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CZ:Dispute Resolution

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By the Charter,

Article 10: In cases of dispute, Citizens have the right to request the help of other Citizens or Editors.

Article 11: 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.

Article 12: Dispute resolutions should be resolved on the basis of the evidence and not upon the character, point of view, or politics of the Citizen.

Article 13: 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.

Article 32: The Citizendium Council is responsible for content and style policies. In particular, it shall ...

5. adjudicate disputes over content among Authors, Editors, and/or Managing Editor, and impose its decisions upon the content of the Citizendium;

Article 33: The Citizendium 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 Citizendium Council pursuant to the resolution of a dispute shall be considered a behavioral infraction and subject to action by a Constable.

Article 34: The Citizendium Council is responsible for the technical and economic resources of the Citizendium and its related websites. In particular, it shall:...

2. 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;


What to do if you have a disagreement

  • A disagreement occurs when you want the article to read one way, and someone else wants it to read another way. A disagreement blows up into a conflict when both sides will not back down from their positions, which they actively defend.
  • Not all disagreements need become full-blown conflicts, and conflicts can be de-escalated to mere disagreements. When faced with a disagreement, the first thing to do--regardless of the participants--is to engage in a constructive, friendly dialogue on the talk page, aimed at compromise. Some disagreements are only apparent, and dissolve under closer examination.
  • Please behave professionally as you discuss things. Bear in mind that your dialogue does not necessarily determine the outcome of your disagreement. If one side cannot persuade the other, or if you cannot arrive at a compromise, the issue will be decided by other Citizendium community mechanisms. We ask only that you trust that these mechanisms will result in a fair and intelligent decision.
  • This document does not describe how to resolve personal conflicts, or friction between competing personalities. If someone is behaving rudely, e-mail the Constabulary.
  • If your disagreement is not with a person but with a body or process--for example, with a resolution of the Citizendium Council or with our article approval process--then e-mail the Managing Editor.

If a conflict cannot be resolved by dialogue

Either party in a dispute can, at any time on an article's talk page, declare that the conflict cannot be resolved through dialogue. The next step is for one of the parties to the conflict to ask either an editor in a workgroup overseeing the article to decide which position should prevail, or--in certain other cases--a constable.

Editors have authority, broadly speaking, over content issues that fall in their areas of expertise. These include purely factual issues, typically resolved by reference to "objective" sources; neutrality (i.e., that a piece of text is biased, or that some other text needs to be added in order to make a paragraph neutral); the article title; copyediting matters; article level; copyright matters; etc.

Constables have authority over behavior issues, but it is unlikely that you will have a dispute per se about such issues. Indeed, since you should avoid characterizing your fellow Citizens' behavior on the wiki (see our Professionalism policy), you probably should not be arguing over behavior. If you are bothered by another Citizen, you should e-mail the Constabulary (at constables [at] citizendium.org). But constables may also be consulted about other simpler matters that editors need not be bothered by; for example, you can ask a constable to delete certain articles on their own recognizance. Constables may also be consulted about what Citizendium articles are not as well as about our Policy on Self-Promotion. In all of these content issues, Constables can rule only on very obvious cases.

Disputants will want to know how to resolve a dispute that is awaiting a decision. If an interim compromise can be reached, that is strongly preferable to any other solution. If an editor (or other proper decision-making person or body) has weighed in on the issue, the editor's decision must be followed while under appeal. Finally, if no other means of reaching an interim solution can be found, the first version of the disputed text should be used.

The role of editors in conflict resolution

The extent of editor authority. One reason we have editors at Citizendium is to avoid conflict, by placing decisionmaking authority in the hands of experts. Editors do, therefore, have broad authority over issues about articles in their areas of expertise. (Note that they do not have authority over articles assigned to other workgroups; for those articles, they act as rank-and-file authors.) Generally, we say that the person who specializes in a particular topic, or who has greater seniority (or both), has the greater authority.

How editors should resolve conflicts. Editors should declare clearly that they will resolve a certain conflict, if they wish to do so. They should focus not on the personal conflicts, saying who is right and who is wrong, but strictly on the matter at issue, defined as narrowly as possible. Editors are encouraged to articulate compromise positions, where possible, particularly in view of the Citizendium Neutrality Policy.

Conflict between editors and authors. Occasionally, an author and an editor have a disagreement over a matter of content within a workgroup to which the editor is assigned. In such a case, the editor should politely engage the author to determine what the author's arguments are, but his or her decision determines the matter.

If an author disagrees with an editor after a decision has been made. If an author continues to disagree with an editor after a decision has been made, it is not appropriate to continue to discuss the matter on the article's talk page.

Procedural issues

Article 41: 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.

Article 42: An Appeals Board shall consist of Citizens who were not previously directly involved, as follows:

  1. two members appointed by the Citizendium Council, and
  2. the Managing Editor or his/her designee.

Article 43: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.


Guidance

If a person refuses to follow a conflict resolution procedure--for example, by continuing to place his version of text on a page--then any Citizen may ask the Constabulary to intervene. If it is clear to the Constabulary that the person is disobeying the conflict resolution procedures indicated on this page, then the Constabulary may ban them. Occasionally, the disputants may disagree about who, or what, to appeal to. In such cases, the Constabulary makes the decision; and its decision can be appealed.

For conflicts not covered by this page, consult the Managing Editor.


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