Stan Electorate for Referendums and Elections

My emphasis:

Is it going to happen? The last referendum to extend by two months had this timeline (my emphasis again):

I’m very disappointed that the SGB has been prioritizing creating policy and positions rather than fulfilling their promise to replace the interim SGB in mid-August 2019.

My position is that we should go through with replacing the interim SGB with a permanent one on the extended timeline of October 23 using the current set of developers as voters.

Check your inbox. Vote just went out to “Stan Developers Only”, vote ends midnight anywhere on the planet Sept 30, 2019.

That would have been more useful to know when the referendum on extending the authority for 2 months was done in July. It was totally doable, it would have been rushed however.

That is what happens if the referendum fails.

Ok all, looks like I called the vote prematurely. I have called off the vote. Shall we close discussion at the end of Thursday’s general meeting, Sept 26 2019?

This is the draft I proposed:

The Stan community electorate will be determined by a committee of at least 3 members appointed by the Stan Governing Body (SGB). One member will be the executive director. The committee is free to define its own operating rules but they are subject to approval by the SGB. The provisional rules are: Voters must request to be in the electorate by either emailing or alternate means determined by the committee. Anyone who has done any of the following can expect automatic approval by the electorate committee:

  • Attendance at any StanCon.
  • Being an author on a Stan paper or paper that uses Stan.
  • Submission of an accepted pull request in
  • Funding Stan.
  • Developed teaching materials for Stan.
  • Taught Stan.
  • Use Stan for work.
  • Reported Stan bug on github.
  • Organize a Stan event or meetup.
  • Uses Stan as a dependency for an open source project.

The list is not meant to be exhaustive but guidelines. There are many ways to demonstrate importance to the Stan community. Upon successful passing of this resolution and a new electorate of at least 40 people being accepted then the old electorate of “Stan Developers Only” will be replaced with the new electorate.

Failure to vote will result in removal from the voting rolls. Reinstatement will be not withheld without reason but no retroactive voting is allowed after the vote is closed.

The committee can remove/refuse a member for any reason. The member can appeal to the SGB.

Votes will he held using the helios voting system which requires an email address ( and administered by the electorate committee.

what does this mean? what is the current voting roll? why is it necessary to remove people who don’t vote from the rolls? who decides what reasons are valid reasons for reinstatement?

The current voting roll is the “Stan Development Team” group on Discourse (Stan development team - The Stan Forums). This is for pragmatic reasons since it has the emails of the developers and it was the ‘good enough’ for authorizing the SGB and hopefully replacing its self with a better electorate–our current issue. It has gotten out of sync with the list at Stan - Development Team. It has been this for all the votes.

Removing voters, if the proposal is accepted, is meant as an administrative way to keep the electorate filled with active people in the community. There is always an ‘abstain’ option, votes are secret but we do know if you have voted. If you miss a vote and get removed all you need to do is ask to be reinstated. You can also do this during a currently open vote, but you can’t retroactively once the voting deadline has passed for that particular vote.

If people find that ok then I can try and firm up the language or someone else can.

“…but to serve as guidelines”

Importance seems like a slightly icky word here to me. Maybe “to demonstrate investment in the Stan project to the community.” or something like that?

Sorry I’m confused. Is there a vote currently open or is there not a vote? Should I ignore the email in my inbox?

Yes the vote is canceled. I thought I announced it.
I’ll try and re-introduce the vote after Stan General Meeting Thursday September 26, 2019 11am EDT.

Hey all,

I talked to @betanalpha and asked to post his governance proposal, which was internal to the SGB for the past few months as we all discussed it and worked on it to try to come up with the system that would replace the SGB. Here it is:

The SGB wants to review the proposal (scroll up a bit for the draft) so the vote will be further delayed. October 5th is the ‘safe’ bet for some sort of decision. But please keep talking in this thread.



Thanks, @seantalts! I’m current in Mexico teaching Stan and consulting with many of the great practitioners here already using Stan so have been and will continue to be mostly away from my computer until after next week.

The goal of this proposal is to establish both an inclusive electorate and governing body with explicit responsibilities and mandates. The lack of explicit responsibilities in particular has been an issue with the current governing body.

I am fortunate to have had lots of useful feedback from some members of the governing body and members of the Stan community but this is very much a draft, especially with the exact scope of each role. Note also that, like Breck’s proposed governance, this governance proposal is entirely my own and has no approval from the Stan Governing Body.

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The vote may not happen for the expanded electorate before we vote on a new SGB. Does anyone care? I care but it might just be me.

With out action the electorate will be the Stan Developers Group + SGB. We could do worse.

I can call a vote Monday, still accepting modifications in any case. We are looking at an SGB election Oct 23 so time’s a wasting.


I still don’t understand why the SGB can’t just declare the electorate. We’re a very much not for profit open source project not a Fortune 500 company. If the electorate needs to be decided, decide it.

It’s a bit tricky here in that the SGB would be deciding on who reappoints the SGB. At one extreme, they could make the electorate themselves and reappoint themselves. At the other extreme (which seems to be where the SGB’s aiming), the electorate would include anyone for whom there’s a record of contact with Stan. I’m OK with the middle ground of the current electorate.

As someone this decision will directly impact (I won’t have a say in the current SGB reelection but could potentially under the new assembly model) I think you should just push ahead and reelect with the current electorate.

Leave it as a mandate for the new SGB that they need to decide upon and expand who is important to the Stan community in terms of voting. If you can’t do that, there’s clearly enough people who want this to happen that there will continue to be support and people badgering the new SGB for it.

My 2 cents on the assembly is that it shouldn’t happen before a code of conduct for the entire community is created and agreed upon. Then all members of the assembly should have to agree to comply by the CoC and agree they need to act wherever they see violations. That’s off topic for this conversation (and very much my own opinion), but another potential reason to want to hold off the change in electorate.


If you get to the guts of the proposal there is a committee appointed by the SGB that can change the rules as long as the SGB approves. The executive director, currently me, is part of that committee.

I wrote the last proposal based on feedback from here, an hour long Stan Community meeting at StanCon and discussions with the SGB members. The SGB has not discussed it as a group but hopefully Monday.

We can have a proposal that says “Let the SGB sort the electorate out” which I would happily include in the vote with approval voting. But someone needs to propose it in exact language.

My personal belief is that the community should ultimately control this project and electorates are important. We don’t have any candidate BDFLs (Benevolent Dictator for Life) so voting in leadership and voting on referendums is where we are at.

This is a very good conversation and I appreciate the effort going into refining how we make decisions at this very basic level.


Is this this third or fourth referendum in a year-ish? (Pre-SGB, SGB, Extend the SGB, change who can appoint the SGB). Endless referendums or BDFL are not the only two models. Representative democracy exists for a reason.

It is embarrassing at this point MORE THAN A YEAR after the SGB that this has not happened.


I think everyone’s on board with this. It just requires a notion of (1) who gets a vote and if not the same, (2) who the representatives actually represent. The current alternatives seem to be (A) anyone involved in any way with Stan, or (B) developers who are contributing to Stan’s software or design.