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Was it just the time that the ecosystem needed to adapt to the Python 3 changes or were there essential changes in the 3.x versions up to 3.6 that made it easier to switch from Python 2?

Some of both (for example, % formatting got added back to bytes objects in 3.5).

Also, supporting 2.5 (or even 2.4) together with Python 3 was particularly inconvenient, so things sped up after people stopped caring about those (which took a long time because some people were running extended-support enterprise distributions).

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