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Archive:Dispute Watch

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This page is defunct--it was an experiment that failed. Please ignore. --Larry Sanger 05:19, 10 August 2007 (CDT)

What is "dispute watch"?

If an article is under "dispute watch," special rules apply to the talk page. Arguments and contentious claims must concern specific propositions about the wording of the article. All other manner of explanations, questions, and praise can continue on as normal.

Note, only the articles listed in Category:Dispute Watch are under dispute watch. All other articles are under ordinary Citizendium rules.

How do we decide to put an article on "dispute watch"? We observe that talk page quarrels start to distract from the work on the article. People want to make progress on the article, but bitter fighting about broad issues, often ideological issues, is getting in the way. In that case, we start a dispute watch. This puts an immediate stop to the fighting; we ask people to focus only on issues that will improve the wording of the article.

Here's how it works: all new contributions to the debate need to go under special section headings, which are immediately followed by a proposition to debate in that section. To format the proposition, we ask that you use the {{prop}} template. Then, any comments added in that section must directly concern that proposition.

This is an experimental new initiative--not yet formally adopted--initially proposed here. If this proposal works well, the Constabulary will adopt it and implement it on all Citizendium articles subject to "edit warring." If not, we'll scrap it!

The basics: how to debate, when your article is under dispute watch

When a talk page is under dispute watch, it's easy to start a new topic. It's almost as usual--you just have to pay attention to two extra things. First, the section heading should be neutral, i.e., it should not advocate your position in the debate. Second, you should, right after the heading, put use the {{prop}} template, which is very simple. You just write:

{{prop|the proposition you want to debate goes here}}

Make sure you have two curly brackets on either side, the word "prop" on the left, and the pipe (|) between "prop" and your proposition. Then just make sure that the proposition concerns the wording of the text. That's it!

If you want to reply to someone else's proposition, please do. That's what the talk page is for. Just stick to that topic when you're writing in that section. Argue about how the text should read--just don't try to prove one side of a contentious issue that the article shouldn't take a stand on. It isn't our job to decide contentious issues. Our job is to report on them. So the only thing we have to discuss is how to report on them.

Just because an article is under dispute watch, that doesn't mean you have to debate every change. You can still go ahead and make a change. But you might add a new discussion section and proposition, justifying your change, if you think others will want to disagree.

Detailed dispute watch rules and procedures

Generally, if a page is under dispute watch, you can argue--but only about the text of the article, and only about specific propositions to change (or retain) the text. And you just can't get off-topic.

Here are the details:

  • All argumentation goes under headings as described below. That means that you should put your disputation under headings and propositions, as described below, or make a new one if you're raising a new issue.
  • Start with a neutral section heading. All disputation must be placed under a section heading everyone can agree to, using == on either side of the heading phrase, flush left.
  • State a clear proposition using the {{prop}} template. Next, immediately below the section heading, state a clear proposition. This must concern the wording of the text, or it will be deemed off-topic and will be subject to deletion. It should be hard to mistake your meaning.
For example, if you type:
{{prop|A sentence reading, "But not everyone agrees with this," should be added to the end of the second paragraph.}}
This produces:
Proposition: A sentence reading, "But not everyone agrees with this," should be added to the end of the second paragraph.
This article is on dispute watch. This requires that all argumentation directly concern clearly-stated propositions about article wording.
  • All disputation in a section must directly concern the proposition. Any discussion of matters that do not directly explain, support, or undermine the proposition in question is considered off-topic. Note: this means that all argumentation on the talk page must concern specific propositions about the wording of the article.
  • If the proposition concerns a topic controversial in itself, it is off-topic to argue in favor of one side of the controversy. This is just a consequence of the foregoing rule, but it is worth spelling out: if you are arguing about how the article should answer a very controversial question, then you simply may not argue for one particular answer to the question. You can argue that some people say such-and-such; you can argue about what the details are of what people actually do say; but you can't say those things yourselves.
  • You must start a new section and proposition for anything not directly relevant. If you want to discuss a related issue that is not directly relevant to any proposition yet under discussion, you must start a new one, in a new section. However, please be closely mindful to not overwhelm the talk page with propositions. It is much better to focus on one or perhaps two, certainly no more than three propositions at a time. This is to keep discussion manageable for participants.

These rules apply only to talk page remarks that involve, or turn on, some contentious claim or argument. Explanations of edits, questions, and praise--if not argumentative--do not require this treatment.

Enforcement and the role of the Constabulary

First, as an exception to our "no complaints" rule (see the {{nocomplaints}} template), it is permissible, when a page is under dispute watch, for one party in a controversy to tell the other party, "That is off topic," explaining why, and asking the other party to remove the comment.

The Constabulary (and only the Constabulary and uninvolved editors in a relevant workgroup) can replace off-topic remarks with the {{off topic}} template, and propositions that don't concern some specific part of the text, with {{unspecific}}.

If the other party will not remove the comment, either an uninvolved editor in a relevant workgroup or else the Constabulary may be called in to resolve the dispute. The Constabulary is instructed to remove all off-topic propositions and discussions and to explain where rules have been violated. Uninvolved editors and the Constabulary may notice a violation and do this without being asked, as well.

If a person breaks Dispute Watch rules persistently, he or she may receive a warning from the Constabulary and then, if necessary, a ban.

How to put an article under dispute watch

Any author or editor may put an article under dispute watch. [NOTE: let's put the latter on hold, however, until after we have concluded our pilot/test. Write the Editor-in-Chief if you really want an article to be under dispute watch during this pilot period.] But it is all right to debate this point on the talk page. Some might feel that this is an unnecessary step.

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Simply add Category:Dispute Watch to the talk page. Then all disputation will have to be conducted according to these rules.
  2. Simply add use {{prop}} anywhere on the talk page. That triggers these rules as well.

We strongly suggest that you archive any disputes that occur prior to using the edit watch. For an idea how to do archiving, look at the archive on top of this talk page; it uses the {{archive box}} template.

An article may be removed from dispute watch, if the main disputants agree, and the Constabulary does not object.

Articles under dispute watch