Stan Electorate for Referendums and Elections

Good point/question. Bug reports are super important and are definitely valuable contributions to the project.

Sure, seconded! That’s a high quality contribution, likely requiring more effort than a typo fix or reformat PR. And it has the benefit of being something a user can do and not just a developer :)

My thoughts here are a little bit about incentives and what we’d like to reward and encourage, in addition to being inclusive of all stakeholders. Plus, we don’t want a super low bar for developers (arguably the “any accepted PR” one is about as low as it can be) and a higher one for users.

Maybe a concrete way to address Breck’s concern with adding the adjective “non-trivial” to the PR as being hard to judge is to use a better quantifiable metric. Perhaps submission of a PR that has at least two revision cycles? That’s sets a bar that seems somewhere between organizing a Stan meetup and submitting a high quality bug report in my head. You might notice most of the user-friendly criteria take a reasonable amount of effort; I think that’s okay if the dev bar is also that high.

I think it’s too general so lets strike it and add “Uses Stan as a dependency for an open source project.”

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That turns a user focused criteria into an additional dev-focused one :/

I’m fine with leaving it as is, though it feels broad

Watch out guys, you know some of us study elections… :O…


could you please clarify what kinds of things require a referendum?

how are referendums called - what is the process? how are they called? what are the pass/fail criteria?

what is the election process? how many members are elected to the Stan Governing Body? how long are the terms, i.e., how how often are elections held? what are the terms of the Executive director position? how is the directorship determined? does the director’s term expire along with those of the members of the SGB?

I think we need answers to the above questions in order to evaluate this or any other proposal.


for the record, please list the current members of the SGB. in the upcoming elections, how many members will be elected by the electorate?

Who exactly is on the TWG? it has been repeatedly asserted that the TWG doesn’t exist - this came up in the roadmap discussion and in the emails leading up to is, e.g.

If the TWG doesn’t exist, what is it supposed to be and how will it be set up in the future? Is this also to be determinted by the electorate?


We have called referendums to set up the provisional SGB and extend it’s operating authority. Referendums get used when elected leadership doesn’t exist or is the wrong entity. The last referendum, which called for the electorate referendum we are talking about in this thread, extended the life of the provisional SGB–it would be odd to have the SGB decide that.

I have included it below, it also covers the voting method, majority vote is the default for elections.

Dear Stan Electorate,
TL;DR : The SGB wants a two (2) month extension to its operating authority. You will receive an email with voting instructions that will direct you to . If you do not please send email to and I’ll get it sorted out.

The members of ‘Stan Development Team Only’ are our current electorate for the SGB (Stan Governing Body). Last August we voted in a provisional SGB that would function for 1 year before another vote would be held. That vote is here.

We would like an additional two months of operating for the following reasons:

  1. A mid August election is not well suited to people’s vacations.
  2. We don’t want the election of SGB members to be rushed and an election August 23 seems too soon.
  3. The big reason is that we want to expand the electorate beyond what it is now. That will take some time, 2 months seems appropriate since we have to develop the idea further (by August 15), have a vote by ‘Stan Development Team Only’ expanding the electorate (Sept 1), and then get the new people into the electorate by the time of the SGB elections (October 23).

You will receive an email with your username and password for voting at . If you don’t by Monday morning, July 22, please email

We encourage questions and of course voting. You can also vote by emailing but that will not be anonymous to our vote counter. You have one week to vote, deadline is midnight anywhere on the planet Monday July 29, 2019.

Thank you

The provisional SGB.

We fall back on Roberts Rules of Order if we need to. Running votes more informally helps gets things done particularly when we are pretty close to consensus anyway.

This is about the electorate, not the SGB composition. Once the electorate is sorted out then we have an election for SGB members. There is some structure laid out at but the SGB can change how it operates. The executive director is appointed by the SGB so that position can be changed by the new SGB.

I am going to finalize the list as follows (remember this can be changed if it causes problems by the committee):

  • Attendance at any StanCon.
  • Being an author on a Stan paper or paper that uses Stan.
  • Submission of an accepted pull request with at least two revision cycles.
  • 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.
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Just to be clear, the intention is for one or more from this list AND requesting to be part of the electorate via email (or discourse)? If any from this list is demonstrated, then the acceptance is automatic if requested. And we won’t automatically put people in the electorate.

I’d request we have a simple membership code of conduct that people agree to in order to be part of the electorate.

Does membership time out?

More specifics:

If that’s personal contribution to Stan at NumFOCUS, great. If that’s business, what does that mean?

Part of me wants to just say “accepted pull request” independent of quality; the contributor still has to request entrance into the electorate. Is this for anything in If so, then there are so many places to contribute like the website, etc. that quality metrics will vary wildly between repos.

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 ( 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 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.