Scope of Discourse topics

If we’re going to allow posts about third-party interfaces (Torsten, brms, rethinking, etc.), then I think they should have their own topics. And given that nobody’s complaining about these posts, I think we should have new topics for them.

But so far, we have no way to decide such issues as we haven’t gotten to discussing governance of our forums.

Is anyone opposed to my being inclusive and adding topics for Torsten and brms (and any other third-party app that gets app-specific questions)?

I think it makes sense as long as

  • the topic is Stan-centric.
  • there is someone who is hanging around the board who knows something about the topic. Third-party devs may have different preferred communication methods, and it seems impolite to do this without them knowing about it.

Torsten doesn’t have its own message board. I don’t know about brms, rethinking, etc.

I feel bad telling people to go away, as much as I’d like our boards to stay focused.

The question in my mind is whether it’s better or worse to

  • moderate the topics off the boards
  • scold users and redirect to third party boards
  • just have this board be all inclusive

Of course, I never know where to draw the line with what’s Stan-centric or not. We take a lot of general stats questions that have nothing to do with Stan, but I tell anyone asking for general R or Python help not related to Stan that they’re in the wrong place.

We don’t know who hangs around the boards, but we shouldn’t let that stop people from asking questions.

I don’t see how it’s impolite to let people post questions about third-party apps here, but if the third-party app developers would prefer, we can just respond with a friendly pointer to the app-specific board.

I think the line is “is there someone here who can answer the question without looking anything up”.

And I’m not sure “go away” is the right thing, but it’s honest to say that we’re not always the best source of info on these things.

But I don’t think anything is so drifting so far off the core ground so far.

Maybe impolite isn’t the right word. But user feedback is really important when you’re building things, so it’s probably better for the developer to know that there’s a whole category over here. It’s also not very hard to subscribe to a tag and get emails about them, without actually having to monitor the boards, so it’s not that bad.

The other thing is that people who aren’t involved in projects often give really bad “tech support”. The number of things I’ve been told INLA can and can’t do based on some third hand information from someone who knows some stuff but not everything would surprise you (well, probably not you, but people who don’t develop software :p)

seems like if you give a topic to each individual software package that consumes Stan services, you’ll have a lot of topics. how about a general topic for 3rd party software?

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Indeed. I’m not surprised any more. I’m still always taken aback by the conviction with which they’re said.

We’d only create ones that got traffic. They can also be subcategorized, like our interfaces category. Nevertheless, it’s a good point in that we don’t want some monstrous scrolling lists.

Like many other things in Stan, we don’t have a system in place for governing this forum, so hopefully we can continue to operate by consensus.

Go for it.

brms does have its own forum:!forum/brms-users

As the person to blame for rethinking, I think it makes sense to have discussion of it elsewhere. But I agree it feels bad to tell people to go post on the rethinking github issues (which is where I ask people to go). So as long as the issues are related to how rethinking interacts with Stan, maybe it does make sense to host some of that discussion here.

The truth is that the bulk of support for rethinking is (1) helping people install Stan and (2) telling them the model they want to write must be done in raw Stan code.

I agree with @anon75146577 that so far the topics haven’t gotten too out of hand, so at the immediate moment we’re okay. An obvious line that we can draw right now is if people are having trouble with installation or configuration of the third-party products. Topics that we have seen that probably are appropriate to the forum include

  • Why doesn’t Stan agree with X? [We can’t go into details, but give general info about the validity of various approximations]
  • I need Stan for X, why doesn’t Stan install? [Stan is the operative issue]

Discourse allows users to flag posts, so moderation wouldn’t be that hard if we have many people flagging and then a few people (Sean, Dan, myself?) deciding if it’s appropriate.