CZ:The Editor Role
From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
While an 'editor' on other projects may simply be someone who writes or edits pages, a Citizendium 'Editor' is a recognized expert who may be able to exercise some additional authority over the development of articles within their field.
From the Charter:
Article 4: The Citizendium community shall recognize the special role that experts play in defining content standards in their relevant fields and in guiding content development towards reliability and quality.
Article 14: Editors are Citizens whose expertise in some field of knowledge is recognized and formally acknowledged by the community. Official recognition of expertise — obtained through education or experience — and its scope shall be based on guidelines established by the Editorial Council.
Article 15: Editors shall assure the quality of the Citizendium's approved content. They shall review and evaluate articles and shall have the right to
- approve high-quality articles that treat their topic adequately;
- resolve disputes over specific content matters when requested;
- enforce style and content guidelines as established by the Citizendium Council; and
- identify for discussion incorrect or poorly presented content.
Article 16: Any change in Editor status shall require a formal decision by the Citizendium Council and may be appealed.
Article 22: Articles formally judged to be of high quality by editors shall be designated "approved", protected and kept permanently available.
Not your usual 'editorship'
This is a wiki; it is run almost exclusively by volunteers: articles aren't signed, and everyone works side-by-side. Most importantly, everyone may improve any article at will: there is no central authority assigning work.
Considering this, editorship in the Citizendium differs greatly from traditional editorship. You neither assign work, nor is work assigned to you. Your role is one of gentle oversight--village elders wandering the bazaar. (See Eric Raymond's ".")
What Editors do
Editors are responsible for Citizendium content, not participant management (which constables handle). Editors, essentially, guide the crafting of articles and they approve articles. Editors may also be involved in governance, if they wish. Editors are also authors, so many write articles both inside and outside their area(s) of expertise.
Editors are expected to ensure that articles are accurate, objective, representative of different (important) views, balanced in representing those views, and sufficiently comprehensive as to be valuable encyclopedia articles. An editor who is a specialist on a given topic may thus make certain decisions about, and plan the articles on, that topic. Editors might, for example, list an article plan and guidance on issues at the top of an article's talk page, and should be willing to discuss questions on the Talk page. The best way to keep authors enthusiastic is to explain any editorial decisions clearly and politely, to be (reasonably) responsive to questions, and to be encouraging and constructive in advice and guidance.
Obviously, editors must share this responsibility with other editors; but if there is anyone who is a genuine specialist on the topic, then, within reason, the other editors defer to that editor on issues relevant to that particular expertise. Authors, too, defer to editors responsible for an article to which they contribute on such issues. But this does not mean that the editor may flout Citizendium guidelines with impunity, or that we support "local dictatorship"; we don't. Any author who feels that an editor is acting unreasonably (and any editor who believes that an author is being unreasonable) may refer the dispute to the Citizendium processes of dispute resolution.
An editor should exert "authority" rarely. If an editor is also acting as an author on a particular article, then he or she should take care to exert authority only on issues where his or her professional expertise is clearly relevant. Many issues about articles are not relevant to an editor's specialist expertise. Some (e.g. citation styles, naming conventions etc.) may be determined by the workgroup policy. Others (including issues of presentation, writing style, level, and tone) should be settled if possible by discussion between the collaborating authors and editors as equals.
Editors can also approve articles as 'citable'. Approval involves identifying a particular version of the article from the page history--often, the most recent one--and nominating that version for approval on a certain date. As editor, you can do this single-handedly for articles in your workgroup(s), if you have not made any significant contribution to the article yourself. If you have contributed, then the article can only be approved either by a group of three editors including yourself, or else by another (uninvolved) editor. For instructions, see Approval Process. Your first time through, do ask for help--there are many people eager to help new editors with new approvals.
Editors may participate in subject workgroups which, when active, provide a forum to discuss and organize articles in their care. All Editors are members of at least one workgroup. The Citizendium Council is broadly responsible for content policy.
How to become an Editor
Authors wishing to apply for Editorships should approach either an Editorial Personnel Administrator or the Citizendium Council. Also consider approaching the Managing Editor directly. You may be required to give details of your level of expertise, such as publication records, a résumé or institutional weblinks.
Get started as an Editor
Your general task as editor is to help improve Citizendium articles. You might contribute in any of the following ways:
- Respond to workgroup review requests.
- Anyone can request that workgroup editors review an article by posting to the workgroup mailing list. Review requests are not assigned to any particular editor; instead, anyone who is available goes to the page and offers his or her changes and comments. Similarly, authors (and other editors) may announce that they are trying to push an article toward approval. Please respond to such announcements!
- Look through articles in your area.
- Look on Workgroups. Find your workgroup and then, to the right of the workgroup name, click "All articles." That will give you an idea of how many articles and of what sort we have in your area. Please help improve any of those articles.
- Hunt for approvable articles in your area.
- Look again on Workgroups. Find your workgroup and click "Workgroup Home." On the page that appears, notice, near the top, the links titled "Checklist-generated categories." Click on the first link after that, "Developed." This will give you a list of all the articles that someone--rightly or wrongly--has picked out as "developed." That's beyond the "stub" and "developing" stages. Those are articles that should be close to approval. (If not, then the "status" should not be "1"--simply tell someone on a talk page, if you don't know what this means.)
- Monitor recent changes in your area.
- Again, look on Workgroups. Find your workgroup and then, under the rightmost column, click "Recent changes." That should give you an idea of what--if anything--has been happening in your area. But if you're in an area that hasn't had so much activity, don't give up. We're a new project; and other people will join and help you if you take the initiative.
- Monitor project-wide recent changes.
- From any page at all, look to the left, under "project pages," for the "Recent changes" link. Click that and explore the links you see. That will give you an idea of what has been going on on the wiki lately. Note that you can opt to view up to 500 changes at a time. This can be great fun: you can help others out and talk about what you're doing, either on the article's talk page or on the person's "user talk" page. (Go to the person's user page and then hit the "discussion" tab.)
- Drum up support.
- In some cases, we don't have enough active editors. Please do feel free invite your colleagues to participate.
- Our most active editors also write articles, and we need your leadership here. In writing, you act as an author. If you must make a decision, you should declare--gently--that you are acting in your capacity as an editor. For guidelines on good articles, see Approval Standards and Article Mechanics.
Why Citizendium? Creating a "Citizens' Compendium" can actually be a lot of fun and rewarding--not to mention very helpful for a global audience. We're doing something that could both greatly improve information online and serve as an example of a better sort of wiki project.