Announcement of Community module

As we move towards more structured “modules” for the @Stan_Development_Team (Revised SGB proposal for voting on technical issues), we would like to formalize a recognition process for people who have had a substantial impact on the Stan project without necessarily writing lines of source code. To make this recognition process transparent, the @SGB is creating a new development module termed the Community module.

Creation of the Community module is intended (1) to ensure that committed users and other important stakeholders have a say in the governance of the Stan project through representation in the SGB electorate, (2) to facilitate organic formation of like-minded interest groups relevant to Stan, (3) to express gratitude for actions that are vital to the success of the project but which have not always received consistent recognition, e.g., creating educational materials, organizing StanCons, running relevant meetup groups, etc. As with all Stan Developers, the cumulative impact to the project from a Developer candidate should be substantial.

Membership in the Community module does not preclude membership in other modules. For example, someone can contribute code to the Math module and also be recognized as a member of the Community module for developing applied case studies. To become a Developer in the Community module, (1) self-nominate with a Discourse post summarizing your contributions to the Stan project and sharing your specific interest areas, and (2) have your Community module membership seconded by two existing Developers in the module or three Developers across the project. (A similar process will be rolled out for non-Community modules, with the goal being one unified process.) Anyone in at least one module by November 30, 2020 will be eligible to vote in the upcoming SGB elections.

Feel free to reach out to the @SGB with questions.


tangental questions:

  • what are the other modules?

  • is there an upper limit on the size of this module?

  • what are the criteria for determining whether or not activities have truly added value to the project? for the developers, there’s some notion of “significant PR” and being able to work with the software and process is in and of itself a fairly high bar. putting together a significant case study or truly informative set of tutorial materials is also a kind of “evidence-based” contribution which has lasting value. how do we assess whether or not a conference or meetup is well-run enough to deserve recognition? we don’t give developers “points for trying” - how can we apply a similar criteria for the community module?

Good questions!

As described in Revised SGB proposal for voting on technical issues in the “Who can vote” section, for the other modules we will initially start with module = repository on stan-dev, but it probably makes sense to group certain repositories together. We wanted to get the initial plan out without getting bogged down in how to group repositories together, but we definitely think this is something that should be amended going forward (e.g., grouping some interface repositories together).

This is also something we discussed but we didn’t feel like we had enough information on how this would play out to make a decision in advance. Currently there’s no upper limit on the size of any of the modules, but we recognize that this particular module has the potential to grow faster than the others (there are more ways to qualify) so questions related to the relative voting power of the different modules may need to be addressed by this SGB or the next one depending on the growth we see in the various modules.

Yeah this is tricky, but I don’t think it’s necessarily much different than what we have already been doing. Like you say, there’s some notion of “significant PR” but there’s no formal definition of that (nor would it be easy to come up with one in my opinion). Similarly, there’s no formal definition of what constitutes a substantial enough contribution for this module. We have historically left it up to other people in the “module” to decide if contributions have been substantial enough (e.g., developers in the math library have decided if new contributors to the math library have made substantial enough contributions to be labeled “developers”), and for this new module we envision something similar.

Anyway, thanks for the questions/feedback and let me know if I need to clarify more!