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CZ:Editor Policy

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Individual editor policy

Deferring to editors

Editors are entrusted with the content management of Citizendium in their special areas of expertise.

Authors are expected to defer to whomever is an editor for that article. This means at least two things:

  • When an editor has expressed a decision on an article's discussion page, that decision must be followed by authors, even if it is under appeal.
  • When an editor has made a certain edit, and has requested that some limited portion of text should not be changed (or that it must not be changed in certain limited ways), then authors should respect the request. (Editors may not request that articles be simply left alone.)

Note: expectation of deference applies only to an editor's own areas of expertise. There is no obligation to defer in this way to an editor when the editor is writing on a subject outside of his or her area of expertise.

Editors will perform three main functions: (1) decisionmaking and dispute resolution; (2) article approval; and (3) low-level administrative management of authors. The following explains these functions.

Decisionmaking and Dispute Resolution regarding Articles

Decisionmaking, or the establishment of policies for individual articles. Editors may, in areas of their expertise, establish policies regarding what the article should cover (and what should be covered elsewhere), the general structure or narrative arc of the article, the specific wording of definitions (or constraints thereupon), and other such general policies. In this, editors are to take the lead as article planners.

Resolving content disputes among authors. Authors inevitably find themselves in disagreement about how an article ought to read, or about other questions regarding the article. Editors may undertake to resolve these disputes. In resolving disputes, editors are encouraged to :

  1. Read carefully what the parties to the dispute have written.
  2. Make your decision.
  3. In the discussion area, respond to the party or parties that lost the dispute. Concede where they were right, and explain carefully and respectfully where they were wrong.
  4. Finally, and in a separate edit, in the "decisions" area state briefly and sign (with four tildes: ~~~~) your decision.

You need not go through this process every time you alter an author's work. But all authors, editors included, are generally expected to explain significant changes they make, on the discussion page.

Article Approval

The meaning of editorial approval. Editors may approve Citizendium articles, i.e., certify that they meet certain standards. See approval process.

Low-Level Administrative Management of Authors

Managing problem users. As editor, while patience is greatly appreciated, you need not go to superhuman lengths to tolerate low quality or bad faith work, or abusive behavior. At the most extreme, you may recommend to the Constabulary that authors be banned. But there are many things that editors can do before going to this length. Just for example, if an author appears open to advice, you might recommend some background reading. Or, without actually getting a constable involved, you might ask an author to take a break for a time to get proper perspective. Finally, you might informally request that an author not edit an article, rather than "make it official" by involving the Constabulary.

Recommending content-based bans. If an editor feels that a certain author produces such a quantity of bad edits, which require so much "cleaning up" (if not outright deletion) that it would be better for the project if the person simply were not to work in an area (or on the project as a whole), then the editor may recommend that the author be banned from editing a certain article, from any of a group of articles, or from the Citizendium as a whole. The determination is privately given to the Constabulary, and what happens after that is determined by the Constabulary--see policy on content-based bans--not the editor.

Behavioral issues Editors are not responsible for making recommendations about behavioral problems, but only those problems that stem from the quality of an editor's good faith work.

Editorial Dispute Resolution: Notes for Individual Editors

Collaborative and collegial behavior expected. Editors are expected to work together collegially, as co-equals, on articles about which they can both legitimately claim expertise. The first step toward resolving a dispute is to see whether the editors cannot reach satisfactory compromise.

Constabulary is not to be called to settle editorial disputes. The Constabulary should not be called, nor should it attempt to settle, disputes between editors of an article, unless it can be regarded as perfectly obvious that one person is not, in fact, an editor--that is, that it is obvious to a nonspecialist that one person claiming editorship has not established even a minimally plausible claim of possessing special knowledge of the topic in question. Then the Constabulary may be called to consider the question of "minimally plausible" editorship.

Disputes referred to editorial workgroups. When one editor (or both) has decided that a compromise is not in the offing, then one editor should inform the other that he or she is referring the matter to a particular editorial workgroup. What happens after that is determined by the editorial workgroup (see policy on resolving editorial disputes).

Appeal to the Managing Editor. Parties involved in a dispute may ask the Ombudsman to mediate or rule pending the establishment of firm editorial policy.

Appeal to the Council. Any Citizen may ask the Council to set policy to deal with the dispute.

See also Conflict Resolution.

Editor Registration

See Editor Application Review Procedure for details.

Categories of Editorship

What areas of editorship an editor may claim. General editors may claim editorship, if they can demonstrate that they meet minimum standards, over one or more of the following.

  1. General topics: any topics that are broad/general background knowledge in the discipline in which they have their expertise (e.g., in philosophy, "philosophy," "ethics," "history of philosophy").
  2. Mid-range topics: the broad/general topics associated with their subdisciplines (e.g., in ethics, "right," "good," obligation," "utilitarianism").
  3. Specialized topics: beyond such general claims, those quite specific topics on which a person has published, given presentations, or done other professional work (e.g., Kant's moral theory, "categorical imperative," "Kingdom of Ends").

General editors vs. specialty editors. Within a given discipline, such as Philosophy, History, and Engineering, we distinguish between general editors and specialty editors, with general editors for a discipline having general editorial authority over general and mid-range topics, and specialty editors having authority only over some relatively circumscribed, specialized topics.

Academic, professional, and non-academic (or hobbyist) fields. We draw the usual distinction between academic and professional fields, and we distinguish both of these from non-academic (or hobbyist) fields. Depending on the type of field, the requirements of editorship may differ. See below.

Standards for general and specialty editorship in academic fields. As a rule of thumb, general editors in academic fields are those who have recently done a substantial amount of research at a level expected of someone eligible for a tenure track position at a four-year college. This means both of the following:

  • Having received, or being no more than six months away from receiving, the degree typically expected of college professors in one's field; typically a Ph.D. or M.D.; or having tenure or a tenure-track position at an accredited, recognized four-year institution.
  • Having published at least three papers in peer-reviewed publications, or having given five presentations at academic conferences, within the past five years.

The precise standards for specific disciplines, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later.

Specialty editors need not have as extensive experience in a discipline as general editors. But at the very least they must have a college education, and they must have demonstrable experience in their fields. For example (this is apt to vary from field to field), many traditional academic fields might require both of the following:

  • A Master's degree or other post-graduate (in the U.S., graduate) degree; or three or more years in a mostly-research position, post-bachelor's degree.
  • Having published at least three papers in peer-reviewed publications, or having given five presentations at academic conferences, within the past five years, on some specific topic (i.e., the topic of the specialty editorship); or having worked in a "hands-on" way with the topic of specialization for three or more years.

The precise standards for specific disciplines, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later.

General editorship in professional fields. In engineering, law, medicine, journalism, computer programming, library science, and some other professional fields, frequently the "terminal degree" for professional work is not a doctorate, and expert members of these professions might not actually be employable as university faculty. Nevertheless, some active members of these professions are very plausibly regarded as quite expert in their fields, and quite able to speak with authority about them, based not only on "book learning" but on practical experience.

In view of these facts, it is Citizendium policy that the requirements for general and specialty editorship may also be satisfied in another way for the professional disciplines. In general, and this varies from field to field, general editorship in professional work may be satisfied by the combination of the following:

  • The terminal degree for professional work in your field (perhaps as defined by your leading professional organization); in most professional fields, not a doctorate.
  • A professional specialization, and at least three years of continuous, responsible employment engaged directly in that specialization, post-degree.
  • Professional certification (if it exists and is required for all practicing members of your profession).
  • At least two of the following: three different professional memberships; at least three presentations in your field; or two papers in peer reviewed journals or well-respected trade journals in your field; or another type of significant speaking, publishing, practicum, etc., expected of professionals in your field.

The precise standards for specific professions, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later.

There is no similar way to establish specialty editorship in professional fields; but bear in mind that non-academic professionals may be able to establish the requirements for specialty editorship listed above.

Editorship over "non-academic" or hobbyist topics. There are many topics that are of relatively little interest to academics, where the people in possession of the most knowledge about the topic are typically not university faculty at all. This is the case for much of popular culture, and popular movements generally. There are also many topics that are studied just as carefully by hobbyists as by academics--where the "experts" are just as likely to be non-academics as academics--such as, for example, kinds of folk music. Consequently, if a person can demonstrate substantial expertise about such topics, they may become specialty editors for those specific topics. Citizendium editorial staff will compile a table of such qualifications.

Merely as an indicative example, we might say that a person may claim a specialty editorship over a particular video game if he or she shows evidence of many of the following:

  • Several articles published in leading magazines and journals about video gaming.
  • Leadership positions in serious organizations about video gaming.
  • Having achieved a high score, level, or rank within the gaming community.
  • Writing modules, enhancements, etc., of the software.
  • Employment with the company that produces the software.

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