CZ:Charter drafting committee

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A community-elected delegation of citizens is tasked with composing the initial draft of the Citizendium charter. Following the release of the initial draft, the committee's work will be done and all other citizens will be encouraged to propose modifications, additions, deletions. This will allow for a more expeditious drafting process and still allow input from all Citizendium members.


Delegates have been chosen by popular election. Throughout, the process was highly publicized so as to involve as many members as possible.


Candidates were nominated by the community. Any member of Citizendium could have nominated up to 5 other citizens to be candidates for election to the committee at the table transcluded here. No member could nominate himself/herself. The nominations were not signed, but, of course, the history can be checked. Members who were nominated could accept or decline by signing in the appropriate column with four tildes (~~~~) and deleting the text in the other box. The nomination period opened on September 16, 2009 and was closed on September 30, 2009 when the 20th candidate nominated accepted the nomination. Nominations are now closed.

Election and candidates' statements of purpose

Elections followed the period allowed for nominations. This period also lasted 2 weeks from the official start date on October 1, 2009.

While the process remained highly publicized, campaigning itself was limited. Candidates were encouraged to post a 500-word statement of purpose ON THIS DEDICATED SUBPAGE of this page to outline their beliefs, but political competition was not meant to be the focus of the selection process. Rather, a spirit of cooperation should prevail. Under no circumstances were candidates to directly seek the votes of other contributors.

Each citizen was allowed to cast five votes but not to cast more than one for a single candidate and was not required to use all five possible votes. These votes were collected and tallied by the constabulary. At the end of the voting period, the 8 candidates who received the most votes were officially installed on the drafting committee. In the case of a tie, up to ten delegates were to be admitted to the committee. If a tie were to result in more than ten delegates, a runoff election were to be held for all nominees who received enough votes to be seated as delegates.

The drafting committee elected was (in alphabetical order): Martin Baldwin-Edwards, Howard C. Berkowitz, Shamira Gelbman, D. Matt Innis, Meg Ireland, Russell D. Jones, Daniel Mietchen, and Joe Quick.

Drafting period

The drafting committee will be allowed 4 weeks to complete an initial draft before it is opened up for public proposals. Committee members will be given broad latitude to define which specific issues the draft engages and how it does so but they are expected to create a document that develops the ideas encoded in the current statement of fundamental policies and those that are implicit in the day-to-day operation of the wiki. The committee will also be allowed to determine the way it divides its work among its members and other logistical matters.

Drafting will take place on the wiki but only delegates to the drafting committee will be allowed to make edits. The talk page will be reserved for delegates while other discussion should be directed to a special section of the forums dedicated to the charter. During the 4-week drafting period, committee members will be allowed to consult other members or even non-citizens. Other citizens may also make suggestions and engage in discussion in the forums or contact members of the committee directly to voice their concerns. Delegates may choose whether they engage that discussion directly and will not be required to address every comment individually but they are expected to make every effort to consider all perspectives and write a balanced document that addresses the needs of all Citizendium members. A spirit of compromise must be embraced if a thorough and balanced draft is to be produced in 4 weeks; thoughtfulness and open-mindedness are much desired virtues in committee members.

The role of the Editor-in-Chief

The Editor-in-Chief will occupy a unique position in the drafting of the Charter. He will not be a member of the drafting committee per se but will be directly engaged in the process. He will be the only person not on the drafting committee allowed to write on the discussion page of the drafting committee. Because the Charter is the expression of the ideals and goals of our community and because Citizendium is a resolutely community-based project, the Editor-in-Chief will abstain from editing the text of the Charter itself while it is being drafted. What is more, the Editor-in-Chief will be responsible for making the final, community-ratified draft official, so his abstention from contributing directly to the draft will eliminate any potential conflicts of interest. (This gesture should by no means suggest that the Editor-in-Chief is not allowed or welcome to propose language for the Charter on the discussion page.)

Next step

After the initial draft has been completed, the drafting committee's job will be limited to responding to questions and concerns that come from other Citizendium members. This includes explaining their vision for the charter and the reasoning behind their decisions. It also includes modifying the draft if it should become evident that the charter draft does not address some pressing issue raised during the course of public discussion. It will be left to the discretion of the committee to decide which issues must be addressed and which will not. Following 4 weeks of open discussion, if the committee feels that all major points of discussion have been addressed, the text of the draft will be locked and the draft will be put to a popular vote for confirmation.

Since the general Citizendium public will not be allowed to directly edit the charter draft, it is extremely important that as many voices as possible will be heard during the ratification process. Therefore, a referendum will be held in which all Citizendium members in good standing will be invited to vote. They will be asked to vote on whether the draft should be ratified and will be allowed one of three responses:

  • YES, meaning that it should be ratified immediately.
  • NO, indicating that it should be discarded and a new version should be drafted.
  • REVISE, indicating that it should not be discarded but modifications are required before ratification.

Votes will be collected and tallied by the constabulary. They will be archived and will be accessible to the constables in case of future need. Individual votes will not be released but the results will be announced publicly. It will fall to the Editor-in-Chief to act on the results of the referendum and officially declare the charter ratified, rejected, or in need of revision.