 posts per day.
A weekly summary of highlights is posted and mailed under the subject "Python-URL". Summaries are archived on the Web.
There are several different archives:
Here's a graph showing the number of messages per month since the list was created. (Courtesy Just van Rossum.)
The comp.lang.python.announce newsgroup is a low-volume moderated forum for Python-related announcements. New modules and programs are announced here, and it's also where PEPs are posted to get comments from the community.
This is a moderated newsgroup carrying at most perhaps 10 to 20 messages per week, so it's an easy way to be keep up-to-date on what's new in the Python world. See the comp.lang.python.announce posting guidelines for guidelines on submitting announcements.
It is also available as a read-only mailing list, python-announce. Subscribing can be done via the python-announce list information page.
The comp.lang.python.announce newsgroup is moderated by a team of people. If you need to contact them directly, e.g. to ask why a particular message was rejected, write to clpa-moderators-owner @ python.org. The workflow for moderation is documented.
Note: python-dev is for work on developing Python (fixing bugs and adding new features to Python itself); if you're having problems writing a Python program, please post to comp.lang.python.
python-dev is the heart of Python's development. Practically everyone with CVS write privileges is on python-dev, and first drafts of PEPs are often posted here for initial review and rewriting before their more public appearance on python-announce.
Anyone can subscribe to python-dev, though your subscription will have to been approved resulting in a delay of a day or two before you start receiving e-mail. The list address accepts e-mail from non-members, and the python-dev archives are public.
Summaries of Python-dev traffic are posted to python-announce; an archive of back issues is available.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are smaller communities focused on a particular topic or application such as databases, Python on MacOS, etc. Every SIG has a mailing list of its own. See the SIG page for more information.
SIGs vary in their success. Some, such as the XML, Database, and Distutils SIGs, have produced specifications and software that are now used throughout the Python community. Not all SIGs are as productive, though, and some sputter along for years without ever finalizing an implementation or a document.
The python-checkins mailing list receives an automatically generated message for each change committed to the Python CVS tree. python-checkins makes it easy for developers to know what is happening in the CVS repository. The volume of traffic on this list varies widely based on developer activity.
The patches mailing list receives notification of all new patches submitted to the SourceForge patch tracker and also notices about changes to existing patches.
The marketing-python mailing list is dedicated to discussing ways to market Python more widely.
People interested in learning about programming with Python are encouraged to join, as are experienced users interested in helping others learn.
The python-help mailing list is python.org's help desk. You can ask a group of knowledgeable volunteers questions about all your Python problems.
You can send email to python-help by writing to help @ python.org for individual support. Mail sent there lands in the mailbox of a small group of volunteers who may reply to reasonable requests for help, depending on their area of expertise. Using it is much preferred to sending mail directly to Guido or some other individual, but less preferable than posting to comp.lang.python. In all cases, try searching the various archives first.
When you ask a question, be sure to give your configuration: what hardware platform, what OS (and version), what Python version, and (when using Tkinter) what Tcl/Tk version you are using. If you're using an older Python version, try upgrading to the latest version first -- things often get better!
You can't subscribe to python-help -- it is not for bystanders, only for questioners to submit questions and for helpers to receive and field them. The archives are not accessible, to protect the questioners' privacy. If you would like to help answer questions, send your qualifications to webmaster @ python.org.
When you send a message to python-help, you will get an automated response. Your message is still delivered to the volunteers, and you will only receive this automated response once every approximately three months.