It is over 3 months since I was named the Community Manager. Back then I outlined some ideas and plans for my role, this is a followup, discussing what went well and what didn’t go so great and some plans for the future.
I didn’t make any statistics, so it might just be confirmation bias speaking, but in the user discussions, I see a lot of posts where people go an extra step or two just to be nice and I think that’s good. Another trend I think is present is that people often clearly state their experience (or lack of) with a topic when answering (e.g., “I’ve never built those models myself, but in similar cases X helped me”, “I am a novice user myself, but I think Y could be useful.”, …) which I also think is great - both because it’s good to see newcomers to Stan getting involved quickly and because being open about limitations of one’s knowledge is a sign of healthy discussion. The developer discussions have still occasionally been harsh.
Code of Conduct
I am not directly involved with the process around setting up Stan CoC. I know some discussion was held and SGB is taking it is a priority, but unfortunately I have nothing specific to share with the community on this point.
Responding to inquiries
We setup a process to tag people in unanswered questions. This helped us to basically eliminate topics that have no answers. It is however much harder to evaluate how many topics got useful answers. I am aware of multiple topics that start with a well written question, someone provides a tiny bit of general advice or asks for clarification, the OP clarifies some stuff and then the topic becomes silent with no further reaction. There is not (and probably can’t be) an automated way to find such abandoned topics. So we need people who read such topics and feel that better answer is possible/needed/… to bring the topic back to community attention (e.g. by tagging somebody).
So far, we haven’t setup a “Novice” category on the forums. I currently don’t think it would help much, but I’d be happy to hear if someone has reasons to believe otherwise.
We’ve had quite a few people who became active and helpful on this forum since I started my role, some of them started using Stan just a few months ago and learned quickly, others are experts who were present for years, but only just became more involved. Thanks everybody!
Two of things I have planned for the following months are:
- Community moderators/leaders: a beta test of getting more people officially involved in forum moderation/gardening/steering - more details in an upcoming post.
- FAQ/resources page: figure out some low-effort way to more effectively share best practices, high quality resources or answers.
Things I considered to work on, but have postponed for now are:
- Better templates for new topics, pinned “Welcome” topic
- Revisit forum structure (e.g., should we hide the “Developers” category by default? Should we have a “Novice” category?)
- Discourse guidelines - non-binding recommendations to guide better usage of this forum (probably best handled after CoC has been settled)
If you believe some of this should take higher priority than the two plans above, or if something completely else feels important to you, let me know (here or direct message).
Looking forward to what you have to say.