These policies apply to editors as well as authors. Editors, when they create and make changes to articles, play the role of authors, and therefore the following policies apply to them as well as people who are not editors.
Articles are created collaboratively, and thus are unsigned. Authors of articles will not be listed either on the article or on the article's discussion page. The specific edits for which a contributor is responsible are listed in the article's history, however.
How to clean up Wikipedia articles. We will be collecting important guidelines about how to clean up, mark up, strip down, and otherwise improve and prepare Wikipedia articles for the Citizendium on how to convert Wikipedia articles to Citizendium articles.
Do not make an article imported from Wikipedia "live" unless to improve it significantly. When articles are imported en masse from Wikipedia, it will be possible to edit any Wikipedia article on the Citizendium. We will say that Wikipedia-sourced articles are "live" (and marked with the [[Category:CZ Live]] tag) if they have been edited on the Citizendium. Note that articles that are not live will be occasionally refreshed by the latest version from Wikipedia. Therefore, authors are urged not to edit any article sourced from Wikipedia unless they are prepared to improve it significantly. Please do not merely "copyedit" or make small changes to articles that are not "live." Otherwise our "live" version of a Wikipedia-sourced might well become stale in comparison to the Wikipedia version.
Article Naming and Topic Choice
Naming. There are a number of article naming conventions we would like to adopt--many of them are the same as Wikipedia's--and which can be found at naming conventions. Perhaps the most important of these conventions is that a word in an article name should be lower case, unless is consistently written in the upper case. Another important convention is that the common names for things should be used in preference to the recondite or obscure, although this may have a few exceptions.
Topic choice. Generally, we may write about whatever we like in the Citizendium. There are, however, at least two basic constraints on the choice of article topic:
- Redundancy. If one topic is quite similar to another--for example, is just a variant on the name--then the less common topic name should in many cases be redirected to the more common topic name. Thus, for example Great War redirects to World War I.
- Maintainability. There are certain classes of articles that it is unlikely will ever be completely filled out, high-quality, and well-maintained. The reason for this is simply that the Citizendium will never have an adequate number of contributors to do the work. The "class" of article here depends on certain types that are in many cases fairly easy to spot. For example, we should not write an article about an undistinguished, perfectly ordinary school unless we can write articles about all schools; we should not write an article about a county in Connecticut unless we can write articles about all counties in the United States; and so forth. An example of a class of article that it seems we will never have the contributors to maintain is: all named roads. What the future has in store could surprise us, however, so it is important not to be dogmatic here. See maintainability.
Unlike in Wikipedia, there is no requirement on the Citizendium that article topics be "notable." That is, we do not exclude topics solely on the ground that their topics do not strike contributors as being significant or important. We recognize that what may completely trivial to one person might in fact be quite important to another, and that as a criterion "notability" is too vague to admit of consistent use.
The standards of a good Citizendium article are complex, and only summarized here:
- Accurate. Articles are to be held up to a high standard of accuracy. Editors should review every substantive claim made by an article, and be of the opinion that the claim is well justified by the relevant evidence, before approving the article.
- Encyclopedic. Articles must resemble encyclopedia articles. This means that there are many things that they are not, such as dictionary definitions or personal essays. Some other ancillary, helpful reference material, in the form of tables and lists, are also permissible.
- Neutral. Articles must not take a stand on controversial issues. They should report on controversies rather than engaging in them, reporting every side as sympathetically as possible consistent with the sympathetic representation of competing sides, and doling out limited space, where necessary, according to (in the case of mainly academic controversies) the proportion of opinion among experts or, in some broader controversies, the general public whose native language is the language of the compendium. See the neutrality policy.
- Coherent. Articles must be coherent or unified, that is, integrated by a single plan and style. An incoherent article appears written by different people or at different times, or with different conceptions about the article's proper structure and style. Typically, an incoherent article repeats information pointlessly and leaves out crucial information where an expert would expect to find it.
- Well-written. Articles must not contain grammatical, spelling, usage, or other errors of poor writing. In addition, articles should display the usual features of good writing; for example, they should define unusual terms that are introduced.
- University-level. Millions of topics can be treated at a level accessible to the average university student, or approximately the level of Encyclopedia Britannica or The New York Times. Certain topics cannot be treated except for specialists, and thus may be more advanced in presentation. In the future, the Citizendium Foundation may start separate projects for a children's encyclopedia, as well as an encyclopedia aimed specifically for specialists.
- Not original research. Articles should be aimed to serve as excellent encyclopedia articles, and thus are summations of what is known about a topic. Hence, while articles may sum up their topics in novel ways, they should not do so in ways that imply new theories or analyses that in academic contexts would require peer review for publishing. In other words, they should not contain original research or observations. See the original research policy.
- Family-friendly. Articles should be appropriate for children. While the Citizendium may, in the future, provide a means whereby "adult" fare can be included, it will be deleting large numbers articles on arguably obscene topics that may be found in Wikipedia. See policy regarding family-friendly content.
- Legal and responsible. Articles must not contain copyright violations, libellous statements, or grossly obscene information or images. Persons found to have added such material to articles can be permanently banned from the project. In particular, biographies of living persons must be handled a special way. See copyright violation policy, libel policy, as well as biographies of living persons.
For complete article standards, see the documents linked above. For a summary of the standards an approved article is said to meet, see approval standards.