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Forum Talk:Governance

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Governance issues
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Discussion about issues regarding or specifically affecting how the project, its policies or any official positions work

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Approvals Committee AnnouncementsDiscussionsComments

Proposal for approving articles

What would you think about setting up a committee of five members (three Editors, two non-Editors) to review potentially approvable articles, edit as needed, and vote for approval or non-approval (majority vote)? Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 23:46, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

Why not? We need SOME mechanism, and this seems like a reasonable one, at least to get started with. Hayford Peirce (talk) 01:04, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
We've progressively reduced the number of elected officers because of difficulty finding candidates, and eventually abolished them altogether. I suspect this would suffer the same problem. I think you probably have to go quite a long way back through the contributions log even to find three Editors (Anthony, Robert Badgett and Russell Jones or Sandy Harris?).
If we do something like this, we should clearly distinguish this sort of approval from that by subject experts. Peter Jackson (talk) 17:37, 9 November 2017 (UTC)
How about a committee of three members (two Editors, one non-Editor). We can state: "Approved by the Editors of Citizendium". The goal is to render the articles as "Citable". Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 00:18, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
"Approved by the Editors of Citizendium" sounds pretty misleading to me. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:48, 21 November 2017 (UTC)

We need some mechanism for disapproving articles that have already been approved. There are some citable articles which even a non-expert like me can tell are quite inadequate and/or incorrect. --Martin Wyatt (talk) 22:02, 30 November 2017 (UTC)

I remember a case when they were still called approved, not citable, where I pointed out a couple of (minor) factual errors. At the time, nobody seemed to be saying anything about correcting them, but at a later time I noticed that had been done.
A problem now is that, if I understand correctly the concept of "citable", they're supposed to be unchangeable (and immovable) for ever. This is actually taken into account to some extent by Anthony's proposal below, in allowing for more than one citable version.
It would be possible to add a notice, to make a citable version say "This version was approved by an Editor / three Editors / the Approval Committee, but has now been [whatever phrasing seems appropriate]". Peter Jackson (talk) 11:27, 2 December 2017 (UTC)

Formal Proposal

Citizendium shall form a 3-member Approval Committee consisting of two Editors and one non-Editor member. Chosen among the three of them, one Editor shall chair the Committee. Members will remain on the Committee until they wish to be replaced.

The Committee will begin by considering those articles currently (2017-11-30) requesting consideration for approval. The Committee may then consider other promising articles that are well-developed, editing them as needed to render them suitable for consideration of approval. The Committee may ask non-member users to help with specific tasks.

Any member of the Committee, or any non-member, may request that the Committee reconsider articles that were approved prior to formation of the Committee, to consider whether they still meet the Committee’s standards for approval. If they do not, they shall be removed as Approved Article and as Citable Article.

Article approval requires majority agreement among the Committee members. Removal of approval status likewise requires majority agreement among the Committee members.

Articles that the Committee approves shall immediately achieve Citable Article status. Because some Approved articles may become eligible for reapproval after their editable Main Article has been revised, each citable article shall be given a version number (1,2,3,etc.) and a date located at the top of the Citable article prior to the Introduction. At the same location it shall be stated “Approved by the Approval Committee”.

Such versioning shall be retroactive to articles approved prior to creation of the Committee.

The Forum Manager, John Stephenson, shall create a separate section of the Forum entitled “Approval Committee” where the members of the Committee can carry out their deliberations, and where they can receive comments and suggestions from non-member users.

Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 23:29, 30 November 2017 (UTC)

See my remarks above about permanence of citable articles, and elsewhere on this page about reducing governance. I seem to remember you yourself were one of those pushing for the abolition of all existing structures. Peter Jackson (talk) 11:30, 2 December 2017 (UTC)
The policy document says "other rules and decisions may be made through voting, consensus or precedent", which is pretty vague. We've got no clearly defined way of making decisions, including decisions about how to make decisions ... (nor has WP, of course). Peter Jackson (talk) 11:34, 2 December 2017 (UTC)

Approvals Committee Guidelines

  • The Committee will consider first those articles that have already been nominated for consideration of approval.
  • The Committee will next evaluate the articles that were approved and rendered citable before establishment of the Approvals Committee.
  • Evaluation of articles are to be based on the extent to which they are factual, informative, coherent, well documented, neutral, and understandable by the audience to which they are targeted.
  • The Committee will edit articles that closely meet the above criteria in an effort to make them approvable.
  • Each Committee member will evaluate the same article under consideration.
  • The Committee will select at least one article for consideration and render its vote every two weeks.
  • Article approval requires majority affirmative.
  • Newly approved articles will automatically generate a citable version, carrying a header indicating that it was approved by the Approvals Committee, a version number, and the date that it was rendered citable.
  • When a Main Article is reapproved, its previous citable version will be archived so that if it had been cited in another publication it can be viewed.
  • The Main Article will carry a header declaring that it is open to editing by all users.
  • → Before starting on the assessment of individual articles, the committee should review CZ:Approval standards.
  • → If, while the committee is working through all the old approved articles, someone nominates a new candidate article, the committee should finish the article it's working on at the time, and then have a quick look at the candidate. If it looks like a sufficiently serious one, it should be looked at properly as next in line, before the next old one.
  • After evaluating the articles that were already nominated for consideration of approval, and those already approved before establishment of the Approvals Committee, new articles nominated for consideration of approval will be evaluated in the order that they were nominated.
  • Any user may nominate an article for consideration of approval by designating so in the appropriate subsection of the Approvals Committee in the Citizendium Forum. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 01:24, 29 December 2017 (UTC)
Couple of thoughts for now:
  1. No mention of neutrality. Admittedly can be hard for non-specialists to check.
  2. On the schedule suggested the committee should manage to evaluate all the existing ones in about six years.
Peter Jackson (talk) 11:08, 29 December 2017 (UTC)
OK, now I've had a bit of time to think about it, some suggested amendments:
  1. Before starting on the assessment of individual articles, the committee should review CZ:Approval standards.
  2. If, while the committee is working through all the old approved articles, someone nominates a new candidate article, the committee should finish the article it's working on at the time, and then have a quick look at the candidate. If it looks like a sufficiently serious one, it should be looked at properly as next in line, before the next old one.
Peter Jackson (talk) 11:03, 30 December 2017 (UTC)
Peter, I added your two lines to the guidelines (see lines preceded by a right arrow). I also added your point about neutrality. It should not take ten years to evaluate the existing approved articles because the guidelines specify "at least" one article every two weeks. As we proceed and gain experience, we should be able to handle multiple articles every two weeks. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 22:53, 1 January 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm inclined to support this proposal, not as ideal, but as something in the right direction.
One other point, not an amendment but a clarification. The two types of approval (specialist expert and committee) should be separate categories, with separate links from the main page. Peter Jackson (talk) 11:21, 2 January 2018 (UTC)

Tentative thought about how to handle motions

Any member can propose a motion and two weeks can be allowed for discussion and possible editing. A one-week call can be put forward to find out how many members would be willing to vote on that motion. If 2/3 of the members who were active in the six months prior to one month before the motion was submitted indicated their willingness to vote on the motion, BallotBin can count the votes of that group. The motion passes if 2/3 of the voters vote yes if and only if 2/3 of the members who agreed to vote did so. Otherwise the motion fails. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 22:58, 26 November 2016 (UTC)

Sounds reasonable enough to me.Hayford Peirce (talk) 01:36, 27 November 2016 (UTC)
Have to think about that, but I suspect RationalWiki would consider it excessively bureaucratic.
Maybe we'd want to distinguish different types of motions. Peter Jackson (talk) 15:51, 28 November 2016 (UTC)
I think it depends on who turns up. If there is a clear consensus or no objections, the proposer should be able to get on and do it as long as sufficient time has elapsed for people to make their views known. The two or three weeks Anthony suggests seem about right. Also, we could simply have votes, if needed, on the wiki, unless there is a call for anonymity. John Stephenson (talk) 20:00, 28 November 2016 (UTC)
Our new basic policy document says it can be amended only by 2/3 vote. Maybe less fundamental changes should be easier. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:49, 29 November 2016 (UTC)
Peter, would you be willing to edit or rewrite my proposal on how to handle motions? Anthony.Sebastian (talk)
Not right now. We're still just throwing ideas around, and only a few people have commented. Peter Jackson (talk) 11:55, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Another thought occurred to me. There will be situations where we need a definite decision one way or another. A 2/3 rule would be awkward. Peter Jackson (talk) 11:32, 15 December 2016 (UTC).

Edited proposal

Any member can propose a motion. A one-week call is put forward to determine how many members will be willing to vote on the motion. If 50% of active members agree to vote on the motion, and anonymity is not required, one week will be allowed for discussion in the appropriate section of the motion. Discussion may lead to editing of the motion. Voters will vote yes or no after their name in an appropriate section of the motion on the wiki. Active members are defined as members who have contributed content during the six-month period prior to one month before submission of the motion. The motion passes if a majority of voters vote yes. Otherwise the motion fails to pass. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 23:44, 25 December 2016 (UTC)

Any idea how many "active members" there are? I just tried to find out, but can't get the recent changes list to go back beyond 30 days (7 members). Peter Jackson (talk) 09:57, 20 January 2017 (UTC)
John, could you make the recent changes list go back one year? Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 00:28, 21 November 2017 (UTC)
Software seems to limit it. As of today, 21st August is the furthest back I've reached. You can try directly-editing the URL to change days/edits, e.g. this link, but it doesn't work beyond August for me. John Stephenson (talk) 13:37, 25 November 2017 (UTC)

Enforcing the policy document

Putting this out here now in advance of anything happening: what do we do in the event that someone breaches the policy document? It says that we must prohibit certain behaviours, e.g. spamming. Previous rules (now guidance) required indefinite bans followed by an appeals process. Also, at the moment, there are no moderators but several people do have sysop privileges. I suggest that those who have such privileges and are faced with obvious rule-breaking (e.g. someone spamming) should be allowed to block the offending account(s) immediately and then we discuss it. After all, any blocked account can be unblocked. John Stephenson (talk) 14:13, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Have we got a suitable working channel of communication for the appellant to use? Peter Jackson (talk) 09:41, 16 December 2016 (UTC)
There's the citizendium-l-owner@... e-mail address on the wiki signup page. That goes to me at the moment. John Stephenson (talk) 18:27, 19 January 2017 (UTC)

what do Definitions actually DO?

Whenever I create a new article (such as the P.G. Wodehouse ones about his novels Summer Lightning and Heavy Weather, I always create a brief "Definition" as part of the Metadata form to fill out. But what does a Definition actually DO? WHY are we creating them? There is, for instance a Summer Lightning/Definition, but apparently you can only view it if you go to that specific address. Or does it show up elsewhere? If so, where? I can't find it. I see that in Edit mode, the Definition has a "<noXXinclude>" bracket around it at the start -- I removed this for one of the entries and I can't see that it makes any difference whatsoever.... Hayford Peirce (talk) 20:39, 30 November 2017 (UTC)

They are used mainly in 'Related Articles' subpages, but only if you add them like this: {{r|Summer Lightning}} They're also supposed to stand in for full articles if you add {{subpages}} to the (otherwise-blank) main page. That 'noinclude' thing: that's for information transcluded onto another page, such as a definition. If you take them out, the material inside will pop up on any page which has a template requesting it. To see what happens, look at Blandings Castle/Related Articles. It's a mess because the whole 'subpages' bar has been incorporated (not into the wiki code, just into what the viewer sees). To fix it, don't touch that page, but instead revert your edit to reinstate the 'noinclude' tags, which mean 'don't include the 'subpages' bar'. John Stephenson (talk) 22:02, 30 November 2017 (UTC)
Many thanks! I'm not quite sure that I understand everything you're saying, but I DID "undo" my change and, just as you said, the Blandings Castle/Related Articles page looks a LOT better. Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:03, 29 December 2017 (UTC)

Editorship proposal

I would like to propose Hayford Peirce for an Editorship in the Literature workgroup. Hayford has worked for this project for many years and has expertise in this area, not least because of his own background as a novelist.

There are no longer any formal rules over how Editorships may be awarded but I would like to see an endorsement from at least one Editor. If there are no objections, I will add Hayford to the Literature Workgroup as an Editor. John Stephenson (talk) 20:25, 12 December 2017 (UTC)

I enthusiastically endorse the application of Hayford Peirce as Editor in Literature. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 21:53, 12 December 2017 (UTC)
Thank you, gentlemen, for your nomination and endorsement. I hereby accept the nomination, and, if chosen, will endeavor to do my best in the position. Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:20, 13 December 2017 (UTC)
I've added Hayford as a Literature Editor with no objections received. John Stephenson (talk) 21:15, 16 December 2017 (UTC)

As John says there are no longer any rules, nor is there an EPA to decide. Even the "guidance" left over from before is rather vague: on a sufficiently loose interpretation I might qualify too. Maybe we can all be Editors. But of course "If everyone is somebody then no one's anybody." Peter Jackson (talk) 11:02, 14 December 2017 (UTC)

True, but *some* of us have gotta be more equal than others. Even at Wikipedia that's the case. Hayford Peirce (talk) 15:34, 14 December 2017 (UTC)

Of course, I wasn't being entirely serious. Long ago we had three grades:

  1. general Editor
  2. specialist Editor
  3. ordinary Author

I think it was the EC that reduced that to two. Maybe we should go the other way and have various different grades depending on people's qualifications. Or, less formally, whoever is best qualified would be in charge of an article until someone better qualified turns up. Peter Jackson (talk) 17:49, 14 December 2017 (UTC)

Ah, yes, now I vaguely recall that classification. I think that there were SOME people who had their noses out of joint because they didn't have, say, quite the necessary academic qualifications to permit them to be named Editor even though they had *other* qualifications that they thought made them worthy of an Editorship. (Not me, I hasten to add -- I never even *wanted* to be an Editor!) As for your suggestions, I do agree -- I think. It would make sense to make *me* the Literary editor for the moment, based on the fact that I've published in traditional media. On the other hand, if "Bob Smith, PhD", say, were to join us, and *he's* a Distinguished Prof. of Eng. Lit. at Harvard, then HE should definitely take over that editorship. In other words, I think this will have to be handled on an ad hoc basis. Hayford Peirce (talk) 18:37, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
There's no limit to the number of Editors, though you could resign if you want if someone else came along. I recall long ago there was a proposal to have a 'Chief Editor' for each workgroup, which was resisted as certain persons might end up with too much power... Also, in the early days, people handed them out like they were going out of fashion. There are several long-gone people with up to eight Editorships! John Stephenson (talk) 21:42, 14 December 2017 (UTC)

As Peter says, there are no rules per se, but the binding Policies document states: that "there shall be special recognition for subject experts (who shall be individuals with any of: accredited research-level qualifications; three or more peer-reviewed publications; or equivalent practical experience as defined by existing expert contributors), who shall have the final say in any dispute over content, and shall have the right to close a version of a reasonably high quality article to further editing." John Stephenson (talk) 21:42, 14 December 2017 (UTC)

I would call that "special recognition for subject experts" a Specialist Editor, who might also qualify as a General Editor. For example, I would qualify as a Specialist Editor in Biology and in Health Science, but also as a General Editor inasmuch as I have developed numerous articles in other fields. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 23:28, 14 December 2017 (UTC)
That wasn't what it meant. A General Editor had authority over a whole workgroup, a Specialist Editor only in a narrow field. For example, Aleta was an Editor for dog breeds.

Anyway, we now have, as quoted by John above, three types of qualification:

  1. "accredited research-level qualifications"
  2. "three or more peer-reviewed publications"
  3. "equivalent practical experience as defined by existing expert contributors"

All of these require interpretation. I take it Hayford is being proposed under 3. If I qualify it would have to be under 2, depending on the exact definition of "peer-reviewed" (I've got several publications that were approved for publication by at least one Pali scholar; does that count?). Peter Jackson (talk) 11:16, 15 December 2017 (UTC)

(3), yes. I think it would depend on the nature of the journals and the peer-review process. John Stephenson (talk) 21:15, 16 December 2017 (UTC)
Which I don't know about. I listed my publications on my user page, if that's any help. Peter Jackson (talk) 14:37, 17 December 2017 (UTC)

Approvals Committee pages

There is now a page for the Approvals Committee and three more for announcements, discussions and non-member comments. These can also be accessed via the main Forum page. 18:49, 2 January 2018 (UTC)

It would be nice if people at least pretended to follow democratic procedures. Nobody was nominated for election to the committee. John simply announced they'd been appointed. As it happens, I, the only other serious member (Ro hasn't edited WP since 9 September, and here a bit longer, which seems ominous; people have been asking after him there and on RationalWiki), have no objection (I don't want the responsibility myself, though I'll try to help out), but still. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:37, 4 January 2018 (UTC)
Anthony put the group together and just asked me to create the pages. We don't have regular elections anymore. I don't see why any further process was necessary given that they are the only active members with a track record of putting themselves forward and who had no other duties, or were prepared to take on more. Except for you: I imagine they didn't bother asking because you've never put yourself up for anything. John Stephenson (talk) 20:03, 4 January 2018 (UTC)
Fair enough. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:51, 5 January 2018 (UTC)

Real names policy

I've always thought the policy was a mistake, gave reasons in several earlier discussions, won't repeat them here.

But here is a bit of possibly relevant data: After Threats, Austin Founder Shut Down Browser Firm Authenticated Reality. This was a browser that could only be used with a real name, requiring ID to set it up. Sandy Harris (talk) 20:45, 2 August 2018 (UTC)

Sandy, we do not require a photo of the applicant's drivers license. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 01:50, 3 August 2018 (UTC)