NOTICE: Citizendium is still being set up on its newer server, treat as a beta for now; please see here for more.
Citizendium - a community developing a quality comprehensive compendium of knowledge, online and free. Click here to join and contribute—free
CZ thanks our previous donors. Donate here. Treasurer's Financial Report -- Thanks to our content contributors. --

CZ Talk:Editorial Council/Pre-2010 Election

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search


So what's the plan for recruiting Editors? CZ:Recruitment_Letter? CZ_Talk:Recruitment_Letter? -Tom Kelly (Talk) 19:34, 20 April 2007 (CDT)

Recruitment for what? the editorial council? I didn't realize you were looking for volunteers. Greg Woodhouse 19:42, 20 April 2007 (CDT)
Edit, added Editors. -Tom Kelly (Talk) 20:38, 20 April 2007 (CDT)

Comments on Editorial Council Resolution 0001

I'm sorry if this is the wrong place (or wrong time) for my comments. This is the third time I've looked at this resolution and I still can't figure out where and when my comments are welcome.

My main comment: Don't restrict debate so much! There can be good reason to terminate debate at some time in order to finalize a decision. But I see no good reason to prevent debate before a specified date. 72 hours is too short. It disenfranchises, for example, people who only have time to do Citizendium on the weekend. It disenfranchises people who concentrate on writing articles for several days at a time rather than constantly checking (deep in the hierarchy of pages accessible from the main page) to see what's going on in Citizendium.

First we have a too-short approval process that doesn't leave time for many corrections to be noticed, pointed out and approved by editors before the article is approved. Now the same thing is proposed to be done with finalizing of fundamental policies.

In a real-life parliament, debate is restricted to certain times because only one person can talk at a time. There is no need to do that for wiki parliaments.

Besides allowing more time for debate, I suggest making the instructions clearer so that people know whether (a) ordinary Citizendium members or (b) Editorial council members are welcome to give comments and where and when to give them. Clear instructions ilke "You (ordinary Citizendium member) will be able to comment on this here starting at (date, time)" -- although, as I said above, I see no reason for such a restriction, and think it should just say "You (ordinary Citizendium member) are welcome to comment here now and until (date,time)". Similar clear instructions should be given for editorial council members. For example, Larry Sanger put a position statement but it is not at all clear who else is allowed to put one up, or when, or why he was free to write a long statement but wasn't free to write a long statement and who else that applies to.

I also think the debate should be at least a week long to allow people who have time on weekends to participate. Also, it would be good to have an easier way to find this debate starting at the main page. --Catherine Woodgold 07:25, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

Catherine, please move your comments to the relevant forum page, here:,890.0.html

None of the Editorial Council members will see your comments on this talk page. --Larry Sanger 12:56, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

Comments moved from the old Editorial Council suggestion box page (deleted and replaced)

Before starting to vote about editcouncil matters it seems wise to ask all members of CZ for suggestions. Allowing the members of the editcouncil to get feed back and knowledge about the "world" support for motions. Last vote was 24-0 indicating 24 decide for all of the community - where authors cannot vote. Lets give them influence at least. --Robert Tito

"Last vote was 24-0 indicating 24 decide for all of the community - where authors cannot vote."

  • Unless I am misinterpreting what this represents, that is oligarchy, and a horrible direction for an online representative democracy. Authors should have representatives within the voting body that drives the project. This will kill this project unless remedied, and "We Ain't Elitist" needs a formal retraction. Stephen Ewen 14:19, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

I always thought this is what we would do--either that, or have a separate body. Certainly, let's draw up a resolution about how to get author representation in the Council. --Larry Sanger 14:26, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

As to Rob's first sentence, "Before starting to vote about editcouncil matters it seems wise to ask all members of CZ for suggestions," that is precisely what the guidelines on Editorial Council How to Make a Resolution say. --Larry Sanger 14:31, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Is optional listening enough? I think if you'd ask authors, who are likely to make up 90% of all contributors, they'd disagree. What is very worrisome is that the EC has such broad powers: "including, but not limited to". Already, among these suggestions, there are some issues I'd argue that the council has no business whatsoever deciding alone for the entirety of the project--licensing--and for specific workgroups--Biology scientific names question. The EC must not be The Project Governing Council, but must have a much stricter purvey. Otherwise, I think some serious 50/50 representation is needed. Yep, democracy can be messy. Stephen Ewen 17:44, 29 May 2007 (CDT)
E.g., a sort of House of Commons to go along with a sort of House of Lords, is one way. Stephen Ewen 01:56, 30 May 2007 (CDT)
Maybe a suggestion is to use citizendium-l mail to send a mail to everybody about whats going on in the editcouncil. The delete button is close enough for those not interested, the interested might get a stimulus to read and post. Robert Tito |  Talk  16:55, 18 October 2007 (CDT)

"under construction" or "scholarly work in progress"

I added this to the suggestion box as both a way to 1)let the general public know that the article is not finished and in fact may be in total disarray at times as we are still working through it and 2)to motivate editors to get their articles approved. Articles such as Intelligent design and Global warming are the reason I thought them necessary initially. I am totally open to feedback however. --Matt Innis (Talk) 14:38, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

This seems like an excellent suggestion to me. There are several reasons beginning with "silence implies consent". If an article isn't explicitly marked as anything other than a completed article, then the public is likely to consider it as final. Another reason is that the whole point (at least according to my understanding) of Citizendium is to be reliable. In the case of articles that are not yet approved, we have not yet done our job. Finally, I agree that it is important to have an incentive for moving articles through the approval process. Several people I've spoken to take the opposite point of view, arguing (not unreasonably) that it would be unwise to approve articles prematurely. But at this point, I think the greater danger is that articlew will remain undeveloped, or that debates will go on and on, while the articles themselve remain in limbo. To the extent that we fail to develop articles to the point where they may be approved and approve them, we are failing. Greg Woodhouse 16:02, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

We used to have such a notice. The trouble was that it was put on all articles, and there was no technically easy way to remove it for approved articles. As a stopgap measure, we have "All unapproved articles are subject to a disclaimer; please read." That's at the top of every page, just beneath "The world needs a better free encyclopedia..."

Theoretically, we could place a template by hand on every single unapproved article (!). --Larry Sanger 16:09, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Why not a single template that picks up the status of the article? After all, won't an article be approved if and only if its status is 0? Greg Woodhouse 16:16, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Hmmm. I sure don't want to hand tag again;-) I know this can get dangerously close to wikipedia's template crazy environment, so we have to be sure we don't go there. But something along that line would motivate editors to approve as well as warn readers that we have not *yet* endorsed this article, so even student's won't use it as a reference. --Matt Innis (Talk) 17:03, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Well, if Jason and Greg aren't up to it, and someone wants to make a bot........ --Larry Sanger 17:23, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Recognizing authors

Develop a system for recognizing authors for their experience and expertise. One very simple way absent something more complex is to develop a method for awarding an Author Award of Excellence. Three editors agree and they get it, or something like that. It'd have to be a template placed on the userpage, however. ---Stephen Ewen 04:11, 30 May 2007 (CDT)

Require Edit Summary for all edits?

Absolutely not. Require it on all major ones, perhaps. But there is just no way that I am going to make an edit summary every time I catch something I could phrase slightly better on a page I am authoring, particularly if doing so alone at the moment. I don't typically make edit summaries in that instance and don't want to be bothered with doing so. On the other hand, I give a detailed edit summary every time it really matters, and whenever other contributors have clearly been working before me. Stephen Ewen 01:39, 2 June 2007 (CDT)

Improve attribution to outside sources

Right now, we have a "content is from Wikipedia" checkbox, and a couple of templates for authors to assert that content they have contributed here is their work, and therefore the same content on Wikipedia is not subject to WP licensing restrictions.

I'd like to see something better, which would probably require developer intervention to implement. Instead of a simple checkbox, which automatically assumes that the content is from the Wikipedia article of the same name, I'd like to see a way to specify one of several open-content/public-domain sources, an article title (which could default to the CZ article title), and a URL for the source, with instructions to link to a specific article version in the case of Wiki-derived content. I also think the mechanism could be used to automate authorship claims.

We already have something similar for image uploading, so I suspect that the difficult part of implementing this will be to persuade authors to use it properly, rather than writing the code for it. The reason I think we need this is that the current checkbox method has a number of flaws:

  1. The current method only works for content derived from the english Wikipedia. There are plenty of other sources where quality GFDL, CC-licensed, or public-domain content can be obtained.
  2. The current method assumes that the source of the content is the Wikipedia article of the same name. This is often correct, but given Wikipedia's naming disputes, our naming conventions, and the fact that we may divide subjects in a different way than Wikipedia, it's likely to be incorrect at least some of the time.
  3. The current method links to the current Wikipedia page, which potentially creates false attributions. Our attribution should show accurately at what point our content forked from theirs. (It may be useful to figure out a way to scrape the version URL for the current version of a Wikipedia article, for people who aren't working from older versions.)

I tihnk we need to make this semi-automatic, as we already have some attribution issues which could bite us, and maintaining them properly will take a lot of manual labor. It doesn't have to be done the way I suggested, but *something* would be useful. Anthony Argyriou 14:52, 18 October 2007 (CDT)

The MediaWiki wiki has the perfect system, in my view, dealing with much of this. You can view an example here of their alternatively licensed (non-GFDL) pages. As soon as I get the CZ:Upload-Wizard wizzing along, I plan to turn my attention to figuring out what needs doing to implement that. What do you think of this, Anthony? Stephen Ewen 16:42, 18 October 2007 (CDT)
I'm not sure what I think of the MediaWiki page just yet. I do like the setup of the upload wizard, though I think it is better suited for images and other media, than for article text. I have considerable faith that you or others working on the guts of the wiki here can implement my suggestion. The question remains whether others think this is worth doing, and if anyone has any specific details or changes to the design, before implementation. Anthony Argyriou 01:21, 19 October 2007 (CDT)

Old suggestions

Feel free to convert any of these into Proposals. --Larry Sanger 12:32, 12 February 2008 (CST)

  • The license (already decided)
  • Possible procedural improvements to enable and encourage the community to approve more articles
  • Policy on "fair use" media (I think this is already decided?)
  • The "history of" question (A proposal now)
  • Start a Workgroup Committee
  • And/or make a bunch of new workgroups (We have a lot of workgroups now; don't know if this meant more)
  • Begin labelling articles "AmE" or "BrE" for the dialect of English (Done in the metadata template)
  • Develop a method of identifying and flagging "in-depth" articles.
  • Consider survey articles as a means of assisting the reader in understanding how the different facets of a field fit together.
  • Biology scientific names question
  • Including the contents of old, public domain encyclopedias
  • Eduzendium (Already done!)
  • Require Edit Summary for all edits?
  • Subpages and sidebar proposal (Already done)
  • It seems wise to ask all members of CZ for suggestions, or seats on the Council for authors.
  • Consider some sort of "under construction" or "scholarly work in progress" notice for the tops of articles not approved. See Template:Construction for an example.
  • Develop a system for recognizing authors for their experience and expertise.
  • Find a way to tabulate editor work, for academic credit.
  • Make a system to inform all the authors/editors who may be interested in a particular topic to collaboratively expedite the approval process of that.
  • Clarify policy and procedures about article deletion by editors
  • Improve attribution to outside sources (detailed on talk page)
I crossed some out that have already been completed, but did not delete them to keep the record. --Robert W King 12:36, 12 February 2008 (CST)

how to amend?

I want to ptopose an amendment...just where should I put it? I formally move an amendment: replace adding at least two sentences with adding at least 250 words Richard Jensen 23:26, 9 March 2008 (CDT)

Maybe Supten can explain. You propose amendments on the mailing list, but a proposal for an amendment would be out of order at this time; the original proposal hasn't even gone through the initial comment period. See the rules, and this section in particular. --Larry Sanger 23:31, 9 March 2008 (CDT)

Help please

I created CZ:Editorial Council Resolution 0011, but I don't have permission to edit this main page, so I cannot add it to the initial resolutions section. Also, I have me listed as Driver, but I will also sponsor this resolution. How do I do that? David E. Volk 14:35, 9 June 2008 (CDT)

I've unprotected the page now, so people can add initial resolutions. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:05, 9 June 2008 (CDT)

Proposal for starting the election process

As everyone knows, life got in the way of scheduled elections. Chris Day, with whom I've communicated and gotten agreement, is alive and well, and accepts the idea of my calling the election until he can devote more time -- and he does expect to start doing so.

In my reading of the rules, the Secretary can act in the absence of the Chair. Since the Secretary is the Designated Election Official, there would need to be help in counting votes, just as with the Drafting Committee -- whether that looks like sending mail to Constabulary or some other mail account is to be determined.

Howard C. Berkowitz 16:53, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Naming of countries

The Editorial Council is asked to decide on a Citizendium policy on the naming of articles about countries. A policy is needed because there are likely to be multiple cases of dispute, and no consensus has been established from existing precedents on Citizendium. Any decision may require name changes for several existing articles.

The options to be considered could include 1)Consistently following a list of names from an external notable source such as the UN list of county names. This option has the merit of simplicity and objectivity, but (unless exceptions are allowed) it would entail renaming United Kingdom as the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”; other potentially contentious names from this list would include:

  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Syrian Arab Republic

  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of

However, under this rule the Republic of Macedonia would become ‘Macedonia’. I don’t see a consistent logic applied to the UN list of names, and it is subject to change.

2)Consistently using the current English translation of the formal name of the state. Such names would endorse: Republic of Macedonia but require renaming Sri Lanka as ‘Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka’ and China as ‘People's Republic of China’

3) Consistently using the English name by which they are commonly called. This is unfortunately in flux, notably in the case of Burma/Myanmar. For example, the BBC, the Guardian and the CIA still use Burma; the New York Times uses Myanmar. It may be hard to resolve this objectively if there are different patterns of use around the world. Traditional use may be different from current use.

4) Laissez faire, allowing Editors to decide an appropriate name for each article , unless disputes arise. If and when they do, there needs to be some way of resolving these disputes. However; a position may be to allow Editors to decide IF they can agree, but if they can’t to default to an agreed formula (such as 1) or 2) above).

The Council might consider requiring that the official name, recent former names, names in the native language, and common alternative names are all noted in the Introduction.

...said Gareth Leng (talk) (Please sign your talk page posts by simply adding four tildes, ~~~~.)

Just a small correction: the provisional name under which the country that calls itself Republic of Macedonia was admitted to the UN is regulated by Resolution of the UN General Assembly A/RES/47/225 of 27 April 1993 and confirmed by Security Council Resolution 845(1993) of 18 June 1993. That provisional name is "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" and all agencies of the UN (but explicitly not national states) are bound by the UN decision. About 160 130 countries have now recognised the country by its constitutional name (including the USA but excluding all of the EU). There are also other countries not listed in the UN list, which cannot be ignored by an encyclopedia, so the UN list is not definitive in any sense other than international law. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:01, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
You are right as of now [1];(I must have miseard the list)Gareth Leng 17:55, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Gareth, apropos state vs. country, I've experimented with this for both Iran/State of Iran and Israel/State of Israel, with a fair number of subarticles in mostly military areas. In no way am I wedded to "State of" and would be equally comfortable with "government of", or standardizing on any other prefix. The Israel article unquestionably needs work and I am no expert on the more distant but exceptionally relevant history.
Not suggesting I "own" these articles, but I'm quite open to the idea of exploring pros and cons using them as examples. I do believe, and I am saying this based on specific politicomilitary experience, that the distinction is extremely important.
Martin, may I suggest we have some source guidelines for article naming for countries not in the UN list? While it's by no means definitive, the CIA World Factbook is one useful source. Dave Finn and I were amused recently to find that several official Algerian sites have imported, unchanged, the Factbook text to describe their own country. This takes CIA infiltration to a new level. :-)
A separate issue is the proper naming of articles on separatist, irredentist, and other movements, to which I have no simple answer. --Howard C. Berkowitz 21:58, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
The CIA Factbook is unreliable. I will present a protocol on country naming for the EC to consider when it is elected.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 22:02, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting the CIA Factbook is authoritative. I was, however, suggesting it was a resource. In the boundary conditions of naming, there is no single solution. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:27, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Some comments on Gareth's first two options:
  1. UN naming can't be consistently applied as they don't recognize the very existence of some de facto states. CZ can't be bound by such decisions.
  2. Here are a few official names with English translations:
    1. República del Ecuador: Republic of the equator
    2. República del Paraguay: Republic of the Paraguay
    3. República Oriental del Uruguay: Eastern Republic of the Uruguay
Peter Jackson 13:55, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Editorial workgroups

This request arises from problems of editorial authority in an article about a country (Myanmar)(the article originally entitled Burma). Similar issues might arise in many different circumstances.

In the particular case of article with the name of a country or state, we must recognise the difference between a state, in the sense of a politically organized body of people under a single government; and a country, in the sense of a geographical region distinguished by its people or culture or geography or governance. Different or multiple workgroups may be involved in developing any particular article; any any one might be developed in a way where editorial involvement from Politics or History or Geography is not essential. This can only be clear once an article has content that requires the relevant expert guidance.

In the case of the article originally entitled Burma, the initial content was political, and it was correctly assigned to the Politics workgroup. When a dispute arose, workgroups were added to broaden the discussion, and this gave rise to further dispute.

It seems likely that this article will develop material relevant to other workgroups that would need expert oversight, but it might have been better to wait until such material was actually present before adding these workgroups. To add a workgroup merely to draw in editors when the article does not have relevant content that requires their expert attention seems premature; an editor can make editorial rulings only in aspects relating to their particular expertise. Having said that, to remove a workgroup that has been reasonably if prematurely added is unnecessary for the same reason – editors can only rule within their areas of expertise, whether or not the workgroup is there.

Similar, more serious problems will arise in the future if, for example, the same material has both historical and political relevance, but the two disciplines have different perceptions of its significance. Depending upon what perspective you come from, different aspects may assume very different levels of importance.

The Editorial Council may wish to consider how to manage articles involving multiple workgroups. If an article is in workgroups A and B, should it need to be approved by editors from both? If not, why does it "need" both workgroups? If the primary workgroup (A) marks the only group that is essential for approval, then this must depend on the content of the developing article. Accordingly, the editors of A must be allowed to make judgments about global issues affecting the article. Specifically, if the article formerly titled Burma continued to develop primarily as a Politics article, then it seems to follow that approval must require a politics editor, and hence key editorial judgments such as about article name must be the call of politics editors, overriding all secondary workgroup editors in the event of disagreement.

I invite the Editorial Council to consider whether there needs to be a policy affirming that 1) Articles should be assigned a primary workgroup according to the greatest needs for expert guidance 2) An Editor from that Primary Workgroup is needed for its approval 3) Editors from the Primary workgroup have the right to make final decisions on all matters that must be addressed before it can be approved by editors of that workgroup.Gareth Leng 16:36, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

The Editorial Council should consider, however, if the Workgroup mechanism is fundamentally intractable, because it operates at too coarse a granularity. Take the following purely as experimental: there are some Subgroups that seem to be reasonable classifications for articles. I don't consider that a final solution and I suspect the longer-term solution will involve, perhaps stretching the term, semantic web concepts.
I urge the Council to create, as one of its first acts, a Task Force on -- I'm not sure I have a good name -- "expertise management". Such a Task Force should be chaired by an EC member, but actively search for, and include, experts in Library and Information Science, software that can help article cataloging, integrated workflows, and user interface design. Given the group will have to consider software realities, the MC might be invited to help name the technical experts. Perhaps it shouldbe a joint EC-MC Task Force. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:19, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

How to address Comprehensive, neutrality and objectivity

This post was moved from Homeopathy/Where from here

Article 18 The Citizendium shall welcome contributions in all fields of knowledge.

Article 19 All articles shall treat their subjects comprehensively, neutrally, and objectively to the greatest degree possible in a well-written narrative, complementing text with other suitable material and media

While I am Ombudsman, this is one article where I cannot act in that role, so all I say here is in my capacity as author and editor. This page ought to have been a place for rational discussion of the article style and content; much of that has been obscured by unneccessary needling, bickering and blustering. It shouldn't be necessary to say that Dana and I have diametrically opposed views about homeopathy, but he has taken a responsible and constructive approach to the article. He has argued his corner civilly (with a few, frankly understandable exceptions), has asked for reasonable clarifications, has listened and attempted to accommodate other views, and all despite being needled in a way I hope will not be a feature of Citizendium in its coming phase. We have to keep content discussions professional, and not denigrate those we disagree with; we are under a Charter that requires us all to treat each other respectfully despite disagreements. I favour approaching the scientific content of articles from a scientific point of view; but on my understanding, (as an active, professional scientist) the scientific point of view rejects argument by authority; it argues carefully from objective evidence, recognising where there are weaknesses in that evidence, and acknowledging the limits of our understanding where these impinge on the strength of our conclusions. It does not embrace bombast or rhetoric. I favour approaching health related issues from the medical perspective, which differs from the scientific point of view in the need to be cautious about seeming to give advice about treatment efficacy, and especially avoiding any appearance of advice that is inconsistent with guidelines from medical organisations such as the NHS - and this applies even when I think that those guidelines should be different, and even when the science does not really support those guidelines. Other aspects of the article engage neither scientific considerations nor these medical concerns, and here I favour a fact-based description of the history, economics, and sociology, without overt editorial tone. I favour the article containing an accurate and object account of the practice and beliefs of homeopaths, avoiding both promotion and denigration.

I do not favour reducing this article to a stub, unless there is fundamental disagreement with the above; I believe the above to be consistent with the Charter and fundamental principles of the project. If there is general agreement with this, then I suggest that the scientific content be kept within a section overseen by science workgroups, that the Health related sections be overseen by Health Sciences workgroup (Efficacy, Medical organisations attitudes), and that the discussions of scientific basis and of efficacy be strictly confined to these sections (except the lede). The remainder should stay with Healing Arts; I see no virtue in losing this workgroup as there is material that fits into no other workgroup but must be handled responsibly and professionally (I am an editor of Health Sciences, Healing Arts and Biology, so this doesn't affect me).

There are some decisions (about the lede, and about the order and overall weight) that need decisions that overarch others; in fact, it is these issues that have really given rise to disquiet about this article. One view that I have favoured in the past is to cut the efficacy section down to a stub and leave it to the article on that topic, and similarly the section on scientific basis. These sections have grown in an attempt to give prominence to the scientific weaknesses and the weakness of claims of efficacy. I don't know that this is the right approach, but I'd suggest that the new ME, whoever that is, be asked to decide on such structural characteristics (especially length of sections and order of appearance). I have unilaterally reallocated the article on efficacy to the Health Sciences workgroup alone, and the article on Memory of Water to science workgroups alone, I've done this as Editor of the three workgroups mentioned above, as the expertise for evaluating these issues professionally lies in those workgroups.

Citizendium was established to promote collaborative editing amongst authors working from different perspectives, this was an aim that brought me and others here in the first place. This article has been a time sink (most particularly the Talk page), and we need to address that, but not in a way that denies our mission. Addressing that includes tightening up Talk page etiquette, and especially keeping discussion constructive and to the point.

This is not the right place to pursue this particular discussion, and I suggest that this post not be commented on here. Instead I suggest that this post, once people have had the chance to read it and reflect on it soberly, should be moved to a page for the new Management Council to address in the first instance, inviting those who wish to comment on this particular proposal to do so there. Please, just pause now, and think soberly on what the best way forward is for this project. If the project treats those who have different views to the majority as problems because of that, then some of us who are committed to wide and open public engagement will have no place here, even if we are part of the majority view. Some of us are here, in part at least, to talk to those who do not share our views, are interested in different viewpoints, and are open to discussing challenges to our views, provided that is done rationally and civilly; that was our mission after all.Gareth Leng 11:05, 21 October 2010 (UTC)