I think there are two things to consider separately:
- What kind of support do we as a community want to provide for free
- How to let people find paid consulting options (on both sides of the deal).
I think that for 2) the Jobs category is probably OK. I don’t think requests/offers for paid consulting are likely to have high volume and thus wouldn’t think too much about regulating those - we can do this if the need arises.
Discussing 1) is harder: I can definitely see how a private consulting can benefit users and the community and I have done some free private consulting on a few ocasions when I liked the project or wanted to support somebody from a less represented demographic in the community. On the other hand, there are also big benefits of having those discussion in the open (e.g. here on the forums) where others can find them and learn from them. We also don’t want to set expectations that the community can routinely provide free private consulting (that’s IMHO something that should be primarily paid work). So I would hesitate a bit before giving any strong official support to people seeking this option. Especially if it could interpreted as an (informal) commitment of some users to do free work.
For people that are too shy to post on a public and archived forum we also have the Mc-stan community slack which recently became a bit more active, so that’s sort of a middle ground between the forums and full private consulting.
For this particular topic I’ve also recently wrote down some of my thouhts based on advice I’ve given and seen given in this context: Hypothesis testing, model selection, model comparison - some thoughts . But I was reminded that those things are hard and there currently isn’t a strong consensus in the Stan community on how to approach these questions. Which is probably good to bear in mind.
Happy to hear other people’s thoughts on this.