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From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
The Citizendium is a collaborative effort to collect, structure, and cultivate knowledge and to render it conveniently accessible to the public for free. It is built online by volunteers who contribute under their real names and agree to this social covenant centered around trust.
Part I: Citizenship and Editorship
Registered users shall be referred to as Citizens.
Citizenship shall be open to anyone who fulfills the basic conditions for participation as defined by the Management Council—including registering according to the real names policy—and agrees to abide by this Charter.
Citizens shall not have their application to join or their use of the site blocked or terminated on the basis of their nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, creed, gender, sexuality, profession, education, politics, residence, age, name, or URL. Nor shall any official or governing body of the Citizendium discriminate in favor or against Citizens (except to the degree that such discrimination promotes editorial expertise), or any dispute be resolved, on the basis of any of these criteria.
The Citizendium community shall recognize the special role that experts play in defining content standards in their relevant fields and in guiding content development towards reliability and quality.
Citizens shall act responsibly and in a civil manner: derogatory or offensive language or behavior will not be tolerated. Citizens who interfere with another Citizen's rights as delineated by this Charter or who violate rules established by either the Management or Editorial Councils shall be subject to administrative action upon complaint of the aggrieved Citizen, the punishment of which may include, but is not limited to, suspension from the Citizendium for a period of time, or permanent expulsion. Other administrative actions may be established by the Management Council.
Citizens shall mutually respect their competency regarding any of their contributions.
All Citizens shall be equal and no special privileges shall be granted except those granted in this charter to Editors and Officers.
1. Each Citizen is assigned a User space and user Talk space bearing his Citizendium user name.
- These pages are subject to the same copyright license as all other pages contributed to the project,
- their history shall be preserved and thus they shall not be deleted, but
- they are not released to be indexed by search engines.
2. Citizens may—within the limits set by the Management Council—freely edit pages in their user space as long as
- it contains the minimum of biographical information required by the Editorial Council, and
- the information needed for administrative purposes,
but inflammatory, derogatory, or illegal material shall be removed by the Constabulary.
3. User Talk pages shall be open to communications by other Citizens, but may be moderated by their owner.
- However, discussions of general interest that are not welcomed by the owner must not be blanked, but may be moved to a more suitable place.
4. A Citizen who wishes to retire from the Citizendium (whether for a period of time or forever)
- may replace his User page and his user Talk page by a page carrying only a notice of his withdrawal, except that
- Editors must retain the minimum information required by the Editorial Council.
- Exceptionally, a User page may be deleted rather than simply blanked on request if the Citizen has never been active on the project.
All Citizens shall be treated fairly and respectfully by other Citizens, Editors, and Officers of the Citizendium.
In cases of dispute, Citizens have the right to request the help of other Citizens or Editors.
Citizens should expect Officers and Editors to be fair and impartial. Biased Officers and Editors shall recuse themselves from their official positions in any dispute resolution process.
Dispute resolutions should be resolved on the basis of the evidence and not upon the character, point of view, or politics of the Citizen.
Citizens shall not have any decision rendered against them in a dispute resolution process for which they have not had opportunity to have their say.
Editors are Citizens whose expertise in some field of knowledge is recognized and formally acknowledged by the community. Official recognition of expertise — obtained through education or experience — and its scope shall be based on guidelines established by the Editorial Council.
Editors shall assure the quality of the Citizendium's approved content. They shall review and evaluate articles and shall have the right to
- approve high-quality articles that treat their topic adequately;
- resolve disputes over specific content matters when requested;
- enforce style and content guidelines as established by the Editorial Council; and
- identify for discussion incorrect or poorly presented content.
Any change in Editor status shall require a formal decision by the Editorial Council and may be appealed.
Part II: Content and style
An Editorial Council shall be empowered to develop policy on content and style.
The Citizendium shall welcome contributions in all fields of knowledge.
All articles shall treat their subjects comprehensively, neutrally, and objectively to the greatest degree possible in a well-written narrative, complementing text with other suitable material and media.
Specialist material—including original research—shall be welcome within limits set by the Editorial Council. Specialist material shall be put into context with background information and non-specialist material.
As far as possible, special requirements of visually or otherwise impaired users and of responsibly exercised automated access shall be taken into account. Appropriate policies shall be developed when needed by both the Management and Editorial Councils.
Articles formally judged to be of high quality by editors shall be designated "approved", protected and kept permanently available.
The Citizendium shall remain free of advocacy, advertisement and sensationalism.
Part III: Organization and offices
The Citizendium shall be devoted to transparent and fair governance with a minimum of bureaucracy. It shall have two governing councils: Management Council, Editorial Council, and three ancillary positions: Managing Editor, Constabulary, Ombudsman.
Section One: Election Cycle
- Each year, half the members of the two Councils shall be elected. Elections for the Management Council shall be completed by June 21 of each calendar year. Elections for the Editorial Council shall be completed by December 21 of each calendar year.
- Elections shall be run by an "Elections Committee" appointed by the Management Council. Any citizen, including officials but excepting nominees, may serve on the elections committee.
- The elections committee shall maintain all nomination and ballot pages on the Citizendium.
- For newly elected members, the term of office shall begin on the first of January for the Editorial Council, and on the first of July for the Management Council.
Section Two: Nominations
- Any Citizen may nominate and/or support one or more candidates for a Council.
- A Citizen who is supported by another Citizen becomes a candidate by declaring the intention to serve for the whole term.
- Any Citizen accepting a nomination shall resign immediately from any involvement in the election's organization. The Management Council may appoint a replacement.
Section Three: Elections & Reserve Members
- The candidates collecting the most votes shall be elected.
- A Council member who becomes inactive or unavailable for a period of 90 days or more shall be replaced by election. A Council member who resigns shall be replaced by election.
- A vacant council member seat shall be filled by election within 90 days of the vacancy. If a normal election does not fall within this period, the Management Council shall call a special election.
- A special election is organized exactly as a regularly scheduled election, except the number of positions to be filled equals the number of Council vacancies.
Section Four: Council Size
- Either Council may propose a change of its size by an even number of members; this proposal shall be subject to a referendum held together with the next election. If passed, the new seats shall be filled by special election.
- A Council member may request a temporary leave of absence. Such leaves shall not exceed 120 days in a year. The temporary vacancy shall be filled with a citizen in good standing chosen by the Council. The term of this appointment shall equal the term of the temporary leave.
- If, through resignations or simultaneous expiration of 90 day inactivity, Management Council membership falls below a quorum, seats on the Management Council shall be filled on a temporary basis by the following elected officials in the following order: Ombudsman, Managing Editor, then Members of Editorial Council in an order determined by the Editorial Council. The Management Council so constituted with temporary members shall be devoted to the task of establishing an elections committee for the purpose of holding an election.
- If, through resignations or simultaneous expiration of 90 day inactivity, Editorial Council membership falls below a quorum, or upon the resignation of the Ombudsman or Managing Editor, the Management Council shall appoint an elections committee, giving it the task of filling empty seats via an election.
The Managing Editor shall be elected by a simple majority of the voting citizenry during the same election period as the Management Council. For this election, up to four candidates shall be selected by the Management Council, taken from a list of Editors nominated by the community.
Constables shall be appointed by the Management Council. The Management Council shall determine the number of Constables. Any Citizen in good standing shall be eligible for the Constabulary. The Management Council shall appoint one Constable as Chief Constable.
The Ombudsman shall be nominated by the Combined Councils and appointed by majority Citizen vote at the same time that the Editorial Council elections occur. Any citizen in good standing may be nominated for Ombudsman.
All official posts shall be subject to the following conditions:
- The term of office shall be two years, renewable. The term of any replacement shall end when the original term ends.
- No Citizen may serve in two offices at the same time, except that a Citizen may sit on an appeals board while holding another office.
- Any member of the Management Council or Editorial Council may resign at any time for any reason. The resignation may be made publicly or privately to the Councils. The resignation becomes effective the moment that the Chair of the Management Council or the Secretary of the Editorial Council accepts the resignation and announces the acceptance of the resignation in the official Council Forums. The moment that a resignation is formalized in that manner, that office is thereby vacant and must be filled according to the Charter.
Elections and referenda shall be organized by the Management Council and carried out by the Election Committee, with the following conditions:
- Two weeks shall be provided for nominations and for discussions of the issues brought about during the nomination period.
- Elections shall be open for a period of not less than seven days. The duration of the election period shall be determined by the Management Council.
- Election results shall be certified by the Management Council not more than 2 days after the close of the election.
- Each Citizen in good standing — as defined by the Management Council — shall be entitled to one vote.
- The nature of the ballot shall be determined by the Management Council, provided that any method adopted must be accessible and usable by every Citizen.
An official may be recalled by two thirds vote of the Combined Councils.
Part IV: Community policy
The Editorial Council is responsible for content and style policies. In particular, it shall
- make all decisions regarding the content of the Citizendium;
- establish the qualifications for Editors and establish the procedure for promoting Citizens to Editor status, provided that such qualifications and such procedures do not violate any article of this charter;
- coordinate and supervise the Editors and their activities;
- encourage and supervise development and organization of the Citizendium's content;
- adjudicate disputes over content among Authors, Editors, and/or Managing Editor, and impose its decisions upon the content of the Citizendium;
- publicly set its own rules and by-laws for its meetings; and
- be composed of a number of members corresponding to the quorum who shall be Editors while the rest of the members shall be Citizens who are not Editors.
The Editorial Council shall enforce its decisions over content by reporting violations of its dispute resolutions to the Constables. Failure to abide by the decisions of the Editorial Council pursuant to the resolution of a dispute shall be considered a behavioral infraction and subject to action by a Constable.
The Management Council is responsible for the technical and economic resources of the Citizendium and its related websites. In particular, it shall:
- make all the financial and legal decisions for the Citizendium;
- develop all rules of civility and behavior for participation on the Citizendium which shall apply equally to all Citizens regardless of status or position, adjudicate alleged violations of the rules, and impose sanctions for violations of the rules;
- administer "User Rights" as defined by the software;
- where necessary, develop operational procedures to implement the powers and institutions of this charter;
- appoint and supervise the activities of Constables;
- conduct elections and certify the results of elections;
- publicly set its own rules and by-laws for its meetings;
- manage technical matters (software and hardware);
- establish and maintain public awareness of the Citizendium; and
- invite and establish collaboration with external partners on any matters relevant to the Citizendium's mission.
Each Council shall
- have a quorum corresponding to the simple majority of its members;
- develop written guidelines to define and explain methods of communicating with that particular Council, including a mechanism that allows Citizens to petition that Council;
- be empowered to appoint delegates to perform specific tasks for a specific period of time (not more than two years) provided that the responsibility for the actions of a delegate shall always remain with the appointing Council;
- have power to adjudicate disputes in their core competency: content for Editorial Council, behavior for Management Council;
- have power to impose sanctions on Citizens for violations of rules.
- The Managing Editor has the following duties:
- to ensure by means of executive decisions that the principles and policies of the Citizendium are effectively and coherently observed; such decisions shall be based on established policy where defined;
- to make interim decisions on behalf of the Editorial and Management Councils when established policy does not provide guidance; these decisions shall be overridden by the establishment of relevant policy;
- to represent the Citizendium in its relations with external bodies, such as the mass media, and academic or non-academic institutions.
Referenda may be initiated in two ways:
- Any Citizen may petition either the Management Council or Editorial Council that contested rules or guidelines be submitted to a referendum. Either Council must have jurisdiction over the contested matter. Either Council may, by simple majority vote, submit the referendum to a vote of the citizenry at the next regular election.
- A referendum may be initiated by a group of Citizens corresponding in size to 20 percent of the number of voters in the previous election. The Management Council must include a valid citizen-initiated referendum in the next regular election. Failure to do so will automatically pass the referendum which shall then become official policy and enforceable. This charter may not be amended by a failure of the Management Council to submit a referendum to a vote.
- A referendum must be written as enforceable rules or guidelines.
- A referendum shall be decided by simple majority of the votes validly cast by the citizenry during a regular election.
- Any amendment to and any change of this Charter shall require a referendum and shall be ratified if accepted by a qualified majority of two thirds of the votes validly cast.
- Any change of the license shall require a referendum.
Part V: Behavior and dispute resolution
The Constabulary shall enforce the Citizendium's rules of behavior as determined by the Management Council, which shall apply equally to all Citizens regardless of status or position, including Editors and those with official positions. In particular, Constables
- shall not intervene in matters of content, and
- shall act with reasonable pragmatism and leniency, and only in those situations where a behavioral dispute is clearly covered by existing rules.
- Constables shall have power to block citizens' access to the Citizendium.
- Any act of the Constables may be appealed to the Management Council.
- The role of the Ombudsman is a) to offer guidance on existing policy and its interpretation to help resolve disputes b) to advise the Councils and c) settle disputes, including imposing interim solutions pending relevant policy decisions. Throughout, the Ombudsman's guidance is expected to be in accord with the established principles and policies of Citizendium, and particularly with the Charter. The Ombudsman is available to mediate any dispute.
- The Ombudsman mediates a dispute when requested by all involved parties or when requested by the Chief Constable. Agreements worked out through mediation shall be binding but may be appealed.
- Whenever possible, disputes shall be settled informally at the lowest possible level by subject matter Editors. Specifically, the following shall apply:
- Any party involved in a dispute may contact the Ombudsman for assistance in dispute resolution.
- When a formal decision is necessary or demanded, the Ombudsman shall facilitate the presentation of the issue to the appropriate body — Editorial Council for content disputes, Management Council for disputes involving violation of the rules.
- All Citizens shall have the right to a fair hearing, which shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following: the opportunity to present one's case in one's defense, the right to be heard by a fair and unprejudiced body, the right to have others offer testimony on one's behalf.
- The Editorial Council and the Management Council may impose sanctions that result in blocking a citizen's access to Citizendium, removing or altering content, or terminating the citizen. The Management Council and Editorial Council may from time to time devise additional sanctions as appropriate.
- Citizens shall not have arbitrary or excessive sanctions imposed upon them.
Appeals of formal decisions shall be possible when a disputant can show an Appeals Board that either:
- New information is available; or
- A technical error was made during the previous formal procedure.
- An Appeals Board shall consist of Citizens who were not previously directly involved, as follows:
- one member appointed by the Editorial Council,
- one member appointed by the Management Council, and
- the Ombudsman or his/her designee.
An Appeals Board may render one of three decisions: it may decide that the disputant does not have new information or that the adjudicating council made no technical error and deny a re-hearing; it may affirm the adjudicating council's decision, in spite of new information or technical error; or it may recognize that new information, a technical error, or both has placed the adjudicating council's decision in error and remand the case to the adjudicating council for rehearing. If the case has been remanded for re-hearing, it is expected that the adjudicating council revise its judgment in light of the appeal.
- The Management Council shall create a procedure allowing for dispute resolution to be heard privately. Privately heard disputes forfeit their right to appeal on technical grounds, although an appeal will still be possible upon discovery of new information.
- In some cases, either at the discretion of the adjudicating council or at the request of a disputant, part of a public dispute resolution process may be removed from public view. Such an exception shall require public justification by the Ombudsman.
Part VI: Administrative matters
All Citizens, regardless of position or status, shall be bound by this Charter including its amendments, and no referendum or decision of any council or official shall contravene it.
In cases where local, regional, national, or international law voids or limits clauses of this charter or its amendments, all other clauses of this charter and its amendments shall still be effectual and be implemented consistent with law.
Material originating at Citizendium shall always be free to use, reuse, and redistribute — subject only, at most, to the requirement that those who reuse Citizendium content acknowledge the source of the material and make derivative works equally free to use, reuse, and redistribute. The Management Council has the right to upgrade the license version on behalf of contributors, but any change in license type must be ratified through public referendum. The licensing of content incorporated from elsewhere shall follow the conditions stipulated by the respective copyright owners. For all material, the applicable copyright license shall be clearly stated.
The Management Council shall elaborate a strategy and policy on handling the establishment of branches in languages other than English. This must include the establishment of (1) governance structures parallel to those codified in this charter for each new branch and (2) a democratic system for decision-making across branches.
- No official of the Citizendium — including any member of the Editorial Council, Management Council, Ombudsman, Constabulary, or Managing Editor, who are volunteers — shall be personally liable to the Citizendium or its members for monetary damages for a breach of the officials' fiduciary duties provided that the breach is not the result of
- Acts not done or omissions not occurring in good faith;
- Acts involving misconduct or a knowing violation of law;
- Acts for which the official derived an improper personal benefit;
- Acts done or omissions occurring before the adoption of this charter; or
- Gross negligence.
- No Citizen shall be personally liable for the monetary liabilities of or judgments against the Citizendium unless the Citizen has been shown to have authored libelous or slanderous content, or to have committed other acts, resulting in judgment or damages against the Citizendium.
Part VII: Transitional measures
For the purpose of the ratification of this Charter and the initial elections to the Councils, the right to vote shall be granted to all unblocked Citizens whose accounts were created at least 30 days prior to the call for ratification.
This Charter shall be ratified if accepted by two thirds or more of the votes validly cast in a referendum for this purpose. The Charter shall enter into force on the day following its ratification.
The Editor-in-Chief shall officially certify the ratified Charter within a week after the closing of the referendum. This act ends his term of office.
The former Editor-in-Chief Larry Sanger shall be awarded with the honorary title Founding Editor-in-Chief in acknowledgement of his achievements for the Citizendium.
The first elections to the Councils shall take place as soon as possible after the Charter has been ratified.
- The initial size of the Editorial Council shall be 7 members, that of the Management Council 5 members.
- A number of members corresponding to the quorum shall be selected, by lot or personal agreement, to serve shortened terms until the next regular election that is at least half a year after the initial election.
- In conjunction with the Declaration of the Editor-in-Chief regarding the effectivity of this Charter, there shall be a call for nominations for the following offices: Managament Council (five seats), Editorial Council (seven seats), Managing Editor (one), Ombudsman (one). This shall be the effective date of the Charter.
- Any Citizen may nominate candidates for these positions.
- Nominations shall be collected and collated by the Chief Constable.
- Nominations shall be accepted no more than fourteen days after the effective date of the charter; the ballot shall be available starting on the twentieth day after the effective date of the charter; the election shall be completed no more than twenty-eight days after the effective date of the charter; all elected officials shall begin their term of office on the thirtieth day after the effective date of the charter.
- Only candidates who accept their nomination shall be eligible to appear on the ballot. Nominated candidates can accept nominations for no more than two official functions. Accepting a nomination serves as a declaration of commitment, in the case of being elected, to fulfill this function until the limit of the term.
- All positions shall be elected by a simple majority of the voting citizenry. In the case of a tie, an immediate run-off election shall be held.
- In the event that a candidate has been elected for two functions, the candidate shall declare which one he or she accepts within three days of announcement of the election results. In the event that such a declaration has not been made during this period, the candidate shall be considered elected for the position for which the nomination was accepted first. The same procedure applies to a reserve member that becomes elected by a seat being vacated this way.
Citizens fulfilling specific responsibilities in offices and special roles as of the day of ratification of the Charter shall continue in those particular roles, on the basis of this Charter, until specifically replaced by the appropriate council or election.