CZ:Charter/Feedback/Archive 3

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This page was explicitly open for any Citizen (see archived versions), then restricted to the drafting Committee.
It is now open to all Citizens again.

Here follows a review of the draft as of 22:08, 15 January 2010 (permalink to version reviewed) of the Citizendium Charter. Such reviews (concerning different versions of the draft) have also been provided by Tom Morris, Peter Schmitt (NEXT draft), Thomas H. Larsen, and in a similar manner by Dan Nessett and Milton Beychok.

For each sentence of the draft, please do one of the following (especially if you have a strong opinion about it):

  1. Sign it if you find the current phrasing (including section structure and titles) satisfactory.
  2. Add a link to a place (e.g. a forum post or CZ user page) in which you discuss why not. Then sign.

Note: No discussion on this page. Please use the dedicated Forum thread.

Please do not change the phrasing of the Charter text herein — if something has been changed in the draft itself, please strike out the phrasing here (along with any signatures or links it may have received in the meantime) and add the new one below.

Mission statement

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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

It is created by volunteers — henceforth Citizens — who contribute under their real names and agree to a social covenant centered around trust.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)


  • Citizendium membership is open to anyone.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
We believe that everyone has knowledge to share, regardless of educational attainment, professional experience, or any other factor.
  • All members register and contribute to the project under their real names.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
This energizes the creation of a vibrant community and encourages civil behavior.
  • The Citizendium community recognizes the special role that subject matter experts play in assuring that the site’s contents meet these standards.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
We recognize two important types of expertise: broad knowledge and deep knowledge.
Experts with broad knowledge of one or more domains of knowledge help us ensure that the topics of our articles are presented in the scientific, philosophical, cultural and methodological contexts in which professionals discuss them.
Experts with deep knowledge of specific topics help us make sure that we have all of the relevant facts and that we present them correctly.
Many people have both types of knowledge.
Official recognition of expertise shall be based on guidelines established by the Editorial Council.
  • Contributors must act responsibly and in a civil manner.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Derogatory or offensive commentary is impermissible: inappropriate material shall be removed at the discretion of the constabulary.


  • All entries at Citizendium should engage their subjects comprehensively, neutrally and objectively to the greatest degree possible.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Comprehensiveness entails providing full explanations of all facets of a subject that experts judge significant.
Furthermore, each topic should be represented as a complex whole rather than a simple conglomeration of its parts: a good Citizendium entry will illustrate how different aspects of its topic fit together and highlight applications and connections to other topics.
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 its topic.
Instead, it will remain objective, describing each relevant position without skewing the presentation toward the personal beliefs or positions of the author(s).
In short, entries should present the big picture, including all relevant perspectives, and should be carefully crafted and bias-free. Citizendium is not a place for advocacy or for advertisement.
  • Unnecessarily complicated presentation should be avoided.
Citizendium material is intended for the general public and should be constructed so as to maximize accessibility.
The basic content provided at the Citizendium is intended for an audience with completed secondary education.
More specialized material is welcome but it should be presented without unnecessary jargon and should be contextualized through prominent links to entries that explain background information and related non-specialist material.
  • As far as possible, special needs of visually or otherwise impaired users and of responsibly exercized automated access will be taken into account.
Citizendium encourages contributions on all topics, albeit with sensitivity towards appropriateness and avoiding sensationalism.
Exceptionally, Editors and Constables have the authority to intervene at their discretion if article content appears to be inconsistent with criminal or civil law or if content is discriminatory or slanderous against persons or groups of persons on the basis of religion, religious belief, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender.
Such decisions are subject to Citizendium's appeal process.

Content development

  • Citizendium is a multimedial collaborative project, open to constructive contributions by any Citizen to any of its content at any time.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
We trust members of the Citizendium community to act in good faith and we encourage them to be bold in contributing to the project but we also require professional behavior.
This entails acceptance of guidance from experts and from the wider Citizendium community as well as the obligation to remain civil and constructive even in cases of dispute.
  • The collaborative environment in which we develop our articles is an important part of the Citizendium community.
Just like other user-generated websites, we rely on the contributions of many different people spread out around the world, working at different times and in different ways. Some of these contributions are very small while others are quite extensive.
Some reflect many years of professional experience while others are made by people who are just beginning to learn about a topic.
All are important for the project. Cooperation and sensitivity to others are therefore very important and disruptive behavior is not tolerated.
  • Citizendium encourages all members to submit constructive criticism on all of its material.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Where appropriate, we encourage members to simply fix any mistakes they find as they browse the site but we insist that potentially controversial changes (such as the deletion of a large block of text or the reorientation of text describing a contentious topic) be discussed ahead of time with any other contributors who are also at work on the article and, if possible, with an appropriate editor.
If a dispute arises, we defer to expertise.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:45, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Experts guide the development of Citizendium entries in a transparent manner.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Authors are encouraged to seek out the guidance of subject matter experts and experts are encouraged to offer advice whenever they are comfortable doing so.
Experts and non-experts should work together as partners in the development of balanced articles; overbearing behavior by either party is unconstructive and unacceptable.
  • Integration of the Citizendium with teaching and research is encouraged as long as it adheres to the principles of this charter.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:42, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Personnel and governance

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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)



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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Blocks may be appealed through the Dispute Resolution procedure.

Pseudonyms may not be used.

Within a month after the entry into force of this charter, all existing pseudonym accounts shall be closed by the Constabulary, and the respective user pages protected.

The Citizens concerned may reapply under their real name.


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.

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.

The criteria for granting or revoking Editorship are to be defined by the Editorial Council.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Registration of new Editors

To streamline the CZ:Editor Application Review Procedure, applications for Editorship shall be processed in two steps.

First, an applicant will be registered as an Author, so s/he can immediately start editing.

Secondly, the application for Editorship will be reviewed by the Editorial Personnel Administrators (to be appointed by the Editorial Council) who will strive to make a decision within one week.

CZ:Editorial Council Resolution 0012 shall be extended such that these new Editors will be categorized as New Editors during the first three months after registration or until their first contribution to the project.

Editorial Council

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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

It shall consist of nine active Citizens, with five seats reserved for Editors.

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

A quorum shall consist of five members.

Members of the Editorial Council may not simultaneously serve on the Management Committee or be Constables.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

They may, however, be Task Managers.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

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.

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).

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

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

Task Managers

The Editorial Council may appoint individuals, not necessarily Editors or members of the Editorial Council, to task-specific roles, such as dealing with the various people and organizations involved in Approving a high-quality article, in reviewing the credentials of Editor applicants, etc.


An Editor-in-Chief shall be appointed, with a term of office of four years renewable once, by simple majority of each of the Editorial Council and Management Committee.

The functions of this office shall be:

  1. to ensure day-to-day smooth functioning of the Citizendium;
  2. to facilitate the practical implementation of the Citizendium editorial policy as defined by its governing institutions;
  3. to make interim editorial decisions (in consultation with other editors); and
  4. to carry out any other tasks as required by this Charter or decisions of the governing bodies.

Non-content operations

Management Committee

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.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

It will also appoint Constables and oversee their activities.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

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

They may, however, be Constables or Task Managers.

A quorum shall consist of four members.

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

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

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

Substantial expenditures will require more than one signature.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
External partners

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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

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 purposes of providing or reviewing content at the Citizendium.

Task Managers

Like the Editorial Council, the Management Committee may appoint individuals, not necessarily members of that Editorial Committee, to task-specific roles, such software testing and development supervision, preliminary media contacts, etc.


The Management Committee may, within the financial rules, consult with professionals such as attorneys and accountants.


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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

It may include contractors or employees, under the policy direction of the Management Committee, who eventually may be directed, on a routine basis, by an employee such as an Executive Director.

Behavior and dispute resolution


The Constabulary shall be charged with upholding the Citizendium's rules of behavior as determined by community policy, covering all Citizens including those with official positions (such as the Ombudsman or the Editor-in-Chief).

The Constabulary's authority is restricted to matters of behavior and they shall not intervene in matters of content.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Constabulary tools include: advice and instruction on wiki or through Citizen email, removal of offensive text, and warning and banning of users according to written guidelines.

The enforcement of these rules is to be carried out with reasonable pragmatism and leniency without prejudice as to Citizen status or position and only in those situations where the applicability of existing rules is clear.

The Constabulary may develop additional tools and will publish and monitor the appropriate use of said tools.

Decisions of constables may be appealed through the appropriate adjudication process as determined by the Management Council.


An Ombudsman shall be appointed, charged with the task of assisting in dispute resolution, as laid down in this Charter.

The role of Ombudsman shall be vested in a Citizen with substantial Citizendium experience and widely respected judgement, who may appoint up to two other Citizens (Assistant Ombudsmen) to support his/her work; their appointment and termination of duties is at the personal discretion of the Ombudsman.

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

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

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.

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

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.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)


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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

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

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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:55, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Legal status

The Citizendium will be owned and controlled by the Citizendium Foundation, a non-profit organization.


The official language of the Citizendium shall be English.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:57, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Branches in other languages require approval by the Management Committee and shall have the same legal status as the English language Citizendium (see Legal status above).

Non-English Citizendiums shall construct their governance in accordance with this charter or a translation approved by the Management Committee.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:57, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Branch language Editorial Councils, including the English language Citizendium Editorial Council, shall be empowered to develop policy regarding non-native language content on their native language Citizendiums.

Consistent with the Citizendium's respect for expertise, the Editorial Council of any branch language version may request the Editorial Councils of other language versions to revise, add, or remove content in the former branch's native language.

All user pages shall be in the native language for that version of Citizendium.

No branch or non-English version of Citizendium shall be permitted at later times to adopt policy that contravenes this charter

Final clause


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.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:59, 15 January 2010 (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.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:59, 15 January 2010 (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.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:59, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

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

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.

The Editorial Council shall vote on each of the resolutions of the previous Editorial Council whether they should continue to be in force or not.
--Daniel Mietchen 21:59, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Future amendments

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

--Daniel Mietchen 21:59, 15 January 2010 (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.

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.

--Daniel Mietchen 21:59, 15 January 2010 (UTC)