Citizendium Policy Outline
About This Document
Maintainers of this document. Currently, this document is maintained jointly by the Editor-in-Chief, and the Chief Constable; as specific people are invited, the list of maintainers will grow. The Editor-in-Chief reserves the right to declare a final resolution to disputes about this and other policy documents until responsible bodies are established.
Statement of Fundamental Policies takes precedence. The Statement of Fundamental Policies will be regarded as the supreme policy of the project prior to the adoption of the Citizendium Charter. The Statement itself will define certain fundamental conditions on the adoption of the Charter.
This Policy Outline is the Citizendium's policy "home page." All major policies about the Citizendium will be summed up on this one page. Details may be removed to other pages, but the Citizendium Policy Outline will always contain a comprehensive summary and set of pointers to further elaboration where necessary.
Mailing list and forum input. Comments are welcome on Citizendium lists and forums. The maintainers of this document will always monitor Citizendium-L, Citizendium-Editors, and other mailing lists, as well as the Citizendium Forums. These public arenas of discussion will be regarded as crucial in determining the shape of project policy.
Executive Committee not a forum for policy discussion. There will also be an Executive Committee that works privately essentially to advise the Editor-in-Chief, but it will be carefully enforced policy that that group handles only matters that need to be private--as, for example, grant proposals and partnership proposals that have not been reviewed. As a general rule, policy will not be discussed by the Executive Committee but in forums that have public archives.
The Citizendium's Foundational Policies
The role of the Statement of Fundamental Policies. The Citizendium community launched in September 2006 with certain fundamental policies articulated in an essay called "Toward a New Compendium of Knowledge." But in fact, that essay mixed some mere suggestions with some non-negotiable policies. Therefore, The Citizendium Statement of Fundamental Policies clarifies which policies are to be regarded as "non-negotiable." These policies may be refined, explained, and justified, but they will not be defended, and those who reject them, and particularly those inclined to work against them, will be asked to find another project to support.
The purposes of articulating non-negotiable policies. The purposes of articulating non-negotiable policies are: (1) the Statement gives a much-needed definition and focused purpose to a project that otherwise might drift aimlessly and accomplish little; (2) in an open, volunteer community, the statement allows persons to identify whether their own participation is appropriate.
Authors and Authoring Citizendium Articles
Everyone who has a working account on the Citizendium wiki may be designated an "author." To become an author, a person will (eventually) have to:
While this system is being set up, we will use a manual application process.
Author User Pages
The purpose of user pages is to be helpful to the development of Citizendium. Therefore, authors' user pages will be regulated by the Citizendium's constabulary. While authors (other than editors and constables) are not required to provide personal information, a statement about your personal interests and studies would be very welcome. Rough clues as to age and location might be helpful to other users but are, again, quite optional. Minors are asked not to include any personal information about themselves, including information about where they live.
User pages must be limited to only the following sorts of information:
Among items that will not be permitted on user pages (or subpages):
Authors may not edit each others' user pages unless there is an explicit message to that effect on a person's page. Constables will have the authority to edit author user pages to make them in conformity with the above rules; they will, however, first make a request that the author him- or herself do it.
These policies apply to editors as well as authors. Editors, when they create and make changes to articles, play the role of authors, and therefore the following policies apply to them as well as people who are not editors.
Articles are created collaboratively, and thus are unsigned. Articles on the Citizendium are created collaboratively, and by a constantly-changing body of collaborators; hence, they are not signed. Authors of articles will not be listed either on the article or on the article's discussion page. The specific edits for which a contributor is responsible are listed in the article's history, however.
How to clean up Wikipedia articles. We will be collecting important guidelines about how to clean up, mark up, strip down, and otherwise improve and prepare Wikipedia articles for the Citizendium on [[how to convert Wikipedia articles to Citizendium articles]].
Do not make an article imported from Wikipedia "live" unless to improve it significantly. When articles are imported en masse from Wikipedia, it will be possible to edit any Wikipedia article on the Citizendium. We will say that articles are "live" if they are sourced from Wikipedia and have been edited on the Citizendium. Note that articles that are not live will be occasionally refreshed by the latest version from Wikipedia. Therefore, authors are urged not to edit any article sourced from Wikipedia unless they are prepared to improve it significantly. Please do not merely "copyedit" or make small changes to articles that are not "live." Otherwise our "live" version of a Wikipedia-source might well become stale in comparison to the Wikipedia version.
Naming. There are a number of conventions we would like to adopt--many of them are the same as Wikipedia's--and which can be found at [[naming conventions]].
Article standards. The standards of a good Citizendium article are complex, and only summarized here:
For complete article standards, see the documents linked above. For a summary of the standards an approved article is said to meet, see [[approval standards]].
Standards for Editing Wikipedia Articles
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Author Conflict Resolution
The author conflict resolution process. Collaboration among strangers (even named strangers) via the faceless Internet can easily lead to conflict. Authors are, therefore, urged to remain calm when another author changes their work in a way with which they disagree. The policy resources of the project can help resolve many conflicts over content. For example, and especially, the neutrality policy requires that warring sides each be allowed to have a say sympathetic to their cause; thus, there should rarely be arguments about what which side an article should be made to favor, since they should not favor any sides. When reference to the rules is not enough, authors are asked to follow the following "escalation path":
When to call a constable. Authors should understand the relative domains of authority of editors and constables: editors handle disputes about content, while constables handle disputes about behavior. Constables should not be asked to settle disputes that can be settled by having a definitive answer to a content question; in that case, an editor should be consulted. Constables should be called when the dispute does not turn on a content question. For example:
Deferring to editors. Generally speaking, authors are expected to defer to whomever is an editor for that article. This means at least two things:
Note: expectation of deference applies only to an editor's own areas of expertise. There is no obligation to defer in this way to an editor when the editor is writing on a subject outside of his or her area of expertise. Of course, all authors should treat each other quite respectfully and, in that way, deferentially.
The Appeals Process: Notes for Authors
Authors--i.e., any contributor in good standing--have the right to appeal decisions of editors and constables. Such appeals must not, however, be made frivolously, or merely because one disagrees with a decision. Authors should attempt to appeal decisions only if they can clearly state precisely how an editor or constable has misused his or her authority.
Because of the open nature of the Citizendium project, and the potentially politicizable nature of the appeals process, controls must be in place to prevent abuse of the process. Authors should be aware that, while appeals may be rejected with no ill consequences, appeals with no merit whatsoever may be dismissed. The accumulation of dismissed appeals will be regarded by the Constabulary as evidence of participation in bad faith, and may contribute to an author's ejection from the project.
While records will be maintained of who has made what appeals, and their outcomes, it will be possible for authors to make appeals privately. It is hoped that that the option of private appeals will help protect authors from unfair retribution by editors or constables who resent their authority being questioned.
Policy regarding Individual Editors
Editors are entrusted with the content management of the Citizendium in their special areas of expertise.
In the "wiki" spirit of the Citizendium, our editorial system is set up to make it as easy as possible for new editors to join in the fun, and to be effective guides, without "breaking" the wiki process. To this end, we have adopted some unusual policies, with which potential editors should familiarize themselves.
Editors will perform three main functions: (1) decisionmaking and dispute resolution; (2) article approval; and (3) low-level administrative management of authors. The following explains these functions.
Decisionmaking and Dispute Resolution regarding Articles
Decisionmaking, or the establishment of policies for individual articles. Editors may, in areas of their expertise, establish policies regarding what the article should cover (and what should be covered elsewhere), the general structure or narrative arc of the article, the specific wording of definitions (or constraints thereupon), and other such general policies. In this function, editors are to take the lead in acting as planners or conceptualizers of the article.
Resolving content disputes among authors. Authors inevitably find themselves in disagreement about how an article ought to read, or about other questions regarding the article. Editors--whether when asked by authors, or on their own initiative--may undertake to resolve these disputes. But this function must not be exercised lightly: cavalier decisions can easily cause resentment among, or drive away, valuable contributors, or explode into a larger and unnecessary "flame war." Therefore, in resolving disputes, editors are encouraged to follow something like the following procedure:
Bear in mind that you need not go through this process when explaining every time you alter an author's work. But all authors, editors included, are generally expected to explain significant changes they make, on the discussion page, partly as good recordkeeping, but mostly to justify their behavior politely to other contributors.
The meaning of editorial approval. Editors may approve Citizendium articles, i.e., certify that they meet article standards. When an editor approves of an article, he or she is explicitly claiming that that particular version of the article meets those standards, and that he is willing to stake his professional reputation on that claim. The relevant standards are outlined in [[approval standards]].
Cancellation of approval. If another editor, who is also expert in the topic of the article, believes it does not meet the standards, he or she may either (1) approve a new version of the article (recommended), or (2) "cancel the approval" of the article. The second editor may take this action without consulting the first; but if the first insists, the issue of approval is resolved by the relevant editorial workgroup(s) as any editorial disputes are resolved (see [[editorial workgroup policy on resolving editorial disputes]]).
Low-Level Administrative Management of Authors
Editors may not exercise constable authority over articles in their areas of expertise. As editor of a particular article, you may not exercise constable powers, even if you are a constable; that is, you may not use constable powers to resolve problems. Rather, you must call upon another constable. The reason for this "separation of powers," of course, is the same reason that executive and judicial authorities are separated in developed nations: it prevents abuse of authority and provides a layer of mutual oversight.
Managing problem users. Editors will encounter "problem users" and will certainly want to do something. As editor, while patience is greatly appreciated, you need not go to superhuman lengths to tolerate low quality or bad faith work, or abusive behavior. At the most extreme, you may recommend to the Constabulary that authors be banned. But there are many things that editors can do before going to this length. Just for example, if an author appears open to advice, you might recommend some background reading. Or, without actually getting a constable involved, you might ask an author to take a break for a time to get proper perspective. Finally, you might informally request that an author not edit an article, rather than "make it official" by involving the Constabulary.
Recommending content-based bans. Some authors will prove to be very difficult to negotiate with in this way. Therefore, if an editor feels that a certain author produces such a quantity of bad edits, which require so much "cleaning up" (if not outright deletion) that it would actually be better for the project if the person simply were not to work in an area (or on the project as a whole), then the editor may recommend that the author be banned from editing a certain article, from any of a group of articles, or from the Citizendium as a whole. Only editors (individually or in editorial workgroups) may make such a determination. The determination is privately given to the Constabulary, and what happens after that is determined by the Constabulary--see [[policy on content-based bans]]--not the editor, although the editor may be asked explain points and offer evidence. Note that extensive bans (such as bans from working on the entire website, or lifetime bans) will require testimony from more than just one editor; again, see [[policy on content-based bans]].
Behavioral issues, not within the purview of editors. Bear in mind that editors are not responsible for making recommendations about behavioral problems, but only those problems that stem from the quality of an editor's good faith work. That is, editors may make enforcement recommendations based on the poor quality of work done in good faith, but their complaints about bad faith behavior will not be regarded as binding on constables in the way that content-based recommendations are. Furthermore, in either case, it is the Constabulary that ultimately determines the length and breadth of a ban.
Editorial Dispute Resolution: Notes for Individual Editors
See also [[editorial workgroup policy on resolving editorial disputes]].
Collaborative and collegial behavior expected. Editors are expected to work together collegially, as co-equals, on articles about which they can both legitimately claim expertise. As with disputes among authors, the first step toward resolving a dispute is to see whether the editors cannot reach satisfactory compromise.
Constabulary is not to be called to settle editorial disputes. The Constabulary should not be called, nor should it attempt to settle, disputes between editors of an article, unless it can be regarded as perfectly obvious that one person is not, in fact, an editor--that is, that it is obvious to a nonspecialist that one person claiming editorship has not established even a minimally plausible claim of possessing special knowledge of the topic in question. Then the Constabulary may be called to consider the question of "minimally plausible" editorship.
Disputes referred to editorial workgroups. When one editor (or both) has decided that a compromise is not in the offing, then one editor should inform the other that he or she is referring the matter to a particular editorial workgroup. What happens after that is determined by the editorial workgroup (see [[editorial workgroup policy on resolving editorial disputes]]).
Editors self-register. Editors register themselves; there will be no editor selection process, though review and application processes may be used in unusual cases (see [[links here]]). The procedure for becoming an editor is as follows:
Authority to approve articles requires review by Constabulary. While an editor may register and immediately claim editorship (per the policy above), someone needs enable the new editor to approve articles within the system. As an initial policy, we will say that any constable may do this. But constables will also be required to refer any questionable cases to the relevant editorial workgroup.
Challenges to editorship claims. Anyone--author, constable, or editor--may (privately) request that the relevant editorial workgroup do a minimal review of someone's claim to editorship. See [[policy on review of editorship challenges]] for more details.
What areas of editorship an editor may claim. General editors may claim editorship, if they can demonstrate that they meet minimum standards, over one or more of the following.
General editors vs. specialty editors. Within a given discipline, such as Philosophy, History, and Engineering, we distinguish between general editors and specialty editors, with general editors for a discipline having general editorial authority over general and mid-range topics, and specialty editors having authority only over some relatively circumscribed, specialized topics.
Academic, professional, and non-academic (or hobbyist) fields. We draw the usual distinction between academic and professional fields, and we distinguish both of these from non-academic (or hobbyist) fields. Depending on the type of field, the requirements of editorship may differ. See below.
Standards for general and specialty editorship in academic fields. As a rule of thumb, general editors in academic fields are those who have recently done a substantial amount of research at a level expected of someone eligible for a tenure track position at a four-year college. This means both of the following:
The precise standards for specific disciplines, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later. [[link here]]
Specialty editors need not have as extensive experience in a discipline as general editors. But at the very least they must have a college education, and they must have demonstrable experience in their fields. For example (this is apt to vary from field to field), many traditional academic fields might require both of the following:
The precise standards for specific disciplines, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later. [[link here]]
General editorship in professional fields. In engineering, law, medicine, journalism, computer programming, library science, and some other professional fields, frequently the "terminal degree" for professional work is not a doctorate, and expert members of these professions would not actually be employable as university faculty. Nevertheless, some active members of these professions are very plausibly regarded as quite expert in their fields, and quite able to speak with authority about them, based not only on "book learning" but on practical experience.
In view of these facts, it is Citizendium policy that the requirements for general and specialty editorship may also be satisfied in another way for the professional disciplines. In general, and this varies from field to field, general editorship in professional work may be satisfied by the combination of the following:
The precise standards for specific professions, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later. [[link here]]
There is no similar way to establish specialty editorship in professional fields; but bear in mind that non-academic professionals may be able to establish the requirements for specialty editorship listed [[above]].
Editorship over "non-academic" or hobbyist topics. There are many topics that are of relatively little interest to academics, where the people in possession of the most knowledge about the topic are typically not university faculty at all. This is the case for much of popular culture, and popular movements generally. There are also many topics that are studied just as carefully by hobbyists as by academics--where the "experts" are just as likely to be non-academics as academics--such as, for example, kinds of folk music. Consequently, if a person can demonstrate substantial expertise about such topics, they may become specialty editors for those specific topics. Citizendium editorial staff will compile a table of such qualifications.
Merely as an indicative example, we might say that a person may claim a specialty editorship over a particular video game if he or she shows evidence of many of the following:
Topic informants. The subjects of biographies, persons who have had unique and important experience of historical events, CEOs, politicians, judges, inventors, and others who are (or were) close to the subjects written about shall enjoy a special status in the Citizendium community as topic informants. While being a topic informant will not by itself confer the editorial privileges of decisionmaking and article approval, topic informants will enjoy two special privileges:
No one may declare himself to be a topic informant; this status can only be conferred by an editor or editorial workgroup. That is, any editor in a subject may declare that a person is a topic informant for a particular article, subject to review by the relevant editorial workgroup. Editors will be expected to follow the [[policy on designating topic informants]].
How to apply for editorship in special cases. If you are unable to provide links to online proof that you meet the minimum requirements for being a general editor, specialty editor, or topic informant, you may apply to the editorial workgroup in your area. If your application is accepted, an editor will edit your user page and declare you to be a general editor, specialty editor, or topic informant. See [[policy on editor review]].
Other Notes for Editors
No exclusive assignments. It is not the case that there will be one editor per topic or subject. So there can be as many editors of an article as arrive: the more the merrier. All editors involved will be expected to work as co-equals, and via editorial workgroup mechanisms.
Editorship is always editorship of specific topics. There are no global editors, so to speak; there are editors only with respect to articles in their specific areas of expertise. Editors may serve as authors of articles outside their expertise, of course, but they may not, with respect to those articles, serve as editors. We may anticipate that many editors will do a great deal of work on articles of which they are not editors--just not editor work.
Editors should not record their editorship on the articles themselves. Editors should not place their names on an article in their purview, neither on the article itself nor on the discussion page, except as noted above, e.g., in signing a particular decision or in a particular article approval. In other words, there will not be a special template or box on each article, or on its discussion page, that lists people who claim to be editors of a particular article. Furthermore, the Citizendium management and contributors may not make such lists. The purpose of this policy is to prevent the creation of exclusive groups of overseers for particular articles, and to ensure that article developments remains fully collaborative. Editors may, however, list articles that they regard as being in their editorial purview on their own user pages. Such claims are open to review by the relevant editorial workgroup.
No authority by proxy. Editorial authority is not transferable. Editors may not designate, for example, graduate students to act in their stead. They may, of course, ask anyone to watch an article and follow their instructions; but even in such a case, such an assigned person must not attempt to speak on behalf of the editor and thereby claim editorial authority. No one will be expected to, or should, respect claims to authority by proxy.
Editorial Workgroups and Management
Editorial Workgroups in General
Editorial workgroups, their types and purpose. In general, editorial workgroups are collections of Citizendium editors tasked with loose oversight of sets of articles. Editorial workgroups are of three types: discipline, subdiscipline, and project. Discipline and subdiscipline workgroups oversee specific subject areas, such as philosophy or particle physics, while project workgroups oversee certain classes of article, overlapping the discipline and subdiscipline workgroups, that have special requirements, such as biographies of living people. The purpose of editorial workgroups is to act as a resource to, and arbiter of, contributors working on a set of wiki articles. Workgroups may set policy and standards that are appropriate for that set of articles. Workgroups may also set up meetings in physical space--for example, as part of a larger professional meeting.
The membership of a workgroup defined by the composition of its [mailing list/forum]. A [mailing lists/forum] will be set up for all editorial workgroups. A workgroup is precisely defined by the roster of members who are on the [mailing list/forum] for that workgroup. No other list will be regarded as official.
Workgroups reactive, not proactive; and other restrictions. It makes up no part of the purpose of editorial workgroups to direct the work done on the wiki; that is, while workgroups may establish some general policy for an area, its oversight over actual work done is reactive, not proactive. Similarly, it is far beyond the remit of a workgroup to make up new rules, that apply only to the articles in its care, that make it difficult for whole classes of people to work where, when, and as they want. In short, workgroups will not be permitted to make the wiki operate any less as a wiki. Furthermore, a workgroup may not establish policy that, if established at all, should plausibly govern a broader set of articles than the articles in the care of the workgroup.
Subject workgroups are divided into discipline and subdiscipline workgroups, but do not form a hierarchy. A discipline workgroup, such as philosophy or physics, may form workgroups for subdisciplines, such as ethics or particle physics, and assign classes of articles to those workgroups. While a discipline workgroup may establish policy and standards for all the articles in the discipline, that policy and those standards are interpreted by the subgroups; there is no chain of command or of appeal from subdiscipline workgroups to discipline workgroups.
Every article assigned to at least one workgroup. Every Citizendium article will be assigned to at least one workgroup. Some articles will be assigned to more than one workgroup; see [[Policy on Shared Articles]]. Articles should not be assigned both to a discipline workgroup and a subdiscipline workgroup in the same discipline. If it is thought that an article would be best managed by a subdiscipline workgroup that has not yet been created, then the article will be (at least temporarily) assigned to the discipline workgroup.
Editorial Workgroup Formation and Function
The formation of discipline workgroups. A comprehensive set of discipline subject workgroups will be formed at the same time, by a process of rough consensus from among the editors subscribed to the "Citizendium-Editors" mailing list, and the results of which will be articulated by the Editor-in-Chief.
The formation of subdiscipline workgroups. Each discipline workgroup will be expected, as one of its first tasks, to formulate a list of at least 10 and not more than 40 subdiscipline workgroups. Subdiscipline workgroups should not be tasked with any responsibilities, however, until there is a quorum of at least three [or five??] members and at least one suitable Chief Subject Editor for the group. See [[Policy on Starting Subdiscipline Workgroups]] and [[Chief Subject Editor selection]].
The formation and operation of project workgroups. The Editor-in-Chief will, with advice from the community of editors on the Citizendium-Editors mailing list, form project workgroups. Each project workgroup will be managed by its own Project Leader, who will select the membership of the project workgroup, and to whom editors may apply. For details on the operation of project workgroups, see [[Policy on Project Workgroups]].
Eligibility for workgroup membership. All subject editors are automatically eligible for membership in a discipline workgroup, i.e., the discipline that would typically teach their specialization at a university. Specialty editors are not eligible for workgroup membership, unless there is a workgroup that precisely corresponds to their specialization. But (unlike authors) they may represent their own positions in dispute resolution before workgroups that govern their specialization.
Workgroup proliferation. Note, we do not anticipate the indefinite growth of numbers of workgroups. But it is entirely possible that, as subdiscipline workgroups grow in size, members may feel that they can be optimally split into further and smaller groups. They are permitted to make this determination themselves, although subgroups may not be formed unless most of the anticipated subgroups would have quorums if constructed. Note that articles are then to be reassigned to new subgroups, they are not to be regarded as under the control of the parent group.
General policy against overstandardization. In making policies and standards, editors must constantly weigh the advantages of uniformity against the disadvantages of teaching and maintaining the policy or standard. Generally, a policy or standard must be shown "pay for itself" in terms of clearly expressed and obvious advantage for the project.
Chief Subject Editors
Chief Subject Editor responsibilities. For each discipline and subdiscipline workgroup, there will be a Chief Subject Editor, who is appointed for a one year term, and whose main function is to speak on behalf of the group. FINISH THIS
Chief Subject Editor selection. Chief Subject Editors will be selected through a specific process of sortition, to keep editor relations as apolitical as possible. Subject editors for a given discipline or subdiscipline declare their willingness to serve as Chief Subject Editor to a neutral third party (sortition administrator). A list of such declared persons is then sent secretly to all members of the workgroup by the sortition administrator. Members are instructed to submit "objections" to up to n% [TBD] (a specific number will be provided for each sortition) of the names on the list. The sortition administrator then receives objections from any members. If more than n% [TBD] (a specific number will be provided for each sortition) of the workgroup objects a certain person, then the sortition administrator removes the person from the list. If no persons remain, then the list is repopulated by the person or persons who received the fewest objections. If one person remains, that is the chief subject editor. If more than one person remains, the sortition administrator uses a random number generator to determine which person is the chief subject editor. No Chief Subject Editor may serve more than two consecutive terms.
[This section needs extensive review by the Citizendium-Editors mailing list.]
[This section will be drafted after further discussion with the Citizendium-Editors mailing list. This section should include sections regarding both Content disputes between authors (for which there aren't any editors on hand) and Content disputes between editors.]
[The policies and procedures for constables, outlined below, should be considered "provisional" and subject to change, as result of deliberations and, in particular, in light of the future adoption of a Charter.]
The role and selection of constables
Constables, what. Constables are members of the Citizendium community. While they can be authors, collaborating on articles, like most of the members of the Citizendium, they have, in addition, the extra job of maintaining our site and enforcing our rules.
Constable responsibilities and tools. In order for the constabulary to enforce our rules, they need to have access to special tools that other members do not. First, they can ban users from our site, for a time period proportionate to the damage the user has caused. Second, they can delete pages, which do not belong on the site for various reasons. For example, constables can delete pages that have “problem” material on them or pages that have been vandalized. Further, not only can they delete pages, but they can also “rollback” them, as well, restoring the page to an earlier version, before the damage was done. All these actions require special tools to perform them.
Qualifications of constables. One of the first matters to consider is the qualifications, if any, of a constable. Although we might ideally specify such qualities as maturity, honesty, wisdom, and understanding, these qualities are not easy to quantify. In addition, in these early days of the Citizendium, most of us barely know each other. In place of such qualifications, we must choose some that can be validated. Therefore, it has been decided that constables must, of course, have all of the qualifications of Citizendium members, and, in addition, have attained the age of 25 years old and be a college graduate. It is possible that we decide to consider certain life experiences as equivalent to a college education, but, initially, these will be the qualifications.
Selection of constables. Since many of the Citizendium’s members will be both 25 years old and college graduates, we need additional means to designate which of these members will be constables. The proposed selection system involves the following steps. To become a constable, a member must first be nominated for this position either by him/herself or by another member. Further, two other members must second this nomination. Finally, the nominated person must receive no more than one detractor. Such a simple system is appropriate for selection at the beginning. As members get to know each other, this system can be elaborated, say, to include responses by the nominated members to negative comments, which would be presented anonymously by a committee of the constabulary. And, perhaps, this committee of the constabulary will make the final choice, privately.
No more constables than necessary. It is important that we do not have an "over-regulated" wiki, because that would damage the robustness of the collaborative process. Therefore, we will select as many constables as are needed to keep the project running smoothly, but no more. The Chief Constable will make the determination of the proper number of constables.
[Before we discuss the particular procedures and
policies for constables, one must bring up a problem that has arisen to a great
degree in other open, collaborative projects. And, we solicit suggestions on how
to prevent this problem from developing in the Citizendium. The problem, put simply,
is how to prevent the constabulary from becoming an in-group or “clique” of
power-hungry members? Some ideas are:
Policies and Procedures for Constables
[N.B. Again, all Policies and Procedures are to be considered provisional and subject to change.]
Banning users for using pseudonyms that are not anyone’s real name. Users who use user names that are not even names are to be banned immediately. This is the case of user names like “Starfinder” and “Laptop.” Likewise, users who are found to be using pseudonyms as user names are to be banned and instructed to go and apply for a pseudonym.
Pseudonym workgroup. The constables will establish a workgroup and procedures for creating pseudonyms. Further, their use will only be permitted for good reasons, such as the user is a political dissident, or the user wishes to articulate views that might place him/ her and his/her family in physical danger.
Banning users for vandalism, bad faith edits, and copyright violations. Any insertion of obscenities, bad faith edits, or copyright violations into articles will be considered vandalism. For example, adding obscene text or images into an article or arbitrarily deleting part of an article are considered as vandalism. Similarly, adding material that represents a copyright violation will be deemed a bad faith edit. Any constable who notices vandalism or a bad faith edit in an article will swiftly remove it and ban the user who is responsible for an appropriate period of time.
Deleting articles. In any case that an editor considers an article to be of poor quality and not worth fixing, he/she may request that a constable delete the article. It is expected that no other editor in the field will object. However, if there should be a disagreement among editors over the deletion of an article, an editorial workgroup will try to reach agreement. Then, if an editorial workgroup decides to delete an article, it will call upon the constabulary to enforce this decision.
Giving editors article approval permissions. If a new editor wants permission to approve article, he/she needs to have this permission reviewed by the constabulary. If the constabulary has questions over whether to issue this permission, it refers the issue to an editorial workgroup.
Checks on Constables
Constables should not rule in their area of expertise or in cases in which they are personally involved. A strict limitation of a constable's right to ban a user or delete an article occurs when the subject area where a ban or a deletion is requested, is the same area, where the constable has an editorial expertise. In such a case, the constable is expected to recuse him/herself. This is in order to maintain a clear "separation of powers" between editorial and constabulary. Constables are also forbidden from banning users with which they have been collaborating, i.e., in cases in which they are personally involved. In such a case, a constable must call a different constable.
Right of appeal. Any user may appeal a ban by a constable. Such appeals will be heard by a special group of constables. The appeal process may be public or private; this decision is made by the banned user. Further, if the user loses three appeals of constables’ decisions (and is banned temporarily and returns), he loses his right to appeal thereafter. Similarly, if a constable’s decisions are successfully appealed three times, he is put on probation. Any further loss of an appeal by such a constable will result in the dismissal of the user as a constable.
Some Rules of Behavior Enforced by Constables
No initialisms. The Policy pages of the Citizendium may not contain any three-letter “initialisms.” For example, “IAR,” “NOR,” and “AFD” are three letter initialisms. These expressions are a considerable problem for new users who are unfamiliar with them. The first time a user introduces such an expression in a policy page, he/she will be warned and the expression removed. The second time a user repeats this offense, he will be banned for a suitable amount of time.
Rules regarding user pages. The content of user pages and their associated "talk pages" must conform to certain rules. [[See above.]] Constables will enforce these rules about the content of user and talk pages.
Instructions. The tools constables will use for these procedures are the same as for Wikipedia. Please see Wikipedia’s pages on Administrators:
This page is an explanation of Role of Administrators
This page is an explanation of administrator tools and how to use them
This page is an explanation of the policies of Wikipedia that administrators enforce. This may be helpful, but constables must bear in mind that the Citizendium will have different polices.