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CZ:Proposals/Approval system for CZ: pages

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This proposal was assigned to the Executive Committee, who has accepted it.

This is a reasonably important proposal and should be generally vetted by the community, not just the Executive Committee. Therefore, there must be broad (if not unanimous) support for the proposal before it moves on to the Executive Committee.

Complete explanation

I think we just extend the Approval/Draft system to all CZ pages. They become approved once approved by executive committee members (or by another relevant group nominated by the executive committee), and then a draft is open to revise. I think an approved version should remain editable for minor things without re-approval. But there will be two versions, a formally approved version, and an evolving draft alternative.

Very few of these pages will need to be approved in this way; but some, especially those that express important rules or policy statements, need to have a stable form if they are to be useful. At the same time, the draft page can then become a way of suggesting significant changes, open to anyone, without fear of disrupting established practices. To encourage the rewriting of other important pages for clarity, it may sometimes help to have an extant approved version while an alternative is actively worked up.

Some pages express rules or guidance specific to a formally constituted subgroup of Citizendium (such as workgroups). In such cases, the workgroup itself may approve these pages if they choose to; they should alert the Executive Committee in case of any uncertainty about whose responsibility a particular page is. Ad hoc groups do not have the power to approve until formally recognised as a constituent part of Citizendium.


Proposed Approval process for CZ: pages. A member of the executive committee (or relevant group) places a "ToApprove" template on the article's talk page, and on the Talk page, explains why an approved version is needed or desirable. That template will be marked with a date, usually several days to a week from the date that it is placed.

If the approval template remains there, approval will occur on that date. Meanwhile, discussion and edits continue. Edits at this stage should be made only by executive committee members, involved authors and relevant parties (e.g. constables). Other members of Citizendium should make recommendations and criticisms on the talk page.

At this stage, any other interested body (such as the Editorial Council) may additionally be invited to offer their views, which will be taken into account.

At least one other member of the executive committee (or relevant group) must support approval. If another member of the executive committee (or relevant group) objects to approval, then he or she should explain why on the talk page, and further views sought.

If the nominator notes that the discussion on the talk page that has occurred since the nomination for approval brings up important objections, then he or she may delay the date for approval to allow for work to continue. The nominator may also change the version nominated for approval on the "to approve" template to an updated draft.

Unless the template is removed, on the designated date, a sysop then freezes the approved version of the article under an Approved template. At that freeze, a draft form of the article is generated. This draft is open to edits as are all unapproved articles on the wiki.

After approval, copyediting and minor changes may be performed by any member of the executive committee (or relevant group) with the help of the approvals editor. This may occur at any time.


Who may approve: For any CZ page, only members of the executive committee (or nominated relevant group) may approve.

Reasoning

Below is copied the discussion from an earlier, discarded proposal (See [[CZ:Proposals > CZ Community pages should be revised for simplicity]]), that led to the present proposal.

That proposal was justified thus: "....Part of what is keeping our "elitism shield" up is that many (if not all) of the community pages are overly complex. A campaign to heavily review and edit the pages will give us leaner, easy-to-comprehend documentation and improve our external appearance."

Implementation

As far as I can see this just needs Executive Committee endorsement.

Discussion

See CZ:Proposals/CZ Community pages should be revised for simplicity

I assume that this approval system is only proposed for CZ: pages with rules, and not for pages like CZ:Monthly Write-a-Thon or indeed this page itself. -- Jitse Niesen 13:42, 15 February 2008 (CST)

I can't see us ever wishing to approve any page unless there is a need to maintain a stable version of the page while changes or tried out on a Draft.Gareth Leng 03:57, 16 February 2008 (CST)

This is needed in a very major way, in my mind, just to prevent people from changing policy pages wily-nilly. Stephen Ewen 02:40, 24 February 2008 (CST)

The approving body of a rules page should be the one that is authorized to make changes to the rules documented therein. Content and editor policy pages should be approved by the editorial council and other pages by the executive council. I think something along these lines is worth a try. See this forum thread for an example of the slightly awkward and informal approval process for policy pages currently in place. Warren Schudy 11:37, 24 February 2008 (CST)

I think that this is an excellent suggestion, and will modify the proposal. Rather than list now the pages against relevant bodies, I suggest that the executive committee be free to assign any page to a relevant group.Gareth Leng 03:26, 27 February 2008 (CST)

The proposal is looking good. Why not submit it to the Executive Committee, Gareth? --Larry Sanger 12:20, 27 February 2008 (CST)

Executive Committee evaluation

Looks good to me, as I said. I think it's worth a try. My only worry is that it will slow down the updating process, but slow updating is better than no updating at all (or only by me), which is the problem at present. If this system emboldens people to propose changes, that's all the best.

I think it should be stated explicitly, however, that if anyone significantly changes policy in the course of editing a page, the changes need to be approved by the relevant group(s). --Larry Sanger 07:30, 28 February 2008 (CST)

I think (hope) that the opposite will be true, that with a stable version, editing the draft version will be uninhibited. The approved version will be the official policy until replaced by approval of a new Draft. I suspect also that announcement of proposed Approval will trigger close interest in improvements. Gareth Leng 08:19, 28 February 2008 (CST)
I like having draft and approved versions of policy pages. - Robert Badgett 23:56, 28 February 2008 (CST)

I support the proposal. Pages with key policies should not be edited lightly, but it should be possible to edit them and that does not happen enough at the moment. A clear process for editing these pages will hopefully help. -- Jitse Niesen 09:17, 1 March 2008 (CST)

I like this. It will give us a stable version of policy pages (which is a must) and help people get passed any trepidation about pitching in. One question, though: might it not be better to require that a majority of the Exec. Committee (or at least more than one person) endorse a new approved version before it is accepted? I know that this is why other members of the committee would be given the power to remove a nomination template, but policy should really be endorsed by the committee as a whole and not by a single member of the committee.--Joe Quick 12:22, 4 March 2008 (CST)

I agree that more than one person from the Exec. Committee should endorse a new approved version. Actually, I think this needs to be settled more clearly in the proposal itself. But asking for a majority vote is a bad idea, because it will grind approvals to a halt; that should happen only in case of significant disagreement (say, two people agree and two people disagree). Basically, links to new versions of a page should be posted to the Exec. Committee list, and then if there are two "yeses" and no one balks, it's through--unless it is clear that some other body needs to review policy changes. That is another thing that needs to be added to this proposal: when is it decided, and who decides, that a draft needs to be at least "nodded through" by the another body, such as the Editorial Council? I would like to see these questions answered (added to the proposal) before we consider this approved. --Larry Sanger 12:50, 4 March 2008 (CST)

One other thing is needed to add to the proposal, by the way: a general characterization of what sort of CZ pages need to be approved in this way. All of them? --Larry Sanger 12:52, 4 March 2008 (CST)


Added text in bold to try to meet these points.Gareth Leng 11:37, 6 March 2008 (CST)

I see the support of five members of the Executive Committee and no dissent (assuming I've met Larry's point). Can we consider this approved? If there are no objections by Thursday I'll assume so.Gareth Leng 11:10, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

One last issue, two questions.
(1) If some other "formally constituted subgroup of Citizendium" decides to approve a policy page related to that group, how is it decided who has the power to nominate and approve the page? Workgroups could probably use editors for this function, but maybe they should be electing leaders. In other groups, it might not be quite as easy to decide.
(2) Should a member of the Exec. Committee also support a non-Exec. Committee approval? In my mind, that doesn't need to be anything more than reading through the page and relevant discussion when it has been formalized by the other group and signing off on it. It would just be a matter of formalizing the approval and making sure that it doesn't go wholly unnoticed by the Exec.
--Joe Quick 12:13, 10 March 2008 (CDT)


Good points Joe. I wouldn't like to be too prescriptive on (1) at this stage because we might inadvertently be unreasonably restrictive; I'd rather just see how it goes and modify in the light of experience.

On (2) - signing off in some way to ensure attention might be a good thing - maybe we could get the constabulary to ask an Executive Committee member to formally endorse approval. I'd prefer to trust groups on this, but anyone else want to comment? Maybe the constabulary could draw executive attention to anything that looks potentially controversial. Perhaps I'm just being lazy here, but my instincts are to trust the groups that we've endorsed.Gareth Leng 10:40, 11 March 2008 (CDT)

Yes, in general I think it's best to trust the groups we've endorsed. We certainly don't want to create a bottle neck. My worry is that we'll end up with contradictory policies and not even know about it if they don't all go through the same group. The Executive Committee member's job would simply be that of checking to make sure the newly official page fits in (and if it doesn't, suggesting changes either to that page or elsewhere). Perhaps this is a role that would be better filled by the judiciary once it's set up? -Joe Quick 11:19, 11 March 2008 (CDT)
It's a good point. On the other hand, I don't think contradictory policies has arisen yet. Thus, I think it's not necessary to worry about it at the moment; we can always add the rule later on. The other thing is that I don't want us to get too many responsibilities, not only because I'm lazy but also because the way in which people are selected to the Executive Committee is not very democratic. -- Jitse Niesen 09:59, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
That sounds very reasonable. In that case, I'd say the proposal is ready to go. Anyone else have any last questions/issues before we make it official? --Joe Quick 11:02, 18 March 2008 (CDT)

Proposals System Navigation (advanced users only)

Proposal lists (some planned pages are still blank):

OK done I think - see CZ: Approval for CZ pages with a small note on the main Approval Process page.Gareth Leng 03:40, 29 April 2008 (CDT)