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CZ:Managing Editor/2010/001 - Editors of their own user pages and subpages thereof

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Description of problem

Are we still requiring a bio for authors? What does "editor of their own user page mean?" D. Matt Innis 15:03, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

We'd better be! Having said that, Article 8 suggests that users may do what they like with their own user pages as long as it's not abusive material. The use of 'editor' is confusing and muddies the author/editor difference. There is nothing about bios in the Charter either. That and Article 8 create a serious ambiguity which really needs a rule in place to avoid fallout problems. Take categories, for instance. There is nothing to stop an active user editing without them (as at least one contributor is doing at the moment). I always took removal of categories as an indication that the user had left, but that page only says that the departing user should not blank the page. John Stephenson 15:23, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
I suppose even editors cannot remove appropriate categories, right? They are also required to have bios on their user pages (though they are more extensive than authors'). I don't mind the ability to act as an editor on their own page. D. Matt Innis 15:46, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Formal restatement of problem

This section defines the section structure of the decision.

  • What editorial rights do Citizens have in their own user space and in the user space of others?
    • Are Citizens required to maintain biographies?
    • Are Citizens allowed to modify the categories in which pages in their user space or in the user space of others are listed?

Existing applicable policy


  • Article 8: Citizens shall be considered Editors of their own user pages and subpages thereof, as long as content is not inflammatory or derogatory.
  • Article 2: Citizenship shall be open to anyone who fulfills the basic conditions for participation as defined by the Management Council—including registering according to the real names policy—and agrees to abide by this Charter.

Decisions by the governing bodies

None so far.

Pre-Charter policy

Draft decision

Text now moved to #Decision.

Discussion of Draft decision

When reading or editing this section, please keep in mind that the current version of the draft decision might be different from the one referred to by previous commenters.

I am concerned about creating hard feelings when authors change someone else's user page. Obviously, if someone is an editor on their own page, they can change it back and ask that no-one change it again, but it seems a little intrusive. I'm not sure which the constabulary would be enforcing, the author being allowed to change it, or the user telling them not to. Perhaps you could outline under what circumstances an author can change another person's user page if necessary? D. Matt Innis 02:37, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

I do not see the Charter as conferring the right to edit others' User Pages at all. I think what was intended, and not properly worded, is that the sole author of his/her User Page is the owner, with intervention by CZ institutions as permitted by the Charter and associated regulations. This does not apply to the Talk page, which should be seen as a normal Talk page but with the owner acting as editor of it.
If this interpretation is accepted, I would urge the ME initially, and the MC at its own pace, to rule that we may not edit others' user pages without specific authority to do so (whether that be from the owner or from CZ regulations).
There should also be a ruling about a bio on the page, with some basic specifications of what is required at a minimum. These may have to be discussed, owing to the potential sensitivity of personal data. Although CZ requires real names, it does not require that personal details are made public...Martin Baldwin-Edwards 03:42, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I agree that article 8 does not allow others to edit a user page which is not their own, but rather that when others are allowed to edit the user page (as detailed by other policy) they are the Editor and can overrule those edits as long as they comply with CZ policy. I think that editing of user pages should be limited to the user and Constables unless specifically permitted by the user, at least until other policy is set up with specific details of when and why edits may be made.
This is not without precedent. For example, I am an Editor of World of Warcraft, but it is protected as per Citizendium policy. This means that although I am the Editor of that page, nobody can make edits to it except in line with specific rules and policies. --Chris Key 04:28, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback so far. Given that Article 8 can certainly be interpreted in other ways than the one I outlined above — you gave some examples — I shall err on the side of caution and go for making User pages editable by other users as per opt-in, not opt-out, with some leeway for official actions and possibly for edits at the level of typo correction. Not entirely sure yet how to phrase that out - suggestions welcome.

@Matt - typos would certainly be something that an expert-led project would have to watch out for even on user pages. In terms of what to enforce, the case is clear when the owner has ruled (yes, enforce the ruling), and I think the opt-in would make things clear otherwise.
@Martin - I gave a brief description of what should go into a biography on a user page. If more specifics are needed, we could turn this into a follow-up decision, to keep this one from getting oversized. I am also thinking of maintaining a version of the Charter with links to clarifications issued by the councils or the ME. Matter of time.
@Chris - there is no equivalent of Approval in user space, so the "Editor of" comparison would not apply there, I think. Anyway, changes that do not modify content are still possible (primarily typos) even for approved articles.

--Daniel Mietchen 22:07, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

I agree that no one should edit another's user pages unless for official purposes, or when specifically allowed by the user. However, binding guidelines have to be followed -- as elsewhere on the wiki -- and may be enforced if necessary. In my view, typos or wrong grammar are not a problem and the claim to be "expert-guided" is not touched by them. (Talk pages are not free of them, either. Some sloppyness should be allowed here.)
As to the format of this decision: The decision should be brief and to the point, I think, and not contain the arguments leading to it. The reasoning is better given separately.
As to the location of this page: There should be some index pointing to these pages (probably best sorted by reverse date), either directly on the ME page, or on a page mentioned there.
--Peter Schmitt 02:01, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
I agree with the last comment. I only found this page through Recent changes. Of course it takes time to organize everything, but all authoritative rulings by EC, MC, you & Gareth should be easy to find, and of course inviting community comments in a way that doesn't actually reach the community is self-defeating. Peter Jackson 12:02, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
User pages should ONLY be edited by the user UNLESS there is vandalism. If vandalism is found, then another Citizen could rollback the page to the last "good" version. Problems with user pages should be addressed by Constables or other Citizendium members of authority. A "regular" Citizen should contact a Constable, or a Citizendium member of authority, and then allow the Constable work with the Citizen involved. If Citizendium were to allow any and all users to point out perceived errors to another user this could lead to hard feelings. Also, new Citizendium users may not have the background knowledge to appropriately understand all the charter rules in place. Only a Constable or that equivalent, selected based on their knowledge of Citizendium, should be able to take appropriate action. Also, I do believe a biography should NOT be required on a user page based on security reasons. A contact email address so another registered Citizendium member could contact the user involved and request a resume or bio. And I hope I did this right. Mary Ash 18:40, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for these comments too - I think we are homing in.

@Peter Schmitt: In the interest of keeping this decision short and relevant information in a place where people might actually look for it, I have spelled out the details at CZ:User pages.
@both Peters where would you look for pending decisions if not via CZ:Managing Editor (from which Category:Managing Editor/Pending decisions is linked, which lists this page), via Recent Changes (where several dozens of edits made this page and CZ:User pages highly visible today) or the forums (where I started a dedicated thread on Saturday)?
@Mary I will uphold the requirement for basic bios. See CZ:User pages for details.
@all I currently have exempted purely technical edits from requiring permission. A sample scenario for that would be a restructuring of workgroups, which would mean restructuring categories and, consequently, editing many pages (including user pages) to have them display the correct categories.

--Daniel Mietchen 20:47, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

It is not clear to me what the following sentence:

Categories would clearly fall under technical matters and thus not be included in the matters that Citizens can rule upon in their user space.

is supposed to mean. Do you intend it to mean:

  1. Citizens cannot decide which categories their userpages should have (i.e. cannot stop Constables from removing inappropriate tags)?
  2. Citizens cannot, on their own, add new categories or remove irrelevant old ones?

Maybe it is clear to everyone else, but I would still like it clarified in the final decision. Johan A. Förberg 22:39, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

I clearly had not (2) in mind when writing this, but something similar to (1). What the phrase is supposed to mean is that in the case of a dispute, the owner may be overruled by the Constabulary or by technical staff working on categories. Otherwise, they are free to add or remove categories as they see fit. Suggestions for better wording welcome. --Daniel Mietchen 22:53, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
I think the Welcome page should have a prominent link to a page that tells people where to find all decisions and proposals for discussion. That would be the easiest way for people to keep track, especially newcomers. Peter Jackson 10:37, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. Finding information is a bit hard with desicionmaking split across the forums, the CZ-space and the user-space. Perhaps we could put a group together in charge of structuring up all the old 'governance' pages? Johan A. Förberg 15:22, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

I fully agree that we need prominent links to one central place where decisions (or directions to them) are listed in a sensible way - that is the reason why I started that forum thread. For my taste, the Welcome page has too many links already, and the ones on official decisions would be better placed in the sidebar, or linked from a general governance page linked from the sidebar. In any case, I agree that it would be good to have a group of people get together to rethink the structure of these pages. Johan, can you get this going? --Daniel Mietchen 20:27, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

In answer to "where would you look for pending decisions if not via CZ:Managing Editor (from which Category:Managing Editor/Pending decisions is linked, which lists this page), via Recent Changes (where several dozens of edits made this page and CZ:User pages highly visible today) or the forums (where I started a dedicated thread on Saturday)?" - please remember that it is not possible to add categories to watchlists in such a way that they show up when new pages are added. If you had a page where you manually added links, I could just add that page to my watchlist. Of course, I am happy as long as it is announced on the forums. I just know others aren't. --Chris Key 20:42, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Daniel: I have started a forum thread on my suggestion. I look forward to getting some work done on organising the governance pages. Johan A. Förberg 21:54, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Where to look? If I remember it correctly this page was only visible on Recent Changes when I wrote my comment. So now the situation is better. I agree with Chris that categories are not really helpful. --Peter Schmitt 00:06, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

50-word bios are not enough! Not by a long shot!

Currently, I am an "Editorial Personnel Administrator (EPA)" and the only one that has been active in that role over the past 3-4 months. What is an EPA? An EPA reads all of the applications to join CZ as an Editor (or as an Editor and Author) and decides whether or not to confirm applicants as an Editor (or Author and Editor).

As of now, our application procedure requires an applicant to provide only a 50-word biography ... that is somewhat less than 2 lines of text on my computer screen. That amount of biographical information is just not enough to make any intelligent decision as to whether an applicant should be confirmed as an Editor. In fact, it is virtually impossible! I have spent hours at times on Googling and other means of trying to find more information about applicants. As a result, I have only confirmed perhaps 10% or less of the applicants asking to be Editors. Instead, I usually approve them as authors and suggest that they ask for consideration to be Editors after they have 4-5 months of active contributions in CZ.

I firmly believe that our application procedure should be changed to require at least a 500-word biography for Authors as well as for Editors ... which would be somewhat less than 20 lines of text. Not only would that give the EPAs a better knowledge of the applicant's abilities ... it would also provide us with a better perspective on their English writing skills.

I intend to bring this subject up within our Management Council for consideration ... sometime today.

Milt Beychok

P.S.: Or does the subject of revising the registration procedure fall under the purview of the Editorial Council?

Milt, this wasn't my original suggestion, but I think there is much merit to separating registration (MC jurisdiction) and "expertise management", including Editor credentialing (EC jurisdiction). While I agree that there should be more on an Editor page than is required on an Author page, remember that the Editor candidate may submit much additional information for EPA use only. For example, I sent a full resume, but, for such things as military and politics, also gave references, projects that aren't all that public, etc. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:07, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
I do not think we should make registration for authors harder at this point when we absolutely need to invite productive newcomers. I agree that 50 words are rarely enough to judge whether someone would qualify as an Editor, but I would regard a link to a publicly accessible page that contains the necessary information as being equivalent to writing that information up again for the CZ bio (Example). Links are now obligatory for Editors.
Registration procedures in general are a matter for the MC, while the criteria for Editorship are under the purview of the EC. In my view, the policy of awarding Editorship to new members should also be reviewed.
--Daniel Mietchen 20:29, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Howard, I can tell you that many applicants asking to join as Editors do not supply any additional information, Curriculum Vitae, or more than the current obligatory 50 words. Since both you and Daniel agree that Editorship approval procedures belong with the EC, then would you please put the subject of reviewing the registration procedure for applicants requesting Editorships and what they must provide in their applications? Or should we award Editorships to new applicants at all? Milton Beychok 21:08, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
What would an extended bio or resume offer Citizendium? You can fluff out your resume and still not add anything new. What counts is quality not quantity. I'd much rather read a compact, well written bio (resume) rather than a long winded bio (resume) that says the same thing. BTW most people quit reading long winded articles as the text overwhelms them. Better to stick with short and sweet.Mary Ash 21:27, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Milt, Editorship is on my list in my userspace, and I certainly have thoughts. I simply haven't had time to work on it. I'm calling it Expertise Management so there can be provisions for outside reviewers, perhaps different types of Editors (specialized, copy, etc), and other kinds of experts.
While I think there is room for case-by-case exceptions, I also believe it should not be easy to become an Editor on first registering, or perhaps go into a probationary Editor status. No matter what the subject matter expertise of the Editor, he or she needs to learn our formatting and knowledge structure, and some CZ customs. It's important, I think, for the prospective editor to know what it is to be edited, and to have the experience of creating some articles. Hypothetically, a probationary expert might be the world authority on a subject, but might not really understand the nuances of Editor Rulings. Such an expert could be assisted by an experienced Editor of any workgroup or a Constable in making a ruling. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:37, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
Personally, for some Editor-applicants, I'd like to see a few articles worked on by the Editor-applicant, articles in the Editor-applicant's stated field of expertise, articles initiated and at least partly developed, or articles already started by others and contributed to substantially. Do not like idea of Editor probation period because it seems harsher to reject application than to say we'd like to see more. I'd not require any kind of 'probationary' consideration for anyone whose track record clearly demonstrates their expertise. Anthony.Sebastian 22:36, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

This is a mishmash of different comments, only some of which are directly related to User Pages. First, the application for Editor status is a matter for the EC. I am not familiar with the exact past minimum requirements, therefore cannot comment. Milt: you should get the MC to submit a formal request to the EC to deal with the matter. Our communication channels should be open within a week (I hope). Secondly, I really see no point in asking more of editors than is currently required. The main problem is that most editors neither edit nor author. We do not know why and some research on this would be the intelligent thing to do. Thirdly, the bio requirements for editors' pages will be set by the EC. Again, if people consider this to be an urgent matter they should submit a formal proposal or request to the EC when the channel is opened. Personally, I do not see it as a priority: which editors have inadequate pages, for example? Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:47, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

  • Citizens do not generally have the right to edit pages in each other's user spaces
User space includes the talk page, we are allowed to edit there. D. Matt Innis 01:58, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes. There have to be different rules for the User Page and the talk page. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 07:34, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
Fixed. --Daniel Mietchen 09:36, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
My initial thought is that a fixed numerical word limit is pretty arbitrary. Might it be better to specify just what information to include? E.g., if you ask for academic qualifications, posts and publications, some people will have nothing, others a great deal. Peter Jackson 10:55, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
I think having separate criterea for author and editor bios is a good idea. I didn't come here to be an editor on a particular topic, just to do some of the legwork that goes into building an encyclopedia. I think so long as the 50 words are in English and make sense, then with the real name policy you are probably safe in taking the person on - although this does require more attention to the needs of "newbies" and the willingness to remove folk when necessary. However for someone to be an editor I would imagine that more words would be necessary to put in context their specific value to the project. That is, after all, what sets CZ apart - the editor approval of articles. David Finn 11:06, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
The number of words is fuzzy requirement: They may used to pass information, or to give no (useful) information at all. If CZ requires a bio, it should define what has to be included (as a minimum requirement), not its size.
For Editors, requiring a link is questionable. While probably most will have some link to provide, some may not.
Editors are appointed by CZ. Thus the corresponding categories may not be edited freely. (Could they be kept on a locked page?)
--Peter Schmitt 16:04, 4 November 2010 (UTC)


What editorial rights do Citizens have in their own user space and in the user space of others?

"Editors of their own user pages and subpages thereof" is to be interpreted as meaning that while Editors can rule on matters of content and style within the scope of their Editorship, users can rule on matters of content and style within their own user pages and subpages thereof, provided that such ruling does neither

  1. contravene any other part of the Charter (especially Articles 5 on civility and 23 on advocacy and advertisement) nor
  2. interfere with the ability of other Citizens to manage content on the site according to the principles laid out by the Charter (e.g. Article 34, point 8 on managing technical matters).

Citizens do not generally have the right to edit each other's user pages and subpages thereof without explicit permission. Exempted from this rule are purely technical edits as well as Constabulary action.

For further details, please see CZ:User pages (current version).

Are Citizens required to maintain biographies?

Yes. Until the Management Council decides otherwise, biographies shall be considered to belong to the "basic requirements for participation" required by Article 2 of the Charter.

Are Citizens allowed to modify the categories in which pages in their user space are listed?

Yes, though in the case of a dispute, they could be overruled by the Constabulary or by technical staff working on categories.

Are Citizens allowed to modify the categories in which pages in the user space of others are listed?

Only if at least one of the following conditions are being met:

  1. They are acting as a Constable on that user page.
  2. They are acting as technical staff on that user page, working on categories.
  3. The other Citizen has permitted others to edit in his or her user space.


  • The principles outlined in this decision apply equally to newly registered, current and past participants, though leniency is advised when dealing with pages whose latest edits predate this decision.
  • The format for communicating the decision process will be different next time. Details to be developed via CZ:Managing Editor.

--Daniel Mietchen 11:38, 5 November 2010 (UTC) as CZ:Managing Editor


User pages include pages in the User namespace, i.e. those listed under Special:PrefixIndex/User:. Consequently, pages in the User talk namespace — i.e. those listed under Special:PrefixIndex/User talk: — are to be regarded as normal talk pages. --Daniel Mietchen 19:47, 2 April 2011 (UTC) as CZ:Managing Editor

Post-decision comments

Category listings

This comment was moved here from the #Decision section, where it had been placed originally.

Regarding "Are Citizens allowed to modify the categories in which pages in the user space of others are listed? " and the statement above,

  1. They are acting as a Constable on that user page.

As a Constable, I have recently discovered that another Constable has gone to my User Page and removed my listing as a Constable and someone has removed my name from the Constabulary list ( The history of that list makes no note of any changes past September 2007. My standing as a Constable is well documented and there are other names that have come and gone - yet the history does not record their presence or service. So, while we are having this discussion, is someone is acting unilaterally and revising history? This is very ominous. If we can not act in a transparent way and adhere to our own rules, we have a significant problem. Thomas Simmons 22:23, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

As long as there is no dispute over whether you still are a Constable (I haven't seen any), then removal of this category is the correct way to signal this change in status, and it has been applied analogously to others in the past. The edit history at Category pages only shows edits made directly to those category pages, not additions or removals of other pages to that category, which are only accessible via the page histories of those other pages. --Daniel Mietchen 14:37, 2 May 2011 (CDT)