[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:
- Set a term for constables, say 1 or 2 years, and require that they be re-elected if they want to continue as constables.
- Have an appeal process, in which, banned parties can appeal constables’ decisions. This is part of the system already. Perhaps, make this stronger, so that, if a constable loses three appeals, he is put on probation. If he loses one more appeal, he is no longer a constable.
- Any suggestions? Discuss on Citizendium-L or the forums.]
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. 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:
- Administrators. This page is an explanation of Role of Administrators
- Admin's how-to guide. This page is an explanation of administrator tools and how to use them
- Admin's reading list. 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.