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Archive:Fundamentals

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The Statement below has now been superseded by the Charter

The Citizendium's Statement of Fundamental Policies

The Citizendium project is launching with some fundamental commitments, articulated in this document. Those who support these commitments are invited to contribute to the initial shaping of the project. Those who reject any of these commitments are hereby asked to abstain from participating.

I. The nature of the project.

  1. The ultimate goal of the Citizendium community, a global group of collaborators, is to create the most reliable and largest encyclopedia that they can.
  2. If an "approved" or "certified" version of an article is available, that version will be presented to the public by default; in that case, viewing unapproved versions will require further mouseclicks for the public, and such versions will be clearly labelled as unapproved, and users will be instructed not to rely upon them.
  3. The Citizendium will be a wiki. Edits will not be required to be approved by editors before appearing on the wiki.
  4. The Citizendium will be owned and ultimately controlled by a non-profit organization.
  5. The Citizendium will not sell advertisements. There may be unobtrusive non-profit sponsorship statements, but sponsors will have no editorial influence over the project, and enforceable, adequate oversight of this rule will be in place. Similarly, no grants that make specific editorial demands will be accepted.
  6. The Citizendium will be devoted to simplicity, both in presentation of content and in the organization of the community. Many features as implemented by Wikipedia, such as subject categories and so-called user boxes, may be eliminated from (or never included in) the Citizendium. Special roles will not be created without excellent reason, and bureaucracy will be kept to the absolute minimum necessary.

II. Fundamental policies concerning content.

  1. The content of the Citizendium will always be open content.
  2. It will be the project's aim to make the content of the Citizendium:
  • accurate
  • based on common experience, published, credible research, and expert opinion
  • neutral in this sense
  • legal and responsible
  • family-friendly

III. Fundamental policies concerning community governance.

  1. All contributors to the Citizendium must do so using their own real names, unless special and unusual permission is granted by project management.
  2. The Citizendium will be open to contribution by anyone (tentatively, "authors") who is able to make a positive difference and who is willing to work collaboratively under the policies and management of the project.
  3. The Citizendium will invite subject area experts to serve as editors. The term "editor" is, however, used in a restricted sense. Editors will be expected to work "shoulder-to-shoulder" with authors in the wiki. Among the things that editors will be empowered, singly or collectively, to do are (1) to make decisions about specific questions, or disputes, concerning particular articles in an editor's area of expertise, and (2) to approve high-quality articles. Editors will not have the right, except perhaps in very unusual cases, to "lock" articles and thereby prevent the collaborative process from continuing. Finally, editors will be expected to share authority with other editors who are expert on the same subjects.
  4. The Citizendium will have a set of persons of mature judgment specially empowered to enforce rules, called (at least tentatively) "constables." The enforcement of project rules--up to and including the ejection of participants from the project--is to be carried out using common sense and leniency while following "the rule of law."
  5. There will be a separation of powers: enforcement officials ("constables") will not be able to make editorial decisions, and editors will not have the ability to enforce their own decisions, though they will be able to make recommendations.

IV. Statement of rights.

  1. Contributors in good standing have a right to build the Citizendium without constantly having to do battle with people who are constantly breaking project rules or trying to undermine the project. So there will be a process for rapidly removing rulebreakers from the project. While most people will enjoy the privilege of contributing to the Citizendium if they are able to make a positive difference, there is a blanket right neither to contribute nor to participate in the project's governance.
  2. There will be a right of appeal, and analogues to other traditional "legal" rights will be observed, such as the right to view and respond to the evidence cited against one. We will make extensive creative efforts toward effective design of oversight processes, to ensure that the appeals process is not abused, e.g., in a self-serving way or to advance ideological views.
  3. The general public has the right to expect the quickest possible removal of copyright-protected and libellous material. Processes and tools will be created that make it difficult for libel to appear on articles concerning living persons and their activities, and for such to be removed as quickly as it is found.

V. The adoption of a Citizendium Charter.

  1. An Advisory Board for the Citizendium Foundation will be appointed by the Editor-in-Chief, in consultation with persons of his choosing.
  2. Within six months to a year after the launch of the Citizendium, its Advisory Board will adopt a binding community charter that states, in a clear but general way, the fundamental goals and policies of the Citizendium project. The judgment of the Advisory Board, on the matter of the Charter, will be regarded as final.
  3. The Charter will supersede the present Statement of Fundamental Policies, and it will include information about how it may be amended.
  4. The Charter will be regarded both as the supreme policy of the Citizendium community and as the legal basis of operation of the project as part of any non-profit organization.
  5. Consequently, all positions of authority designated prior to the adoption of the Charter, including that of Editor-in-Chief, will immediately fall within the purview of the Charter, and of the mechanisms it specifies, upon its adoption.


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