- 1 Policy regarding Individual Editors
Policy regarding Individual Editors
Editors are entrusted with the content management of the Citizendium in their special areas of expertise.
In the "wiki" spirit of the Citizendium, our editorial system is set up to make it as easy as possible for new editors to join in the fun, and to be effective guides, without "breaking" the wiki process. To this end, we have adopted some unusual policies, with which potential editors should familiarize themselves.
Editors will perform three main functions: (1) decisionmaking and dispute resolution; (2) article approval; and (3) low-level administrative management of authors. The following explains these functions.
Decisionmaking and Dispute Resolution regarding Articles
Decisionmaking, or the establishment of policies for individual articles. Editors may, in areas of their expertise, establish policies regarding what the article should cover (and what should be covered elsewhere), the general structure or narrative arc of the article, the specific wording of definitions (or constraints thereupon), and other such general policies. In this function, editors are to take the lead in acting as planners or conceptualizers of the article.
Resolving content disputes among authors. Authors inevitably find themselves in disagreement about how an article ought to read, or about other questions regarding the article. Editors--whether when asked by authors, or on their own initiative--may undertake to resolve these disputes. But this function must not be exercised lightly: cavalier decisions can easily cause resentment among, or drive away, valuable contributors, or explode into a larger and unnecessary "flame war." Therefore, in resolving disputes, editors are encouraged to follow something like the following procedure:
- Read carefully what the parties to the dispute have written.
- Make your decision.
- In the discussion area, respond to the party or parties that lost the dispute. Concede where they were right, and explain carefully and respectfully where they were wrong.
- Finally, and in a separate edit, in the "decisions" area state briefly and sign (with four tildes: ~~~~) your decision. (This may not be necessary in every case, as for example when deciding to remove some idiosyncratic statement.)
Bear in mind that you need not go through this process when explaining every time you alter an author's work. But all authors, editors included, are generally expected to explain significant changes they make, on the discussion page, partly as good recordkeeping, but mostly to justify their behavior politely to other contributors.
The meaning of editorial approval. Editors may approve Citizendium articles, i.e., certify that they meet article standards. When an editor approves of an article, he or she is explicitly claiming that that particular version of the article meets those standards, and that he is willing to stake his professional reputation on that claim. The relevant standards are outlined in approval standards.
Cancellation of approval. If another editor, who is also expert in the topic of the article, believes it does not meet the standards, he or she may either (1) approve a new version of the article (recommended), or (2) "cancel the approval" of the article. The second editor may take this action without consulting the first; but if the first insists, the issue of approval is resolved by the relevant editorial workgroup(s) as any editorial disputes are resolved (see policy on resolving editorial disputes).
For more details see, approval process.
Low-Level Administrative Management of Authors
Editors may not exercise constable authority over articles in their areas of expertise. As editor of a particular article, you may not exercise constable powers, even if you are a constable; that is, you may not use constable powers to resolve problems. Rather, you must call upon another constable. The reason for this "separation of powers," of course, is the same reason that executive and judicial authorities are separated in developed nations: it prevents abuse of authority and provides a layer of mutual oversight.
Managing problem users. Editors will encounter "problem users" and will certainly want to do something. As editor, while patience is greatly appreciated, you need not go to superhuman lengths to tolerate low quality or bad faith work, or abusive behavior. At the most extreme, you may recommend to the Constabulary that authors be banned. But there are many things that editors can do before going to this length. Just for example, if an author appears open to advice, you might recommend some background reading. Or, without actually getting a constable involved, you might ask an author to take a break for a time to get proper perspective. Finally, you might informally request that an author not edit an article, rather than "make it official" by involving the Constabulary.
Recommending content-based bans. Some authors will prove to be very difficult to negotiate with in this way. Therefore, if an editor feels that a certain author produces such a quantity of bad edits, which require so much "cleaning up" (if not outright deletion) that it would actually be better for the project if the person simply were not to work in an area (or on the project as a whole), then the editor may recommend that the author be banned from editing a certain article, from any of a group of articles, or from the Citizendium as a whole. Only editors (individually or in editorial workgroups) may make such a determination. The determination is privately given to the Constabulary, and what happens after that is determined by the Constabulary--see policy on content-based bans--not the editor, although the editor may be asked explain points and offer evidence. Note that extensive bans (such as bans from working on the entire website, or lifetime bans) will require testimony from more than just one editor; again, see policy on content-based bans.
Behavioral issues, not within the purview of editors. Bear in mind that editors are not responsible for making recommendations about behavioral problems, but only those problems that stem from the quality of an editor's good faith work. That is, editors may make enforcement recommendations based on the poor quality of work done in good faith, but their complaints about bad faith behavior will not be regarded as binding on constables in the way that content-based recommendations are. Furthermore, in either case, it is the Constabulary that ultimately determines the length and breadth of a ban.
Editorial Dispute Resolution: Notes for Individual Editors
Collaborative and collegial behavior expected. Editors are expected to work together collegially, as co-equals, on articles about which they can both legitimately claim expertise. As with disputes among authors, the first step toward resolving a dispute is to see whether the editors cannot reach satisfactory compromise.
Constabulary is not to be called to settle editorial disputes. The Constabulary should not be called, nor should it attempt to settle, disputes between editors of an article, unless it can be regarded as perfectly obvious that one person is not, in fact, an editor--that is, that it is obvious to a nonspecialist that one person claiming editorship has not established even a minimally plausible claim of possessing special knowledge of the topic in question. Then the Constabulary may be called to consider the question of "minimally plausible" editorship.
Disputes referred to editorial workgroups. When one editor (or both) has decided that a compromise is not in the offing, then one editor should inform the other that he or she is referring the matter to a particular editorial workgroup. What happens after that is determined by the editorial workgroup (see policy on resolving editorial disputes).
See also policy on resolving editorial disputes.
[This section will be completely rewritten in keeping with current practice.]
Editors self-register. Editors register themselves; there will be no editor selection process, though review and application processes may be used in unusual cases (see links here). The procedure for becoming an editor is as follows:
- Register as an author (per the above instructions).
- Edit your user page:
- include a link to a CV, online bio, or other information that proves that you meet the minimum requirements for editorship (see below); make sure that this Web page is hosted by a university, organization, business, or other entity that a reasonable person can recognize as objective proof of your credentials; and
- state the areas in which you claim editorship [use the Template:Editor template, link to instructions when written]. (See "what areas of editorship an editor may claim," below.)
- Ask the Constabulary to give you article approval authority (see next item).
Authority to approve articles requires review by Constabulary. While an editor may register and immediately claim editorship (per the policy above), someone needs enable the new editor to approve articles within the system. As an initial policy, we will say that any constable may do this. But constables will also be required to refer any questionable cases to the relevant editorial workgroup.
Challenges to editorship claims. Anyone--author, constable, or editor--may (privately) request that the relevant editorial workgroup do a minimal review of someone's claim to editorship.
How to apply for editorship in special cases. If you are unable to provide links to online proof that you meet the minimum requirements for being a general editor, specialty editor, or topic informant (see below), you may apply to the editorial workgroup in your area. If your application is accepted, an editor will edit your user page and declare you to be a general editor, specialty editor, or topic informant.
See policy on editor review for details.
Categories of Editorship
What areas of editorship an editor may claim. General editors may claim editorship, if they can demonstrate that they meet minimum standards, over one or more of the following.
- General topics: any topics that are broad/general background knowledge in the discipline in which they have their expertise (e.g., in philosophy, "philosophy," "ethics," "history of philosophy").
- Mid-range topics: the broad/general topics associated with their subdisciplines (e.g., in ethics, "right," "good," obligation," "utilitarianism").
- Specialized topics: beyond such general claims, those quite specific topics on which a person has published, given presentations, or done other professional work (e.g., Kant's moral theory, "Kant's moral theory," "categorical imperative," "Kingdom of Ends").
General editors vs. specialty editors. Within a given discipline, such as Philosophy, History, and Engineering, we distinguish between general editors and specialty editors, with general editors for a discipline having general editorial authority over general and mid-range topics, and specialty editors having authority only over some relatively circumscribed, specialized topics.
Academic, professional, and non-academic (or hobbyist) fields. We draw the usual distinction between academic and professional fields, and we distinguish both of these from non-academic (or hobbyist) fields. Depending on the type of field, the requirements of editorship may differ. See below.
Standards for general and specialty editorship in academic fields. As a rule of thumb, general editors in academic fields are those who have recently done a substantial amount of research at a level expected of someone eligible for a tenure track position at a four-year college. This means both of the following:
- Having received, or being no more than six months away from receiving, the degree typically expected of college professors in one's field; typically a Ph.D. or M.D.; or having tenure or a tenure-track position at an accredited, recognized four-year institution.
- Having published at least three papers in peer-reviewed publications, or having given five presentations at academic conferences, within the past five years.
The precise standards for specific disciplines, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later.
Specialty editors need not have as extensive experience in a discipline as general editors. But at the very least they must have a college education, and they must have demonstrable experience in their fields. For example (this is apt to vary from field to field), many traditional academic fields might require both of the following:
- A Master's degree or other post-graduate (in the U.S., graduate) degree; or three or more years in a mostly-research position, post-bachelor's degree.
- Having published at least three papers in peer-reviewed publications, or having given five presentations at academic conferences, within the past five years, on some specific topic (i.e., the topic of the specialty editorship); or having worked in a "hands-on" way with the topic of specialization for three or more years.
The precise standards for specific disciplines, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later.
General editorship in professional fields. In engineering, law, medicine, journalism, computer programming, library science, and some other professional fields, frequently the "terminal degree" for professional work is not a doctorate, and expert members of these professions would not actually be employable as university faculty. Nevertheless, some active members of these professions are very plausibly regarded as quite expert in their fields, and quite able to speak with authority about them, based not only on "book learning" but on practical experience.
In view of these facts, it is Citizendium policy that the requirements for general and specialty editorship may also be satisfied in another way for the professional disciplines. In general, and this varies from field to field, general editorship in professional work may be satisfied by the combination of the following:
The terminal degree for professional work in your field (perhaps as defined by your leading professional organization); in most professional fields, not a doctorate. A professional specialization, and at least three years of continuous, responsible employment engaged directly in that specialization, post-degree. Professional certification (if it exists and is required for all practicing members of your profession) At least two of the following: three different professional memberships; at least three presentations in your field, or two papers in peer reviewed journals or well-respected trade journals in your field. The precise standards for specific professions, if different from the above, will be worked out and posted later. link here
There is no similar way to establish specialty editorship in professional fields; but bear in mind that non-academic professionals may be able to establish the requirements for specialty editorship listed above.
Editorship over "non-academic" or hobbyist topics. There are many topics that are of relatively little interest to academics, where the people in possession of the most knowledge about the topic are typically not university faculty at all. This is the case for much of popular culture, and popular movements generally. There are also many topics that are studied just as carefully by hobbyists as by academics--where the "experts" are just as likely to be non-academics as academics--such as, for example, kinds of folk music. Consequently, if a person can demonstrate substantial expertise about such topics, they may become specialty editors for those specific topics. Citizendium editorial staff will compile a table of such qualifications.
Merely as an indicative example, we might say that a person may claim a specialty editorship over a particular video game if he or she shows evidence of many of the following:
- Several articles published in leading magazines and journals about video gaming.
- Leadership positions in serious organizations about video gaming.
- Having achieved a high score, level, or rank within the gaming community.
- Writing modules, enhancements, etc., of the software.
- Employment with the company that produces the software.
The subjects of biographies, persons who have had unique and important experience of historical events, CEOs, politicians, judges, inventors, and others who are (or were) close to the subjects written about shall enjoy a special status in the Citizendium community as topic informants. While being a topic informant will not by itself confer the editorial privileges of decisionmaking and article approval, topic informants will enjoy two special privileges:
- They will enjoy the same right of editorial dispute resolution that editors do, i.e., if they do not feel their case is being heard fairly, they will be able to take it straight to the relevant editorial workgroup.
- They will have a special right to correct errors in the article, and collaborators, editors included, will be expected to respect and respond to these corrections promptly. The Citizendium will offer a publishing service featuring exclusive interviews for the precise purpose of collecting edited data for Citizendium articles. No one may declare himself to be a topic informant; this status can only be conferred by the Topic Informant Workgroup. See the policy on topic informants.
Other Notes for Editors
No exclusive assignments. It is not the case that there will be one editor per topic or subject. So there can be as many editors of an article as arrive: the more the merrier. All editors involved will be expected to work as co-equals, and via editorial workgroup mechanisms.
Editorship is always editorship of specific topics. There are no global editors, so to speak; there are editors only with respect to articles in their specific areas of expertise. Editors may serve as authors of articles outside their expertise, of course, but they may not, with respect to those articles, serve as editors. We may anticipate that many editors will do a great deal of work on articles of which they are not editors--just not editor work.
Editors should not record their editorship on the articles themselves. Editors should not place their names on an article in their purview, neither on the article itself nor on the discussion page, except as noted above, e.g., in signing a particular decision or in a particular article approval. In other words, there will not be a special template or box on each article, or on its discussion page, that lists people who claim to be editors of a particular article. Furthermore, the Citizendium management and contributors may not make such lists. The purpose of this policy is to prevent the creation of exclusive groups of overseers for particular articles, and to ensure that article developments remains fully collaborative. Editors may, however, list articles that they regard as being in their editorial purview on their own user pages. Such claims are open to review by the relevant editorial workgroup.
No authority by proxy. Editorial authority is not transferable. Editors may not designate, for example, graduate students to act in their stead. They may, of course, ask anyone to watch an article and follow their instructions; but even in such a case, such an assigned person must not attempt to speak on behalf of the editor and thereby claim editorial authority. No one will be expected to, or should, respect claims to authority by proxy.