Please keep development discussion open

Hi all,

Please keep development discussion for stan-dev projects out in the open. We’ve got a great set of open-source projects and part of the reason why is because of the openness of our community.

And that includes the interfaces and the other packages that fall under stan-dev. The discussion doesn’t need to be on this discourse, but it should be somewhere. If you’re developing a package and want a subcategory, just ask.

Just curious, where are the dev discussions for these repos?

  • rstan, rstanarm, bayesplot, rstantools, loo, projpred: @bgoodri, @jonah
  • pystan, pystan-wheels, httpstan, httpstan-wheels, pystan-next: @ariddell, @ahartikainen
    (Sorry – I don’t know who else is involved off the top of my head)

If the bulk of the discussion is happening between people, please just open it up to a public list.




Either here or on GitHub or in person.

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Right now, I tend to drop things into “General” rather than “Developer” because the latter is closed to user comments. Don’t know how others feel, but I’d be OK just opening the “Developer” category and keeping the “Developer Only” thing separate.

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I’m ok with it.

We had originally closed the Google Groups stan-dev list after having users hijack threads enough for it to be disruptive. After that, we closed it, but with a fairly liberal policy for giving people access. (Essentially, ask and you’re granted permissions. Like now.)

With Discourse being an actual forum, we might be able to keep things on topic with good moderation and reinforced behavior.

Anyone opposed to opening it up?

Discussions for PyStan are mostly on Github.

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Awesome. I see a lot of the issues go by. =).

If there are emails just between you and @ariddell, posting here next time? If you’re used to email, we can set up an email address to create new topics within a subcategory so you can start them without visiting the web. Let me know if that’s useful.

Did something prompt this? I think we’re very good about this. I rarely
get or send private emails about PyStan development.

No one single event. But I think it’s good to be reminded every now and again. There was just one criteria I had for having a project fall under the stan-dev umbrella (and I think most of the devs at the time agreed): development discussion must be open. It doesn’t have to be here, but it does have to be open. If it’s closed, that’s cool; I’d just ask it be moved.

(Sorry, I wasn’t trying to call you out because I thought there was anything. It was more curiosity and a reminder if there was anything.)

That said, I’ve seen at least a few comments on development for Stan that aren’t on these forums when they should be (if they’re done over emails). My guess is that the participants just didn’t know that it’s important to have things in the open. The benefits and drawbacks for open communication is asymmetric for the individual and the community.

From the community’s point of view, if there was a lot of development discussion in private, that limits the ability of potential contributors or collaborators to get involved. Moreover, it can cause some distrust. There’s now a subgroup making decisions according to what they think is right without the community having a chance to help, observe, comment, object, support, or anything else. And then there’s the question of what other development-related decisions are being made without the community involved. It shifts from having an open, welcoming community to a community where there’s an insider group that’s above accountability and where people outside of that group can’t affect change. And yes, I realize we’re very far from there. I just want to proactively keep the community away from there.

(And yes, there are times when it’s appropriate to have discussion via private emails. I’m not suggesting all communication be open. And I’m not discouraging meeting up in person to discuss things.)

Btw, I’m guilty of this too. Didn’t realize it at the time, but there were threads that I was on that should have been public to start. I’ll try to stop that practice and encourage whatever comes my way regarding Stan development on here.

Here’s a link to dev-related stuff between @seantalts and myself.

@Bob_Carpenter then sent email later asking about the governance, which could have easily been avoided if we were open about it.

Sorry about that. Just FYI, if you email me regarding Stan development and I ask for it to go up on Discourse, please take no offense. That’s going to be my default response for anything Stan development related unless there’s a good reason not to.