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CZ:Charter/Feedback/Archive 1

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This page is explicitly open for any Citizen, as long as this mode remains useful for the drafters.

Thanks to Tom Morris for taking the initiative for this structured kind of feedback.

Here follows a review of the draft (permalink to version reviewed) of the CZ:Charter drafting.

For each sentence of the draft, please do one of the following:

  1. sign it if you find the current phrasing satisfactory
  2. add a one-sentence comment if you have only minor remarks, or
  3. add an "open question" to the #Anything else? section and comment there if you think there still needs to be discussion.

If you think a section needs to be renamed, state it right at its beginning.

To keep this page slim and usable, any further discussions should go to the Forum thread on the Charter.

Please do not change the phrasing of the Charter text herein unless it has been changed there since (then please also update the permalink above).

  • Sorry, this will not work and lead to confusion: As soon as the phrasing is changed some opinions given may change, too! It might work to add the changed version below the previous opinions (with date)? Peter Schmitt 23:54, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Please do not change the phrasing of the Charter text herein — if something has been changed there, please strike out the phrasing here and add the new one below, just like in this demo (please also update the permalink above).

Mission statement

The Citizendium is a collaborative expert-guided effort to collect, structure and update knowledge and to render it conveniently accessible to the public for free.

Fundamental policies


Contributors to the project — henceforth Citizens — are required to behave professionally.

This means acceptance of guidance from experts and from the wider Citizendium community and the obligation to remain civil and constructive even in cases of dispute.

Personal attacks are never acceptable, even when phrased as false courtesy.

  • I would think this is already covered by the requirement of being civil Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
    • Constables have said they could use better guidance; let's hear from them. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:02, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
      • Hear! Hear! (The sound of one Constable clapping. Maybe some *other* Constable has requested better guidance -- I myself have never had any Doubts. I suppose the only truly questionable cases arise when a Citizen attempts misguided humor that, on the printed page [monitor screen], comes across without the humor and appears to be an attack. I don't think any policy, however, can be written that can define the do's and don't's here.) Hayford Peirce 23:04, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

A set of persons of mature judgment — hereafter the Constables — shall be specially empowered to enforce rules laid out in this Charter or its accompanying documents.

The enforcement of these rules — up to and including the ejection of participants from the project — is to be carried out with reasonable pragmatism and leniency, including in those situations where the applicability of existing rules may be unclear.

Real names

All Citizens must register using their real names, which will define their user name.


Expertise will be respected.

It shall be recognized through publications (including contributions to the Citizendium), credentials or employment, or through any other means established by the Editorial Council.

  • I don't think " recognized through publications (including contributions to the Citizendium), credentials or employment" belongs in the charter. What is a publication? What are legitimate credentials? How is employment history evaluated? I think this should all be left to the Editorial Council, since in practice that will be the case anyway. So, I would suggest rewording this as "Determination of expertise will be made by the Editorial Council."


The Citizendium is a collaborative project, open to constructive contributions by any Citizen to any of its content at any time.

  • Strictly speaking, not any Citizen may contribute to Approved content at any time. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

    • Sorry, I don't understand the above comment. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:02, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
      • What I mean is that Approved content is to be protected, such that not every one can edit it. --Daniel Mietchen 22:05, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The Citizendium also allows collaboration with non-Citizen partners on any matters relevant to the project's mission, provided that the interaction does not conflict with this Charter.


While the basic content provided at the Citizendium is intended for an audience with completed secondary education, more specialized content is welcome if placed in context.

As far as possible, special needs of visually or otherwise impaired users and of machines will be taken into account.

Being Bold

Citizens are encouraged to be bold in contributing to the project.

  • Even though this is a mantra in the wiki world, I don't think it actually serves any useful purpose. One person's boldness is another person's rashness. I'm afraid this principle looks good on paper, but becomes meaningless in practice. Dan Nessett 04:01, 17 November 2009 (UTC)


The Citizendium is devoted to transparent and fair governance at a minimum of bureaucracy. Special roles will not be created without excellent reason.


Any Citizen can act as an Author, i.e. contribute or modify content, unless blocked from specific articles or topics by an Editor or Constable.

  • "Blocked" may be too specific for the charter, and perhaps we should mention here that Author is also used in the sense of "not an Editor". Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
  • I agree. There needs to be a definition that clearly distinguishes between authors and editors. I think defining author and editor as roles clarifies this distinction and allows particular citizens to work in either or both roles (with the proviso that editors must be approved by the editorial council). Dan Nessett 04:05, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Blocks may be appealed through the Dispute Resolution procedure.


Editors are Citizens who — because of their recognized expertise in specific areas — are responsible for the scope and quality of the content presented by the Citizendium.

  • Who appoints editors? I assume the editorial council, but I don't see that stated in its section. Dan Nessett 04:09, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Specifically, in their areas of expertise, they are entitled (1) to make decisions about specific questions or disputes concerning particular articles, and (2) to approve high-quality articles.

Management Committee

  • Still not sure whether that's the best name. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Executive committee? Dan Nessett 04:10, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

A Management Committee shall be responsible for matters concerned with the non-editorial policies of Citizendium, such as finance, external alliances, communications, administration, and behavior.

To this end, it may appoint Administrators and Task Managers whose activities it will oversee.

It will also appoint Constables and oversee their activities.

  • Could perhaps be combined with previous sentence somehow. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The Management Committee shall consist of thirteen Citizens, who may not simultaneously serve on the Editorial Council.

  • Smaller number (nine) may be more appropriate for the beginning, since we are short on personnel. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

They may, however, be Constables or Task Managers.

A quorum shall consist of seven members.

  • Would be five for nine members. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
    • Given the low participation rates on the project, it may turn out that five is the most workable. Meg Ireland 22:12, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The members of the Management Committee shall be elected by vote of active Citizens and Authors, with two-year renewable terms.

  • Perhaps up to thrice consecutively. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
    • Why are we assuming there is a problem requiring term limits? Howard C. Berkowitz 22:02, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
      • I agree with Howard. See my comments above on low participation rates in the project. I don't think we should place restrictive limits, yet. Not until we've got a whole influx of new and willing authors etc. We can always review this in future. Meg Ireland 22:12, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The Management Committee will appoint one of its members as the Management Lead, who will represent the Citizendium externally on all matters except content.

  • "Lead" may not be the best name. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Members of the Management Committee shall be responsible for contractual and financial matters.

  • We have the Administration for this, which the MC oversees. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The Committee, with advice from legal and audit advisers, will designate those members that can enter into contracts or expend funds on behalf of CZ.

Substantial expenditures will require more than one signature.

Editorial Council

An Editorial Council will be responsible for guiding content and establishing policy.

It will be made up of active Citizens, with eight seats reserved for Editors.

  • The total number of seats has to be stated first, then their allocation;

The remaining five seats are reserved for Authors that are not Editors.

The Editorial Council shall consist of thirteen Citizens, who may not simultaneously serve on the Management Committee or be Constables.

  • I also suggest to reduce the number here (perhaps to 11; 6 plus 5). Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

They may, however, be Task Managers.

A quorum shall consist of seven members.

The members of the Editorial Council will be elected by vote of active Citizens, with two-year terms renewable once consecutively.

The Editorial Council will appoint one of its members as the Editorial Lead, who will represent the Citizendium externally on matters of content.

  • The "Editorial Lead" function could use a better name. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

During deliberations on a matter covered by specific workgroups, the Chief Editor of that Workgroup, or another member, may be part of a quorum if that individual is not a Council member. If, however, the matter under discussion involves a dispute with such an Editor, that Editor may state positions to the Council but not vote on them unless already a member.

  • If an editor is involved with a dispute that comes before the Management Council, general conflict of interest principles should prohibit that editor from voting on the issue, even if he/she is a Management Council member. Dan Nessett 04:15, 17 November 2009 (UTC)


The Editorial Council may create and reorganize workgroups to arrange areas of content, and to encourage collaboration among Authors and Editors in areas of expertise.

  • Phrasing "collaboration among Authors and Editors in areas of expertise" has room for improvement. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Workgroup members will build top-level articles and knowledge structures for the articles in a discipline.

  • Somewhat redundant to previous sentence, may be too detailed for the charter. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The Editorial Council shall elaborate a strategy and policy on topic-specific collaboration, chiefly based on CZ:Workgroups and some accepted ontology or other knowledge categorization scheme.

  • Perhaps better to put this into the interim guidance section. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

In addition to subject specific Workgroups, there shall be a General Workgroup with jurisdiction over general issues of style and content, and for articles of very wide scope.

There may be, in addition, interdisciplinary or specialized Subgroups.

  • Possibly too detailed for the charter. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

In addition, there may be Area Groups, as for (e.g., Science or Science & Technology) to deal with broad issues affecting many but not all workgroups (e.g., units of measurement).

  • Too detailed for the charter, at least the examples. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

When there are disputes on content issues, assuming there are multiple Editors in a workgroup, they will attempt to resolve the dispute.

  • Assumption could be simplified. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Failing agreement, the matter will be taken to the Ombudsman, and then to the Editorial Council.


The Citizendium's administration handles the legal, financial and technical operations necessary for the project to fulfil its mission.

Dispute resolution

Disputes will be settled at the lowest possible level, such as by bringing in peer Editors or Constables.

Next, the Ombudsman will be contacted for non-binding mediation.

Should that fail, the matter will go to the appropriate body — the Editorial Board/Council for content matters and the Management Council for behavioral and administrative matters.

  • Name of EB/EC has to be fixed. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

As a last resort, both Councils may appoint members to an arbitration panel, for Final arbitration as defined below.


The role of Ombudsman shall be vested in a Citizen with substantial CZ experience and widely respected judgment, who may appoint up to two other Citizens to support his/her work.

The Ombudsman will be elected by simple majority vote of each of the Editorial Council and Management Council, for a term of 4 years.

  • 4 years is very long for our kind of project, so I'd prefer something less but renewable. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Agreed. How about 2 years with 2 year extensions up to some limit (6 years? 8 years?) Dan Nessett 04:18, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

An Ombudsman may be recalled by a supermajority (75%) of each of the Editorial and Management Councils.

  • We do not have provisions for replacing any one in a Special function. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Final arbitration

In the event of a dispute that cannot be resolved at a level below that of the Editorial Council or the Management Committee, appeals boards may be constituted on an ad hoc basis.

They will consist of three members nominated by the Editorial Council and three members nominated by the Management Committee, who shall not have been involved in the specific dispute.

An Ombudsman will preside; that official shall direct the Board and will be non-voting other than to possess a tie-breaking vote.

Should no Ombudsman be available who is not a party to the matter, the Councils shall appoint a special presider from the Citizenry.


All Authors are entitled to vote on the adoption or modification of this charter.


The content of the Citizendium will always be free to use, reuse, and redistribute.

Content originating at the Citizendium is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

  • Perhaps too detailed for the Charter. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Content that originated elsewhere may also be incorporated into the Citizendium if such reuse is permitted by the copyright owners.

Legal status

The Citizendium will be owned and ultimately controlled by a non-profit organization.

  • Yes. Someone has to own the assets of the enterprise. Dan Nessett 04:19, 17 November 2009 (UTC)


The official language of the Citizendium is English. Branches in other languages require approval by the Editorial Council and have to be based on this English-language charter or an approved translation.

Final clause

  • Not sure whether that's the most appropriate heading. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)


If this Charter has been ratified by two thirds or more of the votes validly cast in a referendum for this purpose, it shall be certified by the Editor-in-Chief within a week after the closing of the referendum.

  • What happens if the attempt at ratification fails? I'm not sure the contingency plan belongs in the charter, since if ratification fails, then any plan within it is moot. However, there should be some thought put into the possibility. Dan Nessett 03:50, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

For future amendments, a certifying official or officials shall be agreed upon by the joint Management Committee and Editorial Council.

Entry into force

This Charter shall enter into force on the day following ratification.

  • Doesn't the existing EIC have to put the charter in force? Dan Nessett 04:22, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Interim guidance for the transition period

As long as the administrative prerequisites for implementing the charter are not entirely fulfilled, the rules listed in this section shall provide interim guidance to the Editorial Council, Management Council, and other bodies.

Such material may be modified by those bodies by their normal procedures, without a full Charter amendment.

  • Phrasing to be brushed if we go for the policy page. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Editorial Council and Management Committee

For both bodies, the intention is to elect half of the members each year, so of the first group, a number corresponding to the quorum will be selected, by lot or personal agreement, to serve one-year terms.

Citizens with pseudonyms

Citizens currently registered with a pseudonym will be granted up to one year of time to re-register for a new account under their real name.

One year after the entry into force of this charter, all pseudonym accounts shall be locked by the Constabulary.

  • Locking can be done immediately. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
  • What is meant by "locking"? Does it mean "locking out" (i.e., the account is terminated)? Or does it mean no other pseudonymous accounts will be created? In the first case, while one year is too long, perhaps 2-4 months will give any such account holders time to create real name accounts if they so chose. In the latter case, I think no further pseudonymous accounts should be created once the charter comes into force. Dan Nessett 04:26, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Inactive Editors

CZ:Editorial Council Resolution 0012 will be extended such that newly registered Editors who have not yet contributed to the project shall be regarded as Inactive Editors.

  • Agreed. Telling someone who has just been appointed an editor that they are inactive would have an adverse psychological effect. Dan Nessett 04:27, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

External partners

The Management Council shall elaborate a strategy and policy on collaboration with external partners, paying particular attention to fostering the collaboration with instructors by way of Eduzendium, and with external experts or professional organizations for the purpose of reviewing content at the Citizendium or providing content to it.

Future amendments

This Charter shall be open to amendment at any time subsequent to its ratification.

  • Perhaps add provisions for suitable period to discuss the matter? 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The Management Council is hereby vested with the power to act upon proposals for amendment originating from any Citizen or Citizendium institution.

The process of Amendment requires the Management Council initially to consult with Citizens (including via the Forum) and subsequently to draft an appropriate amended text.

  • Mention of the Forum too specific. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The decision to accept the amended text will be taken by popular vote of the Citizenry, and requires a two-thirds majority of votes validly cast.

Anything else?

See also the Open questions section at the Charter drafting's talk page.


Something has to be added on the matter, though not necessarily under that name. From the drafting's talk page, section "Objectivity":

Building upon Joe's last configuration: "All entries at Citizendium should engage their subjects comprehensively, neutrally and objectively to the greatest degree possible. Writing comprehensively entails representing each topic as a complex whole rather than a simple conglomeration of its parts; a good Citizendium article will explain all facets of its subject that experts judge significant. It will also be neutral, which means it will not align with any one position if there is controversy amongst experts concerning some aspect of the article's topic. Instead, it will remain objective, describing each relevant position without skewing the narrative toward the personal beliefs or positions of the author(s). In short, articles should present the big picture, including all relevant perspectives, and should be written carefully and without bias. Citizendium is not a place for advocacy or for advertisement." --Daniel Mietchen 16:15, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
How should we title that section in the draft? None of the terms "Objectivity", "Neutrality" or "Comprehensiveness" seems to do it alone, so what about some combination of them? Alternatively, we could go for something like "Coherent narrative". --Daniel Mietchen 16:18, 16 November 2009 (UTC)


  • There could be two types of bylaws — (1) the interim guidance, (2) explanations of the reasoning behind the phrasings, at least for the fundamental principles. --Daniel Mietchen 16:18, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Replacement of people in special functions

  • We do not yet have provisions for replacing any one in a Special function. Daniel Mietchen 21:50, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

The numbers seem extremely optimistic

The Management Council consists of 13 citizens, none of whom may be on the Editorial Council and the Editorial Council consists of 13 citizens, none of whom may be on the Management Council. In addition, we need people to do Administration, be Constables, do Technical Support, organize Workgroup efforts, etc. I think the charter presents the design for a skyscraper that will, at least initially, house a bridge club. The numbers need to be radically reduced, say initially 3-5 members for each of the Management Council and Editorial Council with the provision that each of these groups are empowered to increase their membership up to some limit, say 13.

Also, there is no provision in the charter for council members who leave without saying goodbye. I think this has happened in the past and the result is an inoperative council. There are a number of ways to handle this, including some requirement that council members contribute (as measured by some as yet to be formulated criteria). No good is achieved by having governance structures that are inoperative because the members responsible are no longer around. Dan Nessett 04:43, 17 November 2009 (UTC)